“Stephanie, where have you been?” – an update.

Today, I opened an email, among many, asking something that many of you who have emailed me have asked, “Stephanie, where have you been?”  And it truly touches me to have you all ask me where I have been.  I’m sure, on some level, based on some of the conflicts I have been mentioning in my most recent posts, I had a few worried.  I’m okay…physically, I’m okay.  I’ll be honest though, I am still struggling.

I don’t know why I do that…

I suppose, I might be leaning towards accepting that me not accepting myself is my normal.  I don’t understand how to function without stress and turmoil, I guess. I’ve done nothing drastic, however, but I am just trying to live each day as it comes and just accepting that I will continually question myself and ponder what might be my true and authentic self.

I have noticed, the dichotomy of myself is even extrapolated to many of you.  I have some of you email me with the name my mom gave me at birth (some might call this my real name) and I have notices some of you call me Steph or Stephanie (Obviously, this is a real name, as well), and yet a lot of you also call me Tar (ahem…short for Tarnished). I receive so much encouragement from so many of you that I feel more content with myself during those times.

The reality is, of course, that my life is in turmoil. I’ve been back and forth with my wife lately. We talk, we argue, we agree to continue with the divorce, we continue to reconcile, we are obviously nuts. I am trying to work my way through school. I am working a job I no longer enjoy, but doing it because it is important. And trying to manage the various hats I wear with my differing relationships.  The only thing I have taken any peace in is focusing on doing the best I can, praying (even God might hate me or the sins I commit), focused on being the best me I can muster for the current day.

I take pleasure in knowing that there are great people here that follow me and encourage me.  But I don’t feel on solid ground and I feel like I’m floating along and just trying to pick up pieces. My public persona is highly masculine and yet I am still desiring the softer, more feminine nature that I feel is a major part of who I am.  I am not engaging in any relationships, although I still get messages on dating profiles I opened when I assumed my marriage was over. I just don’t feel like I’m capable of giving myself to anyone right now.  I’m simply unstable in my life and it’s not fair to anyone I would make a horrible boy/girlfriend right now.

What I know is that I like who I am online, but I am quite comfortable not bucking anything in my real life.

I am becoming accustomed to anonymity…

…no one knowing me.

There is no obligation to please anyone.

 

“What return shall I make to the Lord…

…for all that He has done for me?”  (Psalm 116: 12)

 

Truthfully, I’m struggling with gratitude, lately, but I also believe that my attempt to focus on a higher power and praying daily is a step. I am struggling with understanding my true nature, but I am hopeful that my willingness to live each day as it comes demonstrates my gratitude for life…

Aaaaagggggghhhhhh…..!!!!

I’m not sure what to think anymore. The last time I posted, I was pretty sure what direction I needed to take my life. In fact, I even went to confession again today. I confessed not understanding how to accept my life and wanting something different than what is given to me. The priest, ever so kind in his words, expressed that I was experiencing a spiritual battle and I was losing because I wasn’t allowing God to fight the battle.

Okay, I get it…get out of God’s way…

And then, I went to watch a concert with a local band at an outside venue. And i couldn’t resist…there were so many girls wearing cute summer dresses and I began imagining myself in those dresses. So, so, so, so cuuuuute! I wish I had my camera ready to capture some pictures. So cute! And I found myself, instantly jealous and wishing to be Stephanie again. I just really love dresses.

I’m so confused…

Lacking Emotional Motivation…

One of the things I have noticed most about my mental health is the constant, never-ending ebb and flow of my emotions.  I can go from such extreme highs to such extreme lows. I enjoy the highs so much, because I feel happy and energetic and motivated, but days like today I wake up wondering if there is a point to any of this thing we call life.  I have a few stressors (sometimes referred to as “triggers”) at the moment and I’m trying to decide how to address them all.

I’ve spent a little too much out of my monthly budget this month. I’m currently about $600 over what I need to spend this month.  Normally, it’s not a major deal for me to make-up a difference like that, by taking on my part time job – I drive for a couple of ride-shares. The problem is that I don’t feel like doing it, since I have this week off, before heading back to my normal job.  I want to be able to relax and enjoy some days off, before going back to work.  I already have errands I need to get done and I have to do some home maintenance kind of things to prepare for the summer.  Time and money are NOT my friends this month. In fact, I think they are both evil-bitches!

Another thing I’m irritated about today is working on my BYJ. Today’s exercise is something to do with not having unrealistic comparisons to others. It goes on to mention that the Beauty Industry is unrealistic and the author suggests Google (or other search engine) search “Photoshop before and after images”.  It’s pretty amazing the transformations people can have when using a tool like Photoshop. Granted, I saw some amazing differences with some of the images, but I found that there were some that only minor changes had been made.  For me – and what is triggering me – is that it’s making me feel like I am never going to be what I would like to be and I want to accept it, but I just don’t know how.  What I don’t want to do, however, is have another emotional meltdown over something so obvious.

And it creates in me the inner turmoil I constantly fight over my sexuality… On the one had, I used to feel like I was coming to greater resolution with my sexuality – accepting it as it is – I am capable of loving either a woman or a man. I felt like I was at a point where being who I was as a bisexual man was feeling “okay”, but as I began to explore this within myself, I found myself more comfortable with my sexuality in terms of my gender-identity. I have always felt feminine, although I did a damned good job hiding it behind my masculinity. Or did I?  I take comfort in some aspects of feeling feminine, but there are other aspects that simply remind me how far removed I am from being a woman.

Another thing setting my mind into negativity today is that I have a routine check-up at the doctor’s office today – specifically with my endocrinologist.  (I’m a type 1 diabetic, for those of you who don’t know. I have had insulin dependent diabetes since I was 8 years old – about 36 years). I do this every 3 – 4 months, as a nice reminder how I’m not healthy.  Okay….um…that’s my interpretation, and not the doctor’s.  I had some goals I wanted to accomplish the last time I was in and I’m frustrated that I haven’t accomplished them.  I am 6 pounds down from the last time I went, but I was hoping for 10-15 pounds down.  I do believe my blood sugars are better than last time, but they are still not where they need to be.  I have also realized that the last time I went, I was not drinking at all and I have started again…even if, not as much.  I also realized, that there are two medications I am supposed to take regularly, that have been sporadic on. Again, I’m doing better than before, but it’s still sporadic.

I think the only saving grace I feel, right now, is that I have been walking. I have been making it a point to walk on a daily basis. I know I want to change things, but I also know I am no where near as wonderful as I once thought I was…hahaha!  But I receive encouragement and I am trying, really hard, to make some changes in my life.  But with everything I am waking up to today, I just feel overwhelmed and burdened. I feel responsibility on my shoulders at all times and I feel kind of alone in all of this.

And to top it off, I received a phone call from my maybe-soon-to-be-ex last night.  We argued, of course, about how much responsibility is mine over the failure of our marriage. I’m now at a point where I have lost my desire to care. I listened to the ranting for an hour and when I was asked what I had to say, I simply and calmly said, “I have no idea why anyone would stay or be married to the person you described me as… I would end it immediately.” And I hung up. I guess, if you hate someone, then it’s your own responsibility to choose to stay or not, right?

All I know, today, is that I have to get through it and I haven’t figured out how. There are so many days where I wish someone would do it for me. But I know this is my life, this is my challenge, this is my chance to come out on top…

…some way, some how.

 

SARD: Part 18 – When the Questions Never End…?

I have these times when I have a sudden urge to “Get right with God” – you might have noticed it.  I go through a series of mental games with myself where I fall back on assumptions I used to have about sexuality. These assumptions amount to ideas of mind over matter – in other words, I convince myself that I don’t have to be bisexual, if I don’t want to be. I go on these missions to understand WHY I have engaged in certain sexual behaviors – because there MUST be a reason, right?

I remember when I first began to question my gender, as well. I remember wondering if my sexuality and gender are intimately connected in a lot of ways. I know the common understanding is that they are separate issues, but I have always wondered about how they might be connected. I’ve said before, that in my experience I am feel more masculine when I am with women, but more feminine when I am with men.  To me, it seems readily obvious that my so-called gender identity is connected to my sexuality.

But speaking of gender identity, I’m even beginning to question that.  I ascribe to science in so many ways, and science has already determined that the genetic make-up of men and women are different, based upon the shapes of their chromosomes.  There are anomalies, just like anything else in nature, but anomalies are rare – I even read the other day that there are only like 0.023% people in the U.S. that are Transgendered (Assuming a population of 320 million, that’s still  73,600 people. I could be misquoting the statistic, but that’s still as many people that would fill up a small city like Casper, WY). So, I question who/what I am and these questions conflict with any sort of faith I may still be struggling

The problem with this is that I get overwhelmed. Some of you have seen me literally obliterate entire blogs, because of it. I’ve deleted blogs I’ve had for 2 or 3 years, sometimes, because I get so sick of the online image I present of myself, that it is so far removed from the one I have in “real” life. I’ve even posted my picture once and I had someone email me and tell me what a “great looking man” I was.  It bothered me, actually, because I don’t feel great looking and I don’t feel like a man. But the sad reality for me, is that I don’t look or feel like a woman either. I realize I’m not androgynous looking – my physical features are extremely masculine. And sometimes I feel like I want to be Dexter St. Jock, swinging my penis around like a rope and slinging it across my shoulder onto my back as if I’m the manliest stud to walk the face of the earth. And yet, I still dream of fitting into a pretty dress, squealing like a girl, and doing other feminine things.  Are my pains the results of social constructs? Some would say so. Or are my pains the result of not living within acceptance of my true self – whatever that might be?  And there are others that would think that. And, what about living how God would want me to live?  Oh, I think that would be a resounding “Yes” from some.

The problem is that I have lost myself. I have lost myself and just don’t know how to get back to feeling happy, content, peaceful, confident, etc. And these questions make me contemplate just checking out from everything – not actual life, but checking out from the current path I’m on and finding another one.  But I also feel like these feelings are temporary. I find little bits of ironies in life a lot of the time – of course, 9 out of ten times, they’re an irony in my own life. And as I feel these things, I sometimes happen upon something like this post, which gives me hope that I’m not the only one who struggles from time to time.

SARD: Part 17 – Why Have I Never Come Out?

I received an email the other day from a follower inquiring as to why I have never come out as bisexual or someone with a gender identity disorder.  This is a complex question to answer, as you might imagine.  The reality is that there are a multitude of issues I deal with and my sexuality and gender are certainly some of the more complex matters I handle on an ongoing basis.  I discussed in my last post for my Sexual and Relationship Development, the times I have come out to someone – and they are pretty rare; but, there are many reasons I have not come out on any grand scale and I don’t plan on it.

One of the main reasons I don’t share my sexuality or gender identity issues is because of safety.  Any Google search of hate crimes against LGBT will give you an article like this one, that states about 20% of the hate crimes reported in the U.S. are directed towards those in the LGBT community.  Even in my home state of Colorado, hate against the LGBT community exists (Granted, this article is a little dated, so the statistics might be different now). The intention of my post isn’t to divulge all of the horrible crimes that hit the LGBT community, because there have been oodles and oodles of articles, news stories, outcries, policies made and so many other things to address the matter.  No my main point is to stress that it is not something people like me can face without worry. And I truly admire those that stand up, regardless.

And, although there are laws that protect LGBT people in the workforce, there are still repercussions that occur when people come out.  We live in an imperfect world and there are always imperfect consequences to these matters.  I’ve mentioned before, that I work in an industry that is stereotypically masculine and if I were to out myself, I worry about how it would impact my career in the long run.  Especially after returning from a two year lay-off, I now have a sense of needing to protect my job and my career. I realize there are always legal avenues I could pursue, if I were to come out and there was any kind of backlash in that action, but I don’t want the headache of it all right now in my life.  The reality is that I am trying to recover my financial state and protect myself from another slide.  At this point in my life, I feel old and I feel like there is not much time left for me to achieve the success I desire (Of course, this is an entirely different topic…).

Another thing I don’t discuss too often online is the fact that I do have children.  My role as a parent is to protect them and protect any sense of a stable life for them.  Granted, the mere fact that I’m currently preparing for divorce is going to unsettle them a bit (a couple of my kids are already adults, so maybe a little easier for them), but to have to deal with one of their parents struggling with their own sense of self, is not something I want to burden them.  Granted, I have had this discussion with others – even therapists – that express that my demonstration of courage would be a strong trait to instill in my children; I would not want them to have to deal with the negative consequences that could come along with it.  I understand this is a sensitive topic on its own, but I believe my goal is to love them the best I know how.

My family is traditionally very conservative in their beliefs and traditions, so my coming out would come as a complete surprise, I believe.  My dad’s side of the family is probably a little more conservative than my mom’s side of the family.  Although, I have a couple of aunts on my mom’s side of the family that are very pro-LGBT, I think they are also very judgmental and tend to have the attitudes that if you don’t live life the way the see fit, then you are wrong (I don’t get along so well, with these aunts…lol). I’ve always wondered how people in my family would react, if they were to know and sometimes I’ve toyed with the idea that maybe a few might actually realize I am bisexual and/or trans (I’m still working through this issue).  I also have grandparents that are still alive, but they are getting older and one of them is truly struggling with health right now; but I wouldn’t want them to deal with the latter days of their lives thinking something horrible about themselves that I’m not what they had envisioned for life.  I know there are a multitude of different “what ifs” that can’t be defined, simply because they are “what ifs”, but I have decided that this is easier for me to handle this way.

Religion and God?  Obviously, for those of you that have followed my blog for a while, religion is tight issue with me.  I struggle with being raised Catholic and coming to the understanding that I am bisexual.  I understand the catholic theological point of view on the matter and it ultimately boils down to the fact that sexual relationships within Catholicism are completely okay, when they are kept to the confines of a marriage between one man and one woman.  The historical and theological references that can be made do not need to be discussed, other than to point out that they will lead to the same conclusion: regardless of your sexuality, a human being is called to be sexually chaste; or in the case of marriage, sexual fidelity within the marriage.  This is a topic that has been debated for centuries, but not the purpose of my post, so I’m not going to make an argument other than to point out it’s relevance to me not coming out: I have not decided how I want to live my life, with this particular aspect of my life. I can’t give up my concept of God, I can’t give up that idea that God wants me to live a certain way.  And because of that, I do have a bit of fear about how I should live my life.  Intellectually, I understand a lot of the arguments for and against; but spiritually, I just haven’t figured it out yet.  And I’m not ready to completely reject it, although, I am totally and utterly apprehensive about embracing it.

Although, there are many other reasons I have not come out, the ones I listed above are the most critical ones. They are the ones that are on my mind when I consider the impacts or purpose of doing just that.  However, the one reason I have felt the most comfortable is the one reason I am able to function on a day to day basis without it overbearing me with the worries:

My sexuality is on a need to know basis.  It’s truly my business.

Where is My Passion?

Today, my thoughts are on people’s passions in life. I feel like I have lost mine to the point that I can’t even explain why some things were passions to me in life at one time bit are not now. I read so many blogs and there are a lot of people that write about their passions – hiking, crochet, sex, God, camping, dance, photography, Jesus, beauty, fashion, climbing, poetry, family, movies, books, etc. These people are all so full of life, so full of joy, so fulfilled, so…passionate. And, I’m always amazed by those that are passionate about God or Jesus.

I can’t seem to find that. I can’t find that one thing that keeps me connected to life. Having gone to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and have often heard that you can fake it until you make it, I grasp the idea of putting things into practice. I’m not that kind of person though…in fact, I despise fakeness. I can’t pretend to like or appreciate things and I believe that I can’t embrace anything I don’t feel in my soul.

It’s no secret that one of my biggest struggles is my sexuality and my gender identity. I ponder if I can have a relationship with God or Jesus being who I am. Or am I avoiding some sense of spiritual responsibility by focusing on something that seems inherently at odds with mainstream religious faith systems? I can’t ignore the very principle behind genetics and sexuality, as well as the ideas that gender stereotypes are engrained from our human psyche. Is there a possibility that God made a mistake and made me a woman with a man’s body? Or am I twisting my human understanding of sex and gender to serve some selfish desire that is counter to “God’s plan”?

I tend to accept this struggle within myself as natural to who I am. Because this particular struggle is a part of who I am, I never set down a path of radical change in me life. My thinking and values are typically conservative by nature and I used to believe that I had to behave in ways that promoted a greater purpose to others, but I have lost that mentality. It’s a similar aspect of myself that I have discovered within the confines of my soon to be ended marriage – forgetting to care for my own needs because I spent my efforts on others.

I certainly don’t want to sound like a victim, because I take full responsibility for my own actions and decisions. But I have always struggled with the idea of doing what’s right versus doing what I want. I remember, growing up, my dad used to advise that any decision made that does not hurt someone, is not illegal, and does not conflict with morality is a good decision. Legality, however, is dictated by public opinion, therefore it is always subject to change. Morality has been a matter of debate for the entirety of human history, and subject to predominant powers at hand. Hurting others? That is the most fickle issue, isn’t it? Some people are hurt by the wind and others are so resistant to pain the appear hard as rocks.

I know how many would react, if I asked the question, “Would God hate me, if I did…?” The “did” is always an issue of morality, legality and hurting others. It’s the question I can never answer; regardless, it has become my passion – the search to define myself.

(EDIT: I just read through this and realized how convoluted my thoughts were when writing this. I am not going to edit it, regardless of it’s lack of linear thought- it’s merely how my thoughts can out of me while writing.)