Many times I write and touch on the beauty of my life. I speak of all the positives as if that’s all I have known and you know what…. my life has been pretty good. There is something deeper though. There is pain I have hidden and their names are Anxiety and depression. I repressed the pain and memories to try and heal but it was later that I realized I had to feel it. I had to know my pain… feel it, fight it, and control it. Before that time I hid from it and worked till it hurt all to deny the truth. Working to avoid the inevitable. Well the inevitable happened and it’s time we talk about the how, why, and what came from it.
Fake it till you make it became my life. Fighting to be the man I wasn’t all while dying. I was drowning in my own body. Depression had me where I couldn’t breath yet everyone thought I was fine. Anxiety strong enough to lock me down. I couldn’t function in the context of life. Smoking 2-3 packs a day while struggling through life yet I needed to be free of the chains that bound me. All those fake smiles couldn’t save me and I broke. I snapped in a way that I never conceived.
Suicide… 4 attempts to be precise. I shouldn’t be here yet I am. I survive cutting my wrists, I failed with a gun, I couldn’t seem to even wreck my car right. I was a failure in everything… even at suicide. After that 4th attempt something changed. I told myself that I’m not gonna die before I even try so I started climbing. The start of my whole battle was climbing out of the grave I was buried in. I was trying so hard to kill myself when in truth I was already dead.
I climbed past the tombstone I had long since buried my emotions under. I grabbed at the roots as I pulled myself to the edge. As I reached the top I felt for the first time something different, something magical. I felt the rain. I felt something other than crushing pain. I seen light, smelled flowers, and appreciated life for the first time. I still felt the anxiety and the depression was still there but I felt more. I felt a calm in myself but I was only at the first ledge.
When I started hormones I was still climbing. Climbing up higher and higher clinging to anything I could find to give me hope. One day a mental fantasy, music, guns, cars, just anything. I got good at it too. Helping on a shot show with my friend Gary (yup, my ass is still on YouTube), creating beautiful cars, remodeling my house all became facts of life and I was good at all of it.
I became socially open about 18 months ago now. I transitioned at work, finally changed Facebook, and finally faced what I buried so many years ago. The anxiety was insane…. I changed my FB name and I waited for the messages to come. I awaited the verbal puke I expected to receive. I was a freak and now everyone knows. I wanted to hide in my house and pretend it was all a big dream. What had I done?! My kids, Cindy, my family are all in this and they can’t hide anymore either.
Depression rolled in like the black fog it was. 18 months ago I felt an urge I never felt… to cut. After all these years of telling others it wasn’t worth doing… I wanted to. I wanted to feel something… anything. I just needed to feel. Now I will say I didn’t cut that day, but since then I’ve had the idea for a tattoo floating in my head. I never could figure out why after 33 years I started wanting something I never even dreamed of. Seriously… getting my ears pierced was an act of rebellion against my dad at the Age of 23!
So why did the idea of putting something on my skin hit me? Maybe it was the permanence. Maybe it is beacause I wanted to mark that milestone in my life or maybe it was a longing to go back and feel the pain I wanted. 18 months later I’m a different person. I’m not self destructive nor am I depressed to often. My anxiety (though still in existence) is reduced out of need more than will. I find myself drawn to helping others instead of myself.
I find myself caring selflessly for other people. People whom I can relate with. I bleed for them when I see the memories from my past with them. I can feel their pain and long to be a person they can turn to. I want them to see what I see. But more than anything I just want to be there. Be there when they need a friend because years ago I had a girl who did just that for me. Her name is Jess and she is everything I strive to be in a friend. She was loving, caring, open, compassionate, and there.
Jess had faith in me when I didn’t. She was there to help me when I fell, she was there when I was having anxiety attacks or in the deepest bowles of my depression. She was there and I knew then and even more so now that that is all she wanted. She was that friend that loved me when I didn’t love myself. It’s because of her that I am the way I am. I strive to be that girl to others. No one deserves to be alone and I will do all I can to make damn sure everyone around me knows they aren’t.
Funny how only today did she help me understand the meaning and possible link between tattoos and pain. When her and I talked about it today and she said “Tattoos are cathartic. They remind us of the pain. The reminder is something beautiful.” She is a genius somedays.
We all deserve to have a Jess in our lives. I’m lucky that I may now be able to see how many people in my life are truly special…. but Jess is the one who made me see it. She made me see that I was more than just that Trans prefix. She showed to me that I was beautiful on the inside and when you’re beautiful on the inside…. you’re just beautiful.
Be selfless, be beautiful… be someone’s Jess. The world needs more people like her because if she never seen the beauty in me… I would have never found it. Had I never found it, well….. let’s just be happy I did.
Image credit to The Lorax by Dr. Suess