Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mike Drop

The main reason I wanted my own apartment was to be able to spend my nights as a female without fear of judgement.
After sharing some old posts from my past (2011 and 2009), I thought I would continue that pattern and rewind back another two years.  These were two of my posts on my now-hidden-from-the-world LiveJournal page that I kept from 2002-2007.  Specifically, they were two of the last ones.

I've written about this time in my life here and here before, but was unaware of just how much stuff I had written back then until I went searching for it.  Behold, me nine years ago:

Monday, May 7, 2007 - my second to last Livejournal post.

This post is being posted a few days later than I intended to. If everything goes as I intend it, it will likely be the last post in here for quite awhile.

First of all - I haven't written anything for a few months now. There are a few reasons for this. I created [an account on a now-obsolete site], which I figured would be a good way to 'start over' with blogging. This didn't really catch on for me, so I started to analyze why I no longer felt the desire to post in blogs. I came to these conclusions:

  • A lot of people whose LJs I've enjoyed reading have stopped posting, which saps my desire to stay active with my own posting. 
  • A lot of the things I do on a day to day basis are neither interesting nor the business of the general public. 
  • I post a lot of stuff that I wouldn't want coworkers, family members, or random strangers reading. 
  • It no longer felt rewarding to have a daily recording of my life, nor did I feel like socializing on the internet, because I was depressed as hell. 
For those who have forgotten who I am and what I've been up to, in February I accidentally started a fire in my bedroom. This had a lot of impact - in addition to losing a majority of the stuff in my room and covering the house in soot, I put peoples' lives at risk as my landlords/fireman had to run into a burning room to try and contain it. This made me feel really bad, and was made infinitely worse when I spent the next month without 'my own' space. What this did for me was give me a lot of time to think about all sorts of aspects of my life, which at the time, was at a low point. Some things that I realized:
  • I had no plans for the future whatsoever. 
  • The thought of growing up and becoming an adult male didn't appeal to me in the slightest. 
  • There were triggers that would send me into a complete funk where I would absolutely hate myself. Basically, I was really embarrassed about wanting to be female, so anything that would remind me of my gender brought me down. Some examples included: walking past a dress store in a mall and being petrified to be seen, seeing friends happy in relationships and wondering if I'm destined to be alone forever, and having to deal with people tell their "so I saw this freaky guy who wants to be a girl" story every other month. These things all made me think of the rest of my life, where it would only get worse as time went on if I didn't change something.
  • A lot of my daily routine was an attempt to escape these triggers. I have spent a good year or more of my life sitting at home, smoking weed until I forgot how depressed I was, and then sitting in front of the computer playing Magic Online or watching downloaded TV shows or playing video games. I did (do) all of this to distract myself from thinking about where my life was going.
  • As I do when I'm depressed, I became anti-social. Unfortunately, as I didn't have my own room for that month, there were times that I was forced to be. 
  • In terms of social scenes, the Cambridge/Boston scene that I am a part of has been slowly dwindling away. Whereas there used to always been a lot of people around to do things with, I found myself doing things with more or less the same people all the time. 
  • I was horrendously lonely. I actually set up a blind date via Craigslist with a girl who seemed like she'd mesh with me, and it was pretty terrible. At no point was I really enthusiatsic about it, since a relationship pretty much means I have to be 'the guy' 24/7. I also realized that this had fact has forever sabotaged any shot I've ever had at a relationship. 
  • The way I felt was very similar to the way I felt in the months leading up to my leaving CT.

So long story short, it was a long month. Eventually, thanks to my landlords bringing help to repair the room despite the insurance company not coming through, I had a bedroom again. For a little while, I think setting it up was a nice enough distraction to get my spirits up.

At the end of March, I went to a birthday party for my brother that his wife had set up at a banquet hall in CT. I was already in a bad mental place due to the fire, but it was made much worse when I saw there was a girl's Sweet Sixteen party across the hall. Like I said, anything that reminds me of gender stuff can trigger depressive spells (and the alcohol certainly didn't help). I sat through the night, didn't really talk or socialize, and realized that I needed to take proactive measures to get through this kind of thing, because it was only going to get worse.

March 2007 - taken at Valentine on the night that I made the decision to seek gender therapy.

After I was able to fight off denial and procrastination, I finally made an appointment with a gender therapist. This was my saving grace. I got stuck in traffic and only got to see her for 40 minutes, but I learned some things, some of which was stuff I had sort of known but never really dissected:
  • I mention that, with one exception, I was petrified for anyone to see me in drag or shopping for female stuff. She asks me why. I tell her that it absolutely kills me to be seen as abnormal, and that I know people are looking at me and thinking all sorts of negative stuff about me. She asks me: "so what?"...and I realized she was right - there really is no reason to care. 
  • I tell her the exception - inhibition reducing drugs (alcohol and MDMA - the latter of which I've done perhaps 10 times in the last three years) give me the freedom to not be ruled by the fear of being judged. I would use these, perhaps somewhat transparently, to have some sort of a reprieve from what my brain was doing to me. Although it seems obvious in retrospect, she told me that the reason my inhibitions were dominating me so bad is that I was finding a workaround for my fear instead of facing it. 
  • I told her that I didn't really know how to describe myself. I've never really felt I was a transvestite, because the desire to be female goes way beyond sexual pleasure. I've never really felt like I was transgender, because I didn't feel 100% dysphoric with my body, and never felt positive about what I was. She told me that, based on what I told her, I certainly seemed more on the transgender side of the fence.. This was actually somewhat reassuring, because even to this day I've felt like it might all be in my head. 
  • I explained to her that I feel like I am always being judged or looked down upon by people at a distance. I had spent the last months convinced that people were talking about my (large list of) shortcomings when I wasn't around, and that it was breeding a full-fledged bout of low esteem + paranoia. This is something that she said we'd explore later. 
  • We made some more appointments (three more this month, in fact). I left feeling better about myself than I have in a long time. 
I started to think about how stupid it was to be to be afraid of people's reactions to my gender. The problem is that, even if I no longer feel trapped, the awkward fear would still be there. I decided to start pushing the boundaries a bit - I've started spending my time at home almost exclusively in female dress. I've started shopping for clothes (lord knows I've needed better ones, since most female clothes that I own were purchased with me grabbing something off of a shelf in a panic because I couldn't take being seen), and frankly, I don't know what the hell I was so nervous about.

I haven't talked with the therapist about my future yet. I really want to go full-time, with hormones and surgery and the like. This brings up challenges - telling my family, telling my job, finding the money to do this, working on my voice, getting laser hair removal, being able to take the fact that it could all go wrong and I could end up fucking up my body/appearance. I'm planning on telling my parents when they come up this weekend; my job will follow thereafter. If I do end up taking hormones, I will likely transition in Boston while keeping my job (since it's as open-minded a work environment as I can imagine), and then start a new life somewhere else when this chapter of my life is complete.

One last note for now - I was going to delete this livejournal, because I really don't feel connected to it anymore, but am leaving it up because there are five years of good memories in there. I am going to start a new blog at some point to document the coming year or two, and will let people know if it's the sort of thing that they're interested in reading.

Monday, September 10th, 2007 - my last Livejournal post

1. On September first, I moved to a new apartment. It's located conveniently up the street from the place ("Valentine") that I just moved out of, at the intersection of Brookline and Putnam Aves. in Cambridge. My new apartment ("Putnam") is next door to two restaurants, a laundromat, and a convenience store that sells alcohol. That, combined with proximity to my friends and a decent amount of space has made it a pretty nice location.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with it. Moving everything last weekend was a big pain in the ass, as was getting everything out of boxes and setting stuff up. There is, and probably always will be, stuff that I want to fix up or change to really customize it into a personal living space, but I'm definitely satisfied with the way it's coming so far. There's a leaky faucet and a loud refrigerator that I need to get the landlord to fix, and the blinds on the kitchen window don't close, but I can deal with it.

The biggest change is the fact that I'm living alone this time around. There were a couple of reasons that I wanted to do so. The most important is the space I gain, in both the physical and the mental aspects. From a square footage standpoint, I have a lot more room to spread my things out. At Valentine, I had always pretty much had all of my stuff in my room, and it would always get to the point where I had far too many things to place. In addition, there's a comfort in knowing that your actions are accountable to no one but yourself.

Actually, scratch that. Space is nice, but the most important thing is the change of lifestyle that I'm hoping to initiate here. I was falling into a dangerous trap at Valentine in regards to spending money on useless things, and this has given me a chance to correct those behaviors and improve my life. By moving here, I've effectively doubled my rent, so I'm pretty much forced to budget my money significantly tighter than I used to. I've started cooking meals at home, kept the apartment relatively in-shape, and stopped using money on Magic Online, so I'm on the right trail. I'm mostly just trying to take more initiative on things that I normally put off. Valentine was a tough place to try and start transitioning from male to female, because I'd always find myself worried about unexpected guests or visits from people that I had no plans of coming out to. Putnam is where I plan to actually start moving my life over to that of Michelle.

I'd go to the Dollar-a-Pound store, sneakily fill up a garbage bag with womens' clothes, and go home to try stuff on.

2. In the five months since the last time I've posted on LiveJournal, I've:
  • continued seeing my therapist 
  • come out to my family 
  • started going to BATS (a trans- support group) meetings at MIT, and enjoying them 
  • gone out in public presenting female a few times now, including shopping at the Natick Mall 
  • have probably been read (spotted as a transperson) twice, and to my surprise it was no big deal 
  • come out to pretty much everyone outside of my job 
  • been encouraging people to not worry about keeping it secret (other than at work, where one person knows) - I plan to be out to everyone at some point, and already I feel tired of bringing it up to people simply so that I don't awkwardly surprise them down the road. I know some old family friends now know, as well as some friends' parents and some friends-of-friends, everyone's been great so far. 
  • gotten a lot closer to my parents, even though they still drive me nuts sometimes :) 
  • gotten a more feminine haircut 
  • come out to my Primary Care Provider (doctor), who is cool with it, but relatively inexperienced 
  • scheduled an appointment with said doctor to discuss what services he'll need to be able to provide, and to schedule necessary bloodwork 
  • been recommended to an endocrinologist, with whom I will schedule an appointment after I meet with my doctor 
  • reconnected with people online that I had lost touch with, who have all been great 

3. I am going to go into more detail on the stuff listed above, but not here. I know it's the cliche thing to do. but I'm going to be taking my trans- related writing to another journal soon. As the days go on, this LiveJournal is going to be something I'm going to want less and less people to associate with me. I figure that I will have an easier time writing in something that isn't as tied to the person I used to be.

Whatever the new journal is, when I start it, I'm going to be writing as Michelle (with either no or a fake last name). I've already been encouraging some people to use that name/female pronouns when talking to me on AIM. I think that's easier on the computer, since both because people (a) don't see a male in front of them when they talk online, and (b) no one ever refers to the person they're talking to online in the third person anyways. I have a new email address ([redacted]) with a female name on it that I'm using more and more while using the old one less and less. Whereas I have always been conscious of the amount of people reading this journal, I plan to write the next one in the style of having comments disabled. Conceptually, it will be more of a place to record my thoughts so that I have a record of what my transition is/was like.
The blog that I referred to was the transition blog mentioned in my last post.

This is a long entry, so I'm not going to add too much more to it.  Suffice to say, when I look at the point in my life where I really started to grow up and challenge myself, 2007 is the year it all began.  Transitioning isn't an easy process by any stretch of the imagination, but nine years later I'm happy to have gone through it all because the lessons learned in the process (notably here and here) helped shape me into the person that I am today.

I constantly daydream about how great it would be to find a time machine and travel back in time to show past-me that everything turned out all right.  But when I think about it, past-me doesn't need that.  It's the people who, now, are considering transitioning and worried about all the bad stuff that might happen.  That fear is very real and can be downright terrifying at times.

Me, five minutes ago, trying desperately to pretend I'm not posing for a picture.
I can't honestly guarantee to other people that everything will be all right if they transition.  Relative to most other transpeople, I came from a place of privilege and it definitely had an impact on my outcome.  I'd never make the assumption that I know more about someone else's situation than they do.  But I can truthfully say that this is my writing from nine years ago, and that transitioning was the decision that changed me from the person who wrote the above to the person I am today.  That, and that I like the person who I am, and that I'm happier than I've ever been.

No comments:

Post a Comment