"Let me always feel like the best is yet to come."
So, I'm 30 now. That's a lot to take in for someone who feels both 15 and 55 at the same time. Obviously, nothing has really changed in the span of a few weeks, other than what I've known to be changing over the last several years. I'm still bald as fuck, and maybe that's the worst of it physically. I can't drink like I used to, but I don't want to anyway. However, the one major change that's been messing with me for the past 5 years is that my ability to handle mental and emotional stress has gotten progressively worse, rather than better. I can't seem to go a year without making a trip to a mental hospital. Medications just seem to lose their efficacy after a few months, and ECT left me at a loss for some of the most important memories in my life, and I'm terrified to risk that again. What's the use of being happy if you can't remember why you should be?
I know the reasons behind this are partly physically, partly psychological, and that the two are inseparable. I hurt myself. I'm broken and very likely can't be fixed, although--if I'm being really honest here--I haven't exactly been trying for the past year. Earlier this year, we drove 4 hours to Pittsburgh for an interventional radiology appointment, which we were informed was cancelled for me only when I had already checked in and filled out all the necessary paperwork. I was so frustrated by that that I think I just gave up. I spent three full years constantly focused on improving the pain, so much so that there wasn't really room for anything else in my life. I've made that room by pushing my medical concerns aside, but they still occupy a great deal of my emotional resources. My goal now is not so much to be pain free, but to be at a level of pain where I can still do the things I love to do. I want to dance again, on the floor and in the air. I want to be able to jump and land without feeling those painful vibrations throughout my torso. I want to be able to do simple things like make the bed and pick things up off the floor without holding on to something. I've gotten pretty good at avoiding tasks and working around my limitations, but I'd rather work through them. I want to feel useful. Even though that shouldn't be a requirement for a fulfilling life, it is for me. As I've said many times before, I want to stop feeling like I'm weighed down, both physically and otherwise. A little pain doesn't bother me, but there's only so much that one person can take.
I fear that these physical limitations will only worsen if I keep up like this. I do a pretty good job of managing what I can by staying in shape, by keeping my muscles strong and functional, but I'm starting to feel like that's not enough. I've lived here over a year and still don't have a PCP. I also may not live here by this time next year. I feel like I've been hiding from life, sometimes by choice, sometimes not.
I'm applying to grad school for the second time, but this time, my options are located all across the country. We're still working on what happens if I get into a school somewhere else and Jackson gets a different job at the agency. I've written before about my fears regarding my ability to handle the intensity of a graduate program, so I won't harp on that for too long. There's another possibility that terrifies me, though. What if I don't get in at all, again? What happens with my life? What direction will I take, and would there be any point in trying a third time with little chance of gaining any extra experience? I think my mind is already preparing me for that mental breakdown. The last time I received those rejection letters, I had just moved to Pittsburgh, ready to start a new life in a familiar place. I entered a new relationship a few weeks after moving there. Within a few months, I was in the psych ward again, and I haven't really had the time to stop and think about life for very long since. There was my injury, my medication-induced psychotic break, moving every 6-8 months, his cancer, his dad's cancer...It just never stopped. So I kept moving forward with life, without really knowing when I'd be able to stop and think about what I wanted it to be.
I spend a lot of time alone these days, working from home. I've had a lot of time to think about grad school given what I do now. This is also the longest I've held any kind of job without having to quit due to overload. I know this is the right path for me. I'm just hoping that it's not too late for others to see that as well. I'm hoping that, yes, the best will be to come in this next decade of life.
It's been almost 10 years since I began my transition, since I first posted a video in March of 2009 crying my eyes out about how much harder my life was about to get. While it's hard to believe that parts of college were over 10 years ago, I remember many things pretty clearly. For the other stuff, it's probably best that I don't remember it. I remember seeing my chest in a binder for the first time, my first drag show, the beginnings of HMH and TransPride, the places I lived and the people who came to know me. Many of them have long since moved on from Pittsburgh, with more and more leaving as time goes on. Most of the people that made Pittsburgh home for me are gone, but there are new faces, and I'm the one they look up to now (or despise, with no in-between). Pittsburgh will always hold a special place in my heart, and I frequently feel drawn back, and I can't always explain why. Cruze is closing in a few weeks, and that itself feels like another nail in the coffin.
Last month, I got the chance to do something few people will ever get to do. I became the first completely pre-op trans man to model for Andrew Christian. I still can't believe it. It still feels unreal. I was supposed to do an AC fashion show at the end of the month, but due to some issues with overbooking models (or so I'm told), they pulled me since I was traveling the farthest. I spent very little time in LA, but it also felt like home, but in different ways. It had that new-home feel. It felt exciting. Full of opportunity, but a bit overwhelming at times. I still don't know where I belong, and I expect that it will change throughout my life. I still miss my friends. I long for us to be together again. I've figured out that that's what they mean when they say the "good old days". Things were a lot simpler overall, and we were all in the same place trying to navigate our lives. We celebrated our victories and mourned our losses together. I hate to feel these connections slipping from me. I guess this is growing up.
It's late. I'm about to head to the gym after being sick for over a week yet working non-stop. Sometimes, it feels like that's all I have to keep me sane and out of the house. I don't know where I belong, or what I'll be doing 5 or 10 years from now, but I want to be in a place where access to like-minded people isn't so limited. I want to be in a place where I feel in control of where and when I go, even if I never learn to drive myself, which seems more and more likely every time I think about it. My issue is that, until I feel more emotionally and mentally stable, it's hard to tell which options would be best. Here's hoping that this next year of life brings me the answers I need, or at least sets me on the path to finding them.