I have been told that this blog is sad. True, much of the time I have the urge to write it is because there is something on my mind that I need to share. Tonight, it’s not much different. Why? Well, I have difficulty finding a reason to celebrate, even though my transition is going well.
I am have been on HRT 18 months. Next week will mark 8 months full-time. I legally changed my name and gender 3 months ago. I have come along way since I started my transition, and to accomplish these major milestones has been incredible. Reflecting on those achievements should make me ecstatic, but still I find myself crying on this Labor Day holiday, sitting alone in my living room, with no one to talk to while my children sleep. The weight of the world seems to be resting on my shoulders. My resolve, which typically is quite strong, is failing. I would cry out for help, but I don’t know what I can get help with. So I write, hoping to at least make myself feel a little better by converting thoughts to words.
As the summer winds down, I realize that the season has actually been quite a difficult one for me. I work as a retail supervisor, so that in and of itself has raised my stress level. Now that kids are back to school, I am hoping crowds will simmer down until at least the Halloween rush, but still… I certainly do not get paid enough for what I do. I put out fires and solve problems all day long, 5 days a week, but that does not give me adequate time to troubleshoot my own issues. At the same time, I am also actively looking for a new job that pays me more than what I make, which adds to my to do list.
Working in the daily scrutiny of the public eye does not help my mood. I am already at odds with myself over my voice and face, both of which I feel are too masculine and prevent me from “passing” everyday. With thousands of eyeballs on me, I feel like I am constantly being judged. While those that speak up are generally flattering (a month’s worth of compliments on the dress I wear to work has been nice), the negative moments linger in my head. Just today, I had a woman ask, “Your name is Gabrielle? (seemingly pronounced correctly) That’s my son’s name.” In my head, I thought, “No, it’s not.” Not two minutes later, I was called “sir” by another guest, despite my lace overlay red dress, make up, and earrings. It is soooo frustrating, and why my mind is so focused on vocal therapy and the possibility of facial feminization surgery (FFS). I cannot continue to endure these types of moments. It won’t matter how long I have been on HRT or full-time if I cannot pass, because each “he” and “sir” I hear grinds me down that much more each time I hear them.
But even getting vocal therapy and FFS is turning into a chore that I just do not have time for. I finally have an appointment for vocal therapy, but I have to wait an agonizing 3+ months before my first appointment. Both my therapist and my wife believe I should get a consult for FFS. That is a relief to some extent, but in the other hand, now I am searching for a skilled plastic surgeon who also accepts Medi-Cal. That’s no small feat, and the longer it takes, the longer until I get the consult I desperately need. I am open to suggestions if you know of doctors that meet this criteria.
My health is further affected by my emotional eating, which has caused me to regain 40 of the 90 pounds I lost last year. I have also had a low-grade headache for the last month. I do not know if that is related to a hormone imbalance or the fact that I am just a big stress ball these days. I am checking the hormone situation very soon, though, so hopefully I can solve this problem, too, because I am tired of hurting.
That’s a powerful statement: I am tired of hurting. My head, my arms, my brain. They all hurt. My heart hurts from what seems to be isolation from my friends and family. I feel like my body just cannot handle the 15 things I am asking it to juggle. But much of what I am dealing with cannot be easily delegated or helped by others. My wife cannot find me a job or a surgeon. Money will not fall out of a tree. Even though I have solved so much, there seems to be an infinite number of other things I have to control, and I am just wearing thin. I am overworked, lacking sleep, and always “on.”
Tonight, after a long day at work and after my wife rushed off to the neighbor’s apartment to have a fun time, I collapsed on my bed and began to cry. Non-specific reasons, really. Maybe it was a co-worker’s news of a possible pregnancy which made me think how much I wish I was making a call to an advice nurse on how to manage my nausea (because I would take her place in an instant if it was medically possible). Maybe it was the nonstop guest issues I have had to deal with all holiday weekend. Maybe it was being misgendered. Maybe it was the fact that I was left alone with my thoughts. Maybe… maybe it is just too much for me to handle.
What compounds my issues is that my friends have seemingly faded away. My transgender support group is now populated with many new or questioning people, which is great, but at the same time leaves me lacking for a people in a similar situation as myself. I have turned into more of a mentor to help others. There are fewer who share my issues which are related to more complex transition issues. My trans friends are in their own worlds these days, and I find I do not talk to them as much. I am feeling out of touch with my community, and now I am beginning to feel out of touch with myself because I cannot triage all of the problems at the same time. I need help and advice, and I do not where to turn. I am falling apart, and no one seems to notice.
Throughout my life, with very few exceptions, I have been strong and resolved when challenges face me. I take things one step at at time, and solve my issues one at a time, usually with little help. I became much better asking for assistance and seeking guidance, and that approach served me well at the beginning of my transition. This time around, I just feel like I am left on my own to figure it out and there is no guidance to be had. My issues are for me to solve by myself, for better or worse, and this time—this time—I am not sure how well it will turn out. I am trying to stay afloat, but it is awfully hard and isolating walking through this barren desert. I need an oasis. I need a vacation and maybe a little help from my friends.