This isn’t the post I had expected to write several days ago for this one. I’ll still get to the others, but I have to come out from a foggy cloud of pretty much explosive joy first.
The few people who have read the stuff here for a long time will be familiar with the fact that I have a tremendous amount of emotional and spiritual pain in my life that stems from the absence of my son.
Those who read this stuff and see my twitter account or have had the probably unusual experience of watching my FB page the last few days are going to be aware that this pain has been taken away.
I like to knock some of my more vocal detractors over the head with the whole birth certificate thing. Mine is changed — as far as it matters in terms of legal schtuffs, I was born female in the state of Arizona in January of 1965.
Individuals can have all manner of differing personal opinions about that, but the fact still remains. And all their personal opinion mean is that they are disagreeing with a fact. Sorry that annoys (not), but them’s the breaks, and it gives me all kinds of cool stuff to say in argumetns and the like.
Some have even used the fact that my birth cert says such and I didn’t follow the rules that they think I should have followed (again, a matte rof personal opinion, and, in this case, really piss poorly informed personal opinion) to assert that I am not actually trans at all, that I am a poseur, a pretend, a really, really good faker.
All of which I bring up because on February 16th, 2008 — one day before his birthday — I saw my son. He was with his mother, whom I needed to sign a document in front of a notary. That document was for the court to allow my name change, which happened on the 15th of February, 2008. Arizona law requires parents who change their names when they have minor children to obtain the written permission of the other parent.
It had taken a lot of effort to make that possible. It was the first time I was also in “girl mode” or whatever you want to call it around my wife.
I wore a t-shirt (slightly thicker than one I had worn before, having learned a lesson) and jeans, and I wore some actually pretty god awful hair that was all I really had that I could use at the time that was pulled back into a low ponytail.
My voice was crackly, because I was trying to talk lower than my then current range.
I gave him a Pokemon Yellow game cartridge he’d asked for like *ages* before. I simply hadn’t been able to get it to him. His mother and my own foolish idiocy and distractedness had acted to stop it, and I wasn’t allowed to go up and visit him (which would have involved walking some 13 miles after riding on the bus for an hour and a half — all one way).
I still have a lot of internal resentments around a lot of that time period. I still really love my wife, and I’d be lying if I didn’t think it would be cool if we could get back together some day, but I also have absolutely, positively no hope of that in even the merest modicum. I love my wife. I know her *very* well. I’m fairly willing to state that at that time, she’d have agreed I knew her better than she knew herself.
But I resent a lot of the things she did, and I was frustrated much of that time, and although I’m much, much better, those have always been triggers for me, and I do still have access to the darkness that infested me for much of my life even if I am free of it for the most part.
Plus, I am vindictive as all hell.
So you can likely imagine that there are some issues for me when it come to my wife. Which have come out here, in the past. None of this is new information, in terms of what I’ve said before.
She swore she would take our youngest child, my son, away from me at one time, sending me into a fit of despair that led to me losing my mind in a suicidal moment. And a week later she was helping me pack and store my belongings again as I became homeless the first time.
I have tried to be understanding — I am not always successful, but as I have grown into my authentic self over the years, I have become much less confused and hostile and much more willing to to just let her deal with things in her way — even if that means not doing it.
But I have never been pleased with how she has handled J, my son.
The reason I can say that she is my wife — even if I refer to her more often as my ex — is that legally we are still married. Two women, legally married. Our marriage is recognized by the federal government. Our marriage is recognized by the state of Arizona. We file out taxes, jointly, married, every year.
We just don’t want to be.
We are also both “poor”. I have no discernible income myself, and she works at a retail hourly job making roughly right around 36K a year before taxes.She has three children and a father that she cares for.
We have 5 children. J is the youngest of them. The oldest is 30. A daughter whom I think the world of and am constantly amazed at her talent and ability and also constantly saddened by the fact that she’s spent most of her life in a very dark and bitter place. When I see people who are “never happy”, and complain about everything, I can handle them because I know that no matter how bad their shit is, it isn’t much of anything compared to the heartbreaking sadness that my oldest daughter has dealt with half her life.
My daughters and I have not had contact since about 2004. I can, if truly needed, sit down and show how my failure to transition directly leads into a lot of the acrimony that created that situation.
But my son, J, is the universe to me.
And I love them all. Even though I know that at least one is pretty much bound and determined to end my life if given the opportunity. So yeah, my pre-transiton personal life was not only not very pretty, but it was filled with the same darkness, poisoning things in the lives of those around me. If there was ever a solid argument to transition, that would be it.
Not doing so affects more than just you, personally, It affects those around you, and when you are as angry about it constantly all the time as I was, it does not have a happy ending.
And she was very adamant all along that he wanted nothing to do with me. I kept saying he was young, and he probably didn’t have the words for it, but that didn’t matter. What he did have words for was where I had to go, and so I would push her using the fact that I am, after all, one of his parents and she knows how bad things have been in the past within my family (where divorce is only equal in occurrence to marriage because you have to get married first in order to get divorced).
I have a daughter that is older than he is that I have never seen. That I do not even know the name of. That I was blocked from because I wasn’t the “right kind” of people. That I was coerced into signing away my rights to before she was even born, and the at the only reason I know she exists is because someone broke the law to tell me.
And my wife and I lost many children after J. And now, of course, there will be no more children of my line, because I’m too old to feel comfortable adopting and there are a lot of other things involved there that I’ve talked around and I’m not looking forward to having to talk about down the road with people who must be told.
The only reason that I never, ever say that I would have preferred to transition younger is my son J. He is the best thing I have ever done. His mother’s pregnancy was the closest I’ll come to one myself, and believe me, I drove her nuts with all the stuff I asked her about. I had to know every single little detail about everything — and then neither of us really understood why I had this verging on the psychotic need to know, but it has become somewhat known since then, and in fact she was the first one to see it and it underlies some of the problems that still separate us.
For those who don’t understand what I’m talking about, my wife was basically a surrogate mother for me. So, um, yeah, there’s some ugly shit there. That only became understood (including on my part) after I started transition.
It was just a couple days ago that I realized something. I realized what it was that had gone “sproing” internally, something that had broken inside me, in 2001. What it was is rather interesting – it was my willingness to do other things for people just to keep them pleased and happy, instead of doing the right thing. It was a physical sensation for me, and I only really understood what it was on Friday, some 11 years later.
If there was a single moment that decidedly started my path towards transition that was it. I think, in hindsight, that much of what followed in the next four years was all about making it possible for me to =do what I’d always known I’d have to do one day, even though none of it was done on a conscious level.
but, ok, so, back to this whole deal.
Februrary 16th, 2008.
It was an afternoon, and he played his little gameboy thingy and dozed while his mother and I were about as tense as two people can be and struggling to get through this whole deal of seeing a person neither of us knew. I was still in my period of “passing is important and I don’t pass” so I was totally a fucking wreck just to start, and then you add in the woman I love being all weird with me and my son being affected by that and seeming not really all that close to me either. She was getting seriously squicked by all this “homosexual” stuff her husband was doing, and he was acting all totally disgusting and gross.
So, um, yeah, it wasn’t the best of time by any stretch of the imagination.
But we got the paperwork signed. She extracted from me an agreement that I wouldn’t block her changing my son’s name, and that I wouldn’t challenge any divorce agreement she put forth (which would mean terminating my parental rights).
I said “sure”, but I’m the daughter of a family of lawyers and there was no fucking way in hell that agreement was going to stand up. I wouldn’t have blocked the name change, but there was no way I was ever, ever going to give up parental anything over J.
As I said, he is my universe. My reality, without him, may be awesome and incredible and great, but it is also empty and hollow.
She dropped me off at the place I was staying (a little organization that saved my life called This Is HOW) and that was it.
On Monday, February 18th, one day *after* his birthday, I went in for surgery. The rest of that week was spent recovering from surgery. On Monday, February 25th, I went into court, and presented my case, and my entire life was changed.
On some support sites, I often post a collection of ID‘s. I scanned it in so that there would be a record of the changes every six months during the first 18 months of real effort. I post it often when people say things like “I’ll never pass” or “I’ll never look as good as all of you”. It is actually stored on this server, so the url for it is part of this domain.
The time period it covers is the darkest period of my life, and it includes these changes.
That was the last time I saw my son. The last time I talked to him was in May of that same year. He said to me a line I have noted here before, because it is burned into my mind since shortly after hanging up the phone I sought as private a space as I could and proceeded to wail and let loose the most emotionally devastating cries of my entire life.
Regina, my sister, says that my sobs could heard a block away. She exaggerates a little.
But, um, yeah, it was horrible, and all he said was “I don’t want to see you all girly and stuff”.
If you ever really want to know why it is that I am never phased by folks like the ‘roach saying I’m a man, it is because nothing they can do or say will ever reach the deepest part of me the way those words did. Nothing can hurt me more. Ever. I have felt the worst that I can feel. They aren’t even in the same galactic vicinity with their statements.
(you do realize just how big a galaxy is, don’t you? It is important because the statement above is metaphorical, but the metaphor only really works if you get the understanding that I am referring to billions of miles away).
He was 12 years old. He was my son, and I was doing the whole “super dad” thing so I protected him as much as I could for most of his life, basically, I was going around with a stick up my ass and focusing on what I can teach and pass on and all the other stupid over compensating shit that someone with way too much education does.
Over the next 4 years, 9 months, and 13 days, I found the strength to tell myself that if for him to be happy I need to be absent, then I would let that happen. I ruthlessly removed all vestiges of hope that we would ever reconcile. I even would get a bit angry and upset when people would tell me that “hey, Toni, he’ll come and find you one day. Really, he will.” because even that little bit of potnetial hope was too painful for me to try and carry — I wouldn’t have made it if I’d allowed that to happen.
I rebuilt my life slowly, over the years. I found new purpose, new meaning, new stuff, I say that for everything I ever gave up, I gained back ten times more. I still hold on to that, because in the end, it really is true.
In all areas except J.
Where J once was I now had a vast and gaping hole. An absence that no one could make up. No other anything in this universe has ever held the place he holds inside me.
But I was no longer living my life for other people and through the lens that I applied to them, I was living my life through myself, and with only my own lens. I was free from many of the things that I had once felt were so goddamned important.
I did make one concession. A lot of things went into the decision that I made about being out instead of stealth. A lot of people get defensive when I say that stealth is great for the individual but lousy for the community It is a true statement, but there is not judgement within that statement — I don’t care which way someone goes and I am well aware that I had to make that decision myself at one point, even though when I started out, it was one of the two things that I had to do in order to even go forward with it.
I say down in my therapists office for the first time and I said I don’t know if I can do this if I can’t go stealth and I can’t pass. I have to do those things.
Yes, I said those things. Me. Dyssonance. Toni D’orsay.
I’ve grown considerably since that day.
And among the thing that went into that decision was that I wanted to be sure that just in case any of the kids ever wanted to get in touch with me, or my wife needed to contact me for medical reasons, or whatever, I wanted to be sure I could be found, since they did, after all, know my name.
She had a copy of the paperwork herself that stated what it was, and she’d signed it.
Other things influenced the decision to — but in the end, I chose to be out, and when I did I chose to be completely out. Haven’t’ done anything else since.
So that was how 1,748 days of my life went.
And then, one day, out of the blue, I got an email.
J subscribed to my youtube channel. My personal channel.
I lost it.
That was Thursday.
On Friday, I added him into my circles on google+ which I have never used, gave him a year’s subscription to a website he hasn’t visited in a year, found his old FB profile and his current one (and noted that his current one was subscribed to my public updates on FB), and generally stalked my own son, who had been stalking me for two years.
And then, Friday evening…
we exchanged emails. then we got on skype, and we talked for the first time since May of 2008.
And then, yesterday, Saturday, 1750 days after I had last seen my son, I visited him at his school where he was giving a presentation.
And all of this is pretty much documented on my FB and on the support site that I use.
In TMI overload level of embarrassing but unconstrained joy and celebration.
I used to hold everything in, hold everything back, keep my emotions in check.
I was even doing it to some extent recently, because I felt I had to meet some kind of mentally pre-ordained expectations of how someone “in my position” is supposed to act and behave.
Then I had a massive crash in July.
And part of my recovery from that is I pulled the stick outta my ass and stopped holding back, Since october what you get is me, without reserve, and I let it all flow and be seen and I do not hold back.
So, um, yeah. I was excited. I was even a tad bit manic. I was all kinds of bouncing off the roof.
And it was late Friday night, very early Saturday morning, when I realized that I was whole again.
The missing piece of me was J, and that was back.
It means a lot — and to more than a little extent it means I have to shift some priorities that I’ve had, and look at some other things that I didn’t need to look at before.
We talked for hours. 5 of them, if you must know.
I have four grandchildren. Neener neener. I’m not even 50 yet and I’m a grandmother of 4. ha!
It would be nice for the impossible to happen and my Mom to show up, but she is dead, and I do have her ashes right over there, so I know better.
My son, btw, is my clone. He sounds like me. It was so shocking to hear his voice that at first — for a split second — I thought I’d hit some weird button and stumbled across an old recording. From before I did voice work.
He has my sense of humor, my manic personality, and so forth and so on.
So, to all my haters out there, I have to forewarn you as a public service that there are two of me on this planet at the same time, even though only one is trans.
My family has two members who are also Family. If those among you who understand such things can do so.
So I really was Bi all along and just didn’t know it because the trans thing got in the way.
And I am whole again, and you’ve all been dealing with a me that hasn’t been whole this entire time.
EDIT: I thought I would add that my Son and I are friends now on Facebook. And we are slowly coming to know how each has changed in the time between. Along with lots of laughter. And about ten minutes after I published this post, he read it.
So yeah, my son reads my blog.
Hell of a way to get to know your parent, huh?