|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
Be patient. I know you want to get out of the middle of nowhere and be anywhere else, but just try to trust that you will and make the best of where you are in the meantime.
Don't mistake teen angst for a desire to quit the basketball team senior year, because you were the captain, and you worked hard to get there, and people were counting on you. No one was forcing you to do anything you hadn't already willingly given up so much to get!
Don't worry, you'll end up in NYC, and you'll feel free and independent and unafraid, and it turns out getting everything you ever wanted is about the worst thing that's going to happen to you as far as your personal well-being is concerned. If you could just relax, and be a little less suspicious of everyone and everything, high school will be easier, and you might make better choices if you look at college as more of a ""moving on"" than an all out ""escape.""
Also, you should trust your family more. True, they didn't really know what to say or do when you came out, but you were pretty aggressive and prematurely defensive. You didn't even give them a chance support you. For example, you didn't know all the awesome stuff your brothers did to stick up for you until much later. If you'd just taken one step off the island you created for yourself you would have found opportunities to connect with your family almost two decades earlier than it ended up taking.
Because I promise, in spite of yourself, you turn out OK. You have a wonderful, beautiful, hilarious wife and a gorgeous, elvish little girl (both of whom are obsessed with Star Wars...something you were afraid to like when the ""cool kids"" were looking). You've worked to get here. All that independent freedom during college meant college took a lot longer (and a state-to-state move) than you thought, but it turns out you were better at it while also working full time. You still work hard, but now your boss is barely two years old and you don't have anymore paid vacation or sick time.
The relationships you have with your family now are always evolving and not always perfect, but the potential for this was there so long ago, if you'd only thought to look. It was never going to be easy, but if you'd started listening and trusting a little earlier, you might have avoided some pretty painful years.
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
I am pleased to inform you, that you, Alyssa, do get through it. I know that right now, you’re teetering on the brink of understanding how temporary all of this is, but just in case, something throws you off balance the wrong way, I want you to see that first and foremost, you get through it and good does come out of it, and I’ll give you a couple sneak peaks in a few minutes, just bare with me.
The scars go away one day, you’ll sit down to work on something, and notice that 14 years later, only one faded line remains. Stop scrubbing so hard in the shower, the scar tissue is darker because you’re biracial, not because there’s anything wrong with you. If I knew this then, I wouldn’t have scrubbed so hard in the shower when I compared the fair skin of my mom and my sister to my own uneven tan patchy, bruised looking complexion that covered my body.
I know you don’t see it nor will want to believe it, but you and Sarah are not star-crossed lovers. Yes, unrequited love exists somewhere for some people, but you have much more in store for you than reenacting your favorite play written by a dead white guy. You’ll cry for her no doubt and she’ll make random cameos in your life for the next 5 years or so, but at 30, she’s just a symbol of a beacon in a rough patch. DON’T CRUMPLE THIS UP! I know you’re pissed I just called this a “rough patch” but I promise you, things change and you come out better for it. If I knew then that I would marry a woman who keeps me grounded and would be my anchor in the toughest times, I would have spent a lot less time looking for “the one.” Nothing I did as a teenager brought me closer to meeting her, so flirt, kiss, date, etc. but don’t try to focus on the endgame, you’ll overanalyze yourself to death and lose friends because of it.
Try not to get too angry at your parents. Continue to be open with them, and continue to assert yourself (be it dreadfully long emails or late night cry fests with mom). This push and pull of acceptance and rebellion is just a natural progression of a relationship that you will truly cherish one day. I know when you told them you were Bi, and Dad said he would hate anything that prevented him from walking his baby down the aisle, and mom said it was probably because you were depressed. I know that hurt, and you feel like you’ll never be able to celebrate with them who makes you the happiest. All of this will become an after thought following the day Dad dances you down the aisle to African drumming, after your wife slyly asks them for your hand in marriage. Continue to let mom have a big influence on you and recognize that anything she does is an attempt at protecting you, no matter how it’s perceived otherwise. Her cut the crap attitude but genuine authenticity will stick with you and carry you through many rough times in your life. She is your #1 fan and though you hate her praise and compliments now, you’ll cherish the reserve she left you to carry you through the times she’s not around for. As for your sister, be inspired by her go get it attitude and continue to stay close, but stop measuring your self worth according to her. You see yourself in her shadows now and until you step away, you’ll never feel the warmth of the sunlight or even let yourself shine. You have a lot of shining to do, so start introducing yourself as Alyssa, not Monica’s little sister.
As for your friends, the friends you make in high school are great, and all in all, you have an amazing support group. Recognize that people come in and out of your life to teach us things and present us with opportunities, connect with them as much as you can without losing yourself. Keep in mind that just about everyone is so concerned with themselves at this age that whatever awkward statement you say or movement you make will not be worth fretting about because chances are, everyone else is too worried about something they did, they didn’t even notice. Give more hugs and listen, connecting to things outside of yourself will put things in perspective and will help pass these turbulent times. It’s a storm, you just have to wait this one out.
As for school, your struggle with anxiety and focus will pay off by making you a strong high school special education teacher. You have a personal experience to connect strategies to and the compassion you have for struggling students and teenagers will set you apart from many of your coworkers. You’ll also recognize the interconnectedness between being a woman of color, being a lesbian, having a learning disability, and having a history of anxiety and depression, and use them to be a change maker. Your journey is an integral part of that change and the influence you’ll have in other’s lives so trust it, find value in it, but don’t perseverate on it or use it as a crutch. Nothing can truly define you, nor should you let it.
When you do discover that you want to spend the rest of your life with a woman, and realize that the label “Bi” no longer works for you, don’t be so quick to put yourself into another box. Lots of self placed limitations come with labels and you don’t want to end up putting yourself into another box before you know what that looks like. Your career goals, your ideas of relationships, your spirituality, and support group, are all fluid concepts and will shift multiple times throughout your life, so let yourself explore, let yourself love, let yourself fall, and just know that it’ll shape who you are and who you were supposed to be.
If I knew then, that things would all work out, I would have taken a deep breath and let go. Find your faith in the universe a little sooner and enjoy the ride. It’s all temporary, except tattoos, choose wisely.
Hang in there, kid. You’ve got a lot to look forward to.
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
Dear College Suzanne,
Soon, your good lesbian friends will take you to a lesbian bar, and one of their friends will look you straight in the eye and tell you that you’re gay. This will be your turning point and everything will change! It will validate all the hours spent agonizing over what the hell all these feelings are and what they mean for you. Despite what you’ve been brought up to believe, you will not be struck down because of who you are! However, you may want to start exploring new religious avenues. You’re always going to be a spiritual person, so you’re not going to lose that part of yourself. So it’s time to stop dismissing the feelings you have for girls by thinking that it’s just a “I really want to be their friend” feeling because, let’s face it, you want much more than that.
As for coming out, it is going to be difficult to come out to your friends and family, but they will all understand, and no one is going to think less of you for it. In fact, many of them will try so very hard to hold back the words, ‘well duh’ or something along those lines. Your siblings will all be understanding, accepting, and almost upset that you hesitated so long to tell them. Your parents, on the other hand are a different story. They will not disown you, but they will never fully understand. They think it’s a choice and will struggle to understand that it’s not. Unfortunately, you will spend far too many hours agonizing over your relationship with your parents and whether or not it’s healthy for your family. However, you must always remember to stay strong when speaking with them on the topic so they don’t think that don’t have any reason to question or doubt who you are.
The good news is this does not by any stretch mean that you will grow up to be a lonely old cat lady. You can stop climbing back in the closet when you enter a new situation because you will not encounter many people who will judge you solely based on who you are. You will crush hard and you will crush often, but don’t take it so hard when the feelings aren’t returned. There’s something huge coming your way: the woman of your dreams, and you want to be ready for her! You should not spend so long concentrating on the idea that it will all end in more disappointment and just ask her out already! She will love you despite the fact that she is the first person that you’ll be with and have NO idea what you’re doing! And a note on that: stop worrying that women won’t want anything to do with you if they find out you’re a virgin. Turns out, it doesn’t matter as much as you may think it does. It may make for a couple uncomfortable situations that your wife will never let you live down, but that will not define your relationship or what you can offer. But wait, there’s more…
Yes, you read right, your wife. Yes, you do get married and you have a beautiful wedding that everyone will love and rave about. No, your parents don’t come, but the way the rest of your family rally behind you warms your heart more than you could ever know. In fact, you’ll have family members suggesting you get married and move to their state or country because your marriage will be legal there. Four years later, you and your wife will join the fight to have marriage equality in Maryland and win. Finally, you will have the family you always hoped for and that you will do anything for.
So here’s the bottom line. Right now you’re scared to be who you are around anyone, but that will all change. You will be a strong, confident woman who will get everything that you’re worried that being a lesbian will keep you from. You will always know who you are and you will be proud of it. So it’s time to start believing in yourself and be the woman you are meant to be.
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:50 AM||comments (0)|
If I knew then what I knew now, I can’t say that I would have the privilege of having the same journey. I can say that there might have been fewer struggles and a lot less depression. I can say that I see the way the world has been changing and it’s beautiful to watch but at the same time so disheartening that only a few short years ago, we were still denied such basic rights. And so it begins, my letter of reflection to myself
To Whom It May Concern (yes, I am talking to you, the one hidden in the corner staring at their shoes),
I know you don’t know me or even probably have any clue whom I am… as we are pretty much on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Right now the world seems so troublesome and so depressing, you feel hidden, abused and completely lost without any idea of why. Your self-confidence is lacking and you are completely wrapped up in trying to define your path in the world. However, I am here to tell you that you never truly will find that one path; yes, I know that’s completely opposite of everything you are told and, well, so are most of life’s lessons. Life is fluid, soon enough you will realize so is your sexuality and not too far from that, you will realize so is your gender. All those times when you preferred the gender neutral nickname you had since you were a small child, all those times you wish you could grow chops and all those times you felt like a fabulous gay man locked in the body of a scrawny white girl, you were being who you are. I know you tried to suppress it for multiple years, to pretend that you could be one of the flock and blend in, but truth be told you were never meant to. You will realize as you grow up, the prouder you are of yourself, the more that people will love you and accept you. Prior to this, people just find you a bit awkward and a bit shady since you constantly are hiding behind a façade that everyone knows isn’t truly you. One day you will realize that you are a completely compassionate, intelligent, loving and handsome human being and when you start treating yourself that way, you will see others begin to follow suit. This will lead to an absolute snowball that will encompass your life in so much love and feelings of absolute gratitude.
You will find employment as an IT professional, the career you always wanted but didn’t feel like you fit into. You will not only have this as a career path, but you will have an amazing employer that will allow you keep your self-identity and express it through your piercings, tattoos, crazy haircuts/colors and eventually will even stand behind you as you transition.
For all those years you felt alone, you will realize that you weren’t, but that the technology just wasn’t capable of linking like-minded individuals in the same manner it is now. You will dedicate your extra hours and extra love to making sure that others like you never falter on their paths or consider their own demise in a manner similar to your own. You will find some version of inner peace in understanding that life isn’t dichotomous, but a series of greys. You will paint your life a beautiful monochrome to match suit.
One of your best life lessons will be in learning that family isn’t one that is just assigned at birth, but rather a series of supportive individuals that know when to hug you for joy or hug you to block the pain. You will find chosen family throughout the world and will travel frequently to see them. This family will create a great support network to get you through your troubled periods and to lend kind words during your transition. Friends as well as family members that might have struggled at some point will end up being people you speak with weekly, if not daily.
The best lesson you will learn in life is one I reference above about loving yourself. Prior to this you will have a tough stint with friendships, relationships and work balance. When you finally learn to love yourself, you’ll find that you become more tolerant of others as we all belong to a minority somewhere in our lives. This acceptance of others will lead you to explore new facets of life, to learn new information, to love others without pretenses and to accept things about others that you might not have ever thought about previously. This inner love will bring you the greatest love of your life… a small 5’2” Canadian lady that accepts you unconditionally and supports every interest you ever express. You both will fall crazy for each other as she truly is the other half of you. She even understands that her current fiancé is a flaming fag and encourages it by taking you to your favorite Broadway shows, buying you fabulous outfits and having late night giggle sessions with you.
This brings me to the final point in what I wish you knew back then, quit taking yourself so seriously. As you become more in tune with who you are and the multitude of ways you can express what you feel inside, never hesitate to step away from work and to spend quality time with those you love. Travel frequently, explore the world, only then will you realize the gifts you have at home and only then will you start to understand how to begin the acceptance of others. Laugh hard at stupid jokes, tell ridiculous stories that have no true meaning and dance your butt off even if you are lanky and kind of awkward …that same small Canadian referenced earlier will find it adorable. Life is far too short to be concerned for long periods of time (yes, you will always care to some extend) about what others are thinking. Encourage the others that you puzzle to ask questions and be a source of knowledge to promote education about the communities you identify within.
All in all, you are a pretty awesome guy and even on the most down of days, find solace that you will be ok and there is always room for gratitude.
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:50 AM||comments (0)|
Dean Kole Robbins
I grew up in a small town, where everyone knows everyone in mid-Michigan. Never wanted for anything and if there was something I wanted, Mom usually got it for me. My mom told me even when I was very little I was fussy about being put in girl clothes that I preferred a white t shirt and diaper or no shirt and diaper than wearing the outfits she picked out.
In the Oct of 1979, two things changed for me; I had chicken pox so bad the doctors recommend Mom cut my hair all off and my younger sister was born. Mom was very busy dressing my sister in all the frilly things I hated wearing and I started to become my father’s shadow. All those years of fighting with me to wear a dress or even a girly top and pants were contradicted when Dad dressed me in overalls or jeans and a corduroy blazer. Looking back at these early signs my mother told me not long ago that it all makes sense to her now.
All my friends were boys and to them, I was just one of the guys. Everywhere I looked the “in thing” was to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Where I grew up we were all sheltered from what really happens in the real world. We learned about AIDS in the 80’s from the TV and most kids joked that if you swapped spit with someone you could get HIV. So to say we knew what it really meant to be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender would be impossible. I grew up in an era where all gays were “faggots” and all “fags” had AIDS or would end up with it.
I was already different because I was the chubby kid in school. I never much liked my name because it rhymed with banana, so everyone just called me D and that too should have been a sign. All these signs appear throughout my younger years but there wasn’t the internet or home computers yet. So you heard things from TV shows, in school or from your parents. I tried hard to please my parents and fit in like my sister did but boys never really interested me. I did have a bf in 8th grade and I tried hard to like him.
By now most CIS girls were getting their periods and going through puberty. Not me, and I was A okay with it but not Mom! Mom took me to a specialist who said my testosterone levels were very high for a CIS female. The doctor wanted to put me on birth control pills. I refused because I thought that would lead to me having sex and I wasn't interested in boys like that.
In high school, I participated in basketball and softball and swimming. I excelled at all of them. I would work twice as hard as the other kids and not lose much weight but became very muscular and toned. Another sign looking back that some higher power out there was trying to tell me. I met a girl in band my junior year who was probably my first crush although as I saw it then we were best friends and nothing more. She liked to hang out watching movies and liked to snuggle up to me while watching them. I had no idea what that meant but I just remember the first time she did that my heart raced I thought it was going to jump out of my chest.
I became obsessed with this girl and when she started dating a guy I knew. I had such a meltdown from it. I was angry at him, at her, at the world. Perfectly normal, right? NO! Another sign and I ignored it or chose not to think about it or flat out didn’t know what any of it meant. My counselor in high school was also my Varsity Softball coach so it wasn’t like I could ask him anything (plus he was already middle aged and tough as nails).
One common theme in high school is I always remained friends with the guys but my friendship with girls seemed to be short lived. We would spend a lot of time together at first and then it “got weird” was what I was told later in life. I never understood what that meant until many years later – it was yet another sign.
Fast forward several years and another failed relationship with a guy; this being the worst one yet as I almost married this one (literally two months away). I was miserable, depressed and living back at home with my parents. By this time internet chats were popping up through AOL and the younger generation was talking with others all over the country.
Around this time my feelings for women were increasing and I was more confused than ever with no one to talk to about it. My family believed in putting on your best smile in public so people didn't know what was going on in your life. We swept everything under a rug. So I did the same for now.
I now have my own apartment, working and spending time with new friends and still talking in chats to try figure out what I wanted and what it all meant. I met Stacy who was living in Ohio at the time about two hours from me. Instead of a romantic relationship I made a friend for life. Stacy had “come out” as a lesbian many years before we met. Through her friendship I was given an outlet to talk through all the things in my head what everything meant at that time.
Over the next several years I went through phases, from being outed by my sister’s bf which in retrospect wasn't as horrible as I had imagined in my head. I had already told my Aunt I thought I was gay and she was so supportive. She even offered me a place to stay if my parents disowned me which neither of us thought would happen, but it was a relief to know I would not be alone.
The next phase was the “butch lesbian” years and learning about what it meant to be butch and what the term femme meant for lesbians. As far as my physical appearance it was much the same, dressing in polo shirts and shorts or men’s jeans or khakis. I kept my hair short and wore baseball caps. I looked masculine. I never really liked the term lesbian and rather considered myself gay at the time.
Through all this there was still something missing. I was still unhappy with myself. I had a great job traveling, met a girl in Michigan who was intelligent, taught me a lot about sex, intimacy, boi vs boy, strapping and loving yourself. We only dated for about six months about what I learned in that time could have saved me so much pain had I known earlier in my life.
The next phase of my journey brought me to Maryland and I learned about Drag Kings, gay men, queers, transgendered men & women and the freedom to be neither. For the first time, I felt alive when I started performing and passing as male. I still remember telling my mom about it and how fun it was but not to worry as I had no intention of becoming a man. Boy I was still in denial even then!
When I moved in with two gay men and rented a room from them my life changed. I learned what it meant to have family accept you for who you are and how to truly work through what I wanted in life. One of my roommates and dear friend fought a courageous battle with Cancer but ultimately lost the fight January 2008. My friend was 40 when he passed away. Watching as it unfolded from first diagnosis to his partner deciding to turn off the machines changed my life forever.
In 2008, I came out to my friends as Transgender (still not knowing what it all meant for me), met the woman who is now my wife (we will celebrate our 3rd Anniversary October 1st), changed careers and came out to my parents and sister as Transgender.
I still had no clue what this journey would bring but my mother asked one thing of me and that was not to reveal this information to my grandparents.
My grandfather was 92 and grandmother was 90, my Mom’s mom was 89 with early dementia. It was an extremely difficult time and trying to respect my mother’s wishes felt like I was living two lives; one here on the East Coast and the other when visiting family in Michigan.
I know now that it caused mental anguish and depression; serious ups and downs that interfered with friendships, my relationship with my wife, my family and a strain on my work. In February of 2011, I lost my grandmother on my fathers’ side, she was 91. Twenty-six days later, my grandfather, her husband passed away. He said he didn't want to live without her, he was 93.
After their passing, I shut everyone out; I fell into a dark depression all the while finalizing plans to be married. My friends tried to be there for me but I was numb and not really there. A month or so after our wedding my wife and I got into an argument and she left. By this point my friends had walked away already so when she left (it was only for one night but) it was a wake-up call.
I found a therapist and was in the next week. The next 8 months were a struggle to find myself and repair my marriage. The first step was that summer; I met with the Employee Relations Manager at work and came out as Transgender. We discussed what it meant and how to explain to my boss and team, then how we would notify the rest of the company moving forward. All through this I was seeing my therapist once a week. She was a tremendous help and I’m eternally grateful.
No longer was I living separate lives anywhere. My family knew, my friends knew and now I was free to be myself even at work. As terrifying as it was, I found out that I was supported by co-workers, friends, family, my therapist, my doctor and even high school classmates.
My journey is far from done but come this August I will have been on testosterone for two years, my driver’s license says male and I’m saving towards top surgery. Last fall I started a new position at my company where most of the people only know me as male and the others have been very respectful. I use the men’s room all the time in public and at work. Also, it never gets old hearing “sir” when out in public.
I still face surgery in order to change my birth certificate, working to change my name and yes there are days where the wait of these changes can bring you down. These are the days I step back and look how far I’ve come and celebrate the steps knowing I will get there when the time is right for me.
I know now that each person’s journey is their own and no one has a right to say otherwise. It is okay to take your time to figure out who you are and what is best for you. I know I am loved. I know now that my family will support me wherever my life takes me.
There is a wealth of information out there available to you, now take advantage of it, learn all you can and make informed decisions. Respect yourself, remember Stonewall, remember Matthew Shepard and learn what Harvey Milk did for San Francisco and this country.
Most of all, remember to be yourself!
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:45 AM||comments (0)|
Dear 19 year old Heather,
August 2003 will introduce you to someone who will change your life forever, you will meet one of your dearest friends this year; someone you will still know and love in ten years. Your best friend from college will be a gay man who has known for years that he loved other men and while you know what the term homosexual means, you don’t know how much it will mean to you. Through your best friend you’ll be introduced to the LGBTQQIA community at Towson University and for the first time in your life you will actually start to think about and vocalize feelings that you had previously pushed aside. You will revel in a new kind of freedom, one that allows you to not only be honest with yourself but to be honest with others. You won’t feel pressured into not liking or loving someone just because of their genitalia. You will come out as bisexual and be LOUD and PROUD to anyone and everyone who will listen. You’ll love men, you’ll love women and you will thrive in this new found identity. You’ll hear the jokes about bisexuals not being able to make up their minds, or that you’ll be gay one day it’s just a matter of time and they will roll off your back without much of a second thought. Your time in college will be wonderful and you’ll be secure and unapologetic for who you are.
After college you will be in a long term relationship with a woman while navigating a new world of responsibilities and expectations. You’ll get a job and you will wonder if you should come out to your co-workers but quickly realize that quiet and hidden just isn’t your style and you’ll talk about your girlfriend openly. You’ll work in a school environment with open minded co-workers who don’t really care who you go home with as long as you have your work done at the end of the day. It will be a relief because you will have heard any horror stories about people being discriminated against because of who they are, you’ll be a lucky one who can be themselves wherever they are.
Once you’re settled at work and happy at home you’ll begin to think about who you are now and while no one will ever pressure you about your label you will begin to question yourself… “if I’m with a woman for the rest of my life am I still bisexual or would I be a lesbian”, “bisexuals get a lot of flak for their identity maybe it would be easier to just pick one side or another”, “why do you need a label at all why can’t you just be”. These questions will roll around your mind from time to time and cause you some anxiety because you will want to fit in somewhere and you’ll want the security you feel from a label but you won’t really have those answers so you’ll just try to avoid a label.
After almost 2 years together your relationship will end and you will very quickly be blindsided by someone new. You’ve seen this person through mutual friends for a few years but you aren’t formally introduced until then and you will quickly begin something with someone who is transgendered. You will fall in love with him as he is not because he was born female, not because he is a man but because he is an amazing person who makes you feel happy and special and complete. In your time together you two will discuss labels and identity, and realize that the pressure you put yourself to pick a label was unnecessary. You’ll realize that love is what matters for you, some people only love men or women but you just love. You’re not really straight, gay or bisexual and that’s ok. As time goes on you realize that “queer” fits, it doesn’t’ feel restrictive, you don’t feel locked into anything it just seems right. Through that acceptance you found and married the love of your life and found more important things to worry about like: rent or own, kids or pets (or both) and what to make for dinner
If I knew then… that picking a label would cause me so much stress I would have tell myself just to go with my heart, don’t get caught up in straight, gay or anywhere in between. Love who you want to love and enjoy the journey, you will wind up exactly where you need to be when you are supposed to get there.
Almost 30 year old Heather
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:45 AM||comments (0)|
Dear Spastic Past Me,
Hey there! This is the part of the letter where I'm not really sure what to say, getting started is the most uncomfortable part. I am here to talk to you about your current state and what you are going through. To be honest I often find myself thinking about you. Most of those thoughts end in me face palming myself and thinking ""what was I thinking"", but right now I want to talk to you about what you just went through.
So, you just came out, eh? Boy that was a big step, and look at you! You're still here to talk about it. Yeah it was hard, filled with the ever plaguing ""what if's"" that will haunt you for the rest of your life. But more importantly, you made it out okay. You got lucky, nobody chastised you or stopped talking to you. For the most part, people just went ""well that's a thing, meh...neat!"" and you went about your business of staying anxious and worrying about what was next. What I'm here to tell you is this..If I knew then what I know now...then I would have calmed down.
Yes, it's horrific to come out. It's something that not only do you have to admit to yourself, you have to admit to everyone. This thing that you've been toying with for your entire life stops being a thought, and starts being a thing. That's the hardest part. It's an instant change. Within seconds you become someone totally different, not only to yourself, but to the rest of your world. Now I say your world because let's face it. Nobody on the other side of the planet is too concerned with what you are going through as you cry to your mom about the girl you are in love with who barely knows you exist. But man, that girl was a heartbreaker, you'll get over it, you always do.
Calming down is probably the only advice that I can actually give you. Thinking too hard and getting lost in your own head will be the one area that you will have to overcome when becoming an adult. Yes, you will still have that problem of worrying too much, over analyzing every situation until you've exhausted every resource in your mind will still be your biggest hurdle, but you won't do it every time you meet a nice girl, or come into contact with that family member that you haven't seen in years. Or your English teacher. Being afraid that people will discriminate against you, or hate you for who you are isn't going to be an issue in your life. Let's face it, everyone you've met up to now has liked you okay, that's probably because you're doing something right. Keep that up, stop stressing the little things, respect your friends and family and be kind to people. That will go a longer way that trying to be something that you're not. Oh and by the way...don't have short hair... it doesn't look good on you. And in 2014 thank the higher powers above that Hipsterism became a thing.
Speaking of 2014, you're not doing so bad for yourself. You have an amazing girlfriend who keeps you in your place, and at the same time teaches you the one thing you've always needed to learn, patience. Life comes at it's own pace and you've tried to speed it up but it didn't work. Yes, I'm trying to tell you that sadly, you have not developed the formula for time travel, but you have figured out true happiness. Taking everyday at a time and appreciating the little things is what you've always needed. You have a great job where you've had the pleasure of never having to grow up. You get to talk to people everyday about things that matter to them and at the same time allowing them to see that what they care about matters to you as well! It might not be the ideal job for most people, but you are good at it and that's all that you care about. When you were a few years younger you decided to live by the philosophy of ""do what makes you happy"", and you did. You've lived in some amazing places, downtown Chicago, Baltimore, and the classiest of all York Pennsylvania. Really, who can contest your life? You got here on your own and you're happier than you've ever been, all that came from realizing that the world moves at it's own pace, and letting the little things going and not worrying about the things you can't change have eased the extra baggage that you used to carry around. Breathe mini me, coming out is hard, but it will get better, and you'll be okay.
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:45 AM||comments (0)|
Letter to my 15 year old self:
You are a special young lady. Celebrate your uniqueness...don't follow the crowd. That means respect your body and don't give it away to boys just to fit in. You can't take it back. Wait to have sex with someone who means something to you, preferably with the gender that you are attracted to. What I'm saying is, if I knew then what I know now, I would wait until I graduated from high school. I would get to know myself and take my time. I would listen to my heart. I would love myself and make sure I believe that I am enough. I don't need external validation, especially from some boy who doesn't even know or respect me. So yeah, I knew from about age 10 that I was attracted to girls, but unfortunately that was the mid-eighties and I didn't know anyone that was LGBT except Elton John! Regardless, I would take my time and not hurry into hetero relationships just to get attention (not love). It is okay to be alone. I should be my own best friend and treat myself with love and kindness. I am enough. Well that is a process that didn't start to unfold until age 27 when I got out of the military and started dating women. I felt more confident and strong enough to take backlash from friends and family. While I know coming out is a very personal decision, I wish I could have skipped the 10 years I dated guys and hide my sexual orientation. Hiding slowly eats away at your core and it takes time (and courage) to be live an authentic life. But it is so worth it!
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:40 AM||comments (0)|
So, you are fourteen, going to Catholic Central, and just came out. Congratulations, that was an awkward conversation with your parents. The embarrassment that you are feeling right now; let go of it. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. You are perfect and beautiful just the way you are.
What else? Yeah, don't drop out, don't run away. Stop eating peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches for lunch every day. I swear, you are breeding a sugar worm. Believe me, nineteen years latter, and we are still feeding that worm!
You know how Dad is forcing us to get confirmed? Just do it. You won't go to hell, I promise!
Oh, and remember that girl, Georgie I think it was? The one who, during Algebra class, when Coach yelled at you, got up out of her seat, crossed the room in utter silence as the entire class stared, bent and kissed your forehead? Yeah! Go get her #!!! Call her!
Also, don't drop out of Catholic Central and enroll in Public School. Kids are just as mean there and you will wind up dropping out of that school too. PS, they are the same kids who now 'like' every fart you make on FB and constantly remind you that your life seems so amazing!
What I'm saying is, don't run. Make friends. Discover the Michigan Womyns Music Fest (bring Georgie, she probably has a car)! You live in Michigan for Gods sake, don't wait eighteen years to discover it!
By the way, there are more gay people than you think. Yes, all around. You are so weird and different only because you are way ahead of your time, and more brave than most.
You will continue to be weird and brave, don't run in search of more like you, you will only get dizzy. Stay and make friends right where you are. People become more and more alike, the more you get to know them. We are not all so different.
Don't hide all the time. It will only make you become a lonely, isolated person. You know how you like to go up on the roof and smoke cig's during Friday Mass? Well, eighteen years latter and you still have cravings and are trying to learn Spanish via podcast!
Its 1995 and what is a podcast you ask? Never mind that. The point is that Mass was in Latin, you could of learned something! Instead of standing in pigeon poop, huffing camels, by now, 'we' could be a bilingual non smoker!
My dear young self, it appears there is much I would of liked to have changed. Unfortunately who knows what or who I would be today if it weren't for you, messing things up, making discoveries the hard way, and simply going about life as a teenager. So, thank you. Thank you for being you and for going through all of it.
The teen years are like no other. They are terrifyingly beautiful. Something happens to a person during this time. A formation of the adult to come. So handle yourself with care my love. The emotions you are feeling so deeply, they will seem trivial in a few years, but still I warn you, handle them now with great care, because they are laying the tracks for the future trains of your life.
|Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
Dear 14 year old me,
I know that 1994 has been a hard year, especially with all the thinking you have been doing as to your sexual orientation. But I also know the relief you felt when you decided to accept and embrace it despite the possibilities of rejection by family and friends. But the road isn’t over, it’s only just beginning.
Don’t be scared to tell your parents, they may not react as accepting as you would hope but they will accept you. I know you are more scared to tell your mom than you are dad but she will be the first to fully accept you and your father will soon follow.
If you still follow your plan to join the military be prepared, you won’t be able to shout out loud "I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it!" like you do now, you must hold your tongue on who you are and maintain professionalism. I know it’s not fair but it will be the price you pay for following your dreams. You will not be able to discuss your family and personal life like your co-workers, you will not have your squadron calling your spouse to make sure they are doing ok while you are deployed, if you have children you will not be able to add them to your medical coverage or use base services like day care or the elementary school, you will not be able to leave work if something happens to them or in an emergency. Yes most seem like little things now, but they will take their toll. They will make you angry at times and constantly question why your life and love is treated in such a manner. You will decide to answer honestly if someone ever asks you (even though you know what can happen) or to deny, I implore you to never deny who you. But you will be lucky, you will work with amazing people who will accept you, who won’t ask but know. You will have supervisors who do call your spouse and who know your family. You will be more fortunate than so many others in this aspect so please cherish it and be grateful.
There is one adverse effect that will come from your military ventures, you will not be as active in creating change in the LGBTQ community as you will become throughout your high school years. but don’t worry you will find your way back, you will be older then yes but the experiences that you will have had will benefit those you will meet (all of whom will be younger than you) and yourself.
I wish I could tell you that you will find the mythical "one" that we all so often hear about. That you will fall in love and that’s it complete and utter love life perfection, but unfortunately I can’t tell you that because it doesn’t work that way. You will experience hurt, some far greater than others. No matter how badly injured your little heart is always try to forgive; I know its hard trust me I do, But holding onto that hurt and whatever anger may come with it will only hurt you not the one who may have caused this pain and leave you guarded and untrusting on many levels. You will love so very completely at least once, giving your heart and soul unconditionally, but it will not be easy and unfortunately it will be the most painful hurt you have experienced. But you will survive, it won’t be easy but you won’t shut down, you will keep going and healing but most importantly you will learn from it.
The most important things that I can tell you right now is please try and always be true to yourself, be your true self. Don’t let a lover reshape you or try to change who you are because they don’t like it, and don’t let them ridicule you or put you down. If they can’t accept or don’t like who you are then they do not deserve you! Don’t let anyone control or abuse you, or call your kindness weakness. You are NOT weak!
The second thing is that you do not have to label yourself! You do not have to be a butch women or a femme. You do not have to fall into the categories just to make straight people comfortable NOR do you have to fall into categories to make other LGBTQ people comfortable. You do not have to call yourself a lesbian or gay or anything else other than ‘me’.
There is so much more you will experience but maybe it’s not fair to tell you everything that is to come, you still have to make decisions and choices on your own. But stop and think and maybe reconsider a few things or people you let in along the way.
So stop, breathe and let’s see what you get into now.