So we have the stage set.
Its nearing 7 am as I sit here, antsy about doing this. Even in group I don't really talk about this stuff, and my therapist tases me about it now, though for a while, things were hard.
You see, I have gaps in my memory. Things that hurt so much I simply blocked them.
Most people I've met, they can remember when they were nigh unto infants. For myself, my life becomes a patchwork from roughly 7 to 10. Coming to terms with this has helped me remember some, but most of it is simply gone. From 10 to 21, I get progressively better, but from 21 on I only remember certain things, and my internal timeline is utterly dependent on external events for reference.
I was around 8 when I lost my faith in the world. There was a moment where my brother — to whom I had exceptionally strong maternal caring feelings about — was essentially taken away from me. He was two years younger than I, and getting ready for school, and he couldn't speak English. we had our own language, a shorthand of sorts. Its usually only found among twins. He'd never needed to learn to speak. I did everything for him. My mother had to work, constantly — manager by day, waitress and bartender at night. This was the early 1970's,. Day care wasn't available for the most part, and what was cost an arm and leg.
My brother was in kindergarten, and I was pulled out of class frequently to assist in communicating with him. The school told my mother, point blank, she had to stop it.
So she took my child away from me. I was an introverted kid, bookish, “smart” (a term I hate). I became angry. Very angry. It turned to rage.
And, according to family members, I didn't speak to her at all for 6 to 12 months. Not a word. And I forgot my entire life up t that point.
A short while later, she took my stuffed animals away — they weren't for boys, she said, and I needed to act like a boy.
And I said no. I didn't know how to express it clearly, but that no was “no, I'm not a boy.”
I was a tomboy. Big deal. Lots of girls then were tomboys. Then I found out — in school — that I couldn't be a tomboy. I was just a boy.
My best friend was a tomboy, but I wasn't. (She later came out as a lesbian — and seems to have been the first in a long line)
I was a fairly happy kid, after that, with a fury that knew no bounds when piqued. In 3rd grade I choked out a bully in a fit of temper. I would beat on babysitters — finding one became near impossible — and the only people in the world who could calm or contain me were my mother and grandmother — and even they had challenges. One babysitter who matched my stubbornness stayed with it even after I shoved her down some stairs, breaking an arm and a leg.
By the time I was 10, no one who knew me except the Bullies at school would get me angry. And the bullies played on my fears, my insecurities, my quirks and differences.
Monkeyman. Pussy. Sissy. I thought sissy was a compliment. It was the name of the cool girl on Family affair.
I wanted to be like her. But I didn't show it. I was closing off. I was studying. I was learning. To be a boy.
By 6th grade, none of the bullies ever went after me. One by one I'd taken them all down by being patient, waiting, and then losing my temper. They didn't suspend you at school in those days if you were a good kid — a smart kid.
Always with the smart stuff. Really got on my nerves. If I was so smart, why was everyone treating me like a boy?
It pissed me off. And anything that made me angry I stored. A knot formed, right at my breastbone, the center of my chest, a constant burning fire.
Weekends, my brother (who now was a target of constant ire) and I would go with my mom to the restaurant. We'd laze around for a bit, play pong, or mastermind, or something simple like that, drink sodas.
Play explorer and hide and seek.
But, most of all, we would see a movie. And afterwards, we'd have ice cream. The was a theater, the Kachina. Every Saturday for 6 years, I watched a different movie. G, R, PG — didn't matter. I watched it. I got to see “Men”. And I watched very close.
T folks share several things in common. We tend to be spiritual. We tend to be amazingly stubborn. And many are capable of telling you things about their assigned gender that are surprising. I know what men aspire to be. And I know why. I know because I had to, so I would know how to cover up my mistakes.
Summers were vacation time, and here's where things get interesting. I would go up to Sedona to be with my not really a step dad but that's what we all called him. And I'd be left alone. There were never any expectations there. No one cared if I was off a bit. In fact, i was kind a funny — I reminded them of another family member.
My gay Uncle.
This is the mid 70's, though. Gay was still closeted in Arizona, land of the cowboy and the west's most Western Town.
But, being alone, I got to walk. I got to explore. I got t find out what I was made of and who I was, and do it at my own pace and my own speed and the way I wanted to do it. And I was alone. Sometimes with the dog. Once in a while with my brother.
As young as 12, I'd load up a pack with food, a blanket, matches, and leave. Two three days. Learned to red maps. Read books (favorites were My side of the mountain, and the Herriot veterinary novels — but also the 'boy” books, because it was sorta tossed at me, like Big red and the related ones).
I'd inherited that independence, and had already learned that self reliance was all I had.
But I didn't develop physically like people expected. I remained notoriously underweight. Muscle mass was almost invisible — but there. And then there was my “problem”.
So I was shipped to the doctor.The reason, ostensibly, was that I got sick in the same class at the same time, every day for about 3 months. Turns out I'm not too good with cold air on my shoulders and neck. But I had all manner of tests done on me.
And then I got the protein powders. Special soaps. And shipped off to the hypermasculine Uncle for three years in a row. To get the boy into me. Pig farming in southern Arizona two years. Cattle ranching in northern Nevada the next.
Learned life on a farm sucked for boys.
I learned to churn butter, slaughter an animal, farm a garden, ride horses, all the cowboy and independent stuff.
Step father took fishing, hunting.
And I always hiked. Away from anyone, anything. No signs of society. I would climb hills, then mountains. Look down at it all, and just be quiet. Alone with my thoughts.
There is a marked difference between my memories of Phoenix and my memories of Sedona. Sedona I was always happy, Phoenix I was always miserable.
I finally got the courage to ask the most beautiful girl in school out on a date. She was my worst enemy's older sister. She said yes. It didn't go well. I liked her dress. I remember it to this day. My enemy — her sister — was not happy.
In 7th grade, my best friend — the Tomboy, still and deeply — and I became boy friend and girl friend. We were each the other's first kiss. We both got girly on the other. It lasted two years.
And would have been longer, except I moved.
At the end of 7th grade, the school suggested I be held back because my emotional growth didn't match my classmates. This was, at the time, a code of sorts for I was being a sissy. A sissy that no one screwed with because they'd beat you to death and not blink an eye.
My mother asked me if I wanted to do that. By then, she'd learned that I knew my own mind, and once I'd made a decision, it was total.
I'd decided to go forward.
After 8th grade graduation, I went to Sedona, planning the next year at high school.
And came home to a new house, a new city, a new school…
No warning. I did, however, get my own bedroom.
Didn't talk to anyone for three months. I was suspended three times. Once for throwing a lab desk across the lab. Once for threatening a school principal, and the third time for lecturing a teacher.
My rage polluted everything. Technically, I was becoming a sociopath.
It was decided then that I must be gay.
One day, in Sedona, I found an old swimsuit in a drawer. I was sleeping in a motorhome at the time. Alone — separate. It was a bikini and bottoms. I put them on. Went to bed, and did something different.
Until that point, every night of my life, as I lie in bed, I would pray, and wish, and beg, and plead that I please be made a girl when I woke up in the morning. It was the only time I ever let it out. The only time I thought about it. The only time I was certain no one would ever know.
This time I thought maybe I'd magically fill the bikini out.
It didn't happen. So, obviously, I did something wrong. It was a few weeks later, and I tried again.
Nope. My prayers must be wrong, or I'm not phrasing the wish right, or…
One morning I slept late when I was in Phoenix. I'd borrowed a dress of my mom's. She came in to wake me up and saw me sleeping in it.
Not doubt then, I was gay.
She tried. Really., Bought books. Brain sex. everything you wanted to know about sex. Garp.
I would never again crossdress, though, and I denied it, flatly.
She tied the ret of her life to get me to watch Garp. I still haven't. But I do know why, now, at least. She'd figured it out. But by then, I didn't trust anyone. OR anything.
I just existed, angrily, and wished every night…