"I'm not going anywhere": Some Additional Thoughts

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I wrote recently about how challenging the past few months, and particularly the past few weeks, have been. 

After six months of unemployment,  I started a new job near where I grew up. Because it happened so quickly, I temporarily moved into my childhood home with my parents, then commuted over three hours each weekend to pack up and, eventually move my apartment into storage. All with broken ribs and a sore back. 

Then, just when things were settling down, the company I work for announced - out of the blue - that they were moving a number of people to a new office 45 minutes north of our current location. And I would be one of them. This threw my plans, which were finally coming into focus, into total chaos. Again.

I *still* don't know what's going to happen with work. For a variety of reasons, the job is a challenge. I think I can make it work - provided I can stay where I am. I'm being told I can, with perhaps one day a week in the new office. Not perfect - and still not what I was told when I interviewed barely two months ago - but better than the alternative. But if they tell me I have to move, all bets are off. 

I discussed the details of these events in a previous post, "I'm not going anywhere." The heart of the post was my attempt to thank someone - someone much further along in her transition - who has become a dear friend in just a few short months. 

In addition to all of the upheaval I mentioned above, I've been adjusting to a significant transition-related change, one I'm not quite ready to discuss here yet. (I *think* I will, eventually.) Suffice it to say it wasn't something I had planned on. 

What confirmed it in my mind was a conversation I had with my friend. Without violating her privacy - or mine - I will simply say that we discussed this change. Her eloquent response to one of my messages helped me realize this was what I wanted. I'm still coming to terms with it - it was one of the topics in my frantic, traffic-shortened session with M last week. In fact, it was, I suspect, the tipping point in her admonition - a gentle, caring admonition, as is her way -  to "slow down."

I had told my friend I had much more to tell her about this, but simply didn't have time at the moment.Her reply - "I'm not going anywhere." - resonated deeply with me. And while I *still* haven't had time to write to her about this (it's coming, I promise! ;c)) - I know I can take my time.

I wrote last week that I was moved by her simple pledge that she was going to be there. But in the days that followed, I thought more about it, and why it resonated so with me.


As I've mentioned before, I have a very difficult time opening up to people. I plan to write about some of the reasons why I learned, far too early in life, that it was not advisable for me to trust people. 

People tell me that I have a strong "independent" streak, and I suppose that's true to some extent. It's served me well in many ways. I try my best to figure things out on my own, and I view my problems as simply that - *my* problems.

The reality, however, isn't that I'm independent. It's that for nearly all of my life I was fearful of letting anyone get too close. At home, at work, with friends… eventually it simply became how I dealt with life. And the few instances when I *did* allow someone to get to know me - instances I wrote about here and here - did not end well. (Through no fault of theirs, I must add. I simply wasn't capable of dealing with intimacy of any kind at that stage of my life.)

When I began transitioning, two other people, in addition to my friend, reached out to me in the same way she did. Their kindness and understanding was invaluable to me as I took my first tentative steps to becoming myself. One friend used to good-naturedly admonish me when I would mention something I wanted to do as "her" by saying, "Repeat after me - as 'yourself'. Not as 'her' - as 'yourself.'" 

Several months later, both of these people, who were much further along in their respective transitions, and for absolutely legitimate reasons, moved on in their life. I missed - and still miss - talking to them. But I'm genuinely happy that they've both reached where I long to be - a place that seems far, far away at the moment (although a great deal closer than it was even six months ago). 

I mentioned that my correspondence with my friend had tailed off quite a bit for several months. We were both busy - me with the events I discussed above; she with some very happy events in her life. 

I was, and am, genuinely thrilled for her. No one is more deserving of happiness. I hope to one day have happiness like that in my life.

Our correspondence, of course, has resumed recently. And this helped me realize something that had been percolating in my subconcious without me being aware of it. 

I spent my entire life terrified - terrified - that if someone knew me - REALLY knew me - they would want nothing to do with me. I didn't like myself; why would anyone else? 

As A, one of my previous therapists told me, the deep-seated fears that began in our childhood never go away without a fight. They simply keep showing up, in a slightly different disguise, relentlessly, until we confront and, hopefully, overcome them. 

When my transitioning friends moved on with their lives, the old demon was there, whispering in my ear: "See? Didn't I *tell* you this would happen? It's SO much safer to just keep *everyone* out."

I now at least had enough self-awareness to realize on some level that this was happening. But, as A noted, these issues are relentless in their efforts to undermine our best efforts.

The friends to whom I've come out have, almost without exception, been absolutely wonderful and unstinting in their support. 

However, they do not - can not - truly understand the path I'm on. 

My friend, however, does. Completely.

So, when my correspondence with her tailed off suddenly, those old hidden fears were working underneath the surface. Again.

WIthout realizing it, I thought the same thing that had happened with my other transitioning friends had happened again. Except this time it was the one person who, really, truly knew me. And most important, accepted me. Without reservation.

In short, I thought I was alone. And was going to be alone.

Last Sunday night - OK, early Monday morning (insomnia strikes again), I was pondering the tumultuous events of what had been easily the most challening week of my transition so far.

The craziness at work, and all of the accumulated stress of two non-stop months of move- and new job-related drama, would, I realized, pass. It was temporary. 

And my correspondence with my friend, after what was simply a brief lull, had resumed. And I had made a major discovery as a result of it. One that will have major implications as I move forward, but one that, as a result of our conversation, is far less onerous than it would have been otherwise.

But most importantly, I suddenly realized in those pre-dawn hours, the worst had not, in fact, happened.

Without warning, I found myself weeping quietly into my pillow, doing my best to muffle my sobs so my parents, sleeping just a few feet away, couldn't hear me.

My friend - the one person who really, truly gets and accepts the real me - hadn't gone anywhere. 

And wasn't going anywhere.

I WASN'T alone.

And I wasn't going to BE alone.

As I drifted off into a few hours of restless, exhausted sleep, all the while pondering why these kind of life-altering moments never seem to happen at, say, Friday at 5:00 PM during a leisurely drive home, I did so knowing I had achived something I had thought was impossible:

I realized I could simply be me. 

In all of her flawed, neurotic, obsessive, but basically well-intentioned glory.

And that was enough.

Once again, "Thank You" hardly seems sufficient.

But it will have to do.


A propos of nothing, a song from a group I was discussing with my friend this past week. While I'm a casual-at-best fan of hip-hop/rap in general, the early Nineties is an exception. I miss the humanity, humor and self-deprecating wit of this era of music. Here's a perfect example from what has become a beloved album in my collection:


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