from a series of essays called transition, #3: “standing at the crossroads”

i would say when i was younger these were my feelings but i would be lying to you, for these thoughts occurred throughout my life…
we hear the tale, did robert johnson sell his soul to the devils at the crossroads to learn to play the blues, his music can be so haunting and if so, what would it take you to sell your soul… by selling your soul you have consciously given up any hope that what you seek in life can or will be reached… you are willing to pay the price for eternal damnation just to experience your upmost desire even if it’s only for a moment… remember prayers have been prayed for a lifetime and they were just empty words heard by no god or being… you are desperate, reaching out to whatever can heal your soul… in my case i just want to be happy…
my sight, a gift or a curse, i often wondered… during most of my life it was simply a double edge razor, her image was everywhere, everywhere except in the reflection i saw in the mirror….. during my late teens and adult years two songs played continuously in my mind, the Rolling Stones, “Paint it Black” and Cohen’s “Dress Rehearsal Rag”… my world was just that, i hated what i saw and i wanted to paint it black to take my pain away…. everywhere i looked i saw what i wasn’t and it hurt…. my dreams at night were always broken only to wake and find yet my prayers were not heard… so why not sell my soul, could it be worst than the pain i felt every day…. i would stand naked in the shower grabbing what i wanted to be rid of… a razor would heal my soul so easily….. a thousand times i played my dress rehearsal rag in my mind…. it would be so simple but i was a coward so i just cried….
and today my identification all reads “female” but is that the case….. my real identification are the “tells” i carry everyday because my hormones poisoned my image for 66 long years, i have the image of a male… my shoulders too broad for a girl, my hands, facial features and the list could go on and on…. we transition in so many ways to heal, my body language can be modified and i can imitate her reflection but that can only go so far…. i dress many times to hid the “tells” that scream out who i am…. but who am i… even that i struggled with, all as part of my transition….
and now, today i hold my bag of silver, what price i’m willing to pay… silver i had not, but did i sell my soul for this silver….. i am transgender, i am now and i will always be…. you are female and i am transgender, it’s that simple…. so what am i willing to do to be as you…. yes we share the same gender but that can not be seen, abstract in a way, all in the mind…. but stand me naked before the world, cut me open to see my secrets and i will never be you… XY is not XX, the code of life can not be fooled…
in less than two weeks i will lay on an operating table for nine long hours under the care of a surgeon just to change some of my facial features… can the knife be a miracle… no, and that’s not what i’m seeking, i’m too wise for that… but the knife can soften the “him” to bring out more of what i feel in my heart, but i wonder, am i just selling my soul but in another way…..
tess julianna 11/3/17

from a series of essays called “transitioning…. #2

yesterday cleaning the garage i found 2 bins of my old cloths that never got sent to goodwill… it was like Christmas seeing so much of my old cloths… will i ever wear them again, i really think not but just seeing them and touching them did feel so good….. and yes, i’ll be honest, i did try a few on….. yes jules is still very much a part of the woman i am today… yes i transitioned to a woman but there’s a part of “his” entity that will always be with me… and for that i am happy…
it’s funny i am now tess, that’s what all my identification states, but really what is a name and does the physical appearance or gender expression really make the person…. hell all my life it seemed i wore costumes, in part to express who i was or what i wanted to be…. yes my biological or genetic sex is male but my gender is female and i think it’s a combination of these two forces which makes the so called person i am… today i feel such a beautiful female presence within me and having my physical appearance being female and being able to live my life as female is beautiful, it’s very peaceful… yes finally i am living my life as the gender i was assigned at birth…. all my body language as a female seems so natural to me now….
in my past i was never comfortable with my physical presence with being a male, as the assorted costumes of appearances i wore for all those years will testify to that fact… i was searching for that comfort zone but little did i realize that my comfort zone was my “lost angel”…
being of “two spirits” was a term used by many cultures for my situation… yes i can see that… i have been blessed to love from a man’s perspective and now from a female’s, but was that really a man’s perspective…. there was always that female presence in so much that defined my character…. i was gentle and showed my emotions more than a typical male…. and it’s funny but when i was having a consultation for facial surgery the surgeon was honest and said you really don’t have very masculine facial features yet they are not very feminine either…..

during the hard days of my transition i felt i had to cast jules out of my life completely…. i removed every photo of him and anything that really spoke of his masculine past… i hated being referred to by his name and mis-gendering me was a capital offense… excerpt from “i’m tired of crying”
my ears are bleeding
bleeding with pain
every time i hear “his” name….
please for the sake of my sanity
let me hear “her” name
let me hear “her” name….
i’m so sorry
yea i understand it’s hard
but “she” cannot be invisible
for “she” has a spirit
and that spirit has a name…
and like a butterfly that just left the cocoon
standing on a branch
its wings drying
she is unfolding her wings
and now she is waiting to fly….
let “her” fly
let “me” fly

i almost lost my relationship with my son because he felt comfortable still calling me Dad… my transition is hard on him…. today i told him he can call me Dad for as long as he wants for i am proud to be his Dad….
and today our house is filled once again with photos of him and yes there are probably just as many of this beautiful woman i am today…. and now when my wife makes a simple mistake and calls me jules, as she did for 44 beautiful years, she will always apologize, but now i tell her never ever apologize using his name, he is still within me and i love him…..

and finally there are moments in my days now that i’ll sit, maybe in thought or doing some simple task, and in those moments i am neither “she” or “him” but just me, and i love these minutes too

tess julianna 10/17/17

on “coming out”

this past week many in my community celebrated a special day in our journey through life…… this was a day set aside to remember and celebrate the day we freed ourselves and declared who we really are….
i sat in the LGBT club of the high school i retired from and listened to these student remember and share about that day in their life…. i sat with tears in my eyes listening to each and every one of them share that day, i was filled with happiness that they had the courage to do what i never could…. they are young with their whole life in front of them, a life that they hope to live as who they want to be, not who society says they should be…. i was so proud of each and every one of them and to me they are all heroes in my book…..
i’ve learn, through my journey, that everybody’s journey is different, there is no one set pattern for a journey… there will be many similarities in our journeys, but that will be about it….
some people will carefully plan their “coming out”, who will be the first one to hear their cry and even pick a certain day or date for this declaration… other’s, like myself, their life just became no longer do-able as it was, my choices were limited but no longer could i continue as i was, it was that simple, i could not go on for even another second…..

excerpt from: “thousand voices in my head”
i stand here
broken and crippled,
raped by pain
emotionally stripped
with voices in my head
10,000 strong and more
pounding in my brain
these voices in my head
and the choice that i made

my life had ceased
paralyzed
strip of reasoning
responding only to pain
with voices in my head
10,000 strong and more
pounding in my brain
these voices in my head
and the choice that i made

tess julianna 2/2/2017

regardless how one approaches this day we all face the same uncertainties… we know the relationships in our life may drastically change, it’s a risk we must take, nothing is certain… it’s very possible that many if not all of our loved ones will turn their backs on us, walk out of our life forever, blaming us for this division…. but it’s a risk you have to take…. you take this risk so your life is do-able once again… you take this risk hoping you can look in the mirror and smile at your reflection… you take this risk hoping your life will not fall to pieces… can you imagine how this must feel when your own mother turns her back on you, a mother that wants nothing more for she rather you be dead than “come out” and ruin and embarrass her world… and “coming out” isn’t just a one time event but for everyone we had relationship with and want to continue one with this day, this moment must take place, again and again…. “coming out” doesn’t just involve family and friends but also you risk losing your livelihood…..

the day one “comes out” is the day they stand naked before the world…. they hold a prayer of faith that this will not be a mistake, that their fragile world will not shatter and implode… the words they will cry out can’t be taken back, i’m sorry just isn’t part of the vocabulary… “coming out” is the beginning of an existence where “i understand” can be heard by you over and over, but you know deep in your heart nobody understands what this is like, hell i didn’t understand all of this so how is it possible that they will…

i came out on November 6, 2015… i stood in front of my wife who i had been married to for 44 years… i was emotionally broken with tears raining down, my body was shaking and i was crying, but what do you tell the person who means the world to you….
i stand here
broken and crippled,
raped by pain
emotionally stripped
with voices in my head
10,000 strong and more
pounding in my brain
these voices in my head
and the choice that i made

my life had ceased
paralyzed
strip of reasoning
responding only to pain
with voices in my head
10,000 strong and more
pounding in my brain
these voices in my head
and the choice that i made

 

today my world is still intact…. i was one of the lucky ones as i didn’t lose one friend, one sibling or my parents in fact today i am loved by more people today than ever before… and of my wife… well this year we will celebrate our 46th anniversary……

from my journal: Songs of the SirensOct 11
today i celebrate “National Coming Out Day”
Today is” National Coming Out Day”… i want to celebrate what i finally was able to do after 66 years, simply declaring what and who i really was… so i celebrate today for the life that “he” lived, “he” carried that “Lost Angel” for all those years… and today i want to shout out to the world that i love “him” still for carrying that burden… and to my beautiful wife how do i ever thank you for your love…. and to my beautiful “Lost Angel”, i’m glad you’re free finally to fly and be, yes life is beautiful!……

so on this past National Day of Coming Out i celebrated, but only after i offered up my prayers of thanks

tess julianna 10/15/17

A Moment by a Mountain

7/91       Mt. Rainier

for almost a week i sought your image…. and with each passing hour i had to accept that even though i knew your presence was near…. your reflection would be denied until the moment was right…. but like a true sailor i kept my sight marked on your horizon…. i weathered the hours and my faith held true… and then late in the day, when my thoughts were few, and my shoulders ached from my pack and my feet were tired, i happened to catch your reflection with an unintended glance…. and there upon a distant horizon, within the throne of the clouds and faded against the tired blue afternoon sky you waited… i can remember still like it was yesterday…. i stopped…. a smile became my reflection as a silent inner joy was felt…. in the passing of empty minutes i would of accepted my chosen lot if you had insisted…. i learned to have patience with nature….. but i was granted just a few passing moments to last but maybe a year or more-

years later….. i heard you whispering in my dreams and i came again…. it was in the early morning hours with the clouds hanging low and a fine rain gently falling…. there were no stars to guide me as i traveled my determined course…. but my faith held strong…… and as i approached closer i could feel your presence…. a strange chill came over my tired body…… i stopped knowing not why but knowing i had to…. and then the skies silently began to open slowly and their colors gave hope to our rendezvous….. my footsteps unintentionally hurried as i traveled through this forest….. i began to feel the silent peace that blanketed your feet….. i would thrust my head upward and follow the noble lines of the cedars that stood guardian along this path….. and with each clearing in the forest my eyes searched frantically for your reflection….. and as the miles drifted by so did the clouds against the promising blue sky….. and once again when my thoughts were drifting with the solitude of the passing forest i happened but to steal upon your image…… even though the moment passed too quickly, my spirit cried aloud in joy…. and now the miles seemed to pass by even more slowly, until against a pure blue canvas, i saw your full reflection….. it was painted with the most majestic colors and all i could do was but to stop in silence…. a silent reverence overcame the minutes that passed by…. motionless i stood as if my movements would cause this picture to fade away….. and now as the day slowly passed i was blessed with your image time and time again against the blue late afternoon sky….. at times the clouds would hang low and hide your summit from my view…… yet with the eyes of my father i would witness the subtle changes as the sun slowly followed it’s course against the tired afternoon sky….. at times my stares were so intense as i would try to focus on every little detail of your face…. then at times it was your full reflection that i would paint…. but it was upon your lower slopes late in the afternoon that my restless spirit had to silently witness the reflection of other voyagers as they struggled silently to grace upon your lonely summit…… and how i would study with envy the reflection of those…. yes i knew they would be tired by the relentless heat of the sun….. i remember when i too was dressed with a heavy pack, coils of rope, an ice ax now tied securely to my pack along with my black and worn crampons….. mountain paint would protect their sunburnt face…… and that certain look…. yes i too can remember when i graced a smile that told of my few moments upon a summit…. my pain was alive with jealousy as i watched their silent parade….. promises raced through my heart as i would time and time again rest my eyes towards your summit…… my restless footsteps will have to wait through many a storms for it’s hopeful time….. later in the day as it was quietly ending i stood…… blending in with those that dream not as i, we stood with reverence….. we had to stand and silently witness as the night stole your image…… i call you my “white goddess” and your reflection will grace silently my winter dreams until the winter snows melt and the days grow longer…… and then i promise, i too will wear the coils of rope and begin the slow dance that shall take me, if i may be blessed, upon your summit

teach me to dance

i love to “people watch” but i question what answers do i seek in this quest…. but in the end i guess i just want to learn to dance or in other words i just want to be like you…. is it wrong to want this so much after i was granted the blessing i now have… yes i am transgender and i am so proud of the woman i am becoming… i can now walk with a beautiful smile, my head held high but i still want so desperately to dance just like you, the tilt of your head, expressive eyes… and i hear my heart speak, patience my dear you are still so young, give it time and yes you too will dance

“teach me to dance”

a pallet of images are painted before me
while my eyes silently search
as they have for so many lifetimes
and i ask myself
do i really know what i seek….
i am,
yet i still struggle
struggle silent battles
battles to find my reflection
my reflection in their faces
their hands
my eyes dart from one to the other
an endless parade has passed
in these quiet moments
while i search
while i search

and of their reflections
they speak a language
my body knows not
yet i try in my silent moments
but i know not their dance
whether “he” or “she”
i was neither…
and so i ask
is their dance locked in my heart
it was safe there
protected
but can i find the key
the key to unlock this dance
yet in a way i am still afraid
i hesitate
for your dance seems so foreign
and i stumble
so with an embarrassed heart
i gently ask but secretly plea
hold my hand
hold my hand and teach me to dance
and teach me to dance
and teach me to dance

tess julianna 8/25/17

a series of essays called “transitioning” Essay #1

 

does it matter today, it shouldn’t, but at times i feel it does…. because for a lifetime i could walk anywhere, supposedly i was just like you… ordinary, i didn’t stand out in a crowd, but then, my inner world, my secret thoughts, that’s where i was different….. all i felt was confusion, frustration and tears… i even didn’t know if what i felt was felt by you, but i would never reveal what i felt… i feared your judgement, what if i WAS different…. so i kept my thoughts, my questions buried, but as i got older these thoughts dominated my life…. a thousand voices in my head, over and over the song was played and like the Sirens i could never deafen their cries… they haunted my dreams and eventually they paralyzed my being, for they took control of my soul…. and for my broken lifetime, every time, and i literally mean every time, i looked at a female, and that was since i was 4 years old, 62 long years, all i felt was pain and regret…. why was i not “born a girl”….. and every time i looked in a mirror or stood naked i always cried, why was i not “born a girl”, for i hated the reflection that i painted…… but life was still bearable for “him” and if you looked at his life and what he accomplished you would say, “you were so blessed”, but then you never saw the tears i was drowning in or the pain that was burying me, we learn very early how to deceive you and hide our pain…
yes, this condition is known simply as “gender dysphoria”, a condition i did not ask for but i was born with… yes i am transgender, and today i feel no shame, i can look into a mirror and see a smile i never saw before….

so why do i write this for you….. for me it’s been an important form of therapy, simply writing my feelings…. my journal, now going on two years, “songs of the sirens”, has been a good friend that has helped me so much, maybe one day i will share that … i would share that mainly so people can know what it means to “transition”… it’s a word filled with a lot of tears and pain, and hopefully somewhere there is the happiness we so want, but maybe even more important is “acceptance”…. i have very little control over that, that lies within your heart but it will make my smile shine even brighter….
to be continued…..
tess julianna 8/14/17

Ode to a God

Aug 4, 2014
all eyes are drawn to Margerie Glacier and it’s no wonder with its glacier face painted in shades of white and blue resting in the icy waters of Glacier Bay…. towers of ice stand in silent testimony to your glacial dance awaiting their eventual fate…… all cameras are aimed and patiently wait….. a stillness spreads…….. the anticipation….. the crack of “white thunder” and in the seconds that follow all will frantically search for your calving……
but not i, for i stood alone in thought looking at the Grand Pacific Glacier

From: thoughts of an Alaskan summer
Ode to a Forgotten God
it was in another lifetime….. all eyes were drawn to you…. you were not old and worn but young and strong…. today you are tired and you are covered with the scars of age and slowly, ever so slowly you are drifting from our sight…. i stand here alone in your company as all eyes are not on you… and i even wonder whether they know you lie here at all… and i think of a time in your youth when all we now admire was covered and hidden because of your restless spirit…. no one knew of the beauty that you created under your icy skin…..

at first, all they could do was to sailed quietly by….. this wilderness did not yet exist for you stood guardian over the entrance to this bay… a barrier not even the gods could penetrate…. yet it was only several generation ago from that day that they sailed by…. stories were told from many a voices that are now gone and silent…… stories that were passed to those that were so much younger and not as wise….. the stories told of your restless spirit and how you came alive …. you danced with a winter wind onward and nothing, nothing could stop you…. stories have been passed down of the day they had to flee from the flooding of your tide for you now silently controlled their lives… yes, you were young and strong…
and many a summers passed before a wise one came and fell in love with your spirit… he touched your soul during many travels and spoke often of your beauty….. your name today was given by him….. and i wonder what he thought of you that day that your name was first heard from his lips…. and in a way it was because of him that we too took this journey…. but we do not kneel at your alter in praise as he did
time has etched its mark on your tired spirit my friend… but even though you are leaving us and your blue spirit faded and covered with time… i will stand alone today and sing your praises…. old friends should never be left alone….. their names should still be echoed in this wilderness…… today i choose to walk away from the crowds that look elsewhere… and i remember how i stood in silence and uttered a silent prayer for you my friend… my friend you will not be forgottenGrand Pacific Glacier IMG1589 jpg