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Nov 30 2015

Darkness v. Light: The First Darkness

So this ended becoming a very different post than I expected, and it will probably go on records as one of the hardest ones to write… Emotionally, however it took no time at all. Once it started coming out, it all flooded onto the page. For many of you it may be difficult to read, my apologies. It needed to be written, I considered not posting it, but I decided it would be better than not. However due to the difficulty writing it, this post has had no editing, be aware of that. This is the story of the first time I felt darkness in my heart… But first, an introduction because this will end up being a series of posts based on the fight between Darkness and Light over the course of my life.

Introduction
I was thinking recently of a way to talk about some difficult topics in less difficult ways. There are some words I have difficulty saying and typing to this day. This series of posts is trying to tackle some of those topics in a relatively subtle way so I can avoid using certain words. I have attempted to start/write this blog post roughly ten times before because it is something that to understand the transgender experience people really should understand. Many transgender people, and many people who are not transgender experience these feelings. These are my understandings, and my experiences, with these feelings. I realized after this post, this particular post does not contain much directly transgender related however it is the beginning of the darkness that would consume my life until transition. Many people deal with lives consumed in darkness, like I did. However transgender people have a much higher rate of dealing with this topics than the general population…

This originally was going to be one post with many stories in it telling of times when light and darkness battled out. However, I got to writing and one story ended up taking over this entire post. I have realized over the course of my life that when emotions want to come out. When emotions want to be expressed there is no point stopping them. It’s impossible. So this entire story became the story of when darkness first attached itself to my life. I have never before been able to write this story in this much detail…

The Story
When I was a child I would have never considered anything wrong with my life. Sure, I could tell I didn’t fit in but it didn’t really cause me a problem until puberty. I lived in a world of light, and happiness. I use the contrast of light and dark to speak about mental states. It is easier for me to say ‘when the sun was shining on my life’ as opposed to ‘when I was happy.’ I use the Light and the Dark as opposing forces to describe my mental state. These two forces constantly at war within me, and I would argue everyone. This is another war that placed a crucial part in my life. This constant war between The Darkness and the Light.

D&L Dragons

The first darkness that entered my life in any meaningful way was when my grandmother passed. Keep in mind there was not biological link, she wasn’t actually my grandmother. She was my babysitter. She was my confidant. She was the person I talked to and she made my little childhood problems vanish in puffs of smoke, like magic. She subsequently started dating and living with my grandfather. Although thinking about it there wasn’t any biological link there either. I can’t put an exact year to it, and I wish not to, suffice it to say I was roughly 7. She had been in and out of the hospital a couple of times before but I was too young to understand why. Her name, was Mary, a name I briefly considered making my middle name.

I was spending time at my grandparents’ house and my grandfather very abruptly roused me from my afternoon nap. Why was I being woken up? Something was wrong, usually I wake up naturally… That is when he said “grandma is not well.” He walked me to the door. “Stay here and wait for the ambulance, don’t come inside.” The air outside the house felt cold and stifling. I needed to know what was going on. I took a couple steps back into the house. Good, not caught yet… I ventured further though the living room and into the dining room.

As I walked around the corner from the dining room into the kitchen, I saw something a little odd, the white tile floor was red? A dark, blood red. Just that is an image that haunts me still to this day. It is the image I see when I bleed onto my white skin. It is what I see when red wine is spilled onto white things. It is what I see every time a dark red color is transposed over white. It has haunted my very core and created a fear of blood that I am starting to move past. As I further turned the corner I saw in an instant my grandma lifeless sitting at the kitchen table. There was blood running down here lower leg. I knew in an instant what it meant. I know I screamed, that’s what got Grandpa’s attention. He saw me, and he saw in my eyes, what I saw. He saw that I knew what it meant. The next things all happened to fast. He screamed “Joey!” and rushed over to me running through blood in the process, grabbed me in a tight embrace picked me up and took me back where I could no longer see that.

He and I were alone but all of a sudden the house felt so large. It was stifling me too. I don’t know what happened next. I don’t remember anything, except for a laughing sound. Someone besides us was there, laughing. I know no other humans were there. I was hearing something super natural. It sounded like it came from everywhere around me. It encircled me. It was like I was trapped in laughter. Later in life I would hear this sound again. The taunting/laughing of a school yard. The bullies laughing at a young, feminine boy. It was a clear taunt. The person I most confided in was taken from me. Nobody around me had passed before, but I knew instantly what this meant. How would I react to the events and the laughing? I knew it was a challenge, but I also knew that I couldn’t tell anyone about it… Past that, I have no memories until the dreams I had that night. The trauma was too intensive for that young mind.

I had couple of dreams that night. The first one was me going further into that kitchen, with the laughing voice in the background and going to far as to touch the pool of blood on the white tile. When I did I was sucked into it and all of a sudden I was tiny. I was now drowning in the pool of blood on the floor. This dream is still the clearest to me, to this day over twenty years later. It was the first dream I had in which I died. It was a first person dream where I woke up terrified, but for some reason, I could not scream, I could not cry. I tried, but it never came. To me, that told me that I was not meant to receive external support in this moment, I turned over, and went back to bed.

I had another dream that night. This was a third person dream, I looked down at myself and found I had grown up, but I could not identify if I was a girl, or a boy… I saw myself as a child sleeping. I went upstairs and saw grandpa sleeping in his bed. I went downstairs and saw the same scene in the kitchen. The white tile, grandma passed on, blood from her lower leg. However, two things struck me as odd, two things were different from when I saw them for real. Grandma had a phone in her hand, the cord stretching across the room, someone on the other end of the phone said “Stay with me help is on the way.” The other change was that the stove was on, with hamburgers in the pan. The oil caught fire. I tried to wake grandma up to no avail. I ran out to the living room where I was napping under a red checkered blanket, which I still have, and tried to awake myself. The child version of myself did not budge. I ran upstairs as the flames spread across the house and tried to wake up grandpa to no avail. I watched his body engulfed in flames in that dream. Why wouldn’t he wake? I walked out of the house to find an ambulance and firetruck just pulling up, but they were too late. The rescue personnel did their job, but they found three non-responsive people in the house. Nobody spoke to me. They looked though me, they spoke though me, it was as if I wasn’t there. It was a dream after all.

Still in the same dream: As I stood across the small street of Parkside watching myself, my grandma and my grandpa being taken out of the now smoldering building a cloaked figure walked up beside me and said “This could have been reality. She saved your life.” I was confused, and asked “What?” He, his voice was very deep but unrecognizable, just started laughing, it was the same exact laugh I heard in reality that very day. When I struck out to punch him, he vanished. The dream ended there and I woke up, but I didn’t feel terrified. I was confused, I was warm, I felt like I existed to keep on existing. I felt thankful in that moment, that I did continue to live.

I had nobody to tell these things to. I had lost the very person I would have told. I felt like if I told these stories I would be called crazy. Someone would think something was abnormal about me. I refused to tell anyone about my experience that day. I refused to tell people about my dreams. I claimed to ‘not remember.’ It was my first filter, my first elective isolation. I was going to carry this darkness and this burden alone into my future. These dreams, this experience, was my first big secret. And I carried it on, until I told Carie…

My next memories are that of the funeral, and I don’t honestly remember much of that. I just remember crying. I walked outside to cry. It was a funeral home where the parlor we were in had doors that opened into the parking lot. I remember going up to the casket and saying under my breath. “I will live on, for you. Thank you.” I was able to hold it together long enough to get outside. The air smelled of freedom, but I felt confined anyway. My last memory of that day, is outside crying…. For all I know that was the remainder of my day. I don’t even remember what happened for most of the next year of my life, for all I knew I spent that entire time crying.

I would find out later in a factual manner that she was grilling hamburgers at the time. She decided to turn off the stove instead of calling for help. If she hadn’t done this a house fire would have resulted with almost certainty. There is no way to tell if it would have resulted in what happened in my dream, but to this day, I claim there was more to my dream. I strongly believe my dream was expressing a very real possible alternate reality. Even though very few people knew about that dream, until now. She made a decision that day to off the stove. I have told people about that aspect. I claim, to this day, and have claimed in the past that she saved my life that day.

I don’t remember much of Grandma Mary. But I remember her warmth. I remember her being my confidant. Some of my best memories are days spent with her, in that very kitchen in that house on Parkside. She lives on, speaking to me though my dreams. I have seen her clearly in the hours I sleep. She helped build who I am. She lives on in me.

Much Love,

~Josie


Dreams by The Cranberries

All my life
Is changing every day
In every possible way
In all my dreams
It’s never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems
I know I’ve felt like this before
But now I’m feeling it even more
Because it came from you
Then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be
I warn more
Impossible to ignore
Impossible to ignore
They’ll come true
Impossible not to do
Impossible not to do
Now I tell you openly
You have my heart so don’t hurt me
You’re what I couldn’t find
Totally amazing mind
So understanding and so kind
You’re everything to me
All my life
Is changing every day
In every possible way
And oh my dreams
It’s never quite as it seems
Cause you’re a dream to me
Dream to me

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.

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