Alone In The Dark

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's 3:41 AM on Sunday morning as I write this. I gave up trying to sleep several hours ago. I spent nearly two hours working on a post to summarize how I am feeling right now.

But I just read it, and it does not come remotely close to getting across how low I feel. As I usually do, I try to distance myself from how I feel through the words I use.

Well, I can't do that. Not this time.

I don't think I can get across the intensity of the pain I feel now. But I need to try.

Someday, if I'm very, very lucky, I will look back on October 25, 2014 as rock bottom. And if not... well, then it won't matter.

So no pretty words this time. Just the raw truth. If I have the courage to share it.

I've been in a bad way for several months now, with things getting progressively darker as the weeks passed. I hid it well - I always do. Some people at work sense something is up. But I won't let them in. I don't think I can.

Work is part of it. It's the same old story. The fact that nothing changes, and that nothing I do will make a difference, is a bitter pill for me to swallow.

I pride myself on being a hard worker. I have always felt that everyone else is better than me - smarter, , funnier, prettier, and so on  - but that my trump card was that I would outwork everyone else. To be in a position where that makes no difference... it's difficult to face each day knowing I am going to fall further behind, no matter how hard I work.

I've been trying to distance myself emotionally from my job. But it pushes so many of the same buttons my family does that it's nearly impossible for me to do that. I really don't have a refuge; those life-long feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy, and on and on are there, 24x7.

On top of that, I saw my parents a few weeks ago. I hadn't seen them face to face since early spring. Anyone who's read my blog over the past year and a half has some sense of the turmoil I feel after every encounter with them since coming out to them last June.

I need to admit something here. I re-read some of the posts I wrote about those events while working on the first version of this post. I see now that I wouldn't, or probably couldn't, admit how devastated I was after each time. It was too much. And this time was no different. I won't go into details - it's hard to get into words what they do to make me feel so low. But they know how to cut deeply, and to do it in a way that makes me look petty when I talk about it. It's insidious.

But worst of all is something I've done to myself. That makes it even worse. Because I have only myself to blame.

I can't write about all of it here. I just can't. But I'll try to get across what I can.

I'll be blunt. I have never had an intimate relationship of any kind.

I've never been married.

I've never had a girlfriend.

I've never slept with anyone.

I've never been kissed.

I want all of those things, more than I can possibly express. I tried and tried and tried my entire life to have one. Partly because I hoped it would make those feelings I could never admit to go away, but also because I hoped I could find someone who would give me what my parents couldn't - or wouldn't - do.

I'm not exaggerating in the least when I tell you I asked out hundreds of women. And that I was turned down by every single one of them. I tried everything imaginable. Nothing ever worked. I finally stopped when I realized I had a choice between false hope and no hope. And I chose no hope. Because it hurt less.

This is a whole post all by itself. And I'm fighting to get across how painful it is to spend my entire life desperately wanting to be special to someone, and to fail every single time, no matter how hard I tried or what I did.

But I'm numb right now. And exhausted. And feeling as if it isn't going to change anything even if I do find the right words. I'll just do the best I can right now.

I've had a history of being attracted to people who aren't interested in me. I seek them out - not consciously, of course. Part of that history is a series of intensely emotional relationships. And every single time, without fail, when I try to take it to the next level, I am told that they don't feel that way. And never have.

I know, deep down, that was what I wanted. For a bunch of reasons. The most obvious way is because it's reproducing the relationship I have with my parents. I give, and give, and give, but nothing is ever good enough. And never will be.

But I know now that it goes deeper. I'm wandering all over the place here, mostly because it's so hard to sort out all the things I feel right now.

I'll just say this much right now. I see friends I've made online who have transitioned all having success in their dating and relationships. I try to be as supportive as I can possibly be. Because I know how important it is.

But the truth is it hurts - more than I can express - to see them doing what I want more than anything in the world... but can't have.

They either have had their surgery, or are having it at some point. I may very well never be able to have it. Simply because I was born in the United States. And I can do nothing to change that.

I seem them being pursued - ardently - by both men and women, and going on dates and having long phone calls and much, much more.

And I know that I am never, ever, ever going to experience any of that.

Several months ago I made a bad decision.

Before I transitioned, one therapist had suggested I sign up with an online dating service, her theory being that I needed more experience with asking people out. The idea was to desensitize me, I guess.

The problem was that asking someone out was never the problem. My current therapist has told me she is astonished at how I could keep going back and trying after countless failures that would crush most people.

How many failures?

As part of this experiment, I told that previous therapist (and again, this is long before I decided to transition) that I would write to 200 women through this service. The idea was to pick what she felt would be a ridiculous number, something so high that it was inevitable that I would have success.

I did not.

For over eight months I diligently worked at it. I spent hours working on my own profile. Female friends helped me with it. They took what they said were flattering photos that I could include.

Each time I saw a profile that interested me, I didn't just fire off a canned response. I sat down and wrote something to try to connect with them, talking about specific things their profiles would mention. I did this each and every time.

Finally one day I was working on yet another message when I stopped and asked myself what I was doing.

I checked. I had written to 172 or 178 women (for some reason I can't remember which) over the course of eight-plus months.

And never received a single reply.

Not one.

Nor was I ever contacted by anyone.

I had failed. Completely.

So I stopped.

I spoke with my therapist about this, as you can imagine. She says that it wasn't really me they were rejecting, but someone I was trying to be.

So several months ago, after a friend starting dating online, I decided to try again.

I vowed that this time it would be different.

I never told anyone. I wanted to do this myself and then... well, I guess my plan was to be able to tell everyone that this time I was the one being flooded with email and phone calls.

I set up my profile.

I worked at it as diligently as I had previously.

I chose to look for women. I don't write about this much, but I think I'm likely bisexual. But I think I find women less intimidating.

Once again I started scanning my matches, and each time I found someone who caught my eye I wrote the best introduction I possibly could.

Over six-plus weeks, from mid-August until early October, I contacted 32 women.

And did not receive a single reply.

The more this went on, the more I felt the familiar feeling of despair and hopelessness grow.

But I kept doing it.

Finally, after receiving what turned out to be a fake response (this apparently is something they do when a member profile doesn't meet whatever metrics they use), I stopped.

I told one friend, a lesbian, about this.

She told me that the dating online as a lesbian is far more challenging than it is as a straight woman. Women looking for men get far more responses. That is certainly what I've seen with my friends.

So I switched my profile to indicate I was looking for men.

I did so two weeks ago.

I never wrote to anyone,  I suppose because I believed I didn't need to.

I was not contacted once.

Not one single time.

The despair, and self-hatred, and anger at myself for being so stupid, all roared back tenfold.

And I had no one to blame but myself this time.

I canceled my membership early last week. And even though it has five weeks to run, I marked it hidden. No one can see it.

Not that it would make a difference if they could.

I'd had enough.

I had a previously-scheduled therapy session yesterday (Saturday).

Thank God.

A dear friend was going on a date last night. She was very excited about it.

As I always do, I sent a text message late in the evening asking how it went, and hoping that she had a good time.

I didn't receive a reply.

Until I was sitting in the waiting room at my therapist's office.

She hadn't responded until then because the date had just ended.

I cannot put into words what I felt at that moment.

I was, and am, happy for her. I truly am. She wanted to share her good news with me.

But it felt like the final blow in what's been an awful, awful couple of months.

She has everything I want, and have been working so, so hard the past three and a half years, to have.

She is stunningly beautiful.

She has more dates than she can possibly handle.

She has had her surgery.

I have none of those things.

And I never will.

I desperately wanted to cry. I have for weeks. But I haven't been able to.

When M, my therapist, came out to the waiting room to greet me, though, they finally came.

Not nearly long enough. But at least they came.

I was, and am, inconsolable. I feel as if I'm trapped in a situation that has no escape.

I see the things I want so badly... but that I am never going to have.

And it hurts so much I can hardly bear it.

And the worst part is I know that all of my efforts of the past three-plus years were for nothing. And are going to be for nothing.

M was wonderful. She always is.

I told her what I wrote about in this post. All of it. And she did her very best to reassure me, telling me that this is how I feel now, and only now. I won't feel this way in a month, or two months, or a year.

That's true. I may well feel even worse.

One thing we discussed is something I've been working on a post about for the past several months.


I'm sure my friends are sick of hearing about this from me by this point.

From the moment I realized I had to transition, I have dragged my feet about learning it.

I want to.

I see what my friends do with it, and how stunning they look. I'm not remotely in their league when it comes to looks. I'm not saying that out of self-pity, or as a back-handed way to seek compliments; I'm just telling the truth. But I know I can at least minimize some of my weak points with it.

And I really, really want to learn. I want to play with makeup, and nail polish, and earrings. My sister C (who was also incredibly supportive today) told me when I first came to her that I was such a girl, far more than she has ever been. And she's right.

So why have I been so reluctant?

I told M that I've realized recently that it isn't really about makeup. That's just how this is manifesting itself.

We made some progress at my previous session. With M's gentle guidance, I came to understand that, in a strange way, by not letting myself learn about makeup I was continuing to do what I had done my entire life:


Because wearing makeup is really an investment in yourself. It's taking the time to look your best. You don't have to wear it, obviously. Many women don't, and look terrific. But I realized that wasn't why I'm not learning it:

It's fear.

Near the end of today's session M expanded on this, and made a point that resonated with me.

"The reason you feel so badly after you see your parents each time is related to the turmoil you clearly feel about makeup and your appearance."

"Every time you see them, you unconsciously hope that this is the time they love you the way you deserve to be loved. And you get hurt every time when they don't. Because they can't. They're just limited."

"You still have insecurity over who you really are, deep down, I think. And it's because you want to be someone they love. But you can't be that person. You were never him. And even when you were trying to be, that was never enough either."

"You say all of your work for the past three years is for nothing. That is NOT true. You have come so far. You can't conceive of just how far you've come in such a short period of time."

"That's a tribute to how hard you work. You told me at your first session that you weren't going to let fear rule your life anymore. And you haven't. When something is hurting you, you bring it up here so we can discuss it. The courage it takes to do that, over and over, and about really important, deeply painful things is inspiring. I'm so, so proud of you."

"You've come this far because you push yourself, and hold yourself to the highest standards. And that's a wonderful quality to have."

"But that drive is also your worst enemy at times. Like now. You push yourself so, so hard, but you focus only on  the things you feel you should be doing. And you refuse to acknowledge the tremendous progress you've made."

"Your fears around makeup are tied into this. It's really about expressing your femininity. And I think you have your parents voices in your head, without knowing it. And they're telling you that what you know about yourself, and who you truly are, isn't actually true."

"You need to make a decision about the role they are going to play in your life. Because I don't think they're going to change. I used to think they would. You said all along they wouldn't. And I think you're right."

"You can choose not to grant them the power to decide who you are. And only you can do that. Don't let them drag you down with them. You deserve to be happy, Cass."

"I know you feel it's hopeless right now. But t isn't. I promise you. You can get past this. We can get past this. You aren't alone. I know you feel you are, but you aren.'t"

"I want you to promise me something. I want you to promise me you'll be gentle with yourself. I want you to be as giving with yourself as you are with your friends when they need  help. Once you can learn to do that, to truly value yourself and accept yourself as someone worthy of love, then others will see that. Will you do that for me?"

I nodded. We stood. M asked if I wanted a hug, and I said yes.

As soon as we hugged, the tears came flooding back. And they continued the entire ride home. They're flowing now. I need them to keep coming too. I have a lifetime of pain and grief I have to let myself experience. No matter how much it scares me.

I think the hug triggered such an intense reaction because I grew up in a family that is not demonstrative. Emotions are bad, and must be controlled.

That isn't me. I want so badly to have someone to hold me, and tell me I'm special to them, and love me. I want it more than anything in the world: to be loved for who I am: Cassidy.

I want to believe I deserve that. I want to believe I can have that. As I finish this at 5:56 AM, I don't know if I do.


I apologize for the rambling here. And I also want to add that I truly am happy for my friends. I don't want to make them feel badly simply because they have the things I want for myself. I would feel awful if this post inadvertently had that effect. I treasure them all.

Thank you for reading this. I truly appreciate all of you who take the time to read these posts. It's a privilege.


joanna Santos on October 26, 2014 at 6:45 AM said...

Hi Cassidy I am very sorry that you are so distraught. Life is not easy for anyone and it's only made more challenging when you have gender dysphoria. I beseech you to hold on tight to your friends these days and let them support you. You seem to be dealing with big self esteem issues that are understandable given that you continue to face some rejection in an area where you desperately want and deserve to succeed.

I don't want to pry but have you thought about taking a step back on the transition plan and catch your breath a little first? It must be all the more daunting to try and do this when you have other issues at the same time.

I am older than you and have faced some big challenges as well so I can relate to your pain. After my divorce I never thought I would find anyone to love me but I did. It takes time to heal your soul when you feel rejected but Ithink that if you work on lloving you first the relationship front will repair itself with the renewed sense of self and confidence.

I am not going to transition but deal with my dysphoria tnrough cross gender expression. I have found a woman who loves me as I am even if this is not something she would deliberately seek out for herself.

I hope you can regroup and know that many others in the trans community have felt the same disappointment and pain as you have and have come to remake their lives by taking things one day at a time and working on their insides. When we radiate love it will come back to us in return.


Stace on October 26, 2014 at 10:25 AM said...

Hoi Cass,

I am really sorry to hear that you are still going through this. But, I am really glad to read that you have spoken about this to your therapist. As to how far you have come: you are living and working as Cass and that is *huge*! You can certainly celebrate how far you are!

I'm sorry that I can't do more than send thoughts to you from over here - but I am thinking of you. Make sure that you look after yourself, and make sure that you use your friends that are closer to home to help you though this.

Thinking of you,

Abigale's Airings on October 26, 2014 at 12:36 PM said...

A big Irish bear hug Cass.
Remember, at your own pace...

Jenna on October 26, 2014 at 1:56 PM said...

You have come such a long way hun. You have done something that most people will never ever do, will never ever have the courage to do. You've decided to be who you were meant to be.
Cass, you are stronger than you think. You say that you've not tried the make-up think, and that you see friends looking stunning with it. The only time I've really loved the way I look with make-up is when I've had a professional makeover. When I do my own I feel that I do it well enough to get me through the day. I would love to not be able to wear it but I need that mask so that people wont look at me and think I'm a guy in a dress.
Do you remember that picture that you posted a while back of you when you did the radio show. The moment I saw you in the picture I was stunned because you look amazing, and if that is how you can look without make-up then I'm really jealous. I wish I looked as good.

Be gentle with yourself. Please. I wish I could just come and give you a big hug. Here's a virtual one instead. {{cwtch}}


Joyful Girl on October 26, 2014 at 2:11 PM said...

I read your whole post holding my breath. I know there isn't anything comforting I can say and we don't each other. But from your photos you look like a beautiful woman and from your writing you seem like a beautiful person, and I'm sending you lots of love and e-hugs and best wishes.

Ashley W. on October 26, 2014 at 7:09 PM said...

Oh Cass, I wish I could just give you a great big hug. You're such an amazing, kind-hearted person, you don't deserve to be going through something like this.

For what it's worth, I've also never been in an intimate relationship, or slept with anyone, or been kissed. I went on my first date when I was 21: a week later she told me we should just be friends. Haven't been on any dates since then. Not that that fact makes those things any easier for you I guess, but at least I hope you know you're not the only one in that situation.

Be good to yourself, Cass.

Rhiannon on October 26, 2014 at 7:23 PM said...

I'm glad that there are others more eloquent than me Cass - when I first read this post, I didn't know what to say other than that I joined your weeping. I derive so much joy and hope from your blogs, from your struggle and fight and that was before. To know that the demons you fight are so much bigger and more challenging than I ever thought makes my admiration of you even greater. I appreciate your input to my blog and I even more clearly understand the depth with which you feel your comments now.

I really feel some of your feelings too and I know how low they can bring you. I wish I could hug you and cry alongside you. But in the absence of that, know that you are at the centre of my thoughts right now lady. I hope with everything that you are right and that the 25th October is the start of the uphill journey. x

a part time girl on October 26, 2014 at 9:22 PM said...

Such a powerful post, I really wish I could be more constructive but im at a loss for words. My thoughts are with you, and I truly hope you get through this. x

Nadine Spirit on October 26, 2014 at 11:15 PM said...

Oh sweetie! Oh I so wish I could give you a hug and be your wing-woman!

I feel so fortunate that I have been so lucky to have someone in my life and I am so sorry for you that you have not. I wish I could tell you what it is that makes connections happen, but alas, I do not know the secret magic formula. I have always felt like a misfit and felt as though I would never find anyone, but for some reason I have.

Maybe you need to do something for you, before life lets you have someone else? I dunno honey, I just feel very bad for you and want you to know that you are in my thoughts.


Cassidy on October 27, 2014 at 10:41 PM said...

Thank you SO, SO much, everyone. I apologize for not replying sooner. I will reply to each of you in the coming days, I promise.

I am trying to take it one minute at a time right now. Even that is a struggle at times, but it beats the alternative. There is no way to go but forward. And that is where I'm headed.

Thank you all again. I love you all.


A on October 28, 2014 at 5:12 PM said...

I'm glad to hear the tears came at last, I hope that they will wash away some of the terrible pain you have been in. I love you sis.

Cassidy on October 28, 2014 at 10:27 PM said...

Thank you, April. I love you too.

Calie on October 29, 2014 at 12:42 AM said...

Started to write you an email. Hopefully will send tomorrow.

C xxx

Cassidy on October 29, 2014 at 12:46 AM said...

Thank you, Calie. I look forward to it.

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