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Apr 14 2015

Sneak Attack by Depression and Anger

This is the story of trying to rewrite the “About Jo” page because it has become woefully outdated. When I write one blog post usually, it is a 4-6 hour process. It consists of 2-3 hours of writing with no filter, then 2-3 hours of intense editing. This is the story of a post that will never happen. I will delete from my computer shortly and it will never see the light of day. It has been a very difficult couple days for me emotionally. I was finally sitting down into my life, and then all hell broke loose… in my mind.

The hormonal change has been impressive already. When I was younger, I had only three emotions and I had little to no control of them. Those consisted of fear, anger, and depression. I chose to ignore emotion all together and avoid working it out. A couple of years ago I was embedding myself deeply into work, too deeply. I was dispassionately taking on work in avoidance of many other topics that needed confrontation. I had disconnected from everything but work. Work was the escape from my own mind. It allowed me to not think about things and think about work. That is when I started thinking too much about work. I then connected all my emotions to work, started becoming stress and it slowly got out of control until I had to confront these things.

Therefore, I did what Joe did best… I took them apart one at a time into pieces. I approached them with little to no emotion, dispassionately. I did not confront the emotions and just looked for logical answers. I wanted to make progress. Joe understood progress as resolution and answers. Each problem had its own issues, its own resolution, but no emotion. That lead me to the conclusion that I was a transgender person. When I started hormones in February, I thought the emotional/mental changes had completed soon after, and everything was resolved… but I was wrong. I thought all my other issues had vanished into nothingness. My capacity for emotions had grown but for the most part, I still felt in control of them. All of a sudden, that is no longer the case, and I am not quite sure how to handle it.

I started, by writing, as I always do… I was just going to make a quick edit to my “About Jo” page. Simple, It’s just a little biography or so I thought. That was Thursday. However, The day before I started writing this my birth mom who blogs at Flight of a Phoenix sent me an article she found entitled “Please Stop Saying That Trans Women Were “Born Boys”.” This article sat in my head all of Wednesday and ended up starting everything… The writer is one of the transwomen who wants to go back into the past and retroactively change their gender to female. The idea is that they were always a girl just assigned (usually by the doctor that delivers them) the wrong gender because they have different body parts than the average woman. This blog post by another transwoman quickly got my mind and emotions going.

On Thursday, I could not help it. I immediately started the new About Jo with a rant about being born a baby, assigned male at birth and spending my first years as a boy. I have no intent to say that I was not a boy. Society thought I was one, I thought I was one, the thing I never was, and never could be was a man. I was a boy scout. I am a female Eagle Scout. I will never hide or deny my past. What is important to me is my future. The past is fact, the memories are painful sure – but it is not as if I am going to deny or change them. I was born a baby. Like every person ever born. One of the first things that happen to a baby is that the doctor assigns a gender, for the majority of people it happens that it is correct gender. For transgender people, it is not. Some chose to change, retrospectively, their gender throughout their entire life history….Which, in retrospect, was what I was doing by trying to fake being a man.

Almost one week later from the original writing, I can write what I mean instead of just what I feel. My feelings of pure anger and depression got in the way of what I was trying to say. My interpretation of the difference between being “born a boy” and being assigned “male” is that, I strongly believe, the path of a boy is not always to become a man. Someone who hates the idea of being “born a boy” thinks that all boys become and then a man transitions to a woman. I was without a doubt comfortable-ish as a little boy. I would have also been comfortable as a little girl. However, the idea of being a man clearly was not going to work for me. As a boy, I was on a borderline between genders. I was standing right on the clearly drawn line in the sand. In fact, he is still in there, singing…

He went away and became an angry, depressed, fearful, male teen. That is more or less, what I was until a year ago. My body said I was a man. My maturity inside, did not grow at the same rate. I would always find the time to do things that a teen with poor judgement would do: Drink too much, spend too much, sleep in, and miss appointments for no reason, etc. I think the most important line for me to draw in the sand is that inside I was never, and will never be, a man. The idea goes so far as to disgust me. I was stuck. I could not grow past being a ‘teen’ until I found the answer. Forty-Two! (Sorry bad reference) I am in the process of moving from that angry, depressed, fearful, male teen to a beautiful, strong, powerful, adult, woman…

At the time I was writing (Thursday) I was angry, truly angry that someone would deny who they were to make their current life easier. I understand memories bring pain, I truly understand the dysphoria it causes every time someone calls me “he” or “sir” or “son.” To a lesser extent words like “dude” or lumping me into a group of “guys” is painful too, but I understand those things will happen because of our patriarchal culture. In addition, it does not bother me as much if it is someone from the Critical Environments team at work makes the mistake, but if it is a family member a good friend or someone I work closely with every day then it hurts. Nonetheless, I was a boy. I was a boy that is now growing into a woman. The idea of hiding, the person I was, made me angry, angrier than I have been in a long time. It consumed my mind as it did before; I was back into the hell of my own mind.

Until now since I started hormones, I was immune to extreme anger. In past years when this happened I would distract myself and move on… I thought hormones had resolved this issue, but people warned me hormones do not fix everything, and so, I find out first hand that they in fact, do not. I sit here now trying to cope with what happened next… My mind has denied Control of the situation to me.

Lyrics are here. They will pop open a new browser window so you can open them and not lose this page. The lyrics are somewhat hard to hear, given that this song is meeeetttaaaallllll.

So after I was angry my mind abruptly changed topics, to the fact that my birth mom placed me for adoption. My mind seemed to connect them based on the idea that they were decisions that greatly affected my life, were made early in my life, but I did not make them. After rereading the “About Jo” page, that I had written it was clear my mind was looking for escape, just like in the past. I was trying not to confront my anger. I was just avoiding it. There were two sentences of happiness about meeting my family and being connected with them then the very next sentence was “Would I have been happier with them the whole time?” Uh-oh.

Three paragraphs of emotional not logical analysis later I was depressed. Welcome back, Joe. In retrospect, much of what I wrote made no logical sense. Sitting back now and being detached, almost a week later, I absolutely would not have been happier/better off. I have always had a good home to return to with many people that loved me in two amazing families. By reconnecting with the family to which I am genetically connected, I now have two homes to return to if needed, and three wonderful families that love me. How did I get so lucky? A gift that my birth mom gave me when I was only a little baby boy – yes I WAS ASSIGNED MALE AND THEREFORE WAS A BOY. Sorry, I am still angry about that (even a week later…)

Anyway, back to last week. At that point, I was down, very down. It was the first time since I have been on hormones that the color vanished out of my life, for a couple of days… Friday and the wee hours of Saturday morning, while I was working my last grave shift, I was broken. For you see in my mind broken, and full of emotional reasoning I had drawn the conclusion that the love of my adoptive parents was naught but Pale Shelter. What do I mean by that? Let me let me let what probably is my favorite band answer that…

In my broken, overemotional, and out of control mind I drew a line. This line, this breakage, I think has been coming for a while but for it to hit me on top of the anger I was feeling with the other issue was staggering. When someone’s birth parent(s) place him or her for adoption, they are detached from the part of their life that forms their nature. They can only live on nurture. Most people have, and see both for their entire life. They see both so much that it becomes confusing which is which. I did not see the links; I did not understand the sections of myself that formed my nature. I never understood why I had certain emotional reactions to things. I never understood why I thought certain ways. I never understood half, of myself, because my mom and dad did not operate in the same way… In December, when I reconnected with my birth mom, it all started to make sense.

On Thursday while I was writing, I somehow drew the conclusion that all the negatives in my life were from the nurture. In addition, I drew the conclusion that all the positives in my life were from the nature. Which implied the adoption did not benefit me and the first 29 years of my life was a waste. Between Thursday and Friday, depression sunk in again and I felt like it was unshakeable. I had reentered the world I hated so much. I had reentered my own little Mad World.

On Friday, I put this up on the website because of my cluttered mind…

Many Articles are in progress: The “About Jo” is getting a huge update. In addition, articles in regards to transgender people and why “She” makes me feel so much better are in the works.

I am working on these posts about technology for people who are not technological: Understanding computer components, Understanding IT Job titles and the roles of “Computer People”

Still have two to three more articles coming about my religious beliefs as well!

I am deleting them all and starting over, lest I risk a repeat of what happened this weekend. This article is the resolution I needed by writing all those…

I planned to go up this weekend to spend time with my birth mom and family. I almost did not go. I was depressed. I was in a funk. I felt like I needed time alone. That was always my course of action before when depressed. The need to see them and spend time with them ended up over powering the depression… Nevertheless, I struggled with how to not worry them with what I am going though. I did what I always do when I am depressed and I do not want people to know… I feigned tired. Sure, I was tired from having just worked a grave shift, but I am actually an energetic person. Although having just worked a grave shift, my last grave shift in fact, made the “tired” seem more credible.

Going up there made me feel better, but did not really resolve the problem… However, it did me to help see the nature side of my own life much more clearly. My birth mom and I got manicures, then bothered my little sister at work. She’s a line cook. Both of those made me extremely happy. The fact that I can bother a little sister is amazing to me. I have always wanted to! Then we did some shopping (not buying) played games with my grandma and little brother. I even did something artistic… I hope it comes out well – expect pictures either way. It needs to be kiln-fired before I will receive it. It is honestly the first artistic thing I have done in many years. I spent Saturday night there where all of us played more games. I observed on Saturday the positive and negatives about them that I shared. I went to bed Saturday pondering the nature half of myself.

Sunday I awoke to what was another beautiful day outside the window. However, my mind still had fillings of darkness. I almost could not bring myself to say it as I was laying on the couch talking to my mom while she was making breakfast. It took me a good long while to say it, but she said it meant a lot to her. I said I felt comfortable and at home there. She seemed dumbfounded, but very happy. To me, it was an admission of a tear in my heart. I was sitting there thinking about myself as a fractured individual with two distinct halves. Two hales that would never reconcile. It is no clearer than in my own life there is a great divide, it is abundantly clear to me what Nature vs. Nurture is. I can now see each part of myself, except one, very clearly as Nature or Nurture. It is a moment of clarity; however, I still saw all the positives coming from the nature side and all the negatives coming from nurture…. Sunday was a day of thought to me, thinking about the past, the future, and myself. Where do I fit in what is now three families? Four if you include my husband’s family…

I will probably write a separate post about Nature vs. Nurture. However, to get back on topic, I drove home Sunday then started writing a couple of things down to start processing. I finally was able to find a couple negatives on the nature side, but that is normal it still did not fix the real problem… Nurture had nothing. Did I just float though my first twenty-nine years on a cloud biding time?

Sunday Night, I went to dinner with mom, the one that raised me this time. It is so odd to write that distinction. They are both mom to me. Although, I think one has more trouble accepting that than the other. One has nurtured me and helped me grow from baby, to BOY, to teen, to woman, for twenty-nine years. One has provided the fundamental core of who I am. Sitting there with mom and finding similarities in thinking and conscious action made me realize what it was. I had found it.

Nature is the core of my thinking and all my subconscious actions, thoughts, and emotions. Nurture is the things I do by choice, the things I say, and my conscious actions, thoughts, and emotions. I am, and always have been, and always will be the combination. I finally have the same perspective as people who do not share my background of adoption; I am the link between them. I am comprised of nature and nurture. Positives and negatives that form me come absolutely from both. There is no denying that anymore. This is my resolution. This is the resolution to another core of my life.

I have tried so hard for so many years to power myself though all feelings. I have tried to have a strong will and a strong shell. All this anger, all this depression, I have tried to will it away. I have tried to ignore it and just keep everything inside. Did my life look easy from the outside? Did anyone see me try?

Did anyone see me cry?

The artistry on this video is particularly powerful to me. In some ways, I feel like I am just repeating the same mistakes repeatedly, yet at the same time there is plenty going on.

Here I sit having hid all this again inside myself since Thursday. Today is Tuesday and I am just now resolving it all sitting here while tearing up. It is 11:15am right now as I write this final paragraph. Would it have been easier to talk about it all, and be honest with everyone? My husband knew something was wrong last night. Instead of confronting the problem, I went to bed. I do not know if my mom, or my mom, knew that something was going through my head like this… Should I have just talked it all out with everyone? Probably, however, to hide and process alone is the choice I made. I have made this same choice for the last twenty-nine years. This is the one thing that I do not know if it is nature or nurture… It may be both. Sometimes I do it by choice, sometimes I do it without actively choosing to. It’s possible to break nature though nurture. Likewise nurture can absolutely be broken by nature. Can I break nature and nurture? This one thing left needs to change. I cannot keep working these things out alone. So now, I hop in the shower and get ready for my new shift, which begins at 3pm instead of 9pm, and consider how I am going to fix this little problem… It is not as easy as just ‘doing it.’

About the author

Josie

I’ve never been good at writing about myself. I’ve never been good at ‘talking up my strengths’ but at least I should try…

I am a 30 year old (gasp), woman. To me, it is just that simple. My life is slowly coming together into a form where I can be proud to call it my life.

Who am I? I’m a strong, loving woman that was assigned male at birth and is finally correcting that egregious error by biology. For most women if they have an urge like wearing a sundress, they just do it. For my first 29 years on this planet, that wasn’t a possibility.

I write to heal, then publish to inform. I hope my journey can make the journeys of people that come after me just a little less painful.

I also have a ‘day job’ as a Data Center Technician. I do an incredibly physical job lifting fixing and moving servers. I daily, walk into and then maintain ‘the cloud.’ Servers are still quite a bit larger and heavier than your desktop at home. So much so that I am the only woman on my team of 20 and one of 5 in the entire building of about 75. Technology is without a doubt a male dominated industry. Which makes me quite sad.

I wish I could better express who I am. I don’t feel like I’ve done justice to my history, my life, and my story, but for now, this will have to do. To me the most beautiful thing in the world is understanding and empathy. If we can have only one thing for each other person on this planet, I choose empathy.

4 comments

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  1. Dorothy Browning

    OK, so the tears are here too for what you have been/are going through. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Dani or Gary sitting on your Mom’s bed in deep discussion (or in some cases her listening to their rants about something that’s bothering them. Dani has also used me as a sounding board and I always feel honored that she feels like she can. You don’t have to be articulate about what you’re feeling when you are trying to work out your feelings/emotions verbally in the presence of someone else. Keep working at verbalizing, Jo. I imagine Adam, who seems pretty sensitive to your changes/moods is more than willing to listen. Love you to the moon and back.
    Grandma

    1. Marcy

      I think you meant Riley not Gary.

      1. Dorothy Browning

        Yep. I meant Riley. When I was down at Gary’s I occasionally called him Riley. Something to do with my age, maybe? Good catch. Thanks.

  2. Marcy

    Oh Sweetie,
    I am in tears too. So many thoughts. One, I wondered if something was up and if it was more than tired but wasn’t sure and I don’t want to make problems by poking if there isn’t one there. I am so glad you decided to come anyway to spend time with us. You are right, you were better of with your parents. Things may be good now for us but they weren’t during the time you were growing up. It is nature AND nurture and both have contributed. You don’t need to break either one of them. You will continue to be nurtured and you will continue to grow, you just have a lot more people nurturing you now. You have many families, and several mom’s and I don’t see how that could be a bad thing. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you that I process by myself when I am going through tough times…this in itself has contributed to depression. If in my 40’s I can recognize this and work on changing it, so can you. You don’t have to go through life alone with so many people who love you. Maybe I shouldn’t go on and on in such a public way. Just one last thing. Yes, you were a baby, a little boy, a teen boy and you are becoming a “beautiful, strong, powerful, adult, woman…” but may I also add BRAVE. When you first reconnected with me you assured me that I made the right decision in placing you for adoption. Now it seems like I am convinced of that and you aren’t. It was absolutely the right decision and we can talk about why I believe that now in detail if you need or want to. I love you… all of you, your nature side and the nurture side. They are both you and nothing needs to be “broken”, just needs to be grown and developed, like we all grow and develop. I hope some of this made sense. I love you.

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