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Saturday, June 23, 2012

But Enough About Us, Sherri! How About You?

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.

9 comments:

  1. As always Sherri, my thoughts are with you in your trying times!
    The class reunion dynamic has been in my thoughts too...but like you I had just a small circle of friends. Most I have lost track of.
    As far as all the others go, they didn't want to know me as a male so why would they want to know me as my feminine self?
    Being just a curiosity and entertainment is just not my idea of an ideal evening at the good old class reunion.

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  2. Dear Sherri,

    Your emotional situation is so like many I know and it seems among late transitioning transwomen we have common threads which you have commented upon: guilt, shame, anger, depression, anxiety. I suppose those negatives are common among many groups, but it just appears amplified within the trans community.

    Of course the financial side of our life never seems to be very good except a very small percentage who either do not need to be seen by people in their vocation (i.e. computer troubleshooters via telephone) or they are business owners/self employed. But I know of some of the agony you endure because once one gets the taste of how much better transioning steps make one feel, it is so difficult to sustain or even more so to regress. One begins to feel the outcome as we project ourselves into our true self and the urge to shed the facade grows much stronger. having said that, there is always a facade even after SRS. I am a woman to many people w/o the "male" past which causes one to be deceptive when in conversation or one must come clean. The problem with coming clean is the barriers are already placed by the receiving individual before we may establish a relationship.

    I digressed, but I really do hope you may be able to endure through this difficult time, but you and I have God in our life and that realationship is a marvolous solace, yes?

    Hugs

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  3. JinianVictororia HJune 23, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Sherri, Dont sweat what others think. You have to think only about yourself. If others at your church or alumni group have a problem with your becoming a female then it is that exactly...their problem not yours. I have been graduated from high school for over 40 years and I have not attended a single reunion. I dont give a rip wether they know or not. I suspect a few of the other women do but I really dont care to make myself known to them or their little gossip cabals. Concentrate on what you have to do for yourself and those places or people you care about. Others can wallow in their own stew of righteousness as they perceive it why shouldyou eat from that stew?

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  4. Thanks for all support ladies, so appreciated! My church situation is wonderful! I couldn't ask for a more loving and caring community. Marsha knows how badly I wanted to have that, don't ya honey? She took me to my first church service where I was welcomed to worship and take communion, which is the sacrement that moves my spirit powerfully. I feel blessed to partake in the eucharist each week.

    It does give me pause when I find people in this church that have known my prior existence, one professionally and the one with who I went to high school. He hasn't been able to connect me yet, but because of the reunion, probably will. He is gay and on the Vestry. I wish I could leave all of that past behind, but it isn't possible given the small size of that school. Mainly, I've worried about telling my employer, but now I feel like I have a strategy to have a backup if it does not go well. That way it will all be OK whatever happens.

    The reason I'm not so thrilled with it becoming commonly known at my old high school is that many of the people who were abusive to me are still local and I don't want them to know anything about me. I felt that way before I transitioned though. It's taken literally years of very difficult and painful work to get to a place where these things aren't bothering me prominently for the most part now. I had many years prior to a retraumatizing event where it did not bother me after therapy in my 20's. Now I'm almost back to having normal mood again after years in a depression. I'm still a little sensitive to stress, but can tell I am almost out of it and getting better. Maybe it is all the sun I'm getting. I'm not sure but I have a lot of gratitude for my healing.

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  5. The one thing that appears in all your writings Sherri, is your unselfish attitude to others.
    That in itself is fine but when it is to the detriment of your own well-being, that is not fine.
    Other than Patty, your first obligation is to yourself!( high emphasis on yourself)

    Transition is by necessity, a selfish act but it is NOT selfish to the detriment of others and that is the most significant point you must get your head around.

    Let me expand.
    What difference will your transition make to others in your circle(I am excluding Patty in this thought process)
    Frankly, none.
    Those with a narrow mind and viewpoint will continue on with same and will not be in your life (are they now?) and those with love and understanding will be in your life and be supportive.
    Looking at the negatives, those who shut their minds will try to make your life a misery but only if you allow it.
    Think on it, how many of these bullies do you really need in your life.
    A bully only remains so when they have an audience, so when you turn your back on them and the audience is no longer there, they see how foolish they are and go silent.
    That is a fact throughout the world, a bully needs an audience and if you do not allow them their sadist pleasure they soon tire of their sad game.
    You know my favourite saying of, " Only the strong transition," well that strength is the strength to show the rest of your world, that you will stand up to bullies, be it at work, at church, at the shops or at social gatherings.
    You are trans and you are proud.

    Your Hospital has a trans program that you run, so how can they discriminate when it becomes apparent their therapist is herself trans.
    You are wearing being trans like a target but in fact, all those who have made their transition open, will attest that it is without a doubt the most enlightening experience of their lives and one they wish they had made so much earlier.

    It's time to take the weight of the world off your shoulders and begin living your life Sherri, not as a person with guilt but as a person who is proud of herself and is comfortable with herself and expects the world to be comfortable with her as well.
    "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."


    Patty deserves that you stand up, your parents deserve that you stand up but most importantly, you deserve that you stand up.


    There are are a dozen reasons not to take the steps needed to become a woman but only one that matters.
    It is who you are.

    At some point, the lie has to stop.

    You will be so grateful to yourself(and Patty) when you take that step.

    It doesn't happen overnight but it does happen.

    And it starts with the first step..............
    Rachel

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  6. Sherri Lynne,

    Just like me, you could never be stealth. It's just not who we are. And it's just not possible with the paths we are on. You are already so not stealth. I'm only months away from my book being finished and everyone knowing about me.

    Stealth is radical. We are not radical. The process one must follow to truly be stealth is radical. I, for one, could never leave everyone and everything behind - like going into a permanent witness protection plan. It seems to me that stealth, even if it could be achieved, is just trading one life of lies for another. I want so bad to be completely open and honest with everyone in my life. Why would I want to go back to hiding a part of me. I realize, that some people may never know my past, and indeed they don't even need to know. And I hear Marsha as she speaks of feeling that old lying 'friend' back by your side as you still cannot be totally honest with everyone.

    I will expand on what Rachel said - you are a sweet, caring, compassionate and unselfish woman. But you must take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of others. I think Patty gets that, though I must imagine it is still very hard for her. I keep asking myself, could I support my wife transitioning to a male role? I want to think the answer is yes, but one thing I have learned, there are no absolutes.

    Step by step, you will reach your destination. May it be better than your dreams and goals.

    Hugs, little sister

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  7. I am so happy,Sherri to see you able to express your feelings so openly and honestly here.I know that you don't discuss these feelings at home because of your perceived need to protect me.I often have the best insight into what you are feeling and what direction you are focused on when I read your blog.I see that I can be an huge asset to you as well as a huge stumbling block.I am doing my best to catch up to where you are.I am so looking forward to our vacation in July and am (with a little trepidation I admit)looking forward to experiencing Sherri and Patty completely during that time.I will do my best to come through for you.I love you....Patty

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  8. Hi Sherri Lynn,
    I have only two comments, firstly, you are a wonderful and beautiful human being. Secondly, to quote Katy Perry on a recent Graham Norton show "go where you're celebrated not where you're tolerated"
    hugs Kimberly AKA Wayne

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  9. It is amazing how intertwined our lives can be and your words resonated so clearly and synonymously with what has transpired in my own life. My own mother declined from the ravages of vascular dementia and we watched as years of repressed guilt and fear and subjugation came forth as the filters she held for her entire life were brought down and dismantled one by one.

    I recall the invites to my high school reunions and considering attending them but did not for the fact that I only had three friends through my entire four years there. Much of the rest of the time was spent in isolation or being beaten up, tied to light poles on the side of highway by the football team and left to suffer or regularly ambushed and beaten up by the other kids for being an effeminate male. You were right in not going back in my book. What good would it serve... you or me... to do do. It would not put closure on much of anything and would only serve to open wounds which, although decades ago, are still fresh in our minds as if they happened yesterday.

    You are a wonderful person for all you do each day and for the person that you just simply are. Please take heart in this and that you have the support of many friends. As always I try to remember, don't attempt to be the pillar which holds everyone else up, but rely as well upon the friends and loved ones who surround you and are with you in your journey to be there to guide you, as much as you guide them through this forest we call life.

    ((hugs))

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