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Daily Archives: March 16, 2015

Memo to my Former Self (2 of 3: to my 15 yr old self)

This is the second in my series “Memos to my Former Self”.  The first was to my 7 year old self. This one is a letter to my teenage high school self.  I plan on writing a third one to my older self, when I was 57 when I was just on the cusp of finding out my truth.

I recently read a book (“Letters For My Sisters, Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect. Published by Transgress Press”) compiled with stories that trans* people wrote to their younger selves.  They were asked “what would you say to your former self” and “to what age”?


Steve: High School years

Steve: High School years

Heh Steve!  Hold up a minute. Ya, I know you just finished ROTC drill team practice and need to get ready for the dance tonight.  Kathy is a wonderful gal, you and her make a beautiful couple.  I know you are going to have fun tonight!

Oh, I’ll get around to that – I think you will quickly figure out how I know these things.  Let’s just say I’m not your average older woman and that we have everything in common …

Look, I know you are having a tough time right now.  Yesterday you were downtown walking up main street.  You looked a bit grim, very unusual for you huh?  You really really want the next 5 years to pass by with the snap of your fingers.  Guess what?  I’m proud of you for wishing that!  I know, seems strange that I would agree with you huh?  But what you don’t see is what underlies all of that.  Wishing this is your way of coping.  The alternative – quitting life – is not something you would ever consider, right?  Trust me, I very glad and proud of you for that.

This may seem like a strange thing to say, but I know that it is hard for you to be out in public, walking downtown or even the dance tonight.  At least tonight it will be dark and only Kathy will be noticing you, or at least that is what you hope.

It’s been difficult growing up, right?  Sort of conflicting a number of times.  Part of you was glad you finally started to shave but another part, deep down, was horrified.  Ya, I know you only felt the conflict and could not understand where it came from.

And Kathy – isn’t it wonderful to have a steady at last?  It’s not like you don’t have girl friends.  Seems like every single girl you meet is your friend.  But none (except Kathy) ever see you as anything other than, well, another one of their girl friends.  In fact, they would tell you things they would only tell their girl friends – and they would never ever tell a ‘boy’!

I know this made you feel very special.  And it should.  I also know that you have never doubted your maleness even in light of this.  Or in light of seeing how much different all the other boys are from you.  And it’s not just the normal differences between one individual and another.  We are talking ‘all’ the boys.  Not only that, you are disgusted with the attitudes of grown men, especially when it revolves around women.  People you looked up to and thought were great men and even your role models have this distorted view – objectifying them, seeing them as second rate and sexualizing them.  And oh my god, even priests (pun intended)!

Of course you don’t understand the men but do understand the women very well.  You have a lot in common with them.  That is why they come to you, as another one of their girl friends and also why they do not date you.  Same sex dating is a pretty big no-no right?  Yes, I know, you believe you are a man, but try to understand that from their perspective, you ‘know’ (and feel) to much.

Look, sorry, but I can not spill all the beans. I will give you some hints to try to help.  You have had some trauma in your early childhood that resulted in your hiding a large piece of yourself very deeply.  Sad to say, it is going to take almost the rest of your life to figure it out.  But that is ok.

You have done so much already with your life.  So many accomplishments – but everyone just writes those off and I know it seems like you even have to hide those or never talk about them for fear of ridicule or worse, being accused of the dreaded bragging.  Your mother will brag about your other brothers and your sister, but only complains to others about you.  This is so unfair – you are so much better – especially when you know what your brothers have done.  Somehow they still are the apple of your mom’s eye.

Hang in there Steve – know inside that you are better than just ok – you are awesome – even though no one else will ever acknowledge that.  I’ll give you a small hint:  they are jealous.  I’m sorry to tell you, but this will continue like that for the rest of your life with them.  But trust me, later in life, not only will you confirm this, but others will tell you this too.

Steve: finally a happy face!  You were always so serious.

Steve: finally a happy face! You were always so serious.

You know how you always seem to need to accomplish things?  Sort of always feeling like you have to prove yourself?  Ya, I know, it’s a constant pressure.  You are always so serious, even your pictures show that.  Well, you know, all these things we just talked about contribute to this.  They all add up and compound the pressure to perform.  Unfortunately your deep dark secret is part of the cause of all of this.

That part about the girls seeing you as another girl friend?  And how disgusted you are about not just some but all other other boys?  Ya.  This has instilled in you a powerful drive to prove yourself from the very core of your being.

I commend you for picking and choosing honorable ways of proving yourself: the sciences, academically (not talking grades here, I know you have picked the toughest courses, way beyond what is expected and you are keeping your head above water) and emotionally.  Steve, you will find that it is very rare to combine feelings and sensitivities with both science and with being ‘manly’.  Your future partners (sorry to say, but yes, that is plural) will see this in you and tell you that was one of the main attractions they had for you.

Steve, these are all pointers to your true self.  Unfortunately, you will not figure this out for another 40 years.  In a strange way perhaps it is fortunate.  Right now, in the strict conservative society you live in, that society would destroy you, your life, your world would completely change and life would be very very tough indeed.  You will need to trust me on this.  Just keep these memories, these ‘pointers’.  They will come in handy later on in life.

For now, trust that you are on the right path.  Be the daring brave person you are.  Get out there and climb those cliffs (I mean this both figuratively and  literally – you are going to take huge risks in your life that you will succeed in and you are destined to be a technical mountain climber!).

Teenage Steve

Teenage Steve

You will start your own business, a high risk adventure that will last 8 years.  You and everyone involved will wind up far ahead in life and business because of what you start and do.  And you will get to fly a plane and almost get your private pilots license.  Your friends will invite you to come along with them to climb the cliffs by devils lake.  And that is before climbing hardware was used – you will learn how to tie ropes to form a safety belt and how to repeal with rope only!  You will be very daring and adventurous.  Some will say a bit too risky.  But you have calculated those risks – these are well chosen, well within your abilities.  You might not understand this, but you need to do these things.  You need to prove yourself, you always have. It has to do with your feelings of not fitting in as a boy, a man.

Oh and Kathy – what a gal!  You will have fond memories and attempt to find her later in life.  Unfortunately, the most you will find out is 5th hand information:  something about her living upstate, married, not very well off and not happy.  Sorry about that.  Your second love winds up as a medical doctor and lives in a very posh neighborhood, so I guess that balances things out.  You find others, some will break your heart, but you pick up and move on, even though you felt for sure “she was the one”.

A married Steve, about 25yrs old

A married Steve, about 25yrs old

Yes, you will get married (twice).  You will have two sons and you will have four wonderful grandsons.  Unfortunately, after they have left the house on their own, your deep secret will start to manifest and this will cause them a great amount of grief.  You will lose everything you had accomplished at that time: your marriage, your sons and their families, your job and your dream house on a northern lake, not to mention a lot of friends and other family.  The sad thing is that you will not even know why until years after.  That is when all the pieces will come together.

You will not be very happy with what you did to bring this on.  I’m not going to judge that one way or another.  It just is.  You will need to accept that and push on.

And there is good news after that:  you get married again, this time to another wonderful person and guess what?  You move to Hawaii and get the most awesome perfect job for you.  And even better, you finally figure out who and what you are, and you successfully change to be the authentic you.

Yes, you make it – in spades ….

Hang in there kiddo – those next 5 years you are wishing to pass will evaporate (maybe too fast).

… from your future self

 

 

 

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Memo to my Former Self (1 of 3: to my 8 yr old self)

I recently read a book (“Letters For My Sisters, Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect. Published by Transgress Press”) compiled with stories that trans* people wrote to their younger selves.  They were asked “what would you say to your former self” and “to what age”?

I think this is brilliant and thought I would give it a go.  But I had a hard time determining the age that I would sent it too.  The best I could do was come up with was three different times of my life that I would have sent a letter to.  This is the first of those three.  I’m sending this to myself when I was in early grade school – about 8 or 9 years of age.


Steven: 7 Year old me

Steven: 7 Year old me

Hi Steven, it’s ok.  I know I must look ancient to you but please don’t be afraid.  I’m not one of those adults that tell you what to do or believe a child should be seen and not heard.  I know how tired you are of always being second tier: adults, older kids, bullies.

Your parents don’t give you credit for what you accomplish.  I know all you want is some recognition for your hard work. You just want to have some say in your life and some control over yourself, your life and your future.  I know…

And yet – look at yourself – one can see in your eyes how proud you are of yourself and of your determination.  Remember this, these are powerful tools that you have and that will get your through life.  And I’m sorry to say: you will need to remember this.

I have some great news and perhaps some scary and unbelievable news – about you and your future!

You know how every body in school picks on Billy, calls him names, thinks he’s slow and stupid and retarded?  You hate that.  You’ve seen how smart he is.  He just has a problem in front of people he does not know well.  But no one gives him credit, they just ridicule him and call him names.  Worse yet, you saw how his other friends attempted to stick up for him and then they got ridiculed and shunned.  I know this has kept you quite and that you held back from supporting him in public.  I know you feel bad about that too.

I’m not going to tell you that you should have stood up for him.  I know that you have something you are hiding that would make it even worse for you if anyone knew.  Surprised?  Yes, I knew you would be.  I’m sorry to say, that even at your very young age, trauma has forced your secret so deep that it will take many many years to reconnect to it.

I know you are scared, you saw how people treat Joey, calling him names like sissy and queer just because everyone thinks he acts like a girl and likes the other boys.  And I know you have some things in common with him.  And yes, I know you like girls not boys.  In fact you can’t understand boys and why they are the way they are.  They are so different than you – right?  And I know you are having problems understanding why you are so different.

You have spent a lot of time thinking about this, right?  A part of you knows you are more like all the girls around you then the boys.  Yes, I know, you ‘know’ you are a boy and just have these ‘extra’ abilities and sensitivities.  And that’s ok.  It really is ok.

I can see how all the kids at school would treat you and the very difficult time you would have if they knew.  And you have already seen what would happen from watching how they treat Billy and Joey and others.  You need to be protected and that is what your unconsciousness has done for you – buried this deeply.  And that is ok too.

You believe fitting in and doing what everyone tells you to do and achieving will make you successful.  And you know from watching others that doing this puts you ahead and in front of everyone else.  You have seen how competitive grade school is and know that success is not on the play ground or being the most popular with the kids.  You see the larger picture – it’s the adults and later life you are getting ready for.

Well, you are right!  But everything has a price.  Your price is burying something so deep that it will take 50 years before you find it and solve it.

Steve: at puberty

Steve: at puberty

This is ok too.  Everything has a give and take.  This will haunt you, you will not fully understand why or what it is.  There will be many times when life will give you huge clues, but you will simply ‘file them away’ only later to look back and finally put the pieces together.  Such is life I’m afraid.

Yes, it’s going to be hard.  There will be times you wish you could just skip forward 5 years – get past the awful times.  At least you will never think of calling it quits.  You are tough that way.

Please, take time to look back at your accomplishments and awards.  You need to know that you are accomplishing some really big and cool things.  I know they seem like nothing, like everyone else and that you feel you are not at all special – you are constantly being told this by your teachers, your parents and family and even the other kids.  But really, as you grow up, remember this:  take time to look back and assess your spectacular achievements – they really are wonderful accomplishments you know.  And you need to know that.

You have a wonderful enjoyment of life.  Your nature is to be happy.  This is going to serve you very well.  You love nature and many times you will go to her to help sooth yourself and solve the issues life throws at you.  Believe me, you have all the ‘tools’ you need and then some…

Let me give you a small peek at the rest of your life.  There are many hard times – much harder then what you are experiencing right now.  But you accomplish so much.  You will find and experience some of the most beautiful and joyous moments anyone could wish for.  The last job you have before retiring will be a dream come true for you.

Steven - about 7

Steven – about 7

You will have a family, grand-kids too.  They will be an awesome part of your life.  But, when you solve your deep secret, you will cause them great pain and will have to leave them.  The jury is still out if they will ever reconcile.  Like I said, everything has a price.  I’m sorry to tell you this.

I’m not going to comment on good or bad.  Life just is.  Things that seem bad usually turn out much much better – although it takes time before that happens.  You will always be happy and content with life.  You will continue to achieve and to enjoy life.

Solving your deep secret will free you – in ways you just can not imagine.  Yes, I know I have not told you what that is.  I’m sorry, but if I did, so much of your life would be different.  I really do wish you could figure it out now, at your age.  Yes, your life would be easier in some ways, but you would miss so many of life’s struggles and these struggles are what will shape you into a wonderful person that you will become.  Unfortunately, these hard times really are necessary.

With so much love and admiration,

… your future self