For years I have questioned who I was and how I should have been. Somedays I felt like the driver yet other days I was a passenger in my own mind. I had to cover up who I was, like a caterpillar in its cocoon, to create a shell against the outside world. Fearing the reality of never knowing what normal felt like was a daily pain. I came out slowly and have transitioned slowly just enduring the pain to try and give my wife, children, family and friends time to cope. As I was coming out I feared I would lose everything. I remember the depression and fear of losing my wife (I still fear losing her) and the life long friends I had come to love. Most all of them are still there even when it is difficult they have all soldiered on. Amazing how many people can surprise you. I am now the butterfly who has left the cocoon, flying off into the unknown.
So after years of struggle dealing with it all I finally spoke to the HR at my store. Now being a very large home improvement chain in a store that employs over 150 people this was a crazy stressful time. I found that there was support beyond belief. I also found that it is a real pain some days to be me. Even though my legal name has not been changed I was allowed to change my name tag to reflect myself. This small piece of paper that represents an identity gave me a feeling of congruency I have lacked for years. It has also reveled something I did not intend: more struggles. Not only for me to be patient and kind in the adjustment, but also for my coworkers who try their best to change with me.
To some it is just a name, to me it is reality. I smile every time I hear someone call me Ali as it feels natural, an innate feeling of self. In this reality though there is a flip side. I have always been Mike at work. Employees and managers have known me since my first hormone dose and have watched my looks change. They have a recognition and it is just natural for them to call me as I was. It stings more than a hundred needles. Strange feelings come when hear that name. That isn’t me. Here is the problem, I am not legally Alissa so I can not, nor would I feel comfortable to, force someone to call me Ali. For two weeks now I have been stuck. Stuck between who I was and who I am with only one thing left… Facebook.
That old adage we hear that it isn’t official until it is Facebook official seems to ring true in many ways. People posting news, weather, coming out, relationships… It is all there just as a reminder of who is doing what today. To me, I hated being on Facebook. I hated seeing the name that was the fake me and the pronouns I did not fit. I am not a male, but I am not yet female. So after talking to a friend I am close with, yet never met (that’s to social media), she told me of her time and how she just had to rip off the bandage. I agreed, but had to worry about the wife, kids, and parents also. So after some conversations, I posted a cryptic message, because that is just how I am, and later that Sunday I changed the last piece of me over. I no longer had to see that name anymore. I was finally me.
The relief is unbelievable and it still amazes me what a small change like that can do to ones self. I did not make a huge deal, I did not make some huge post. Some noticed immediately, others didn’t notice or maybe they don’t want to see, but I see it and that is what matters most. I am no longer straddling the fence and no longer hiding myself. I am out as myself, happier then I have been in years, and the best part of it all is I can celebrate my 34th birthday at peace. I am now Facebook official and though my body may be a work in progress, there is nothing wrong with my soul anymore.