Coming Unglued

I don’t know what’s going on with me lately.  I want to blame it on anxiety but I’m not so sure any more.  Sometimes I feel like I’m about to lose my mind or have a mental break of some sort.  I feel like I’m coming unglued.  I have this really horrible fear that I’m going to lose my mind and forget who I am, my past and everyone I know.  When I can’t remember something that I think I should it sends me into anxiety/panic mode and the spiraling downward starts.  I feel like a zombie some days just living life in automatic mode but not really present.  Candace tells me something but I can’t remember it 5 minutes later and then she gets frustrated that I don’t pay attention to her.  This is probably her #1 complaint about me.  I do try to listen and pay attention but retaining is hard sometimes.  It’s a huge effort to remember everything she tells me.  And I have a hard time following along with her stories.  I get confused and stuck on one thing she said and then don’t hear the rest because I’m still trying to figure that one thing out.  And then I struggle even to hold onto my own thoughts.  They seem to flitter around and holding onto one is tough.  When I do grab onto one for a moment it’s hard to remember what else I had been thinking about.  And then, maybe the most disturbing thing is that I find myself having to really think hard about how to spell words.  I’ve always been a good speller.  But lately, I really struggle with it and sometimes the words even seem foreign to me.  It’s so freaking weird.  When this happens it makes me feel like my mind is turning to jelly and only reinforces my fear of losing it.

I want to know why this is happening to me.  Is it the T?  Am I taking too much, not enough?  Should I quit it all together?  Is it my transition in general making me feel like I don’t know who I am anymore?  Is it age?  Do I have early onset dementia?  Is it just my anxiety flaring up?  Is it a vitamin deficiency?  Am I overwhelmed?  I just don’t know.

It feels like the deeper I get into transitioning the more lost I feel some days.  I look in the mirror and see my dad’s face looking back at me and that makes me feel…happy?  sad?  connected to him?  a little freaked out?  scared?  all of the above?  My dad died young-ish at 68.  He had two massive strokes back to back.  The second one killed him.  He died in 1963…a long time ago.  Medicine has come a long way since then I tell myself.  But I feel like my brain is my Achilles heal and could be my undoing like my father.  I worry about strokes but I take care of myself too.  I don’t know anyone in my family that lost their mind or had dementia or Alzheimer’s (had to look that word up to spell it!).  It’s unlikely I have it but it scares me to death and this growing feeling of being disconnected to reality is totally freaking me out!!!  I can’t shake it.

I want to feel present and aware completely of what’s going on around me.  I don’t want to feel overwhelmed so much when there’s multiple stimuli in my environment (tv, talking, reading).  I want to be able to multi task again but that’s just not something I’m capable of anymore.  It seems like I can focus on one thing only at a time and even then it’s a struggle.  I find my mind wandering into lala land or thinking about something stupid.  I try practicing mindfulness but it only lasts for a moment until I’m distracted by something either in my mind or my environment.

The really interesting thing about all of this is that I don’t experience this much at all at work.  I would think that work would be much worse than home or even when I’m alone.  But it isn’t.  I can focus at work and I rarely have trouble remembering things.  Sometimes, sure, but not like at home.  This makes me think that it’s anxiety and that maybe I’m disconnecting at home for some reason.  Maybe I feel more in control at work because that’s MY space that I created.  Home is more Candace’s space.  I don’t know.  Maybe when I’m alone or at home my mind is freer to wander which causes the overwhelm to start.

What I do know is that my particular anxiety disorder seems to latch onto one thing for a while and that one thing scares the crap out of me until I get a grip on it and then I’m ok for a period of time with very little symptoms.  And then it latches onto something completely new and surprising that I have to deal with.  It grips me so tightly that it makes me feel like I’m losing my mind and now losing my mind has become the new thing I’m obsessing about.  What will it be next?  Putting on my socks?  I have no idea.  All I know is that I need to go take a little yellow pill that will calm all this shit down so I can relax and focus for a while until it starts again.

Crossing Boundaries

I guess I’m starting to pass more lately.  I finally got my hairdresser to tweak my cut shorter on the back and sides and I’ve seen a pretty big jump in how many times I’m sirred throughout the day.  That and more button up shirts seem to be doing the trick even without a binder.  Like it or not, this is impacting Candace too.  I needed new jeans because, thanks to a drug I’m on, I’ve lost some weight and my pants will literally fall down if I don’t wear a belt cinched up tight.  It’s not a real attractive look and she’s been commenting about my baggy butt a lot lately.  I needed her to go with me to approve of the fit because I know if I went alone I’d buy the first pair of pants that fit and then she’d still probably not be happy.  So we went together the other day to shop for jeans and I used the men’s dressing room to try them on which is directly across from the cashier’s desk in this particular store.  We settled on a couple of pairs along with some new shirts and Candace went to pay, since we were in a hurry, while I put stuff back and used the restroom.  The cashier told her that we could save 20% if we used our store card to make the purchase.  Candace told her that I had the card and referred to me as SHE.  This confused the cashier who looked at her like she was crazy and kept saying “Who?”  Plainly, she pegged me for a dude.  But I was in the bathroom so I missed all of this and heard about it in the car.  Eventually, Candace just told her not to worry about it and they worked out some coupon deal instead.

Then, yesterday the pharmacy finally had my syringes in stock and since Candace was going into town I asked her to pick them up for me.   I found out this morning that the lady at the pharmacy referred to Candace as Mrs. MyLastName and referred to me as him.  Oi!  We get mail all the time with our names all mixed together and find it kind of humorous and even save some of them for a giggle.  But this got me wondering how I’d feel if my identity was erased by some life changing stuff Candace was doing.   We’ve talked quite a bit about whether if we ever choose to get legally married we’d change our last names.  She’s pretty adamant that she wants to keep her last name for professional reasons.  Her last name is recognizable in her industry because of her mom and she doesn’t want to lose that connection.  I want to keep my last name because it connects me to my dad and I don’t want to lose that.  I’ve suggested hyphenating our names but even that she’s not really willing to do.  So, unless I take her last name we’re pretty much at a stalemate on this subject.  I’m considering it.  But, that aside, I can only imagine how it made her feel that the lady assumed she was my straight wife in our heterosexual relationship.  If I hate being called ma’am could this be the equivalent for her?  People thinking she’s crazy for calling me she and her and assuming she’s my het wife can’t make her feel good.   Not only has she lost her lesbian identity but, probably more important to her, she might feel like she’s losing her personal identity as who she has always been.  It’s really important to Candace for people to know her and respect her on her own merits.  She’s a successful business woman and a lot of people know her in our community.  For a stranger to call her Mrs. MyLastName probably really grated on her nerves.

It appears that we have crossed over a boundary or line where I’m looking male enough to pass and Candace and I have not caught up with that yet.  I won’t make a huge assumption based on a few isolated situations but it’s looking like we’re getting closer to stepping over that line very soon.  We’re going to have to have a serious talk about this soon.  I don’t know her feelings about the events of the past few days and I’m assuming some stuff here.  But I know her pretty well and can predict, based on things she’s said in the past, how this is making her feel.

Angry and Pissed Off

Some days the complexities of my transition crash into me everywhere I turn and I start feeling the anger rising up in me again.  Most of the time I live my life in a safe little bubble of familiarity and am immune to how huge this whole gender thing is for me.  I try to tell myself it’s really simple but it isn’t.  It’s simple if you’re cis-gender and have never had to think about your gender.  But for those of us who don’t have coordinated body/gender identities it’s not so simple.  In fact, it’s pretty damned complex.

I think a lot when I drive.  Sometimes I talk to myself, like there’s another me in the car or some trusted friend.  It’s a very stream of consciousness kind of thinking/talking thing and most of the time I’m not even aware I’m doing it.  Maybe I should mention this to my therapist.  Nah.  Sometimes a random person in their car makes me think certain things and gets me going on a mental tangent.  Yesterday (and this has happened before), I found myself looking around at people and getting angry and resentful that they haven’t had to deal with something as basic as their fucking gender like I have my entire life.  It’s the first thing we’re told when we’re born.  You’re a boy!  or You’re a girl!  And those three little words determine so much about the rest of our lives.  It’s such a basic fact about us that most people never give it much thought at all.  It makes me so angry that I have to think about it.  I’m sick of thinking about it.  Joe Blow standing on the side of the road hitching a ride isn’t thinking about his gender.  He’s thinking about getting a ride somewhere and whether the person who picks him up is going to be ok or not.  The guys riding around in the work truck aren’t thinking about their genders.  They’re thinking about going home at the end of the day.  The lady on her cell phone next to me at the red light isn’t thinking about her gender.  She’s thinking about….   God, I have no idea what she’s thinking about.  And then there’s me.  I’m thinking about my gender.  Always.  Constantly.

I’ve been trying to get my prescription for my T syringes filled at the pharmacy this week and every time I go to pick them up they tell me they still don’t have them in stock.  I want to blow up at the pharmacy person and act like an asshole.  But I don’t.  Yesterday the lady called me Mr. LastName.  I think that’s a first.  And I liked it.  But then, 30 minutes later the pharmacy called me to tell me the same thing that the lady at the drive up window had told me and she called me ma’am.  Different lady.  Different outcome.  I wanted to scream at her for calling me with NO NEWS and then punctuating her waste of my time with calling me ma’am.  It’s not their fault.

That’s the thing that’s the most infuriating about all of this.  It’s no one’s fault.  There’s no one for me to scream at or to punch in the face for fucking up my life having to deal with this bullshit.  Really, it’s bullshit.  Gender is a thing but why does it have to be such a concrete, unchangeable thing?  Why is it such a big fucking deal to change genders?  So the doctor was wrong the day you were born.  So what?  Fix it and move on.  But no.  Your fate is sealed in stone from that moment on.  It’s on your birth certificate and all of the announcements your parents sent out to friends and family.  From that moment on you either wear a pink ribbon or a blue ribbon in your hair for the whole world to see which gender you are.  It’s permanent, unchangeable, unless you want to completely turn your world upside down and freak out everyone you’ve ever known, live as a freak and have people not know what in the hell to call you.  Good luck if you go down THAT road.

I just want to be able to stand on the side of the road to hitch a ride and have everyone who passes me by know whether I’m pink or blue.  I want to pay for my coffee and not have to wonder or worry about what pronoun/honorific bullshit term they’re going to assign me.  I want to use the bathroom without worrying about whether someone will either call management or beat me up or worse.  I’m sick of thinking about this shit.  And it pisses me off that my whole life something as basic as gender has taken up so much head space.  I wonder what I could have accomplished in life and where I’d be today if I hadn’t had to deal with this gender crap.  Even if I wasn’t actively thinking or worrying about gender it was always there in the background controlling my destiny.  Can’t do this because of that but I can do this instead.  But I really want to do that other thing more.  No, you really shouldn’t do that because then they’ll expect you to do this thing you can’t stand to do.  Or, even worse, you can’t do or have that thing because you’re not supposed to do or have that thing because of the pink ribbon your momma put in your hair all those years ago.

I’m pissed.

I could have been an astronaut.  Or a race car driver.  Or a football player.  Or a dump truck driver.  Or a father.  Or a hitchhiker.

None of that matters now and that pisses me off too.  It’s too late to be thinking about any of that stuff.  Well, I guess I could still be a hitchhiker or a dump truck driver.  Ok, I guess I could be a race car driver too.  But you get what I’m saying.  I’m old.  Too old to ever be able to do a lot of the things I used to dream of doing but not old enough for people to ignore me or think it’s cute that I’m eccentric.  Whatever.  I just want to get up in the morning and know who and what I am and move about my day with ease and confidence and not have to worry or think about any of this gender stuff.

You know, when you start dealing with being transgender they make you go to a therapist to get a “diagnosis”.  That pisses me off too.  Fuck them.  Yes, I suffer from dysphoria and depression and anxiety.  Sure, go ahead and put that in my official diagnosis that you will submit to the insurance company or government agency depending on where one lives.  Here’s something else you can put in my file.  I’m filled with anger, rage and resentment because this is even a THING and it’s such a HUGE THING that it’s totally derailed my life, held me back and kept me from truly living fully.  Put that in there too because it’s probably just as important as the fact that I’m depressed.  In fact, it’s WHY I’m depressed.  I’m angry and there’s nothing I can do about it.  It’s why I’m anxious too, by the way.  All that pent up anger has no where to go.  And when you tell the therapist you’re angry she wants to send you to anger management classes or tells you to meditate.  This only makes me angrier.  The fact that this is classified as a mental disorder pisses me off as well.  It’s a medical issue.  We should be going to medical doctors.  They’re the ones that the therapists refer us to in the end.  Why do I have to spend money and time at a therapist’s office just to get “permission” to then go to a doctor?  Why does an M.D. need permission from a therapist to treat me?  It’s stupid.  We have a long way to go.

I really don’t know what to do with all of this anger.  I’m angry to my core.  And sad.  So sad.  Life is unfair.  Everyone has their crap to deal with.  Mine is gender.  The lady in the car next to me might be dealing with cancer.  I guess it could be worse, right?  Maybe I should be thankful that my biggest worry is whether someone will call me sir or ma’am.  I’m privileged to be able to concern myself this much with my gender presentation.  Intellectually I know this but I’m still angry.

This has been a long winded, self indulgent, childish rant and for that I apologize.  But, misery loves company so I figured that there’s probably someone out there who might enjoy joining me in my whining and bitching.  Life sucks sometimes and it’s unfair.  But, hey, that’s just the way it is so we might as well just keep moving along and keep doing the best we can every day.  Today I’m taking a mental health day from my life.  I need more rest and a day to recharge.  Tomorrow I’ll probably be in a much sunnier disposition.  Or not.  Now I’m off to go meditate.

 

Another Authenticity Post

This morning I found myself watching this video by uppercaseCHASE1 about how being your authentic self isn’t just about being trans and it got me thinking pretty hard about what living an “authentic life” really means for me.  I talk about living authentically a lot.  It’s a huge motivator for my transition.  It’s what pushes me through the hard stuff about all of this.  But, as Chase points out, authenticity is bigger than just being trans.  There’s so much more to each of us than our gender and our sexuality.  There are political beliefs, personal preferences in clothing, books, movies, music, chores, where we live, who we live with, how we spend money, how we do our hair, how we speak, what cell phone we carry, etc. etc. etc.  The list is too huge to list it all.  All of these things, plus our history and our future goals and dreams help to make us who we are.

I asked myself, was I inauthentic for all of those years leading up to transition?  No.  And yes.  “Is it possible that I’m still being inauthentic today?”  Absolutely.  “Am I closer to authentic today than I was 4 years ago?  I think so.   What is it that makes me inauthentic?  What does it mean to live an authentic life?  Does it mean telling everyone every little detail about my life and my inner thoughts?  God I hope not!

I think most people are inauthentic some of the time and authentic some of the time.  There are certainly situations, like job interviews and first dates, where one would try to put their best foot forward and probably wouldn’t mention that they have that weird little fetish that they’re not so proud of or that they enjoy watching Sex in the City re-runs.  Or maybe they would.  To each their own, right?  I have an employee who is so comfortable with all of her little idiosyncrasies that she lets it all fly no matter who is around.  I have to remind her occasionally to reign it in around customers but, in general, I enjoy her crazy antics.  I’ve been criticized for letting her be as “out there” as she naturally wants to be and people have told me they think she’s immature.  I don’t agree.  She’s reliable, honest, hard working, pays her bills and is a good person.  She also doesn’t care what most people think of her and I respect that.  I’d like to be more like her.

I think what holds me back from being more authentic is fear which my employee is immune to apparently.  She’s not afraid to show all of her flaws and laugh at herself.  I am.  She doesn’t take herself too seriously and I definitely do.  Have you ever met someone either in real life or maybe seen them on t.v. and your first impression was, “Woe, that person is STRANGE!!!!!”?  Did they grow on you?  In the end did you think they were pretty cool after all?  I certainly have.  Of course, sometimes they’re just strange and your first instinct was right on the mark.  But occasionally I run across someone who is so comfortable with their self that it really didn’t matter what you or anyone else thought of them and they were just happy being their own unique self for the world to see.  I saw an old guy in over-alls with a big long beard on tv once who was just so comfortable being himself that he made me think, “I want to be like him one day.”  I don’t want to be an old guy with a Santa beard in over-alls selling junk to strangers who come by my farm but I do  want to be that comfortable in my skin.

americanpickers_keepout1

I think, little by little, I’m getting there.  That’s what transition is about for me.  Getting more comfortable in my skin.  And authenticity means the same thing to me.  Comfortable and genuine.  No fake facade, no walls up.  Filtered but free to speak my mind and be myself.  The idea of filtering is one that Candace and I talk about frequently.  Filters, in this context, mean, mainly, filtering what you say to other people but it can also go further and mean filtering how you act in certain situations to the point where you have filtered out all of the good stuff that makes you a unique individual and what you’re left with is a bland and boring person that nobody is interested in knowing.  There’s a balancing point where a little filtering is a good thing and too much is detrimental to connecting with others.  We have a friend who has problems with her filter and occasionally says some pretty rude things to strangers who tick her off.  And she’s pretty easy to tick off too, I should add.  On the other hand, I applaud her on occasion for speaking up when she’s being criticized or someone is rude to her.  She says the kinds of things the rest of us wish we could think of to say in those situations.  For instance, when she was pregnant with her first child, she was standing in a check out line at the store and the lady in front of her looked at her and told her that she was huge, commenting on her very pregnant belly.  My friend, who was not in a good mood, looked at her and said, “Well at least in a few months I won’t be fat anymore unlike you.”  Wow, right?  Seriously, don’t mess with pregnant ladies at the grocery store who are probably chomping at the bit to get home and rest their feet.

Honestly, authenticity isn’t about being rude, unless that’s who you really are.  Maybe you should work on that if that’s the case?  Just a suggestion.  I am probably in the minority, but I find these kinds of antics humorous and they cement my fondness for people.  So maybe we should all just let it hang out more often and stop worrying about what people will think of us.  Maybe they’ll think more of us for being a little crazy than if we’re always polite and nice.  That’s my goal anyway.  How about you?

tony beets

This is Tony Beets, a gold miner in the Yukon, who is as authentic a guy as you’ll ever want to meet.  Any more authentic and he might be dangerous.