Last night was probably one of the scariest nights I’ve ever experienced in my whole life. Emotional too. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but after everything that’s happened, it’s true. The last time I felt anything remotely close to this was having to admit to a doctor that I had an eating disorder. You may think saying something out loud is easy – after all if you can think it, you can say it…right? Wrong. Keeping something buried inside, even if it’s the truth, is safe. Nobody can steal it or ever find out. More importantly, nobody can judge you. Saying the words out loud and admitting to something is a huge step. In fact, I’ve not fully admitted things to myself yet. There’s something about externalising the truth that’s scary. Maybe because it becomes more definite? More real? Admitting something is the first step to change but it’s also one of the biggest steps – especially when you’ve spent your entire life in hiding or in denial. So what happened last night? I told my best friend.
I know I’ve been trying to talk to her for a while but the right time never came up. She knew something was getting me down but with her training for the marathon or other stuff that’s gone on, I said I’d open up to her after the marathon. It was for the best. The marathon was last weekend and since then, there hasn’t been a right time. As I’ve explained before, the last thing I want is to upset or ruin her day with what I have to say about me. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if I set out to tell her last night. We were chatting about stuff before the conversation moved onto me and how I’ve been feeling. She explained that she had time to talk but wasn’t going to push me into it. She’s always been cool like that. I don’t know…a part of me felt like the “right opportunity” was never going to appear as there’s probably a part of me that’s avoiding it. She also helped me to see that, so I told her. Well, actually, this blog told her. As I mentioned above, I’ve still not fully admitted stuff to myself or said the words out loud, let alone say them to anyone else. Obviously, I did my best to prepare her before I sent the link to this blog. A bit of damage control beforehand, just in case shit hit the fan. However something she said just before she found out has stuck with me and played on my mind. In other posts, I’ve talked about how she’s like a sister to me. More of a sister than my own actual sister. To her I’m like a big brother. Well, she reminded me that would never change even after she found out. But when I read that, a part of my heart sank. I mean, what the fuck am I? To her or to anyone?? I’m not really a brother, nor am I a sister. It dawned on me that I’m not a proper husband to my wife either. Only on paper. I can’t give my wife what she needs or make her happy because I’m stuck having to deal with my own internal battle. So if I’m not a real husband because of gender dysphoria, then what am I? I’m stuck in between genders with no label or definite identity. Having never felt 100% male, I’m a really shit male. But I’m not genetically female, so I’m a shit female too. My brain will always be a square peg in a round hole. This is driving me crazy and I can feel my anxiety starting to rocket whilst I write this. I can’t live without knowing who I am. I need some kind of outline. We all do.
After I sent her the link, I panicked. A part of me regretted it. There was no turning back. Shit got very real indeed. I knew it would take her a while to read everything in order, so I had no choice but to wait. Time seemed to stand still. Now, I’m not proud of it but when I got home from work earlier I did down some more painkillers so I could escape stuff in my head…yeh, it was another shit day. I had to take quite a lot just to get to the same calm as I used to feel. (Maybe that’s why I was more willing to open up to her?) I remember thinking even they weren’t enough to help me. I won’t lie, a huge part of me was anxious to take some more, just in case. I tried not to but the need to take more was unbearable. It was like some kind of craving that promised to help me through the uncertainty whilst I waited. So I took some more. As soon as I did, she messaged me back. Straight away, I felt so guilty for taking them but scared for her reaction at the same time. Immediately, I had hundreds of possibilities flying around in my head. I didn’t want to read her reply, but I did want to know. I’m glad I did because she simply said there was still more to read but it was ok, people would understand and that I wasn’t a freak. I felt so relieved. The thought of her hating me is not something I want to have to go through. She also said people would be more supportive than I realised, before going back to reading more. I did cry a bit. The massive weight I’ve been carrying seemed lighter. Not much lighter, but I was so grateful for it. She was so understanding and supportive, it was quite surreal. Not that I’m questioning her or anything, I guess I’ve had this secret buried inside me for so long that I can’t see how people would be ok with it. I mean, my entire life and everyone I know is based on this (incorrect) life full of guilt, shame and embarrassment. It was probably the first time I saw any real chance of hope for a future. I don’t know how all of this will work out and what/who I’ll end up losing as a result of it but as she pointed out: those who don’t accept me aren’t worth having in my life. Very true indeed, however hearing or thinking it is one thing, but saying it out loud and (most importantly) actually believing it is another. Being somebody that can’t accept themselves, I’m struggling to believe how anyone else could possibly accept me. I guess, for now, I’ll just concentrate on this other type of peace that I’ve never felt before. More potent than any combination of painkillers I could ever take.
I’m still getting over the shock of opening up to her and, being perfectly honest, even today I feel guilty talking to her about it in case I’m ruining her weekend or interrupting something with my confused and manic thoughts. As much as this post is a summary of what happened and how I felt afterwards, it’s also evidence of why she’s my best friend and why she’s like family to me. She’s truly an awesome person who has stood by me through so much, in all the time that I’ve known her. I’m so grateful to have her as a sister and I’m glad I’ve finally been able to share this with her. All that remains is for me to tell my wife too. I’d love to say something straight away but I’m not sure if I’m ready. I know I need to say something sooner rather than later and that I may be avoiding it, but there’s an even bigger fear in telling her: losing our marriage, losing her, losing the business…losing everything. If I don’t voluntarily tell her soon, I may be forced to come clean when I have a total breakdown before having to go to our friend’s wedding, which is coming up very soon.
Featured image: Felix Baumgartner, via Google