Well my dears, I've had a lot of things to talk about lately, but I haven't been sharing about what I'm doing and what's going on in my life. It's time to catch up!
It's been a rollercoaster in some ways, I have been involved more with my mother and father since my father's heart attack in the beginning of May. We were told that he likely would not live more than six months and more likely two months due to the extent of his decline over all from old age and the failing of several organ systems. He has been ill for years and never recovered from his heart valve replacement which resulted in vascular dementia due to having some strokes during the operation. Because of this, I have been grieving him for years as I watched him decline and was quite prepared for this perhaps being his last illness. That has been a rollercoaster in that it appeared he was near the end and since then he has rallied, to all of our surprise and it appears possible that he may be able to return home in a month or so. That is where the emotional ride gets bumpy for me as I become more hopeful that he will get better and be more active when he comes home, rather than slide back into his decline. It seems that perhaps being in the nursing home rehabilitation unit has given him much better care than he was getting at home with Mom. I have been making comments to my mother about how well he is doing and that he should stay there until he has gotten the full benefit of his rehabilitation potential, or at least until I return from vacation in mid July. My mother is in significant denial of his health problems and particularly of his dementia. One of the big problems for someone with dementia is apathy and she see's this as his being petulant or wanting to be catered to, which is not the case. He simply has no volition to engage in anything active and the structure of the rehabilitation unit pushes him to be active. As a result, he is more active than I have seen him in the past year. He is appetite is much improved and he is beginning to walk again when he wouldn't move out of his chair at home. I hate to have to say this but I think both he and my mother will both live longer if he stays there permanently. They tend to feed off each other and they both seem highly anxious together. Mom seems to have benefitted with him being away and being under less stress. she is more relaxed and more pleasant.
All of this has taken my full attention and much of my energy. I have to help Mom more with her home and visit with him, which I don't do enough because after a full day of doing therapy, I have little energy to visit during the week. I do a fairly good job of keeping healthy boundaries and taking care of myself. I do enjoy mowing, being out in the sun and this is my time to meditate, enjoy the sunshine, watch wild life and pray.
What is frustrating about this situation, is it has slowed down my coming out at work, which is the most major task left to accomplish before I can transition there. My therapist Dana, who has helped me so much with managing a lot the coming out process. She suggests that I start applying for jobs as myself and if I get a job offer then I have a bargaining chip in case the hospital decides they no longer require my services. I think this makes sense. I would like to stay at the hospital, I've been there almost 11 years and have 14 to go so I can have a 25 year pension there. I would also not wish to lose my transsexual patients. I want to be able to continue to coordinate and build upon the comprehensive health program I developed. It would be a loss for me. But it would allow me to live as who I am in that aspect of my life. That is important to me. A lot of my friends will be frustrated to see me throw up a road block delaying my journey. I do have to think about Patty who is unable to work due to disability. I bring home a majority of the income and provide the health care insurance, so it is important to me that I take care of her as best I can. We have huge medical bills.
Of lesser concern is the ongoing and growing realization that there will be a low likelihood of any kind of stealth while I live in this area for a variety of reasons. Not long ago I was introduced to a retired therapist who knew me as a male and is good friends with my department head. That was very uncomfortable to me at the time and I am concerned that my work situation could turn into another coming out at a time and on a field not of my choosing.
Interestingly, (to me anyway) was the fact that last weekend my High School had a reunion of multiple classes with many people with who I went to school. I had absolutely no desire to attend. There are only three people I care to keep up with, three women from my class. The experience of high school was very painful to me as I suffered years of physical and emotional abuse there and no one intervened to stop it, though it was quite visible in such a small school. It has taken years of therapy to deal with it. Therapy helps; I have nowhere near the guilt, shame and anger that I carried for years, nor do I suffer to the extent I have with the severe depression I've had over the past five years.
I was quite interested in the idea of going to one of the events held in a restaurant as myself so I could watch the dynamics and not have them see me. Then I decided they weren't worth it. I would most likely become angry/ sad/ depressed over thinking about what happened to me, so it would serve no good purpose for me.
Looking at the pictures posted on Facebook from the reunion, it dawned on me that if I had gone, it could have been a disaster. It turns out that one of the people from school who was a year or two behind me also goes to my church and is a member of the Vestry (that is a Deacon, for those of us with a Southern Baptist heritage). He knows me now as Sherri and not as who I was. If I had gone, he likely would have recognized me from church and then I would again be in a situation of coming out at a time and a field not of my choosing again and I find that very wearing, as I have written about in the past here.
Soon I do intend to let my three women friends know about me soon and I expect that at that point it will work its way around the alumni of my High School, and that will be ok. The difference being that I told who I wanted to tell who matter to me and if at that point, the rest of them find out, I don't care really.
What I don't like about the situation is my lack of the right to privacy, which we refer to as stealth. I become more and more aware that stealth for me at my age and situation is mostly not going to be. So I have been readjusting my thinking about how important is stealth in my life. After all, even if people do know about who I was, is it really a problem if I am treated as a woman and people interact with me as the woman I am? Is it realistic for me to expect any more given my dual professional identity and my presence in the community I grew up? I think that the expectation of my having a lifw where no one knows of my male past is unrealistic. It sets me up for feeling bad about myself, rather than enjoying the life I should have taken responsibility to have made happen literally decades ago.
The obverse of that coin is that I can't afford to dwell on the "wasted" years. Really? Wasted? No, not really. I have accomplished a lot, both personally and professionally. Rather, it is much better to be living in the moment of now, which is a much happier time in my life and look towards the future in which I will be who I always was, but hid so well.
So what about the man at church I know who went to school with me all those years ago? I think it is time to tell him. That will be good thing, I'm sure.