Friday, December 23, 2011

Don't Let the Humbugs Bite.

I almost skipped writing tonight, but like most addicts, this has become my drug of choice and so I must feed my head or feed my guilt over not doing it. And since I have an endless supply of guilt, posting an entry is the lesser of two evils, and will at least allow me to sleep tonight; that plus a little Bailey’s in this cup of coffee next to me.

It is the night before Christmas Eve. Booger the Cat is curled up on the wicker rocking chair sound asleep, and I am warming myself by the glow of my somewhat outdated laptop computer typing this letter to whomever is listening. Most of you I’ve never met and probably never will, but for this next short while together, I’m going to pretend that you and I are close enough that we can share a little quality time together. Maybe you, like me, don’t have a big family or go to lots of parties around this time of year. Or maybe, you just have a void in your life and need to feel that you aren’t totally alone, ya know?

Technically, I stopped ‘doing’ Christmas about five years ago. To be honest, I just became so fed up with the pressure, the rampaging depression, and forcing  myself to pretend that this time of year was important to me. My sister will tell you that each holiday season, I am dragged, kicking and objecting, to any manner of celebration or pretense of family. My reasons were as stated above; I just didn’t feel it in my heart. And if there is one lesson I’ve learned over these last eleven years, it’s this; if that little Voice in the middle of your chest is telling you to act or not act upon something, listen to it. It is always right, because that is where your happiness lies. That little quiet Voice, which can raise above all the nuttiness around you, is your soul and your essence, the very god-force that operates all of this, which is speaking to you. All that you are and all that you will ever be comes from that little place inside which transcends everything in this temporal, material world.

That Voice which you feel and hear is you being one with the universe, and it is the only thing you will take with you when you leave here. But because I love my sister and my niece/daughter, I make the effort to at least not be a Grinch and ruin it for everyone else. What the hell, it’s only one day and if love is the only truth that truly exists, then let my ‘gift’ to them be happiness. But no matter how much I try, there will always lurk in the shadows an internal sadness that creeps into me at this time of the year, and probably will for the rest of my life.

I have been asked on many occasions if I had ever had any regrets about my gender reassignment, and the answer is complicated. While I have never doubted the rightness of it for me personally, there was a lot of collateral damage to others around me that have caused plenty of regret.

When I made the decision to go ahead with my new life, I came face-to-face with the great struggle of trying to understand it all. The immensity, the strangeness, the fear and the inevitable backlash from those around me were overwhelming. Now, couple those feelings with the shame and anger I felt toward God and my parents, and I will admit freely that at times I may not have handled it all in the best possible manner. Yet there was always that small Voice screaming above it all, guiding me and saying that it was the right thing. So I proceeded on faith in It alone.

Certainly, the collateral damage was indeed great. My life, after my announcement, resembled an emotional Hiroshima. Friends, some of whom had been in my life for more than thirty years, vanished, sometimes not so quietly nor politely. Family, with few exceptions disassociated themselves. I could not perform anymore for fear of ridicule by the very audiences I had loved for so many years. It would have been so easy to say, hey everyone, I was just kidding!  Except that the Voice would not let me.

The Voice proved right of course. Now, nearly ten years after the surgery, I am happy and whole, and back to doing the things I love again. I still have some fears walking on a stage, but they are outweighed by my confidence in the Voice. So in that sense, no, I do not have any regrets. But the sadness remains; and there is regret of a different sort.

The tides of life continually wash people into your life and wash them out again, like the stones you see on a beach. Some stay with us longer than others, some stay an entire lifetime as true friends or family. Over time, the rough edges that cause us to angrily clatter and clack together get smoothed down until they are replaced with the peaceful click that only time and acceptance of one another can render. Our relationships with these folks then emerges as a thing of beauty, with many colors and striations lying beneath their smooth surface. All are different in appearance, yet each contributes something in forming the beautiful mosaic that is our shared life.  

But not all stones fit together. Some crack and break up, and pieces of them get washed out to sea, never to be seen again. Sometimes, the tide takes them away so quickly and violently, that there is no time to say goodbye. It is for these relationships that I have regret.

There are only three of them actually. Three people who still hold my heart. Three for whom I would have done anything, except renounce my being, for to do so would have made me a hypocrite, and I was charged with more than that in their lives. How could I have given guidance, instruction, morals, scruples and ethics to them if I had denied the truth to myself? What kind of a person would I have been if I just caved in when the going got rough? All I can do now is to say to them that I’m sorry for the hurt I caused. If there were a way to fix it, I would, but I can’t. Perhaps they are some of the nameless folks that read this thing. I hope so. If they are, I want them to know that I am here; and I’ve always been here, and I always will be here. I believe with all my heart that if they open theirs just a bit, we can be together again. I have so much to tell them and so much love to give them. If that happened, I think that they would see that yes, I appear different, but I am still the same. All I ask is that chance.

So there you have it; the void in my life that plagues me. Perhaps yours is similar, perhaps not. You don’t have to be transgendered to feel it. Whatever it was, whatever you did in life to create it, know that it is the same, and that regret transcends our differences. We’ve all screwed up along the way and wish we might have done it a tad bit differently. Just remember that we are still here, and as long as we are, there is time to fix it. So try. Try with all your might. And if at the end of the day, it hasn’t come to pass the way you had hoped, know that there is a reason for everything, and that the Universe may be taking you to where you need to be, not to where you think you need to be.

 Thanks for being patient with me tonight. If you have family this holiday, enjoy them as if this were the last time you’ll ever see them. If you know someone who has a void, let them know that they aren’t alone. Because really, the best gift you can ever give someone is love. It’s the only truth.

I’m done bitching. Everybody hug! Everybody eat! Abbondanza!  


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