The story of my life, condensed version...a bit of a rant...

Old 01-17-2009, 09:45 PM
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The story of my life, condensed version...a bit of a rant...

Yesterday was the 60th birthday (my elder by nine years) of my sister who used to be my brother. He had transgender surgery in 1974 when I was in high school. My parents dealt with it by drinking and not dealing with it. I have so many emotions still wrapped up in the whole situation that I have trouble even talking about it; matter of fact I rarely talk about it at all. But I need to, so here goes.

(Please understand, it's not the surgery itself, or any type of gender issue, it is the way the whole thing was handled by my parents.)

I may sound angry, bitter, resentful...I don't know. I don't mean to. I feel like there is poison inside me that needs to come out. It seems that God is dealing with me in layers, and I had to deal with all of the dysfunction in my adult life first, before we got down to this stuff.

I am looking back to the little girl that I was-fifth grade-to tell this story...

It was 1969 when my big brother, the apple of everybody's eye, the straight-A Beta club president, the 'most likely to succeed', left for Nashville on a full scholarship to a private school. When he left, he was brunette, slightly overweight, very conservative. When he came home for the holidays, he was much thinner, tan, blonde...A few months later I heard my father in the next room ask if he was 'homosexual', and I had no earthly idea what in the world that meant. But it turned my whole world upside down.

The story could get very long, but the condensed version is that he quit school, bounced all over the country, and ran up a huge amount of credit card debt, and then wrote a bunch of bad checks which my dad paid off by selling our home and moving us into a trailer. My mother plunged into deep depression. My father was mad as hell at the world.

The next time he came home, he was dressed as a woman. He spent a few years like that. I remember visiting him in Atlanta one summer and walking into what I guess I would describe now as some sort of drug house-probably herion since it was the 70's-although I didn't understand at the time; I think I was in maybe 8th grade at this point. Strange people lounging around, dirty, smelly...and one of my friends from school had come on 'vacation' with us, so she saw it too. THAT helped a lot...

A few years later, he went to Denver and had the surgery. My mother's mother and sister paid for it. My dad just kind of checked out and didn't try to stop it. He drank a lot. So did my mother. We had long since quit going to any family gatherings, like the huge family Christmas celebration at my paternal grandmother's or the big picnics at my uncles cabin on the lake. Our house was a very dark, sad place to live.

My parents sort of went into hiding, and if anyone asked about my brother, they lied. And they told me to lie, too. So I did. It hit me the hardest when I went to high school. I was terrified that someone would find out and I was so filled with shame about it; things were very different back then in the small Tennessee town that we lived in. All the teachers I had were the same ones he had, and he had been an excellent student, very active in clubs and such. They all wanted to know all about him. It was horrible.

So I started hiding, too. I went into high school as one of the 'good' kids, a cheerleader, a good student...but I decided that the druggie kids were safer because they wouldn't ask about my brother...which began a series of very bad choices on my part that only reinforced the shame, and eventually led to a very long marriage to a very sick, abusive man. But which also led to some very real healing from God. And I know this is more of that, but it sucks to do the work, you know?

My dad died a few years ago, during the time when my exhusband was so strung out on drugs. After I got away from exah, all the old childhood stuff suddenly appeared. I had stuffed it inside since I was eleven.

Now my mom lives with my sister. She (sister) married a 76 year old man a few years back that had ALS and only had a few months to live. He was rich and she got all his money. It's the only reason she married him, and she doesn't care to tell you so. Up until that point she had lived in public housing on disablity. She never made anything of her life. It makes me sick.

She and mom go out to eat, shop, go get their hair fixed, watch tv, sleep in their chairs. They wallow in each other's misery and take a lot of ativan. And they still call me every night, although I have gotten very good at not answering.

It is still never talked about. It's like my childhood never even happened. I tried a couple of times to talk to my sister about it, but she went totally ballistic and my mom sat and cried. It's not worth it.

The thing that cut me the deepest was that I was so young, and so scared, and so alone. And no one even bothered to ask me how I was. Instead, they cried on my young shoulders and taught me to lie and live in complete denial of the truth of our lives. And then, when I fell through the cracks in high school, they didn't raise a finger to get me any type of help. Nor did they offer help the first few times my exh slapped me around...All they cared about was that no one found out. And now I am feeling the anger of that and I don't know what to do with it.

So there it is, SR family. Thanks for letting me get it.
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:48 AM
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There is a bit of a 'rant', but there is a lot more 'roll' in what you said. By 'roll' I mean progress and recovery for you. I am strengthened by hearing you and I hope you have been strengthened by giving us some history of your recovery.

"But which also led to some very real healing from God. And I know this is more of that, but it sucks to do the work, you know?"
This does well in reminding me that recovery is a 24/7 process.
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Old 01-18-2009, 05:57 PM
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I divorced my AH about 4 years ago, was separated from him a year before that. We'd almost split up 18 years earlier, but he had sobered up for 14 years and I stayed with him and got my two kids to the ages of 14 & 17 when he started drinking again. My father was an alcoholic. My mom divorced him when I was around 12 years old. He was smart, a doctor, but really really narcissistic. His sexual advances towards my sister and me helped my mother to divorce him, along with affairs he was having with other women.

I also found myself starting school innocent but gravitating towards a rougher, darker, edgier crowd. I think I thought it was cool, exciting, and I was the "good" girl compared to them, maybe? Who knows. I'm 51 now.

I did the whole write my dad a letter confronting him about his "wronging" me, feeling as though he really damaged me, and wondering how much of my childhood influenced my choice of marriage partner. I let myself feel sorry for that little girl for as long as I wanted to, and often wondered why no one ever talked to me about the abuse, just seemed more focused on my siblings who had more problems, you know? I'm not sure that they even knew how much I felt damaged by it all. I think people are selfish that way, and believe they've suffered much more than we have, and all.

It's taken me a while to come to terms with all this, and to still see my mom hanging more with my sister, seeming more interested in my other siblings than me. I really just had to do the work on my own, just like I had to survive it on my own back then. My father's death helped me a lot. I was really able to let a lot go after that. My mom? Well, she's 79 now, she really did try to protect us, and if she's a little selfish acting now I do understand because I'm finding myself feeling a little selfish now that both my children are grown.

I am so grateful for SR being a place to come, to vent, to cry out, to express ourselves, and I think this is the perfect forum for that. I think that what you are doing is so very healthy and positive, and that you will work your way through it and laugh at the other side with the freedom of feeling good about yourself, younger, and grateful for life again in all its joys and wonders.

I had to learn to say goodbye to a lot of leftover anguish that was really holding me back from welcoming new experiences, new loves, and new joys still to come in my life, even at the age of 51! Please keep working at it, Duet. You are doing good stuff here, for yourself. And even if THEY never get it, it's okay. They have made a choice to stay in hiding, in denial, in tandem with each other supporting addictive behaviors and giving each other a sense of normalcy.

You choose YOUR normal, Duet. It's your life, and you get to create YOUR future. Deal with the past, reconcile it, and do know that there really is a sweet side to come. Be strong, and meanwhile take care of that little girl inside of you. I just wanted you to know you've been heard
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:07 PM
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peaceteach, you give me a lot of hope. I'm 51, too, and as much as I try to be strong and keep a positive outlook, sometimes I just can't. And you are right, being able to come here and vent is very healing.

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Old 01-18-2009, 07:38 PM
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Jen, you're one of my favorite people here on SR - I've followed your story of getting out of your marriage, for example, and have gotten SO much inspiration from it.

Just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you and I'm glad you're here.

It's hard for me to stay positive too, but I keep on trying. I'm 46 and hate that I'm still stumbling over these childhood things when I would rather stay in the light all the time. I'll keep on truckin' if you do.
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Old 01-18-2009, 08:14 PM
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Who says it isn't okay to vent about stuff like this? I used to believe that I had to put on a happy face and put it all behind me. Today I know I can just feel those feelings and it is okay to cry.

For me, feeling the feelings allows me to move on in my own way and in my own time.
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Old 01-18-2009, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by GiveLove View Post
I'll keep on truckin' if you do.
It's a deal! :ghug
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Old 01-19-2009, 01:14 AM
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The other thing I did, Jen, was swear off guys after my divorce for a while. I mean, I looked at them () and would speak, but since it seemed to me that every single (as in unmarried) guy I met was giving off red flags, I decided that my attraction quotient was very damaged and all the A's were drawn to me in a bee-line. Rather than experiment (date losers) I just said no to the whole scene. I grounded myself in a safe zone, probably for TOO long, with family, friends, and my children. The stronger I got, the less it bothered me that I was alone. When my chicks flew the nest, I suffered for a while with empty nest syndrome, but worked through that as well.

It has only been very recently that, due to a high school best friend (guy) looking me up after 30-some years, that I have dated again. And he's very healthy, very "normal" and very nice to me. It's been a challenge, dating at 51, and dating someone who is NOT drama guy, just normal guy.

But I laugh all the time, feel good about myself most days, and know every day that I totally deserve to be treated this way, without sacrificing ANY of my hard-fought for independence and self-confidence. Give yourself all the time you need, Duet. Try to remember how long it took you, once you came here with your story of your marriage to your exAH, to get to where you are now. It may take that long to get to the "love life" point again, where you are whole enough with yourself, without the need to confront family or need their approval or support, but that point is out there. Walk the walk. Take care of YOU while you take care of your kids. Be a GIRL even when you have to man up at home to get jobs done. Let go of shame. You didn't do anything wrong. You did everything right and deserve a good life because of it, girl. Look what you've accomplished so far.

And maybe an old classmate will come along for you in a couple years and show you how great life can be with a boring-but-happy normal guy who knows how to treat a woman. I won't say that he will "take care of you" like the little girl inside of you needs taken care of right now, because I don't think that is his role. That was your mom and dad's role, and they failed you on that. So YOU have to do that part for yourself without relying on anyone else, especially a guy, to do that little-girl nurturing thing that you need right now. And that takes time. I'm so glad I took the years I did to get right and whole and confident and unashamed. Because this current relationship is way more balanced and equal and filled with sweetness and laughter and love.

Keeping an eye on you

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Old 01-19-2009, 05:16 AM
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I'm am so with you on this, peace. I am looking at two years since I filed for divorce and we seperated and dating is not really on my radar screen at all. Haven't gone there yet and don't have any plans to at this point. Every once in awhile I think it would be nice to be in relationship, but I want to be sure I know what healthy looks like before that happens. And if it doesn't happen, I'm ok with that, too.

I am feeling much better this morning; thanks for all the encouragement! Guess I just needed a pity party for a couple of days....6

Happy MLK day!!
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