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Suicide is my worst enemy

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With the cold, dark November night as her only friend, my child sat with the silence of the night and cut herself repeatedly in the forearms, using a small blade. That long November night would lea…

Source: Suicide is my worst enemy

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What’s In A Name?

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img_0306What’s in a name?

Fifteen years ago when we found out we were expecting, my hubby and I immediately dug out the Baby Name book. For months as our child grew in my belly we perused the different names. We would rehearse them and investigate their meaning. We were dedicated to finding a name that would fit the unknown personality of our child. Finally we decided on a first and middle name that we would also use as a nickname. We decided on JJ.

When JJ Came Out to us as Transgender, I took comfort knowing that we had picked what I would consider a gender neutral name.

“Maybe this was meant to be.”

FINALLY, we had done something right.  Finally, I recognized a sign.

But……wait for it…..

As many Transgender people do, my son had already picked his new name and it was not JJ. His new first name was chosen because he liked it and his friends really liked it too.

Ugh…was that a knife I just felt in my back?

The memory of our nine months of endless name searching was instantly rendered futile.  Does none of this matter to our child?

What’s in a name….Nothing?

I never EVER considered I would have to use a different name for my child. I never EVER considered I would have to use new pronouns.

JJ was my safe word.

I struggled every day to choke out sentences that would not offend our child. I found myself rehearsing every aspect of my conversations around the nickname JJ.  We were using those two capital letters like a common profanity.

“Today JJ got an A in math and then JJ got to show art at school.  I’m so proud of JJ.”  I could see my denial crushing my child.

Next, I started using both pronouns together,  thinking that would be better.  Telling myself it was progress.

“Maybe it was.”

“Today JJ got and A in math and then she/he was able to show her/his art at school.”

Later, I found myself not wanting to talk at all. I was avoiding pronouns. I was avoiding the name change. My communication skills were failing me.

I was aware that using the proper pronoun and name was vital for my child’s mental health yet, I could not follow through.  I was stuck.

What’s in a name….Everything?

Every memory I had was of our “girlies.” I had heard the famous phrase “it’s a girl” four beautiful times in my life.  Every kiss goodnight and every good morning cheer had been to our girlies.  Every road trip adventure began with one singe question, posed boisterously by my husband.

Where are we going girlies?

No matter where our road trip destination….our backseat girlies always had the same reply.

To the mountains!

I was terrified. If I start using a different name, if I accept a son, our daughter will be lost forever.  I was not going to let those memories get pushed into storage like the junk from my child’s room.

I was placing my child into a status. I was like society, separating the men from women and the rich from the poor, the gay from the straight. In my mind I had a child of the past and a child of the future. Status Transgender….I still didn’t quite get it.

What I did get was very confused.

“her/him/she/he/them/they/we/us/all”

“All?…….What the Hell?”

“I was scared.”

As usual I turned to my family for advice.  How do I move forward? I’ve always had my girlies….I’ve never had boys. How do I raise a boy?

“What do I do?”

My beautiful sister-in-law who has raised two fine sons of her own posed one simple question to me. That one question changed my life forever, again.

She asked. “Why would you do anything different?”

Why would I do anything different?

I was haunted by these words and while I followed my thoughts I was led down another path to discovery and acceptance.

There is no daughter of the past and son of the future. They are one and the same.  Believe it or not….

They are All!

My child of the past and my child of the future had morphed into one. I could now visualize my child not as he was announced to the world, but as he was meant to be.

Standing before me was the same beautiful, loving, rammy, lippy, annoying, funny, brilliant, messy and creative soul that I had nurtured.

“Our daughter was not lost.”

We never had a daughter to begin with, I just thought we did. I’ve had it wrong this whole time. We have all had it wrong.

“Finally I get it!”

Laaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

“There’s that opera singing again!”

I could finally let go of the idea of our youngest daughter without feeling a loss.

You can’t lose something you never really had.

After a quick family meeting we picked an official day for our transition. Together we pledged to give our very best effort to use our child’s new name and the proper pronouns. The day came and…..

It was easy!

It has been a year since our journey to transition began and recently our son decided on his middle name.  Our son chose his father’s name to be his new middle name. Our son chose to honour our nine months of planning by keeping his nickname, JJ intact.

Using his own insight, our son has shown us consideration and respect.

That wasn’t a knife in my back after all

“It was only pain from my broken heart.”

Like the pain of childbirth is instantly diminished by the newborn touch, I can no longer remember the pain from that imaginary knife.

I am amazed at this gift life has given us.  Each chapter of my journey begins in my thoughts. I am on a long, dusty and seemingly endless road.  I follow the path. Occassionally I reach out and scratch an arrow in the dust to keep myself heading in the right direction.

As each chapter in my book comes to a close, somehow that seeminly impossible path meets it’s destiny and another full circle is complete.

What’s in a name?

Absolutely nothing and absolutely everything!

I have a son. His name is Josh.

Just sayin.

Beware of The Haters

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Recently I  was given another small glimpse into our child’s life and how hard it must be for him to have a normal, happy day. Everyday he goes out into the world and The Haters are circling, like vultures waiting to prey.  The Haters use every opportunity to peck away at his personal being, taking him down one jab at a time. Why do The Haters do this?  Because they can.

My recent encounter with The Haters was on the Internet.  I was the victim of harsh criticism.  An anonymous stranger on Reddit with the name I Rate Cats took quick aim at me spouting words like abuser, narcissist, dangerous and lunatic.

I Rate Cats….Honestly I don’t even know what that name means. Does this person sit around all day rating pictures of cats on a scale from 1 to 10?  Is this a group of very cool people who are really angry?

Get it…irate cats.

Maybe this is just a lonely soul plagued with some horrible need to troll the Internet cutting people down. I am referred to as a cat, but I quickly became the mouse.

“Sigh…my education continues.”

Beware of The Haters! Lesson #26,972.

I’ll be honest, when I received that comment on Reddit I was creeped out.  Let’s face it, the Internet makes us vulnerable and right now, my family is vulnerable enough. In my deepest conscience I could hear the whispering echoes of my parents cautioning words.

You were right Mom and Dad”

I take advice and criticism well and I give them both an equal amount of importance in our healing process.  I’ve had to learn to read between the lines and then read between the smaller imaginary lines as well.  With this in mind, I dwelled on the message conveyed in that post. I am ashamed to admit it, but this post set me back.

“I don’t like set backs.”

It is time to re-evaluate, again.

I can’t image how my son manages to face the world with a smile every day. The instant he puts his foot out the door he too becomes a mouse.  He moves through every moment of his life with his guard up, yet he always manages to find beauty in his surroundings.

He is truly amazing.

My family could sense my quiet unease as I was working this out in my mind.  Just a year ago we didn’t realize our child was cutting and today the smallest unusual silence in our household is immediately questioned.  This is Progress!

I like the progress.

Have I have made mistakes?  Of course.  I have made quite a few mistakes actually, and I am thankful for every single stumble I’ve made on my path. My mistakes like my successes show in every line of experience and age written on my face.  I have learned from my mistakes. I have grown from my mistakes.

Could this Blog be another mistake?

While considering those harsh words from a stranger I thought back on the many conversations I’ve had with my new son, my family and my friends.

I remembered the initial terror I felt the day my son told me he was going to change the world for the Trangender Youth. I remembered my own desperate search for someone I could relate to. I remembered the many times our family had discussed how we could turn this wonderful gift into a positive inspiration for others.

I remembered the many words of love and encouragement we have received from friends, old and new.  I remembered how even those friends who didn’t understand our sons transition were still kind and caring. I remembered there are a lot of decent people in the world.

While considering those harsh words from a stranger, I turned to my family for advice. As usual, my family reminded me of my successes, not my failures.

Ahhhhh my safe place….no Haters here.

My family reminded me how for every one mistake I have made, I have managed to do at least 20 things right.   My family reminded me that the odds are in my favour.

My family reminded me if my son is not dwelling on my mistakes then why would I dwell on the ignorant fluff of a stranger?   I have come full circle. My setback is resolved. My writers block was over.

I am not sharing my child’s journey, or my husband’s journey. They can write their own blog.

 “This is hard work!”
This is about me and I am ok with it.

This Blog is about me turning to my friends for support and love.  It’s about me sharing an open and honest reaction to our life altering journey of transition.  This is about me helping other people. This is about me trying to heal.

I will continue sharing my journey with honesty, love, respect, humor, compassion and honour as my platform. This is how we make our world a better place. I want to make the world a better place.

To I Rate Cats (whoever you are) and all The Haters in our world, I say this:

If I was your mother I would hold you down and wash your filthy mouth out with soap.

Shame,  shame on you!

Beware of this dangerous and narcissistic lunatic as I scream to the world in my most IRATE CAT cry.

Meeeeeeeeeeooooooooow!

Beware of The Haters…..but don’t let them get you down!

I have a son.  His name is Josh.

Just sayin.

Finding My Purpose at 52.

The most challenging thing about life is actually living it.

Life changes everyday and we adapt and change with it. Each new day is a test of our abilities.

During our transition, I have been burdened with terror, grief, sadness, guilt, shame, self pity and anger.

Most importantly, I have felt acceptance, trust, love, friendship, gratitude, hope and enlightenment.

 Those are the emotions I thrive on.

“Somehow we managed through the first stage of transition with some dignity. If I can help other families transition with their child by sharing our journey, then it is my responsibility to do so.”

“My hope is to show others how easy it is to accept even the harshest of changes to the family dynamic. It can be done through love, understanding and acceptance.”

“Nothing is worse than suicide. Nothing.”

– Cindy Geisel-

Was this gift given to our family for a reason? Was this gift was given to us because I can handle it? Was this gift given to me because I would know what to do with it?

Finally, an answer to the “why”.

I realized my purpose in life at 52.

I sang to the world in my best opera voice!

Laaaaaaaaaaaa!  This feels amaaaaaaazing!

The instant I realized the role I could play in my child’s transition was my moment of enlightenment.  I can be a leader.

For months I had walked around as the shadow of myself.  For months I was in a fog, trapped between darkness and light.

My moment of enlightenment reminded me of an Alberta winter a few years ago. After a big storm we had to remove the snow from the roof of our home. Now I realize houses can’t feel, but I swear to this day, when that last heavy load of snow fell to the ground I felt our house shift and give a huge sigh of relief. No joke.

My shoulders were like the trusses of my home and the weight of my burden was gone.

I could breath again.

My new journey began.

First I had to choose a platform. That was the easiest part. I was amazed at the similarities between building a website and blog and managing my transgender child’s life.  Could this be another coincidence?

Step 1. I will share our story to educate others on how to navigate this life altering event through love, humor and acceptance.

“Ok I am already doing this only on a smaller scale. Pick it up a bit and we should be good to go.”

Step 2. Build a website and blog. This was difficult, I had to educate myself.   Once again I partnered with my iPad and Google. I had to learn about domains, hosting, widgets, menus, meta tags, OG images, tags, categories, plug ins, slugs, verifications and links to name just a few.

“No problem here after all, I recently received an education like no other. This shouldn’t be too bad.”

Several weeks and a half a bottle of Tylenol later my site was up and my first Blog was posted. Like my new life, my Blog was out there, sort of.

Step 3. This was the most challenging.  I had to develop my SEO (search engine optimization).

After some quick SEO advice from childhood friend and fellow Blogger Douglas McKinnon Esquire it was obvious to me that I had to do more.

I had to Come Out!

I had to be respectful. This wasn’t just about me, it was about my children and my husband, my parents, relatives and our friends.

This was about families struggling to accept and move forward. This was about helping people to be proud of who they are.  This was about helping those who don’t understand.

With that in mind I worked day and night spending hours and hours creating an avenue to Come Out that would have meaning.  I now have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google, Reddit, Pinterest plus a Website and a Blog.  I have completed part one of my Speaking Series presentation and the rough draft for my book.

I am awake after a long hibernation. I finally have the bounce back in my step and a smile on my face.

Most importantly……

MY family is SMILING too.

I don’t know what made me reach out to my friend that day. Why that friend, why that day?   I don’t know how his words of advice on my SEO led me directly to my “aha” moment, but I am grateful.

I will forge on with my mission of education and acceptance.  I will make myself available for new relatIonships. I will develop the hell out of my personal SEO.

Like the content and design of my social pages will improve with time and experience, my family will also grow stronger and better every day.

I have a son.  His name is Josh.

Just sayin

This one is for you Giorgio!

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I believe anything is possible.

Growing up in small town Saskatchewan was a blessing I will cherish forever. My childhood consisted of summer nights with neighbourhood friends and games like Kick the Can and Hide and Seek.

There were no prejudices back then. The only qualification for membership was you had to be from the neighbourhood.  We were the Hillside Gang and we ruled the area from Edward Street to King.  We played loud and hard and when the streetlights came on it was my queue to go home.

Winters were different. We still met outside each evening but I was bundled up in my bright yellow space suit. The freedom of running wildly through the neighbourhood ringing door bells and raiding gardens (what? I’ve never done that, sorry mom and dad) was replaced by the beauty of the night sky.

My evenings were filled with skating on the outdoor rink, tobogganing in the valley, building snow forts and my favourites -making snow angels and star gazing.

There is nothing more beautiful than a clear view of the Saskatchewn Sky on a cold winter night.

Each night as my snow angel came to life beneath me, I gazed up at the stars imagining what it would be like to go on a spaceship tour of our vast universe.  Lying in the shadow of my icy breath, looking up, I could imagine the possibilities.

Is it possible that anything is possible?

Searching for answers during our journey to transition reminds me of my childhood nights spent gazing at our Milky Way.  Like those who search the sky to solve life’s greatest mystery’s, I too have my questions. The subject of my questions is as mysterious as our universe.

Why is my child transgender?

Time will slowly reveal the secrets of our universe to us, but I don’t have century’s to wait.

I need answers now.

My need to find answers drove me like my imaginary spaceship. I searched the far reaches of my own universe for who, what, when, where and why?

I started eliminating things off my list.

Normal pregnancy, normal delivery – check.

In fact, this was my best pregnancy of 4. I wasn’t sick, I ate like a horse. There were no complications.

Early childhood development  -check.

Our child met all the markers and grew up in good health.

Normal upbringing -check.

Our home is filled with love and laughter every day.

Faith -check.

Baptized, raised and educated in the Catholic Faith.

This wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t my husband’s fault, or God’s fault, or the school’s fault, or a friend’s fault.  It wasn’t my brother’s-sister’s-cousins-next door neighbour’s-babysitter’s fault.

This got me thinking.

Perhaps this really is just another one of life’s unexplained mysteries.

Is it possible humanity is experiencing another phenomenon, a Transgender Phenomenon?

Ancient Astronaut Theorists like Giorgio, propose evidence of visitors coming to our world since the beginning of mankind’s existence. Proof of the Alien Phenomenon is carved into our worlds history. Pictographs on everything from cave walls to Megalithic structures tell stories of man being visited by beings flying down from the Heavens.

Throughout our history humans have also experienced the Alien Abduction Phenomenon, reporting Close Encounters of the First, Second, Third and Fourth Kind.  These are credible people that have reported similar experiences from all over our world. They can’t all be crazy.

Admit it, most us us have seen something unexplainable in our skies.

Are Gods from the heavens visiting us through time and manipulating our genetics?

Is it possible Gods and Aliens are one and the same?

Is it possible our human DNA was manipulated to introduce a Transgender generation into our world?

Is it possible my child is an Alien?

Is it possible that our humanity is being guided to a better future, a transcendent future?

IS IT POSSIBLE I WILL NEVER FIND THE ANSWERS I SEEK?

Whether I can explain it or not, I truly believe my child is meant to be this way.

Tonight as I gaze through my telescope at the wonder of the night sky, I am reminded of my bright yellow space suit and the naïve young girl it once protected.

Tonight I no longer yearn for that interstellar adventure.

I’m not a complete idiot.

Tonight, being the Amateur Ancient Astronaut Theorist that I am, and to satisfy my human nature to find the answers I deserve,  I’m throwing it out there….

This one is for you Giorgio!

It is possible that Aliens did this?

Just sayin

 

Coming Out Day

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Something still wasn’t right. I could feel it, we all could.  Even with regular counselling sessions and medication, our child was still moving up and down the suicide scale like a thermometer cascading in a surprise storm. I was encumbered with dread as I wondered if there was any hope. I was completely overwhelmed.  Each day while trying to sustain my routine I dwelled on one question.

What more can I do to help my child?

We fought suicide with vigour and speed. The weeks and months that followed consisted of a never ending borage of doctor, psychiatrist and counselling appointments.  We did everything we possibly ccould to offer love, support and hope to our child. Still, there was something……something lurking in the shadows just beyond my reach.


It was a perfect morning.   I was surrounded by my family.  My mind switched back and forth between the sounds of laughter and the aromas of coffee, cinnamon and bacon. I remember having a “silent grateful moment,”  giving thanks for my blessings. I felt invincible that morning as I reminisced.

During this coveted grateful moment our youngest daughter came bursting into the room.  Her urgency was intense and the words came pouring out of her.

Mom, I need to talk to you right now.    Mom I figured it out.

Mom I am Transgender.

It was Easter Sunday, like really…..

“ahhhh, grateful moment over”

I hugged my daughter and repeated the same words I had said to her months ago.

Don’t worry, everything will be ok.

Although I was horrified by her words, I drew comfort in our family’s accomplishments over the past few months. Those accomplishments were my internal support system.

I don’t remember much of that Easter Sunday Brunch or the rest of the day, for that matter. I do remember at one point telling our daughter, I had to think on this for a bit and then we would talk.

“All good? I asked.

“All good Mom.”She said.

“All good. Hah, now that’s hilarious. Things are NOT all good.”

That night while my household moved into the familiar breathing pattern of sleep, once again, I was wide awake stumbling through pages and pages of information on the internet. My hands shook as I typed in the words.

What is Transgender (enter)

I had no idea what that meant. Obviously my kid did.

Google was my new best friend and as the hours passed I devoured link after link.

I took test after test answering as I thought my child would answer, hoping for some deviation in my results. I read through site after site trying to understand the meaning of the word. That night I earned an education like no other.

My child is Transgender

Although I took the tests repeatedly I knew the truth after my first results. I would not have an issue with denial.  That mysterious shadow lurking just beyond my reach had finally been exposed.

I had to strategize. How am I going to tell my husband? As soon as the kids go to school I know he is going to ask me what went down yesterday.  I wished I was telepathic, I didn’t know if I could say the words out loud.

The next morning the kids were out the door and …3…2…1…yup I called it. Hubby asks….”So what was going on with JJ yesterday?”

JJ says she is Transgender. She says she is supposed to be a boy.

Time stood still for an instant and what came next was completely unexpected.

Our eyes met and we both burst into laughter. OMG did we laugh. We laughed and laughed and laughed. That big boisterous roaring laugh that comes from a place of complete hilarity poured from deep within our souls.

You have probably already guessed what came next, our laughter turned to tears. We cried and cried and cried and then we cried some more.

I have never felt closer to my husband than I did that morning as we laughed and cried together.

That morning was one of the best days of my life.

That morning as we shared our fears through emotion, I knew there was hope.

That morning I realized we were on the cusp of discovering the “why’s” of our child’s self loathing.

That morning I realized this is the “one up” on our foe that we’ve been searching for all these months.

That morning I realized our lives were about to change.

That morning I knew I already liked the word Transgender much more than the word suicide.

Just sayin

 

Suicide is my worst enemy

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With the cold, dark November night as her only friend, my child sat with the silence of the night and cut herself repeatedly in the forearms, using a small blade.

That long November night would lead us to the day of our awakening.

SUICIDE IS MY WORST ENEMY

Revisiting this time in our journey is very difficult for me.  It brings back haunting emotions.  The shame I felt for myself. The anger I carried. The violation I felt from strangers and the horror in realizing the depth of my child’s despair.

Bye Mom, love you, have a nice day.

Those were the last words I heard from my daughter as she hurried to the bus with her sister.

The morning routine in our house is fairly fluid, it should be as I’ve been doing this for 25 years.  With my family out the door I gave myself an “air’ high 5, and took to my coffee and Facebook with a sense of accomplishment and an excitement for the new day.

My phone rang and our lives were changed forever.

I had to close my eyes.  When I opened them my husband and I had somehow manifested ourselves into a room full of strangers.

Who were these people?

I sat there listening to words like, cutting, suicide, mental health, depression, distress, emergency room, Police, Child Protective Service and of course, the name of our youngest child.

Wait, what…CPS, do these people not know our family?

Our child rated herself a 9 out of 10 on the suicide scale that morning.  We had no idea.  I had no idea. My child was defeated.

How could I have no Idea?

I remember sitting there with these strangers and suddenly being overwhelmed with a deep sense of violation.  (Intense Hot Flash)

Wow, is it hot in here?

I sat in silence trying to keep my humiliation at bay. With the Psychobabble in the background and my mind having a conversation with itself I scanned the surrounding rooms for our child. I was horrified to see my child in this light.  I now knew my child’s deepest, darkest and most intimate secrets.

  Did my child feel violated as well?

My heart broke in that one glancing moment when our eyes met.  I hugged my child like I would never let go. I could feel my anger brewing but I knew this was the time for compassion.

We arrived at the emergency room and they were waiting for us.

Rule #1 – follow the rules.  If you don’t go directly to emergency room, the Police and CPS will be notified.

Again, do these people not know our family?  What kind of person would not show up?
We sat in complete silence among the sick and injured for four hours.
Tic Toc Tic Toc…

For four long hours I played the night before over and over again in my mind.  Pausing and rewinding through each little vignette looking for a sign, any sign. There were none.

MY ANGER WAS BREWING

That would have to wait until we were away from all these doctors.

Somehow we all survived the endless maze of intimate evaluations, questionnaires and reports with our reputations unscathed.

We took our chid home with a new set of rules and the heavy burden of shame, grief and anger bearing down on our shoulders.

At home the scene got real ugly, real fast.

While my husband tore through our child’s room in his own frenzy searching for any instruments of demise, I was exploding.  I would describe myself as uncovered popcorn under extreme heat. I exploded, and I was everywhere.  The tears came hard and fast to us all.

Next time you cut yourself we are going to cut my arm, then your sister’s arm and your dads.  Then we are going to go get both your Grandma’s and cut their arms too.”

Somehow, like I knew when to hold back my anger, I knew this was the time for our child to feel my pain.

My forearms were free from scars, but my insides were cut to pieces.

Later that night with our child between us I caressed her soft hand.  I waited for the familiar breathing pattern of sleep to encumber my family and I cried silent tears through the night.

I cried tears of dread and panic realizing that my child is so defeated that death looks better than life.

I cried tears of fear and hope for the unknown, knowing that eventually time would reveal to us the “why’s” of my child’s distain.

I cried tears of thanks, being grateful for the friends who had reported our daughter to the counsellors that day.

I cried tears of loss for those before me who were never given a second chance by way of an early morning phone call.

WE WILL SURVIVE

In the days, weeks and months to come we smothered our child.  It was necessary as we strategized through the rules of engagement with our new foe.  Just like the rules of engagement are finite, so are the consequences of ignoring those rules and that, I cannot accept.

Today as I sit in reminiscent mode and write about my journey I can revisit the past and again feel a sense of accomplishment.

Today as I sit here working I can hear my child laughing.  Today I know this laughter is real.

I no longer wake each morning with a deep sense of dread, wondering if my child had secretly given up on his own life.  I no longer wake up wondering in fear if I missed that one final subtle sign.  Our family was able to recover.

Today we can breathe a little easier but we will never let our guard down.

Suicide is my worst enemy and as I keep my enemies close, I will walk hand in hand with this foe until the end of my time.

Just sayin