Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mr. Postman

Short update: the letter to my sister is written, and in the envelope. I dropped it into the mailbox just a short while ago, so it should probably arrive at her house by Thursday or Friday. After that, I'm not sure what I expect to happen. She could write back, or send an email, or even call. Or, she could do nothing.

I feel like the sending of this letter is a hopeful act, so I'll remain hopeful for the outcome.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Family

I've been thinking about my family lately. I've spent the last months growing apart from them; they're not comfortable with the changes I've made in my life, and I have no patience for people who would hold me back or deny my identity. We definitely seem to be moving in different directions. And that is a shame.

I do keep talking to my parents; after all, they live a very short distance away, and they do at least seem willing to still be my parents. I'm still their child, and they don't seem willing to give up on that, for which I feel pretty grateful. I've heard too many stories about trans folks' parents completely giving up on them, or disowning them, and that just makes my skin crawl. But they're both unwilling to try out my name or the pronouns that are appropriate for my identity. And every time they do it, it's like a knife to my heart. I didn't go through all this effort and expense for no reason. I'm not and never really have been a he. I'm a she, and I will abide nothing and nobody who tries to take that away from me.

So, that is a continuing source of friction between us. I hope that it can be resolved in time, but how much time that might be, I can't even imagine. Old dogs have to want to learn new tricks, before they can actually learn them.

My sister, on the other hand... She's made it fairly clear that she wants nothing to do with me in my new identity. In one of our last communications, she said that she wanted to save her brother. The one who was a thin veneer over top of someone different. Fa├žade. Artifice.

I do realize that I have upset her view of me, and in some ways, of the world. But it seems counterproductive to deny reality, rather than look around and try to figure out what is really going on. And try to decide how you would like to relate to that changed reality. The world changes every day, and it is up to each of us to handle those changes in whatever way we can.

My brother-in-law, when we had our short, horrible discussion before the Christmas holiday last year, said that my sister still wanted to have a relationship with me. He didn't say anything further than that, but from my reading of that comment, and our subsequent interaction (i.e. none), she seems to want a relationship with me on her terms - the old terms, which are no longer available. Now that I have unilaterally changed the terms of our interaction, she seems unwilling to accept those new terms. So, we have had no interaction.

I have a very small family. One sister, two parents, three cousins, two aunts, two uncles. There are further-removed family members, but I have only a fleeting idea that they exist, let alone who they are. So those family members who I do know are very precious, and when I lose one of them, that's a huge loss. And it seems like a big waste, all over something that really is small potatoes - a new name, and some new pronouns. That's learnable, and it's absolutely not rocket science. I have many friends, some who have known me for a very long time, who have successfully done it. And I've done it too - I've unlearned my old name such that it actually sounds really weird to me. So it doesn't seem like a huge imposition to ask my family to learn a new name for me.

And yet, there seems to be active resistance to doing it. My mom has commented that I would not understand what my old identity means to her. And I agree: I don't understand. But she seems to be unwilling to try to understand things from my perspective. I realize that transgenderism is a difficult idea to contemplate. But, I have presented the idea with as much clarity as I am able, and still they reject it, despite the fact that they see and hear me, and they have to realize that I am living in a different social role. They can't not realize that. I mean, there are some people who I've known for many years, who no longer recognize me. How much more clear could it be?

My parents know who I am now. They can see it, often. Whether or not they're willing to accept me is a question for another day. My sister, on the other hand, has not seen me or talked to me since Christmas, and is unlikely to see or talk to me anytime soon. So I think it's probably up to me to try again. I have been contemplating writing her a letter, snail-mail style, to let her know that I am still here, and she is still my family, and it would be pretty great if she could somehow talk to me again, as she once did. But the big difficulty is not rubbing her nose in anything, or making her feel foolish or stupid in any way. And I think that's why I haven't done anything about it yet - that's going to be very difficult, considering my current "I am me, and too bad if you don't like it" attitude. Perhaps just doing some free-writing, throwing words at a page and seeing what sticks, could work. Or at least get me moving in some direction at all.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

State of the nation

There is quite a bit going on, but nothing that can really warrant its own post. And given my lack of consistent posting in recent months, I thought I could just do a "state of the nation" post, as it were.

I just had a follow-up call with Dr. Zukowski, my facial surgeon. It has been four months since my surgery, and he was very happy with my progress, based on the photos I sent. He did say that there is still a lot of swelling along my jaw, which is completely normal, and will take another several months to disappear. I am to continue my massages, once per day, and he wants to talk to me again in another two months. I also mentioned that I would be coming through Chicago this weekend, and he jumped at the chance to possibly see me. I'm still working out details with the various people who are involved, but hopefully we'll be able to work everything out.

Speaking of being in Chicago, this weekend I am heading up to Wisconsin to visit with a bunch of Second Life friends. Last year's meetup was a super-fun weekend, and this year should be every bit as fun. I'm taking the Amtrak into Chicago, and my friend J will drive up the rest of the way with me. I really do love taking the train - it has become my favorite way to travel. As much as I love to drive, grinding out hundreds of miles in a straight line just loses its flavor after a couple hours, and a trip to Wisconsin is about 20 hours of driving each way. And my car is not a good road-trip car; 35-series tires are great in the corners and on the track, but are completely comfort-free on a long trip.

Last week, I had a follow-up call with my new endocrinologist, and he wanted to slightly increase my estrogen dosage, and also change the type of medication I was taking. I have been on estradiol for the duration of my HRT, and he changed me over to estropipate. He said it stays pretty consistent in the bloodstream for 24 hours, rather than spiking shortly after taking it, and decaying over the day, as with estradiol. Ok, sounds good.

It has not been roses and sunshine, however. My body is freaking out a little bit at the changes, and the past couple days have been pretty awful from a mood standpoint. It seems like I've been on the edge of tears for most of the past couple days. Today isn't too bad so far, so hopefully I'm getting used to the changes. Also, I seem to have a ravenous hunger, and have gained some weight, so I'll need to keep an eye on that.

Some of my depression is probably related to my facial hair too. I haven't been to see my electrologist in almost a month, and I needed an appointment last week. Unfortunately, she has been recovering from a stomach bug of some sort over the past week, so I won't be able to see her until next Wednesday. So, I just have to let it be, and try not to make myself crazy. So far, I'm failing pretty spectacularly at that.

The fact that I'm still looking for a job surely doesn't help either. The uncertainty is awful for me, as is the fact that most of the jobs I'm hearing about are contract - more uncertainty. I've had a number of phone interviews, and a couple face-to-face interviews, but nothing has come out of them. My severance has run out, so I applied for unemployment earlier this week. I really hope I don't need to spend much time on unemployment, but there's no telling. I also sent in my COBRA paperwork, so at least I'll be covered for health insurance.

So, the state of my particular microcosm could probably be summarized as "not fantastic". More bad than good, it seems like. Hopefully something will stabilize for me sometime soon. Thoughts of an ending have been trying to creep back in; I'm doing my best to keep them at bay, but they are relentless, and I don't want to have to go through making that decision again.