"I'm not going anywhere."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Last Saturday was the one year anniversary of my decision to transition. As I think I mentioned last week, it somehow feels like both a whole lifetime *and* a few moments ago. And both are true, really.

A friend remarked recently that making that call must have been the hardest thing I ever did.

"No," I told him. "Deciding to make the call was the hardest thing I ever did. Making the call was easy."

It's definitely the best decision I've ever made. I knew it within a few weeks of starting HRT. It felt... right. I'm so, so much happier than I was a year ago that it doesn't even merit comparison. I wouldn't go back to my old life for anything in the world.


While transitioning is the best decision I ever made, I knew going in that it was going to be the biggest challenge of my life, one that would require every ounce of strength I had. I also knew there would be times when it would seem overwhelming.

This has been one of those times.

The past two months have been a whirlwind.

After a six-month layoff - which took place just days after I received my letter to start HRT - I finally got a new job. Unfortunately, it meant leaving an area I love, and a number of new friends who made me feel welcome from the moment I arrived. It also meant moving back near where I grew up. To be blunt, its a place I try to avoid as best I can; there are simply too many painful memories everywhere I look. But I had to go where the job took me. And this was a good job.

Or so it seemed.

The main benefit to this position was that the company was a) stable and b) near a major city. My previous home, wonderful as it was, meant at least an hours drive to see my therapist and physician. Now I would be a short train ride to some of the best medical care in the world. The same holds true for electrolysis, any surgeons I may decide I need, support groups, and the like.

I started the job in mid-March. Its a demanding job  nothing I cant handle, but theres a huge learning curve, the project itself is massive, and the deadlines are tight, as I was hired as a replacement for a writer who left just as the current project was starting.

Because I was hired so quickly  barely 10 days from start to finish - I was also commuting 90 minutes each way to my old apartment on weekends to pack and run all of the usual moving errands. I live alone, so thats quite a bit of work to squeeze in on a weekend.

To further complicate matters, I fell and broke two ribs and bruised a disc in my back the day after I was offered the job. Needless to say, three hours of driving and 10-14 hours of bending, lifting, and carrying boxes by myself under those conditions slowed me down considerably.

Long story short: it got done. Inexplicably, I chose to move myself, rather than simply bite the bullet and hire movers. I can say this with the wisdom of hindsight: Never. Again. The evening I finished (with a huge assist from my nephew and a family friends son) I was physically and emotionally drained. I have things in storage now, but when the time comes, it will be movers who handle it.

Last week I managed to get my car registered and inspected and to get my new drivers license. The entire time I was thinking that Ill be doing this again at some hopefully not-too-distant point, but this time as myself. But for now, this was good. The only thing I had left to do is find an apartment.

Ive been staying with my parents since the job started (a whole other experience worthy of its own blog post, as you might imagine), and I told my father on Monday night that finally, after two frantic months, things were beginning to fall into place. I would soon have a steady job, a short commute, and could focus on the real task at hand  becoming me.

Then I got to work on Tuesday.

Again, to make a long story short, I was told when I was hired that the company was going to possibly move to a new building, likely in either the same town its currently in or the next town over. In other words, a difference of five minutes either way in my commute, but no big deal.

On Tuesday, it turns out that isnt the case. They have a new office *now.

And its nearly 45 minutes north of the current office.

And I was going to be working there.

Suddenly, the future I had mapped out for the next few crucial years of my life went from stable to completely unstable.

For a variety of reasons, the new location simply doesnt work. Its not a rural area, but it makes it impossible, for all intents and purposes, to have easy access to the doctors and specialists I mentioned earlier. And of course I cant tell them WHY I cant go there; Im less than six months into HRT. I wasnt planning to tell them for well, not for quite a while.

The move is going to happen fast  as in within the month. My head was literally reeling at the implications. I simply didnt know what to do. I realized I had to say something to my manager, a lovely lady, who of course has no idea what is going on in my personal life.

I sent her a carefully worded message  one I agonized over - saying I had personal reasons  VERY personal reasons  why I needed to stay in the current location. And that it was a private matter I would prefer to keep that way if at all possible. I added that I know I had only been there a short time, but I would do my best no matter what.

The next day she sent a very nice reply, stating that she didnt need to know my reasons; I told her more than enough by what I did  and didn say. She said she would do the very best she could to get them to keep me where I was. Where they had, in fact, told me I would be working when they hired me.

She added that she knew me well enough in the short time weve worked together to know I would only speak up for something that was important, and that she was touched by how much I had clearly struggled to reveal even as much as I did. She promised to respect my privacy to the best of her ability.

Thats where things stand now. I think I will be able to stay in my current location. But I dont know for sure. All I can do is wait and see.


As you might imagine, this has been a trying week. To make matters worse, Im fighting a nasty spring cold, one that has left me literally sleepless most nights this week with a racking cough.

Transitioning is a lonely process. The friends to whom Ive come out have been, with almost no exceptions, wonderfully supportive. But they have their own lives to live, and their own problems to face.

At the end of that still-surreal day on which I told both my friend F and my friends T & J my news, I was talking with F as we lingered near our cars in an empty parking garage.

I want to say again that Ill do anything I can to help you, he told me. Anything at all. Im here for you.

But at the end of the day I really dont give a f***.

And we both laughed. Because we knew he was right. What I was doing affected ME  and only me. And on this journey, I had to make it alone.


One of the things I was told you have to accept when you decide to transition is that you could lose everything. Your job, your friends, your family all of it. I knew that and knew I was going to go forward in spite of it. Because I had no other choice. Better risking losing everything than continuing the empty existence to which I was sentenced if I did not.

I dont open up easily to people. I learned early in my life, for reasons Ive described in earlier posts, and for reasons I choose not to share, that its dangerous to trust others, and even more dangerous to count on them.

I vowed, at what in retrospect is a distressingly early age, that I could not, would not, ever let that happen.

And I didnt.

I presented a smiling face to the world. All the better to keep them away from who I really was. She was someone I didnt dare let them see.

I moved to the West Coast about 12 years ago. Looking back, its when the façade began to crumble. It was unsustainable in the long run.

My childhood friend T  who unwittingly shared one of the formative experiences  in which I came to realize who and what I was  also lived in the same city to which I had moved. He told me once that his wife, who by that point I had known for three years, remarked to him that she liked me a great deal, and thought I was a very nice person and that she knew absolutely nothing about me. And that I wanted it that way.

She was right, of course.

Im getting better about letting people in. Ive come a long way in the twelve short months since I began to transition. But a lifetime of caution and disappointment and hurt arent overcome completely in such a short time.

I still struggle with asking for help for even routine things. Like moving. F, who lives several hours away, had no idea I had done the entire move myself.

Youre allowed to ask for help, you know, he chided me last weekend over the phone, in the way only a best friend can. I can tell just from talking to you how exhausted you are.

It wasnt so bad, I replied  my standard response.

After a moment, F spoke softly.

In the last six weeks, you started a brand-new, very demanding job. You commuted three-plus hours back and forth to pack up your old apartment every weekend from a city you loved. You did all of that with two broken ribs and a sore back. And what sounds like a nasty cold.

Those are two of the most stressful things you can do. And on top of all that youre transitioning. Thats stress on a whole other level.

NO ONE could possibly do all of that alone. Not even you. Its OK to let your guard down now with us. You need to learn that. OK?

I told him I did know that, of course.

But I didnt.

Until a few days later.


The most rewarding aspect of transitioning  beyond the sheer relief and joy of realizing my body and mind are finally, slowly coming into sync with each other  has been the wholly unexpected arrival of new people into my life.

One person in particular has, in a few short months, become a treasured friend.

This person, well along in their transition, reached out to me several months after I started my blog, telling me that how much it moved her, and how few blogs managed to do that. And she assured me when it came to what really mattered, and why I was doing what I was doing, that I got it.

She encouraged to write more, and to write about more personal topics. When I told her that I had some things I wished to write about that scared me with how much they would reveal, and with how much they would hurt, gently suggested I follow my instincts about what to do... but that writing about them would take away the power they held over me.

Months later, when I had started them and didnt know if I had the courage to finish them, she told me she knew I could. That she believed in me. And when I did finish them, she told me how moved she was by them.

Recently, we havent spoken as often as we had. My schedule, as you can see, has been frantic. So has hers, for different (and joyful) reasons.

But when I posted a quick note about coming out to my friend C last weekend, she wrote to me to share a laugh. I teased her about the latest developments in her life, as we do back and forth when one of us has good news to report.

As it was late on a work night, and I was already exhausted, I briefly touched on my work situation and quickly shared some news about new experiences Ive been having. Without going into details, Ill simply say its important. Her typically thoughtful reply helped me to articulate how I was feeling - and, more importantly, why I was feeling that way - much better than I had been able to on my own.

I apologized for dumping so much on her at once, especially since I couldnt do justice to how much her answers helped me crystallize what I was feeling and why.

I have so much to tell you, I told her. But its so frantic right now.

She replied that she wanted to hear more about all of these topics when I had time.

But, she said, I should get some rest, and catch my breath, and just give myself a much-needed break.

After all, she wrote, Im not going anywhere.

It didnt hit me until hours later, when I re-read our correspondence as I spent another sleepless night coughing.

Im not going anywhere.

I was, suddenly, moved to tears.

Because I knew it was true.

She was going to be there.


And the day after.

And the day after that.

It was a moment I never thought I would allow myself to experience.

To know someone was with me no matter what.

I realize now I have a number of people who are also with me.

But it wasnt until she wrote those four simple words  Im not going anywhere.  that I believed it for the first time in my life.

You cant repay a debt like that. So Im afraid this message, inadequate as it is to the task, will have to suffice in letting her know, in some small measure, how much she means to me, and how grateful I am to know her.

Thank you.


I was listening to Lyle Lovetts wonderful Road to Ensenada album today, and the title of this song - one of my favorites of his - seemed particularly appropriate. Hope you all have someone with whom you can share a private conversation. :c)


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