Independence Day

Monday, June 3, 2013


Yesterday was a huge day in my transition. 

And in my life.

I came out to my parents. 


I would like to say it had a storybook ending. 

But that would not be honest.

And I strive to be honest. 

Even when it is painful, or not what I would have hoped for.

Even when that is what I expected, more or less.

I want this to be a journal I can look back upon later and know it reflects how I felt at that time.

And I want it to be a chronicle others who were where I was just over two years ago - just starting, frightened, uncertain - I want it to be something they can read and know that even when events are not what you would wish, you can choose to move forward, and to know you have the strength to do so.

Because they will be able to see how I am, since I am at that very point today.

And although today I am more than a little sad, and mostly numb... underneath it all is a sense of release, and of accomplishment, and of pride.

I want that girl to be able to read this and to say to herself what I did when I read the extraordinary blogs that helped me immeasurably when I was starting out:

"If she could do it, then I can too."

***

I don't write much about my parents, or my brother.

There are reasons for that.

I won't go into them here.

It's far too complicated, and simply isn't something I am comfortable sharing.

There are too many painful, raw memories, and too much that cannot be unsaid or undone.

They are not bad people; I know that.

I have come to recognize their flaws and limitations, just as I have done myself.

Unfortunately, their flaws are what likely prevents them from being able to share my journey with me on anything more than a superficial level.

I am beyond fortunate to be blessed with a wonderful sister and nephew. They have both been stalwart in their support.

And I have a circle of friends who love me very much, and whom I love very much in return.

That is far more than many people, transitioning or not, have.

While it does not completely remove the sadness and grief from not being able to have what I now feel I *should* have... that love is what is allowing me to acknowledge what has happened and to move forward.

***

So... what happened when I told them?

I had discussed how to approach this with my sister and my nephew.

For a variety of reasons, we agreed it was best for me to go over to their home to tell them. It wasn't ideal; it simply was the best option.

We chose yesterday because it was the only day that worked for both of them to be there.

My nephew has a summer job that typically requires him to work weekends.

My sister, meanwhile, works two full-time jobs and, in her spare time, is pursuing a Masters in nursing.

She is doing all of that so that she can pay for my nephew's entire college education - tuition, room, board, expenses, all of it.

You can see why her nickname at work is the Energizer Bunny. (Along with Nurse Nasty - but that is said with affection, even by the patients who call her that. lol)

We had it planned out as well as it could be planned.

Then, in true Cass fashion, everything fell apart. :-p

I had my regular blood work done on Wednesday. While I was there, they asked if I had received a tetanus booster in the past ten years; I had not, so they gave me one.

And, being Cass, I naturally came down with the flu as a result - which happens in approximately 1-3% of recipients.

I was so sick on Saturday that I never got out of bed. It was brutally hot and humid here the past four days, so I stayed in my air-conditioned bedroom the entire time.

(My nephew, who as I've mentioned is 6'-2" and weighs 200 lbs. had no difficulty with it. My upper body strength, never much to begin with, has all but vanished after 18 months of HRT. Two years ago, pre-HRT, I installed it myself with a modicum of difficulty. Now, I was barely able pull the box out of the crawl space in my attic.)

I woke up at 3:00 AM on Sunday morning, literally drenched in sweat. I had to change all of the sheets on the bed, as they were all also drenched. The fever had broken, but I still felt woozy and had a nasty cough.

Through an honest misunderstanding, my sister and nephew thought I was postponing my visit - a fact I did not discover until I had called my mother and asked if I could come over to talk to both her and my father.

They both felt awful, but it was no one's fault. I assured them I would be OK. And I knew I would be.

Not to mention that I couldn't call my parents and say "Never mind."

Nor could I stand to wait any longer.

I was determined.

This was the day.

And this was the time.

During the 15 minute drive to their home, I thought of the multitude of encouraging text messages, phone calls, and email messages I had received in the days leading up to this moment from my friends.

I thought of my therapist, M, who told me I would be in her thoughts the entire day.

And I thought of my electrologist, M, who told me she was going to light a votive candle for me after Sunday Mass at her church.

"I'm going to say a prayer for you and your parents, Cass. And I'm going to pray that you find the peace you deserve once it's done, no matter the outcome. Because you deserve it, hon. You deserve it."

As it turned out, after various Keystone Kop-like follies that took place during my 15-minute drive to their house that I only became aware of later, my sister *was* able to be there.

They were waiting for me in the front room.

I knew I would have to gauge the mood of the room at that moment, and I did.

I simply told them in much the same manner I have told everyone so far.

"First of all, I want to say right away that I'm not sick, and I'm not gay. Those are both common for people in my situation."

"There's something I've known about myself for a long, long time, something I've struggled with that entire time."

"I don't know any easy way to say this, so I've learned it's best to just be direct: I'm transsexual."

"I'm transitioning from male to female."

They sat without saying a word.

I explained that this was a medical issue, and that it was not anyone's fault - not mine, not theirs. I briefly described what happens in the case of a MTF transsexual like myself, and then quickly summarized the Harry Benjamin standards of care.

Finally, after a long pause, my mother spoke.

I won't go into details from this point on.

But I will say this much:

They were utterly consistent with how they have always been. 

This is not a good thing.

But it was more or less what I expected.

Essentially, they chose to make this about them. 

Primarily, they were angry that I told others before I told them.

And that I knew something was wrong for most of my life but didn't tell them.

I began to reply, but they cut me off.

I tried again, and once again they interrupted me.

My sister finally interjected. She was, to put it mildly, irate.

Essentially, she told them to give me the courtesy of a reply before attacking me.

"And why didn't she tell you?!? She was only a child when she was realizing she was different - and in the late Seventies and early Eighties. She had no idea what a transsexual was; none of us did - including you! She was terrified... because she was a child!" 

My sister eventually left the room. I will leave it at that.


Once she did, I did something for which I am very proud now.

I stood up for myself. 

I did not get defensive. I calmly explained that I wanted to tell them sooner, and explained why it didn't happen.

Once I did, they understood, and accepted it.

I told them about several of the incidents I've written about on my blog in The Chronicles of Cass, and tried to get across how much hatred and self-loathing we all experience. 

They said they understood.

But they didn't. 


The tell, as it's referred to, was the number of times I heard something like "how you say you felt," or "the way you think you feel," or "what you say happened."

I said that I had copies of True Selves, which is still the best book for any family members or friends of transsexuals if they wanted to read it.

They declined.

I asked if they wanted to meet with my therapist, who has offered to answer whatever questions they might have that she could address.

Again, they said no.

In the end, they said they would support me "the way we always have." 

To be honest, that was exactly what I expected.

Nothing will change.

Except for the most important thing:

I will be me.

I would like it if they decide to be a major part of my life.

It is their choice. 

And their loss if they chose not to pursue it.

And to be honest...

I'm OK with that, should it come to pass.

I have discovered I have an inner toughness I never realized I possessed.

Tough enough to grow up knowing I was on my own from when I reached puberty.

Tough enough to deal with bullies, and being beaten up, and having a knife pulled on me... and tough enough to fight back when there was no other choice, and giving as good as I got, usually against kids much bigger than me. 

The one thing that is most telling to me about the entire afternoon (and I was there for nearly four hours)?

In all that time, after listening to all that I have gone through, and all of the pain and heartache and suffering, both physical and emotional, during my entire life...

In four hours, not once did they ever express any sympathy.

Nor did they ask if what they could do to help.

And truthfully, I expected nothing else.

And that might be the saddest thing of all.

Not for me.

For them.

I finally know I am a good person.

And that I have so much to look forward to.

And that I have done the hard, hard work to learn who I am, and that I have the courage to make becoming her a reality.

I can still hope that they decide to get to know the real me, and to share in my journey. Because I think it is going to be wonderful.

But if they don't... it is their loss.

I can't do anything about it.

Now I know that isn't my fault.

I can be sad about it.

And mourn for what should have been, and what could have been.

But I will not let it stop me.

I am moving forward.

I told them because they have a right to know.

Perhaps they'll surprise me and decide to make an effort at this point in their life. (They are both retired.)

But whether they do or they don't, I know I was completely honest with them, and that I gave them a chance to start fresh one last time.

Whether they do or, as I suspect, they don''t, I can move ahead towards my bright future.

And I can't wait to get there.

Because I deserve it.

I did what I needed to do, and I extended them an open hand.

Now I can move forward, with a clear mind and a light heart.

I cannot wait. :c)

***

Here is one of Bruce Springsteen's saddest and most moving songs, about a child realizing the time has come to move on, alone, from his parents:

 

To wrap up on the lighter side, I was chatting with my friend C after speaking with my parents. She said that now I was free to go wherever I wanted. I replied that in that case I was headed to Asbury Park New Jersey in the summer of 1978 to be a Bruce Tramp (as his die-hard fans call themselves).

She was amused, and asked why it was specifically the Darkness on the Edge of Town-era Bruce. I mused that I guess I have a thing for skinny, intense guys with curly hair. (Alejandro Escovedo fits the bill as well.)

"I think it's adorable that you have a crush on 1978 Bruce Springsteen," she replied. "You really *are* going through adolescence right now!" 

And how. :-p

God help me when I go full-time and the hormones *really* kick in! lol

C joked that she wanted to join me, so we began cataloging all of the things we would need:

Big hair. (Luckily, we both have lots and lots of crazy curls to work with.)

Skin-tight, super-trashy clothes. (C *did* dub us the "Skinny Bitches" for a reason.)

Thigh-high boots. (We both have long legs for our height.)

Pink lip gloss. (By the pound.)

Bubble Yum. (See above.)

"We should totally do this!" C said.

"We could go out as sisters for Halloween!" I replied.

"OMG!" she replied. "We really *are* going to look like sisters by then. Aren't we? That's amazing!"

I have a hard time believing it myself.

But it's true. :c)

That being said... let's end on a celebratory note, shall we?


I have this show, and yes, the entire concert is this good! 

11 comments:

April on June 3, 2013 at 6:36 PM said...

Dear Cass,

Although your affections would be better directed to Elvis (don't worry I forgive you) I am so very proud of you and that from this moment you are FREE!

Cassidy on June 3, 2013 at 6:51 PM said...

Thank you, sis. :c)

I must point out though, that Miss Krall seems to have stolen Mr. Costello's affections. Pity; Cassidy McManus-Costello has such a nice ring to it...

Hugs,
Cass

P.S> I still may try out your dancing hot dogs idea when I tell my brother and and sister-in-law. :-p

April on June 3, 2013 at 7:40 PM said...

Cassidy McManus-Costello sounds like an ad agency

The kind of agency that would come up with a dancing hot dog transsexual PSA after one too many martini lunches

Girl, I am sending you my bust of Elvis (the real rockabilly one) suitable for daily devotions

Cassidy on June 3, 2013 at 7:55 PM said...

Would said dancing hot dogs demonstrate GCS using a sausage as a certain someone suggested?

(Not that I'm complaining; I haven't laughed as hard or as long as I did as when I first heard it proposed...) :c)

== Cass

Faline on June 3, 2013 at 9:44 PM said...

Initial reactions are not always the lasting ones, especially when they're told in person. A bit of a shock to the system. My mom made it about her as well, when she got my letter. I remember her telling me, "I'm 65, I don't need this!!" As if perhaps 10 years earlier, she would have had a different reaction. Ha.

Glad you're out to your parents. Good to have that burden off your shoulders. And you will move on, with or without them.

Jenna on June 4, 2013 at 2:05 AM said...

I'm glad that your out to your parents.
Hopefully given time they'll accept it and be supportive. It is a big thing to drop on them.

Mine told me they'd wished I'd told them years ago but like your sister pointed out we were younger then and didn't necessarily understand who we are other than that we're not the same as those around us.

I'm really glad that your sister is supporting you and stands up for you. She sounds like one tough person.

Becca on June 4, 2013 at 6:51 AM said...

Whatever their reaction now, whatever their reaction in the future you have done what needed to be done. I think we all want things to turn out well in the end - we can only hope and dream that's the case. The reality is that you are now free to take the next step, if they are there then I am truly glad for you. If they feel they can't I know you will be sad but at the same time they cannot and will not hold you back.

Good luck

Becca

Cassidy on June 4, 2013 at 12:58 PM said...

@ Faline, Jenna, & Becca: Thank you all very much. I felt sad and a bit numb yesterday, and still do, really. But it's getting better.

I'm going to write a post about the past two days, but I'm deeply grateful and humbled by your support, and by the love and support shown by other friends as well.

There is more to the story than what I shared (as I'm sure you guessed), most of which only involves me peripherally. That said, I do hope my mother and father can find it within themselves to truly be there with me.

But even if they cannot, I know that I am now free to move on with my life. This was the last significant step I needed to take (well, other than telling my brother and sister-in-law).

I am hopeful that soon the reality that I am now truly free will register fully, and I can move ahead to "live [my] life filled with joy and wonder," to borrow a phrase from one of my favorite R.E.M. songs.

Thank you all, and lots and lots of love to each of you!

Mega hugs,
Cass

P.S. Faline, your most recent post literally made my day yesterday! Good for you, girl!!! :c)

bashashhazbaz on June 6, 2013 at 3:02 PM said...

wow! that's quite a day for you cass! congrats on doing what you did and i hope you can now move forward much happier despite the family reacting the way you figured!

Jessica Lyn on June 6, 2013 at 4:11 PM said...

As Faline said, inital reactions are not lasting ones... I completely agree. When I first told my mom, she said she'd be supportive. But now she doesn't even talk about it. In fact the other day I was invited to go shopping with a girl friend of mine and my mom said "doesn't she have any girls to go shopping with?" WTF!

I need to have another talk with my mom, and well, this example doesn't make it seem better for your parents, but it does show that people can change their minds. I think in a lot of ways my mom is like your parents.. stuck in her ways and to her change is bad. And I'm not just talking about transitioning, but change in general.

Geez.. I should write another post about this.

Anyway, you know no matter what, your sister and nephew have your back.. and I do too. You have many friends that are supportive and all you need to do is surround yourself with them.

I love you,

Jess

Cassidy on June 6, 2013 at 10:01 PM said...

@ bashashhazbaz: Thank you. I hope so too. :c) (I owe you a reply, btw, and promise I will over the weekend!)

@ Jess: And thank you, sweetie. :c) I'm sorry your Mom is having a hard time as well. For what it is worth, my parents are much the same with resisting change in general - even when they are not happy with the present.

And girl, you *totally* need to write a post about this. :c)

Thank you so much for the support!

Hugs and love,
Cass

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