As my actual work transition date comes closer, I was becoming considerably more anxious because I had a major task to complete before I felt that I could do this. I had to tell my best friend "Janet" who I mentioned last summer in an article as the friend I like to play golf with. I have a few "best friends" Of course, my very, very best friend is my wife Patty, but she enjoys the elevated category within "best friends" as my wife and soul mate.
Janet is my very best female friend for several reasons. I have known her since I was 18. I have one other best friend who has known me that long and like Janet, I went to college with him. Janet and I also had the same major so we spent a great deal of time together in college. She is someone I can honestly say has never hurt me or betrayed a trust, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant. I think that is pretty rare.
After college, Janet and I went our separate ways and I didn't see her again for 31 years. When I would think back to college, I would remember our friendship fondly. I had gone to some college reunions in the past, but the ones I had attended, she didn't, which was disappointing because I had wanted to see her more than anyone else in my class.
A year from this past October was the reunion for the class after mine, so I had no plans to go. Out of the blue, I got a call from Janet asking me if I would like to come up and have lunch with her and her friend "Martha". I talked with Patty and she said she would be ok with me having lunch with them, so I went up to Bridgewater and met up with them to eat at our old favorite pizza place. It was good to see them both and they both looked wonderful! Just as I had imagined them! Janet and I picked up our relationship as if we had not missed a day even though it had been 31 years since I last saw her. That is the mark of a true friendship.
After that, she and I have gotten together every other month or so and played golf or gone to lunch and I have looked forward to each time so much. I wish we lived closer so we could see each other more often.
Because of the closeness of our friendship, I found that telling her was one of the hardest things I had to do in order to move forward with my life and the anticipation of doing this was horrible. I was so afraid that she would not be able to accept this and that I would lose my friend. I was so anxious that I spent a great deal of time talking this over with my therapist Dana.
Even though I knew Janet loves me as a dear friend and I knew she would accept me, I was still afraid. She and I are both devout Christians. God and my angel have been with me through this whole process, which has resulted in a sense of peace when the time comes for me to accomplish something important in my transition.
Before I could tell Janet, however, I had accidentally outed myself to Janet's daughter "Christi"! In November, when my father was in the hospital and Patty was also in the hospital with a kidney problem, I got a message from what I thought was another friend who knows about me. The message asked me what I was doing that day. I was off of work to take care of both Patty and my father and that was the day I was also changing my gender marker on my driver's license. So I replied that I was going to do that on that day. I got a message back, "Why would you want to do that?". I thought that was odd, but as it was early morning and I was half asleep, I wrote back "Because I want to be a woman." "You do?" was the next message.
By then I was wide awake and wondering what had I done. "Who is this?" I messaged. "Christi...."
OMG!!!!!! THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN for a brief moment and then Christi messaged "Call me..."
That was when the calm returned. God had been with me the whole way and I thought to myself, this is a good thing and it will be ok. I called Christi and we had a long talk about my gender identity. She wanted to know if I had told her mother and I said I hadn't. She wanted to call her and tell her, but I told Christi that Janet and I were such close friends that nothing less than telling her face to face would do. I asked Christi to keep the confidence and not say anything to her mother until I could tell her face to face.
With my father's terminal illness, his death and informing my supervisor, hospital administration and coworkers, there wasn't any time to talk to Janet until mid January. Christi and I chatted off and on and she was as anxious for me to tell Janet as I was.
We set several dates to get together, but things would come up at the last minute that necessitated Janet's cancelling out. This was making me even more anxious as I wanted this part of my transition to be over. I felt I couldn't move forward and transition at work unless I told Janet first face to face.
This must have been so hard for Christi as she must have been bursting at the seams to tell her mama. But Christi is her mother's daughter through and through and kept my confidence for four months. What a tribute to Christi's character!
Thank you for helping me do this the right way for me Christi, I'm proud of you and I know your mama is so proud of you too! I know it must have been hard not to tell her.
Finally the day came two weeks ago when I was able to sit down with Janet and tell her. I was so nervous that I could hardly eat my lunch. The restaurant was too crowded to discuss something this personal, so we talked in her car. We ended up talking for three and a half hours and though I was so anxious, Janet reassured me that we will always be friends and that she was proud of me for coming to terms with this and being who I am instead of living with such a painful secret.
The lesson I learned once again is that people are kind and caring. I believe my relationship with Janet is deeper and we are more connected than ever. Through this experience, I also gained a new friend too,Janet's daughter Christi! How truly blessed I am!
In this journey, the biggest discovery for me has been the spiritual growth that it has provided. When I made the decision to transition, I never thought that the biggest and best part of my journey would be the spiritual aspect of it. And it has!
What are the fruits of the spiritual growth that I have harvested from transitioning? Most importantly, I have grown closer to my personal Lord and Savior and I am comforted by my walk with the Lord. The friends that I have talked to about my authentic self have all embraced me. The support from my employer, my supervisor, my coworkers and my patients has been overwhelming in the caring and support they have demonstrated towards me. This has also drawn Patty and I closer as well. Our marriage, I think, has grown stronger with each passing day. I am truly blessed and truly thankful for all that has happened and all I have been given. I never would have dreamed it possible.