Belong

img_4174(A letter to a newly out trans woman)

I was so happy for you when I read your coming out post. My eyes watered and I smiled to myself. But the tears didn’t end, and they weren’t just for you. Though our desires are different, I sense we were on the same lonely path, different ropes tethered to the same post.

I have kept many secrets. It was simply the best way to coop. 2 months ago I broke a 17 year celibacy. Because we have an ”arrangement”, even my husband didn’t really know. I have no friends I could easily tell what was happening. I had keep so much of my circumstance and past hidden, there would be just too much to explain. I’ve since pledged I would speak when things came up. Your post struck so many nerves and I would like to share my story with you.

Growing up I struggled with belonging. I so desperately wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere, family, school. I was always an outsider. What I wanted most was to be a boy, to belong as a boy. It was the golden ring so far out of reach.  Just to be in and of my boyhood is all i ever wanted.

Fact: physically, I am a boy.

But:

I have always been astutely aware that I wasn’t like other boys, I wasn’t strong, brave and I had no athletic prowess or grace. By every measure I was wanting. The more I inventoried what was lacking the more paralyzed I became. The disconnect was between what I wanted and what I believed.  I wanted to think of myself as a boy, but I believed something was missing. If I presented myself as a boy, equal as a real boy, I would expose my audacious believe that I possessed this magical thing. Being caught was dangerous and humiliating.

My father didn’t like me, didn’t touch me, rarely spoke to me and seemed to be embarrassed by me. Touch was so foreign when he did affectionately touch once, it felt weird and gross. All he did was put his hand on my shoulder. But I knew the rules. No matter how good it felt, it was wrong. What I wouldn’t understand until I was much older was he was severely depressed. He had endured shock treatment and a steady diet of numbing drugs. But, I didn’t know that then. I had to figure out why he hated me, find the pattern. I took what little crumbs there were and built a case against myself.

My chance at boyhood became completely null and void the day I was publicly assaulted. Had it happened in a backyard, alone, the experience would have been just an unpleasant memory. We were in KIndergarten on the lawn of the school. My twin sister, the girl I was sworn to protect was only 20 feet away. All the other kids were there. A boy jumped me from a tree, from behind. I had never been in a fight or even rough housed. He pinned me onto the hard ground. He laughed as I struggled. He pulled his dick out and demanded I put it in my mouth. When I wouldn’t, he rubbed it in my face. All I could do was turn my head back and forth. All I saw was everyone, my sister, the other kids, everyone. I was so scared he would piss on me. He stopped when a teacher showed up.

The humiliation was flash cold. Everything was confirmed, I was weak and pathetic. This, this is what I get, this is what I deserve. Instantaneously I was exiled.

I avoided boys, I stayed against walls whenever I could. I heard my sister whispering to my mother how strange I was acting. No one ever said anything to me. Because so many people were there, I believed their silence was shame. The silence was unbearable and stung. I started to hear degrading meanings in almost anything said to me.

By the time I was a teenager I could not function. I learned to keep to myself. Being tied up, terrorized for kicks and molested wasn’t worth mentioning. Being drugged and raped, was just a “bad trick”. I dropped out of high school. I eventually tried to go to art school, but was so anxious about belonging, I couldn’t actually attend class.

I moved back to my home town and started to work on myself. In that process I met my husband. Together we made a safe and loving home. We both got very serious about our artwork, moved to the city and both continued to grow. I never could have come this far without a great therapist, but things started really changing when I was able to walk into a gym, walk into a locker room.

The disconnect affected how I saw myself physically. I disowned parts of my body because I so strongly associated them with real boys. Claiming them would reveal my secret thought that I was a boy. Oddly I was focused on chests. In Body Pump when the instructor would call for a Proud Chest, I “heard” him mocking me. Then one class I heard it as the invitation it was, and I tried. Nothing fell from the ceiling, the floor didn’t crack, no one noticed. Awhile after that, I encountered my molester. I didn’t say a word, I stood up as tall as I could. In that silence a calm washed over me.

Out of the blue the fitness instructor suggested that if I wanted to get serious about weight training I should talk with a trainer. He said it without sarcasm, as if he didn’t see how broken I was. It took me 6 months to get the courage up.

Working with the trainer has been the greatest catalyst. He is very hands on, literally. It makes perfect sense, but it is also ironic that a straight man taught me how to accept touch. That has opened the door for breaking the celibacy. A few weeks ago, I stood up straight next to him, big chest, shoulders back, not submissively hunched,  just as another man. Suddenly I wasn’t living in the pain/shame, it is only my story.

I hope your journey reveals gems you never dared to dream of!

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