Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ally's Question.

It's amazing how simple things can send me into a spiral.

My very dear friend Ally asked a simple question on Facialbook: "what was the best gift you've ever received for Christmas?"

And she received many replies, with many people reliving their childhoods with some cool toys and stuff like that.  I try not to think of my childhood, because when I do, I just remember overwhelming Pain- the pain of not being who I needed to be.

It's a Pain my fellow transpeople know well.

I have written many times about how much I despise the holidays, and, as I wrote above, I don't like thinking of my childhood.  However, Ally's question got me thinking- remembering.

I complain a lot about my childhood but there are some truths that cannot be ignored.  We were poor, but my parents, especially my dad, busted their asses to put food on the table and to provide for my brother and I.

I learned my work ethic from my father.  Work hard.  Do a thorough job.  Do it right the first time.  Ignore all else.  You have responsibilities.

Yes, I had a hard time growing up, and yes, I was disciplined and beaten and bullied and everything else that growing up in the sixties/seventies/eighties entailed.

But my parents did their best, especially around Christmas, to provide for their two children- to make the holiday as magical as they could for two children who would not have happy lives.

That is not my parents fault.  The responsibility for my Life; my failures; my Pain, lies squarely on me.

And I?  I have inflicted Pain on my Wife and Daughter by becoming who I am.  By living my Truth.  What kind of life will my daughter have, growing up with a father who is Trans?

Her inheritance from me is Pain.

She deserves better.

Christmas 2015.  I saw my Wife, Daughter, and Dog briefly.  Nittany is now gone.

My parents and I haven't spoken in months. I don't want to disclose the why of it, because it is a private matter.  But the fact is, in many ways, I feel like an orphan.

Ally's question made me think about my childhood again, and that is not a good thing.

Because it hurts. It hurts desperately-deeply- tearing at what is left of my rotted soul.

My favorite memory of my brother is a Christmas morning when he received what is probably his favorite gift of all time.  I remember him sitting on the floor next to the tree, playing with this toy; this new toy that brought him tremendous Joy.  That, for this short time in his life, he could be happy with the Joy- the Innocence- that a toy can bring to a child on Christmas morning.

We become adults through the Pain of Life.  We become adults when we outgrow our toys.  When the imagination of childhood is curbed and stunted by the needs of adult life.

In that way, the Pain, could I be truly be said to have had a childhood?

All of those days, laboring with my studies, then seeking respite in my imagination and toys that helped it take flight.

I grew up in imaginary worlds where I was the Heroine- where there was Good and Evil, and fantastic adventures spun on the Web of streets of a dying industrial town.  I invented fantastic devices that made me rock star famous, and loved because I did the Right things.  I imagined worlds of fantastic stories and dancing among the building clouds of a summer afternoon.  I did these things alone.

And then, one day, I stopped.

I went and found a job, so I could save money for the future.  I had no more time for toys.  Or Dreams and Worlds as intricate and detailed as any True place.  And, within a short time, I buried my deepest desire, my fondest wish, my only Hope- that I would someday be the woman I knew was inside.

It was then, that my soul rotted and died.  I did what the world expected of me.  The child was dead.  The girl- dead.  What remained was a young man whose soul was gone.  I filled the empty space with alcohol and self hatred.

So now, it's nearly midnight.  Tomorrow morning I have to wake up early, and go to work.  My job is fulfilling dreams for others- satisfying their needs and desires

After all, it's Christmas.

It's midnight, and I am crying.  I'm crying because, Ally, I can't answer your question.  That, despite my parents' best efforts to bring me Joy, I failed them.  I was incapable of it.  And there, sitting on the floor maybe three feet from me,  all those years ago, my brother sat with his favorite toy, his imagination creating worlds of fun and adventure.

Worlds of Joy that my mind has been denied.

And, right now, I'm sitting on the floor of my apartment, crying alone at Christmas.

What have I become?


  1. Sophie,

    You haven't become anything. You are still human. You didn't fail. The world has failed you. Recognizing our real selves often means that others will reject us for what we are. But this is their problem not ours. Instead, we must look to find love from others, and hope for the best.


  2. You know what I love about you, Sophie? And I mean this absolutely genuinely--is that even at your darkest, when you're being overwhelmed by depression and darkness, there are still bright flashes of your authentic, generous self that sparkle through. I know lots--LOTS--of people who focus exclusively on the negative, but even through the pain you remember the good your parents did, the things they provided and the positive life lessons you learned from them. Your favorite memory of your brother is, to me, classic Sophie--you're not fixated on some moment where he did something for you or you bested him in some competition, but rather a moment where you recognized his happiness and felt happy for him.

    I don't think you have any idea how rare and special that talent is.

    It truly amazes me how even surrounded by the darkness your inclination--whether you realize it or not--is to be a beacon. I know you can't see it right now, but lighthouses are like that--they can be seen from a great distance, but only see a tiny fraction of their own light themselves.

    You think you're only teaching your daughter pain, but from my objective distance, you want to know the lessons I see you teaching her? Empathy, concern for others, being authentic even when it's painful, being tenacious and fighting for what you believe in even though it's difficult. And most important of all, unconditional, uncompromising love. I've never met her but I'm certain she sees these things because it's impossible to know you and NOT see these things.

    A couple months ago when you were feeling better you were worried that the holidays would be difficult, and here we are. But I promise you that this will pass. You have a kind and generous spirit like a beautiful flower and right now that flower is getting trampled. But it will spring back, I promise. You have a rare gift to see the joy in others without being jealous of it, and that will bear you through. And until then, well, that's what leaning on friends is for.

    Hang in there, hon!

  3. Don't label your experience, as it's a compilation of joy, happiness and the pain and struggle of survival. You mean so much, and make up a part of so many people's lives.