Does he ever really go away?
It was a very cold February morning, the kind of morning you don’t want to get out of bed. My second alarm goes off and I am struggling to turn it off. I really don’t want to get out of this very warm bed. I sat up, put on my glasses and commenced to look at my phone for anything worth knowing about before I got in the shower. I notice as a scroll through my notifications that I have an email from the hair stylist that I assist at the salon where I work. It’s my first salon job since I graduated from beauty school a month and a half ago in December.
I have been working there for a couple weeks and things are going well. In her email she asked me to come to work with five questions about the profession or anything in it that she could answer. This email sent me into a state of anxiety. Looking back these questions should have been easy to think up. Why was I all messed up about coming up with five questions? When I arrived at the salon she followed me to the break area where I placed my purse in my locker. She asked what was wrong and I started crying telling her I was not in a good emotional state and I felt I had no identity and I was lost.
This wasn’t the first time I said those exact words. By early last summer I had been attending school five days a week, for over a year and working around thirty-five hours a week. I hadn’t had a day off in close to six months. It was a Sunday morning I was about to leave for work and had just packed my lunch. I slammed the lid to my lunch box and I started crying uncontrollably. I walked to my bedroom and continued crying. My wife walked into my bedroom and I told her I was totally exhausted. I said that I felt I couldn’t make the one-hour drive into work. I said this is not what I thought my life would be, that I had no identity and that I felt really lost.
I knew transitioning was going to be a long and difficult journey. I thought I was mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for what was going to or might happen along the way. I thought I’d done it all; I read, listened and watched, you name it I consumed it. What I was not prepared for was losing my identity, losing me and everything I was previously.
I lived in NM for twenty-two years and then moved to NH in November 2016. I started my transition in April 2017. I didn’t start meeting a lot of people until May when I started beauty school and was employed. They met Jas a Trans Woman. They never met or knew him; I was the new girl in school and at work. I had no family or friends in NH. For many of them I was the first trans woman they had ever met or worked with.
The best analogy I can think of would be if I were placed in witness protection. I was given a new identity and relocated to another state and could have no contact with family and friends. I do have contact with family and friends but living in the almost Great White North sometimes feels very lonely. Jas is two years old and going through puberty. She has no history and everything is new. All past events were experienced by him not her. He was this and that; he was born here and lived here and there. He has a long history and many stories, but all as him. But he is not her and she is not him, she has no identity like a two year old has no identity.
People only see her, and only really know what she does now. He had a long life, close to forty years of living as an adult. Sure she was there all those years but she was suppressed deep inside. She was allowed to see the light every now and then and sometimes she sneaked a peek. He had a life, did some pretty cool stuff, lived and worked in 5 states and married three times. He had an identity, but now it’s gone.
It took me two years to change my perspective. I played the victim by telling myself that I had lost my identity or that I had no identity. Where as my wife grieved for the loss of her husband, the man who promised he would never transition, I lost a wife and some family. Add to that, my belief that I lost me. My whole identity was wrapped around what I did for a living, who I was in the community and to my family and friends. I was not prepared for this scenario.
I was expecting everything that could happen or would happen to play out outside of me. I expected misgendering, discrimination, confrontations, loss of some family and/or friends, health issues and everyday just learning to live as a woman. Expecting or preparing for things that might or could happen kind of helps me handle it better if or when it does actually happen. This self-induced state of depression /anxiety I did not expect or was prepared for it.
I have battled depression for many years; it runs in my family, but usually my battles are short lived. I have a mind-set / belief system that my depression tends to be more self-induced. It’s the main reason I don’t take medication or self medicate. I do let myself have a pity party every now and then, but I know after a few hours I need to get out of bed, get out of the car or just remind myself not to take myself so damn seriously.
This depression lasted two years and it was kicking my ass, I couldn’t shake it. I existed, did what I needed to do and just kept it going. There were good days and wonderful days mixed in, but it was still there just underneath. Some days I was so down that I somehow knew what it felt like to think about suicide. Finally I decided to seek professional help and made an appointment.
In early March I attended the annual hair show in NYC, it was there that everything changed. I aspire to be an educator for a hair products company and be a platform artist. I stood and watched platform artists do their thing on stage. I told myself that if I were ever to get on stage I would need to change and end this stupid pity party I keep having. It was then that I stopped playing the victim. I didn’t lose my identity; I willfully gave it up so I can create a new identity. That old identity ran it course, it was time to give her an identity. She has been waiting for a long time.
One of the arduous struggles I have had in these first two years of transitioning is letting go of him. He still hangs around and rears his ugly head on occasion. You would think letting him go would be easy or he would just go away when I started transitioning. It may for some trans women, but for me the jury is still out. It’s either she won’t let go out of fear or he doesn’t want to leave. He have always protected her and kept her safe. Maybe the narcissist who was so use to having his privilege is pissed about losing his identity and has one more battle to fight.