Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Something I have to get off my chest...

There are moments in life that change us. Define us. I’m not talking about the obvious ones - near death experiences, births, those kinds of things. I’m talking about small moments. Moments that, to others, are inconsequential.

2009 was a particularly hard year for me. In 2009, Dan died. Dan was the first transperson I’d ever met. It was Dan who showed me I wasn’t bound by what “nature” had given me. It was Dan who showed me I could be more. I lost touch with him for a few years, but I never stopped thinking about him. When I finally got around to looking him up, I was too late. He had passed away of a massive heart attack the month before. One month. Exactly 30 days. I had taken 30 days too long. He never got to see me as an out-and-proud transman. He never knew I’d taken my transname as Daniel in honor of him. From that day on, I vowed to live my life in a way that he might’ve been proud of. To do the best I could, every day. To stay strong under the always mighty strain of being transgender, of being out. I vowed to stand up and stand out. I don’t know if he’d be proud of me or not. Some days, I think probably not.

2009 was also the year I lost Ginger. To some people, Ginger was just a dog. But to me, Ginger was my heart and soul. I was never maternal before Ginger. For a while, when I lived as woman, I saw my lack of maternal instinct as a horrible failure. Every female I knew could handle children. Every female I knew knew how to cuddle and coo, and how to kiss boo-boos. Me? Children revolted me. But then, in 2005, the SPCA brought in this emaciated, beaten up dog. Our doctor wanted to kill it. Seemed like the most humane thing to do. But then the dog looked up at me. She hadn’t raised her head or responded to anyone else. But she looked at me. Something in me shifted. I begged the surgeon to try to save her life. Several months later, she came home with me. Though I was still struggling with my gender, I’d finally found my maternal instinct. I doted on her left and right, allowing her to get away with things our other dogs didn't. She became my constant companion, and I referred to her as "my little girl" in conversation. No doubt a few people thought she was human. In 2009, she passed away in her sleep from heart failure. Something in me died that night, too. I’ve never felt the same about anyone - human or beast - since. It’s just not in me. I still say "my daughter died in 2009."

Sometimes, I dream of her. I dreamt of her last night, actually. That’s what prompted this post. When I dream of her, all that maternal stuff comes rushing back to me, but I can’t hold onto it. It’s gone when I wake. It breaks my heart to write about her. As I sit here, I’m typing through blurry, tear-filled eyes. But I’m thankful for the time I had - for what she showed me of myself, even if I can’t see it anymore.

In 2009, I accepted my first publishing contract. It wasn’t just a moment of pride. It was a moment of vindication. All my life, I’d been told I’d never amount to anything, especially in writing. Writing was a waste of time and I should put it away. So as I stared at that contract, with my signature on it - you can’t imagine the feeling. Four months later, the publisher went out of business. In the space of a moment, my dreams - everything I’d worked for, everything I’d battled for - was gone. It changed me, though. Made me even more tenacious - something I’d not thought possible. It hardened me, too, to a degree.

For a while, those moments stopped. Nothing particularly life-changing. Oh, things have happened, certainly. But they’d been things I took in stride as just another part of life. Just a thing to be dealt with, overcome.

Last year, I went to my first writing conference - GayRomLit. I didn’t interact with the other authors and readers much. The trip, for me, was more about proving my own self-reliance. I went places by myself. I braved things I’d been terrified of. Like birds. I know, it sounds silly for someone to say they’d been terrified of birds. But I have good reason. Growing up, my grandmother had a bird aviary. I’m talking an actual aviary. The thing was the size of half a house. She had tons of birds in it - cockatiels, parakeets, canaries, quail. Tons. More than she should’ve had. And none of the birds were socialized. Every Sunday, when I went over, my “job” was to feed the birds. Feed consisted of bird seed and meal worms. Life meal worms.

I was forced, every Sunday, to walk through the aviary throwing food. The birds would rush up to the sides of the cages, squawking and screaming, fighting with each other. The aviary was dirty - roaches would skitter away when you opened the door. The smell of bird waste was enough to make your throat burn. I had asthma, so of course, every time I left, I was sick. So yeah. There’s no love lost between me and birds. But last year, I faced birds. I went to the New Orleans Aquarium, and they have a place called Parakeet Pointe. You buy a stick covered in food, and walk out into a giant room full of birds, who then descend upon you to get the food. I survived without pissing my pants or making a giant ass of myself, and even managed to get some photos. Defining moment indeed.

Then this week, I had another defining moment. I’m still not sure what this moment has meant for me. I'm not sure what it has done to me.

I guess for most people, Facebook is just a place to go to keep up with what other people are doing. I guess for most people, it's just fun and games. For me, it's the only real interaction I have with people who are like me - other writers, other transpeople, other people taking care of sick spouses. I don't have a "real life" social life. I have Facebook. So, I take my relationships on FB very seriously. I hurt when my friends hurt. I laugh when they laugh. I share stories about them with my husband. I've met some of them in person, but most I haven't. But I love them regardless. I see the beauty in them, behind that screen. Sure, I know some people are fake on the Internet. I'm not stupid. But I also know some people aren't.

There's been a lot of online nastiness in the writing industry recently, specifically in the m/m industry. Lots of name-calling. Lots of smear campaigns. Lost of lies and mud being flung. For the most part, I'd stayed out of the firefight. I'll speak my mind, but nobody really goes after me. I'm not significant enough to anyone, and frankly people forget about me. No, it's true. Deny it all you want, but I've been through thirty-something years of life with people repeatedly forgetting I existed. So I know it happens. I've seen it online. "DC Juris? Oh, yeah! I always forget about him!" Yeah.

Last month. I started receiving messages from people, telling me this person had said that about me, that person had told this lie, etc. I answered them with honesty and I was glad the people had come to me to ask me to clear things up. I was baffled about why I'd been targeted, and not a little upset about it all.

Then, this week, it was suggested that someone I cared for deeply had been behind it all. I was devastated. Utterly wrecked. I couldn't believe that person had been so malicious. So cruel. I had trusted them. As it turns out, I managed to find the truth, and I know now who I can trust and who I can't.

And it got me to thinking about Facebook, and the whole online experience, and my... well, I'll just admit it - my dependency on it. Up until last month, I had seen FB as a safe place. A haven. A place where I could be me, and damn the consequences, because there were none. These people were just like me - they accepted me. They liked me!

Come to find out, I was little more than the stupid kid being made fun of by the popular kids. Not everyone was who they seemed to be. People I had liked turned out to be against me.

I've logged on a couple times since the revelations. Facebook isn't the same for me. I'm uncertain who to trust. Should I let everyone see my status, or only certain people? Will what I say be thrown back in my face later? Will it be twisted so that it's not even what I said?

I feel guilty for not trusting certain people. What kind of a friend am I, to question them? What kind of person trades their loyalty so quickly? Why didn't I just say "Pfft - yeah right!" and brush it off? I feel guilty for upsetting them, for adding to anything they might have been already dealing with. I feel embarrassed for being tricked into revealing certain feelings about certain people - feelings I've no business feeling, and feelings that can only lead to awkwardness. I feel stupid for being drawn into any of it in the first place. I'm a grown-ass adult. I feel stupid for my inability to just let it go.

It's all changed now. It's all different. I'm different. And I don't know exactly how far the ramifications go. Right now, all I want to do is curl up in a virtual ball, and stay away from everyone. That's not fair to the people who haven't hurt me. It's like I'm saying "You'll get around to hurting me, eventually." That's not how I feel. I'm certain of them. I just am so tired of the fighting and the name-calling and the mud slinging. I spent my entire childhood being called names left and right. Being told I was worthless. I just wanted one place where that would never, ever happen. And why should I have to give up my dear friends in order to avoid all that?

I want to jump up and down and scream "THIS ISN'T FAIR!!!!"


  1. My dear, dear Man.

    First at goodreads I go by Sammy2006. I am I've of the moderators of the YA LGBT group. You know me on FB as Sammy Goode. Sammy was the name of my baby. He is my profile picture on FB. I lost him in 2006. A piece of my heart died with him. I know and understand your pain. And I am so sorry for your loss.

    I have been targeted numerous times. Been called fake sickeningly sweet and a pedophile. That last one well as a moderator, it was just awful.

    I want you to know that you have supporters-I am one of them. I am so sorry for your pain. I wish only joy for you. And peace of mind.

  2. First...(((hug))) I try to stay away from a lot of the stuff that goes on. I hat that you've been through this. It totally sucks.I tend to keep to a small group and hope that I can continue to trust them. It is hard on line because I'm one who trust and puts my faith in people and not everyone is on there for the same reasons. It's hard to figure out the truth. So I live in my own bubble. And you're more than welcome to join me. :) I don't go to goodreads. I don't respond to the negative and yes...this is why people say I live in my own world. lol But I like my world. :)

    I'm sorry about your losing your baby. Animals take up just much of a persons heart as a child, but I'm happy you had your girl for as long as you did. You gave her a wonderful life. :)

    Again.... (((hugs)))

  3. D.C. - there are some folks out there, no matter the venue, who have such small, frustrating lives that they have to take it out on others. I hate that they targeted you. I hate that they tried to sow poisonous seeds where they didn't belong.

    But they are pitiful creatures - not representative of the majority and hardly representative of the people who do care.

    1. I'm pretty sure you're right - small lives lead to big mouths.

  4. Dearest Danny,

    As hard as you try, the voice of that child who was hurt and belittled screams louder than any other and you react from that standpoint not from an adult POV. We all do it to one degree or another. I certainly know I do! It's easy to lose perspective.

    You and I are alike in that we are both loving, nurturing people who want to believe the best of everyone and, as a result of that, get hurt frequently. People see our kindness as weakness and most of the time we know that's not true. We ARE strong! We've survived a lot, you more than me, but it still hurts just the same.

    Personally, I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't met you and been educated about the trans-gender life style. You, more than any other person, took the time and patience for me to shed some light on that and many other subjects. That, in itself, would have been enough to endear you to me, but little did we know that you were preparing me for one of the biggest challenges I've ever had--my daughter coming out to me as a transgender male. Through the understanding you helped me find, we are dealing with it in a much better way than if I had had no comprehension at all and, for that, I will always be grateful. When you have those down times thinking, that you've made no difference in the world, dearest, just think of me and my son and be proud knowing that , for at least one family, you most assuredly have.

    Thank you, my friend! Be happy and know that you are loved.

    1. That's it exactly what it is - reacting from that mindset of that little kid inside me. I'm glad you've been able to find a balance with the daughter you had and the son you now have. It's a wonderful feeling to have been a part of that. ::Hugs::

  5. I remember you at GRL, Danny. I remember you out by the pool at one of the get-togethers and I think we even took one of the ghost tours together. :) I tend to be forgettable too so I understand that.

    I also understand the power of the internet - that all-reaching power that can be used for good and bad. I've been targeted - I had a stalker on FB that sent me atrocious emails and made me cry so hard I wanted to quit everything concerning the internet and yeah, even quit myself. I was also targeted in a group on GR and to this day GR is a totally different place for me, not a comfortable place like it once was. I try to be more careful of who I interact with but like Jam I'm also too trusting in some ways.

    What made me keep going? Well, after some (lots of) tears and outstanding, loving support from friends who assured me I wasn't the horrible "thing" that those others made me out to be - I admitted to myself that the internet IS my social life in most ways. I tend to be somewhat of a hermit. I love being by myself but it's also nice to know I have friends just a keyboard away.

    These GRL things are my big attempt at socializing outside my comfort zone and I'm still shaking with anxiety just thinking about it. Last year I went as a reader and spent some time in my room just trying to breath and stop crying from the anxiety I felt, and this year I'm going as an author *gasps* so maybe we need our own little group of hermits to hang around with in a corner of GRL. We could have cheezy gumball rings or something to identify each other.

    I know I've gone off-track (that's not unusual) but I guess what I'm trying to say is there are many haters who will try to fuck you around, but I believe there are even more people out there who are truly genuine. After the experienced you had, I think you'll gravitate more easily to those that are true and trusting because at least now you know there are definitely some of us who have your back.

    Much love,

    1. I know I'll eventually go back to FB, but I'm just gunshy at the moment. Thankfully I never participated in GR - and still don't. I've heard enough nasty things about it to stay away! We should definitely get together at GRL!

  6. Well...I'll be at GRL...And I'm always good for a hug. :) I'm with you K-lee...most of my interaction almost all of my friends are on line.

    And you really do have to ignore the haters. Life is too short as it is and like I said...there's always room in my bubble. lol :)

  7. ((Hug)) First, I hear you about your sweet baby. I have NO maternal instincts at all except toward my kitties. It's just not part of my makeup, and I don't regret it at all.

    Second, I originally connected with people online in 1994 on AOL. Up until then, I'd been a weirdo. I didn't know anyone who thought like me, read the books I read, watched the shows I watched, etc. etc. ad infinitum. I found my tribe through email and message boards.

    Over the years, that original tribe has changed and evolved. Most of the people I first connected with have fallen out of touch, or proved not to be who I thought they were. But I've met many more people since then who have been long term friends, people who have helped not just me come out of my shell, but my husband as well. It's that core group I consider to be our real family, and I know they'll always be there.

    None of which really helps, I know. And you're 100% right: it isn't fair. Nor I think should we accept that unfairness as just part of life; we should point it out, then strive to live our lives in a way that refutes their behavior, in whatever way we can.

    1. I know what you mean about AOL. That was my first online experience - sitting in chat rooms, trying to keep up with things. And like you, it was my first experience with people like myself. What an eye opener! LOL I met some of the most influential people in my life there. I met my husband there. But I was gone for a while and went back, and it wasn't the same. And yeah, you're right - we absolutely should't accept the unfair ness as just the status quo.

  8. I remember you at GRL and followed your posts that you were not comfortable coming to all of the events. I think you even went to the zoo one day, but I could be mixing you up with someone else. I wanted so badly to meet you and hang out with you a little bit because I didn't know more than two people when I got there. I hope we can meet in Albuquerque. You are a good person. {{hugs}}Becky

    1. Yep, that was me! LOL I went to the zoo, the aquarium - anywhere the group wasn't. LOL I did manage to do the riverboat, but I spent most of that time out on the bow taking pictures when Michelle Montgomery wasn't dragging me around. LOL She was obsessed with making me meet a couple people, and I probably wouldn't have met *anyone* if she hadn't grabbed me and pulled me along. I'll try to be more social in Albuquerque. LOL ::hugs::

  9. While no one can truly understand any one situation because we aren't in it with you, each of us has experienced some type of pain in our lives. While I know no one can go through out life without experiencing pain it would be nice to hope that we could.

    Even though Facebook is an online place for people to connect, connect we do. I think it's actually easier to connect to people we don't see every day, who have an objective view of our world. And though it doesn't mean we are as close as we could be cause there is the barrier between us of space, we still have feelings, emotions, heart. By having that heart just shows how much of an amazing person you are. Even when it's hard and it hurts. Even though it's hard to see the bright side, try to stay strong and know that you are being true to yourself and you are quite the amazing person and someone I'm very blessed to know even from across the big wide country we live in. :-)