Friday, October 14, 2011


One phone call made all the difference today. I heard my parents' voices for the first time in over two months, and I nearly cried. Talking to them seemed to relieve me of all of the stress I've been accumulating over the last several weeks. And a short time ago, talking to my family was the most stress-inducing aspect of my life. I'll never be able to be one of those people who goes months without talking to his family. I can't be that disconnected. I'd been lonely for months, even around other people who love and care for me, and I was starting to get worried that I might be depressed again. But those feelings vanished. When I hung up, I was smiling and happy. And I felt like things were finally going right for me. I felt like I was headed in the right direction. Maybe it was good to hear all of those things from them too. My family is crazy. But I love them. And I'll never be able to stop, and I'll never be ungrateful for what they have been able to give me, even if there were some things I wish could have been different along the way.
I tried to be the kind of person who turned his back on his family when they did not show immediate acceptance, but I'm not capable of that. It tears me apart. On some level, I think this is true for me no matter what type of personal relationship I have with someone. I suppose I will always have some level of love and concern for those who are no longer in my life. At the very least, I'm not one to hold on to bitter feelings. I don't believe that this makes me a pushover, though it did before I learned more effective and more appropriate ways to manage my affairs. There is a part of me that believes that some doors never really close, but the rest of me seems to want to fight that. Two parts of my nature are in conflict with one another, and I figure that it's better to let the fight play out than to interfere by trying to rationalize my emotional behavior. Everything is going to be okay.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Before Bed

I started off this post by saying I was in a much different mood than I was yesterday, but I'm not so sure how true that is. I had my highs and lows today, and I decided to seclude myself upstairs because things were becoming overwhelming, and even though this room itself is frustrating and overwhelming right now, I'm doing better than I would be if I were in the middle of everyone.

Once I start thinking about something, I have to see that thought through to the end. And sometimes I wish I didn't have to because I often end up thinking the worst of the worst. I end up in places I don't want to be. I started thinking about how stupid the new woman at our store is (and how we are moving her to another store because she is incapable of completing any task on her own and refuses to listen), but I ended up thinking about how sad it must be to be a 49-year-old woman with a college degree working a minimum wage job under a 28-year-old manager. I started to think about the fact that I was right in thinking that my life is never going to be what I thought it was going to be. Those dreams I had about doing this or being this are getting further and further away from me, and now I see exactly how it happens. I see exactly how my father went from studying to be a meteorologist to working as a claims adjuster. I know what it's like to have something like that slip away from you. And it happens so slowly and so smoothly. It's like you never even wanted it in the first place.
I'm barely getting by. I never know if I'm going to have enough money to keep up with all of my bills, and that one meal could be the difference between overdrawing my account and having to pay a thirty-six dollar fee. I hate this feeling. I didn't even notice the people (snobby downtown customers) looking down on me or acting like they were better until someone pointed it out to me. Maybe that's because I've been experiencing that sort of thing my whole life. I'm used to being treated like shit and get overly excited any time someone does anything even remotely nice for me. It's kind of screwed up, but at least I'm appreciative.
I know what I want. I know that I want to go back to school next fall, and I know the programs to which I am applying. But it's not what I thought I would be doing five or six years ago. A part of me thinks I was more concerned with being a doctor because I needed to prove that I could do it. But I know that I could, and now I need to figure out if it's what I want at all. But I can't just sit around and fuck around with a minimum wage job for ten years trying to figure that out. So I'll do something I love to do. And maybe that's where I'll find myself years from now and maybe not. But I have reached the point where I need to pick a direction. I'm not going to get anywhere by standing still.
The idea of LA isn't so scary to me anymore. A few months ago, I was terrified of leaving everyone and everything. But I feel confident that my roots here are strong. And maybe I won't be ready to leave this year or the next. Maybe not even in five years. But someday, I may be ready to leave Pittsburgh and add another place I can call home.
I feel like my job has taken over my life. It's stressful, and I hate downtown people. If this were an ordinary GNC out in a mall somewhere, things would be so much better. And it'd be easier to sell what you need to. But at least the guys I work with are cool. They're really cool, actually. You'd be really surprised.

I forgot to say something about the show last weekend. My band played at the Rock United festival, which benefited disabled veterans this year. It was amazing. We sounded great, and people want to book us for future shows. It was the first time I've ever been miked. And boy does that feel amazing. It was over so quickly, though. I love the rush of performing in front of people. I used to be terrified of it and would only dream of being able to enjoy it like I knew I could. And I'm finally there. Everything comes in time. I'm really proud of myself. And that whole experience makes me think I'm going to be okay. I turned myself around in that aspect of my life, so why can't I apply that same thing to other aspects? I guess it's not as simple as it sounds. Sometimes I wish I were different. But overall, I'd never trade myself in for someone else.

I find myself thinking about having a family a lot lately. For the past two years or so, I've been trying to push the thoughts out of my head every time they surface because I don't want to think about the possibility of not having a child that is biologically connected to me. Yet I still don't want one coming out of me. And maybe my eggs won't even be good enough for someone else to take in a few years. And that whole process is extremely expensive. So I just tuck that issue aside until I'm ready to deal with it. But as things get more and more serious, and I as I keep figuring out what I want my life to be, it's going to get harder and harder to avoid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid of everything about it. And I was especially afraid to talk to my therapist about it when I was first talking with her about getting hormones, etc. I didn't want to say anything that would make them question my decision. But I'm a lot smarter now.

My thoughts are traveling in so many different directions now. I almost forgot what I was doing. I feel like I'm on the edge of having everything in my life organized just the way I need it to be. But everything is just off enough to make it feel like nothing is organized at all and that I'm just flailing about waiting for the next big thing to come my way.

Time for some music before bed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reflections on Coming Out

I vividly remember being angry this time last year because so many people, both gay and straight, had failed to understand the importance of coming out. Indifference is one thing. Outright condemnation is another, and trying to convince someone that "acting like everyone else" is the only way that queer folk can attain equality is equivalent to saying this: "We can't accept you for who you are, and we aren't comfortable giving equal treatment to people like you, so you should be like us. Then you'll deserve it. Problem solved." And if we don't feel comfortable pretending to be like everyone else, then we deserve to be treated as inferior. You can't ensure equality by attempting to eliminate difference. Do this, and you perpetuate the inequality. And it makes it that much harder for the next kid to come out and face a world of people telling him that the only way he can have the same rights as straight people is to act just like them, whatever that means anyway.
I could go on and on about this type of backwards thinking in the world of straight white males, but the truth is that my own community still has a long way to go in terms of treating its own members as equal. Think about how LOGO portrays the LGBTQ community. I don't see much of anything but cisgendered gay men. Let's make it a little more personal, though.
Coming out as trans opened me up to a whole new world of prejudices, and they came at me from both sides of this mythical line. Suddenly everyone thinks that I have to be straight. Suddenly I am called out for not acting enough like a man. Suddenly, I am treated differently in conversations with strangers and friends alike. I can understand people with no exposure to the queer community making such assumptions, but the difference between one's gender and one's sexuality is still perceived through a heteronormative lens, regardless of the onlooker. Are we still telling gay men that they should become women? No. Why shouldn't it work that way for me? I have so much more to say, but I feel very uncomfortable because I am not alone right now and feel like the only reason this other person is awkwardly sitting here is because I am here. And I don't know how to say what I need to say to make him understand that I need to be as far away from other people as possible right now. I can't write when there are other people around. I can't tune out the discomfort enough in order to do it well, so I'm feeling like things are very disconnected right now because I am constantly worrying about this situation. And now I don't even know what I was saying anymore.
Coming out keeps getting easier for me. Liking myself for my queerness keeps getting easier too. I am not shy about this part of myself. I am quite proud of it, and maybe that's because I'm making up for all the time I spent being ashamed of who I was for over twenty years. Maybe ashamed isn't the right word. I was...disconnected. And I guess I really didn't care. I could be proud of my accomplishments or skills that I had mastered, but never of myself. I was never proud to just BE, and I guess I felt like I needed all of those things to fill that space. Coming out as trans felt like coming into the world and being allowed to be a part of it. Even before I started hormones, I began to feel more real because I was the person who chose that. I allowed myself to participate. I allowed myself to experience the world. I became exposed. And things began to change.
There are other kinds of coming out that aren't as easy. It's still not easy for me to accept that my brain works differently. It's not easy to accept that this comes with limitations. And it's not easy to accept that there is a good chance that this is as good as it gets in terms of how I react to things.
How many other kinds of coming out do people face every day? Everyone does it, and I think we'd all be a lot better off if we had an entire community behind us.
Feeling disconnected again. But I need to get it all out. Coming out is important, you young gay people. Staying in the closet is staying invisible, and that's exactly what a lot of anti-gay individuals want. It's a way to keep us divided and to fool the masses into thinking that we are a freakish minority. On a more personal level, coming out is important because you can finally stop being afraid. You don't have to worry about being discovered. And people won't be able to hurt you with your own identity if you truly love and accept yourself. But that's not easy. I know.
I want to connect this with an experience I had earlier today at work. A rather rude customer said something to the effect that I have no business working in a GNC because of how small I am. I was just stunned because he also wouldn't drop the subject. Before I continue, I'd like to point out that I've never had any of the really big dudes talk to me like that. It's only people who are smaller--often smaller than I am--who feel the need to prove something. But even knowing this, I had a hard time. I started to feel like shit about myself. I started to wonder if that's what other people see when they look at me. I started to feel like everything I am doing is a waste of time. And that's when it hit me that I've begun to experience a whole new kind of inadequacy based upon physical appearance. Standards for men really are just as unrealistic as those for women, but it definitely depends on the environment. I feel like I could explain that better at another time.
I felt inadequate for a little bit. But that went away. I love my body. I love that I am in control of it. I needed to remember something that I tell people all the time when it comes to working out. Well, a few things. (1) Know your own body type, and use that knowledge to make it the best it can be instead of trying to be something you are not. (2) Never compare yourself to anyone else. It doesn't matter how much the girl over there can lift or how far this guy over there can run. Concentrate on what you are doing and making yourself better. If you let what someone else can do discourage you or make you feel inadequate, you have already lost. You have defeated yourself, and you'll end up denying yourself what you are depressed about not having been able to do in the first place.
The same philosophy can be applied to anything at all, not just working out. And that's what is extremely difficult for most people to understand. You need to concentrate on making yourself better instead of trying to make yourself as good as someone else. Being proud of your own identity is far more effective than comparing who you are to someone else. Don't try to be that other person. These points do connect rather nicely, don't they? lol