Life's Little Reminders

This is a tough night for me.  I've realized that I can't do some things the way I wanted to...not yet, anyway.  I have to learn how to be patient with myself.  I've also got to learn how to deal with these reminders in a more healthy way.  I'm getting a little personal here, but isn't that what blogging is all about?  Giving you a glimpse into the way my brain works.  It's a scary thought, really.  

I've recently been visited by mother nature.  She brought a little gift and it sucks BIG TIME!  I've talked to another guy about it.  His experience is very similar to my own.  He would get severely depressed every time he was on his period.  It was just another reminder that he was stuck in the wrong body.  That's exactly how I feel.  These are the things that make it the hardest for me.  It isn't necessarily the people, although that's hard, too.  It's the physical reminders that I'm not where I want to be just yet.  That it will take time.  While I'm finally okay with admitting who I am and happy to begin living my life for me, it is hard with those limitations.  I also tried to switch to the tenor part in my church choir.  It was okay the first night.  I didn't feel very much pain at all.  I figured it had just been a long time since I'd been in my lower register.  As the week progressed, though, and I practiced more and more, I realized that I was in pain after every song.  That was hard to admit.  I want so badly to be able to sing with the men.  But I still have a female voice.  God has blessed me with the gift of song, and I am grateful.  It just sucks that I can't sing where I feel like I need to be.  It sucks that I have to wait even longer to be able to do it.  I've waited for five long years to be able to say who I am.  Now I have to wait for at least a few more months before I can begin to make some of those changes in my life.

This isn't going to be an easy journey.  I've known that from the very beginning.  But I had no idea that it would be this hard to transition in the every day things.  My name and the pronouns are something that will just take time for everyone to adjust to and I'm not really worried about that at all.  But the fact that people still expect me to act, look, dress, behave in a certain way simply because I am still biologically a female...that frustrates me to no end!  I think that's why it hurts so badly when I find I can't do things to help the transition along, such as sing with the men in the church choir.  These things seem insignificant to most people.  To me, they are huge. Maybe I am just making mountains out of mole hills, but it seems like a pretty big deal to me.  

I have to learn to be okay with where I am right now.  Right now, I still have to deal with nature's gift to women.  I still have to sing soprano in the church choir.  I still have to mark "female" on all important paperwork.  I still have to sign my name "Gretchen Reiswig".  That sucks.  That's not who I am.  That's never been who I was.  And still, until my name change becomes legal, that's who I have to claim...at least on the important stuff.  When I pull out my license to prove my age, I still have to deal with some very confused looks from clerks.  I still have to explain my situation to people who are unaware.  These are things that I have to learn to deal with in a healthy way.  These are my struggles.  Yes, my family is important to me.  It would mean the world to me if I had their full support.  Yes, my relationships with my friends mean everything to me and I am grateful for the support network I have found.  Yes, I know my God still loves me just the way I am.  But I have to learn to be okay with the fact that my body still doesn't match my brain or my heart.  I have to learn to focus on the positive things in my life rather than the negative reminders that only make me depressed or angry.  That's way easier said than done.  I know I'm not alone in these feelings.  I'm sure that everyone who has ever transitioned has fought with these very situations.  I know that people who haven't transitioned have also dealt with similar feelings.  I have to learn to remember that I am not alone in this life.  On these nights when I feel all alone and depressed, I have to reach out.  I have to call the ones I know will be there.  I have to get off my butt and do something productive.  I have to continue to live life.  I can't stop living just because of these reminders.  


Feeling My Feelings...It Sucks!

This has been a really weird day for me. I haven't really felt like myself. A good friend of mine attributes this to my extra exposure to the sun yesterday. While that might be part of it, I think there is more. I've been through some pretty tough stuff in my life, specifically in the last few months. I've made some major changes. Most of these changes have been for the better. For instance, I haven't had a cigarette in over a week, cut myself in over a month, or drank myself into a stupor. I've also been trying to make sure I get plenty of sleep. The drugs help with that, but I have to be willing to give myself eight hours to let them work. That's hard for me sometimes. There are nights when my brain just won't shut up and all I want to do is get it all out on paper. That's a really good thing for me. Writing is almost always a good thing for me. There are times, though, when it can hinder me from feeling better. When I've been writing for hours and I don't feel any better, it's probably best for me to just go to bed. Things will look better in the morning. Or at least I'll have had eight hours when I didn't have to think about whatever was bothering me. Then there are nights like tonight, when I desperately need an outlet. I choose writing.

Shane's death has really shaken me. I've lost enough friends to know that grief is normal and that it's okay to be mad and confused. I get that. But there is something different about this one. I'm not sure what just yet. Usually, deaths put me out of commission for weeks, unless I can “cope” with any of my vices. I think that's part of the reason this hurts so much. I can actually feel my feelings. That sucks. I freaking hate it. I have to face my feelings. It hurts, it's scary, and, quite frankly, I just don't want to do it. I don't want to admit that he is really gone. I don't want to admit that about any of them. I don't want to say goodbye. But I know I have to one day. I know that I will only be haunted by their memory until the day I can let them go. Knowing that in my brain and being able to connect that to my heart are two different things.

Sometimes, I just wish I could not care about the people in my life so much. Sometimes, that's the easy way out. If I don't care, then it won't hurt when they walk out of my life forever. But that's not me, damn it. My heart aches for people. I hate it when people are hurting and I will do whatever is in my power to help whenever I can. I can't just not care about people. I am called to love them. An old mentor used to tell me all the time, “No man is an island.” What I do affects other people. If I withdraw from society and just do what I want to do, then I'm not helping anyone, including myself. I might be the only light that some people will see in their lives. If I choose to keep that light hidden, they might live in darkness forever. No one likes that. It's not fun. It's lonely and it's miserable and just isn't worth it. So I have to care about people.

But what do I do when I am hurting so badly that I can't care about people? No matter how much I want to, I just can't right now. I love my friends and family, I don't think that's ever been in question. Most of the time, I love being around them or even just texting them to say hi. Today, it was all I could do to get up and go to church. Anyone who has known me for more than about ten minutes knows that I just don't miss church. It's where part of my family is. It's the most peaceful place in my life. That's where I draw wisdom, love, and compassion from those around me. In that sanctuary, I hear important lessons that will help me through the hard times. This morning, though, all I wanted to do was stay in bed and not talk to a single person. I didn't, though. I got up, went to church, tried to interact with fellow human beings, and just took the next right action. That's what I've been doing all day, just taking the next right action. Well, I'm trying to, anyway.

I went to coffee with an old friend right before we went to a meeting. I thought it was going to be a great time. It probably would have been if I had been able to be present in the conversation. But my mind kept wandering. I kept thinking about Shane. It's just not fair. I feel like that's all I can say about it, but that's not the only feeling I have. I can't seem to be able to communicate my feelings accurately. I think this is a skill that comes with practice. For so long I tried to hide my emotions and just pretend like everything was okay. Well, I was drowning inside. I couldn't ask anyone for help. I wanted to, but something stopped me every time. I'm trying to learn to reach out to the people I love. I'm trying to keep the communication a two-way street. People can tell me they love me all day long, but unless I take the step to ask for help it won't matter.

I feel like I'm whining about the same old stuff. I feel I sound like a broken record when I tell the stories of my friends' deaths over and over again. My heart is screaming out but my mouth won't produce the sound. I hate that they are gone. Yeah, I'll see them again someday, but that doesn't really do anything for me right now. I want to be able to talk about them and then lay their memories to rest. Not to forget about them, but to quit carrying them around with me all the time. I feel like they are haunting me, but I know that's only because I refuse to let them go. I don't know what I need to do, but I know I need to do something. For now, all I can do is list their names. Each of them brought something special to my life. They all made a difference to me, either in their lives or through their deaths. They've touched me in some way. Christopher, Amanda, Daniel, Stacy (and unborn child), Eli, Maggie, Jake, Linda, Shane, Jamie, Stacie, Jeannie, Ted...the list goes on.

It pisses me off that I've only been to two weddings in my whole life. TWO! And I can't even list all the funerals I've attended? That's freaking backwards. These are the things that get to me. It's not necessarily the temptations in my life or those people I hung out with when I was drinking. It's the loss of life that affects me so deeply. When people are hurting, I hurt, too. I'm just so sick of pain. Yes, my life has gotten better in the last few weeks. I've given up some bad habits, picked up some good ones. I've also strengthened my support system and am taking an active role in my recovery. But still there is pain. Still there is a need for expression that I can't always fulfill. Nights like this one, if I'm not writing or talking to someone, will put me right back in the hospital. Nights like this are what break people like me. I feel like I've talked and talked and still haven't been able to say what I'm feeling. It's an attempt, at least, and it's better than what I did in the past. Take from this what you will. Someday, I hope to have wisdom to pass along to my friends that might help them to not hurt so badly. I just have to get through my own pain first. This is a step in the right direction.