Essay on transitioning #8 “fighting my demons”

Essay on Transitioning: Fighting my Demons

i am learning… learning that being born with gender dysphoria simply means i must fight demons for my entire life…. i have been in transition for over two and half years now, yet my demons persists… i have had complete facial surgery along with my gender reassignment… a surgery i dreamed and prayed for all my life…. surgeries that would allow me to be who i always dreamed of being…. to simply live my life as the person i always wished i could… yet i fight my demons everyday…. is this the curse of gender dysphoria, or are the feelings i’m feeling today just the feelings that many lonely women feel…

there are always choices in life… one always has the opportunity to make decisions…. which course on my compass do i take, which path do i choose to focus on… the choice ultimately will rest with me… do i let the “regret” darken my life with sadness or do i cast this all aside and seek the light, the happiness of who i am today…. the choice is mine..

and as i take this journey, a journey i had to take, there have been many who have helped me fight my demons…. a wife with an unconditional love, my therapist, label them friends or my army of supporters or simply just angels sent down to hold my hand at a given moment…. they all have helped me to fight my demons…. they can help me find my way but ultimately the battle is mine to fight alone…. the choice is mine to make… i can lay down my sword and have my life be devoured by my demons or i can fight, the choice is ultimately mine alone…

since the dawn of my puberty i’ve heard my siren’s haunting songs…. i’ve spent an empty lifetime looking at girls wishing that was me… the pain was constant and those visions constantly engulfed my world, drowning me…. everywhere i looked i saw what i was denied… at times i even wondered was my sight a curse or a gift….. i simply wanted my world “Painted Black”….. i prayed everyday, yet there was no god to hear my prayers… every night before i closed my eyes i prayed for my dream, yet i woke every morning just to face another day as the person i really didn’t want to be…. and i did that everyday in my life… so how did i fight these demons during my life… what could possibly take the desperation and pain away even if it was only temporarily…..

and so i took to spinning fantasies…… fantasies just to make my world a little more livable… a world that i wanted but was denied…. these were the dreams of the life i so desperately wanted… and soon my fantasies became my demons… i could not exist throughout the day without the fantasies of the world that i was denied… i needed these moments just to make it to another day…… as a teenager, i resorted to crossdressing in hopes to just experience what was stolen from me, even if it was only for a moment….. these became moments that i loved but only to feel the pain of the world that i was denied…. crossdressing always began with hope yet always ended in shame and tears….. i could not even enjoy the intimacies of making love with my wife… no the essence of her beauty and sexuality was destroyed by my demons…. the ugly fact was i could not enjoy the beauty of her body… no it was the twisted fantasies that i painted in my mind that enable me to go through with this sacred act of love…. i had to be her in this act of love…..i always wanted to take the submissive role, to be wildly caressed… i wanted my breasts to be smothered with love with hands that fondled them….. i wanted the seductive scent of her perfume on my body
and in the end i simply lived every moment of my life wishing “i was born a girl instead of the mess of a man that i am”…. and i lived in this hell for 66 years

Janis Ian wrote a song she titled “seventeen”…. it was a biographical song about her teenage years… feeling unattractive and socially left out, she viewed herself as a “wallflower” throughout her early years …. she was not in the popular circle of girls… she never had the teenage romances or the dates and proms that all teenage girls so desire… she simply looked at herself as the ugly duckling….. in my many years of teaching high school i saw my share of these girls….. quiet and withdrawn, and i always wondered what their real thoughts and feeling were… i saw the contrast between the “boy’s favorite” and the girls left in the shadows…. did they too lived their life fighting demons….

and today how many women are just like these girls… dreaming of being loved…. dreaming of a beautiful relationship… dreaming of just being touch by a hand other than their own…… dreaming of a hand to hold and lips that would kiss them…. kiss them forever….
and now i ask, “are these their demons that they must fight everyday?”

and today i find myself no different than these women and the demons they fight… for even though i am now complete in every way possible there is a part of me that i know will never be…. i lay here in this bed alone, and since my gender reassignment surgery i must perform this task now for the rest of my life… i lay here alone, and i will always be alone in these moments, that’s the ugly truth of the matter…. regardless of the tears i shed now, i will never do anything that would cause her to shed another tear…. she gave up her world because of the love she has for me….

and so i continue to fight my demons… they never stop haunting me with their songs…. i lay in this empty bed of solitude wanting to know what does it feel like to be physically loved…. to have hands caress this body and to bury me with their passion of kisses… to have someone make love to you because they so desire your body….. someone who wants to be smothered by the scent of my perfume…. i cry to be touch by another hand yet i know i never will be…. i want someone to dance with me, to hold me tight in their arms…. this world in which i exist is “still filled” with vision of what i will never have.. do my eyes seek out these lovers….. i can’t even open a magazine without staring sadly at an add with someone holding or touching as i cry to be…… was all this part of the bargain i got at my crossroads… yes i became what i always dreamed and prayed to be only in the end to still have demons to fight…
i wonder, is this all just a “simple twist of fate”

this is my world… i can never describe the joy i feel everyday being the woman i have become today, it’s magic, it’s a beautiful prayer, a blessing i have to enjoy now for eternity, yet the choice is mine…..
do i feed my demons with tears and depression or do i simply smile and remember the prayer i held as a child… the choice is mine
tess julianna 5/18/18

Essay on transitioning #7 Discharge Day

taken from my journal, “songs of the sirens”
March 24
today is my “discharge day”, i walk away complete in so many ways that i wasn’t before… there will be so many tears i will shed today…
most people go to a hospital because of failing health, not i…. GreenBaum Surgical Center has always been a dream, a dream in my future, a dream at times i never knew it would be worth holding on to, believing in… for most of my life i never really knew this Surgical Center existed at all but it was the idea that there “would be” a place that “understood”, a staff that would “embrace my dream” too, maybe in their own way… and if i did know of this Surgical Center, would i have walked around this building in my bearded days, daring to touch it for fear that i would never want to walk away….. i know that would have been the case……
life is full of twists and turns, stumbles, falls but also summits and dreams, we always have a choice, a choice on what to focus on…. and my dream led to a journey…. and to take this journey i learned very early i would need many a hands to hold, and i would find also an “unconditional love” that i never knew could exist…. she loved and believed in her bearded sailor and refused to let “his” hand fall alone, she would hold that hand regardless……
and soon after i began this journey i did learn of this building and of a doctor, but once again this was a dream that i lied about, i stood in that room “coming out”, only to promise her, as i cried my tears of shame, that this would never be a part of my journey….. it’s so sad, but i spent a lifetime of telling lies, it never ended, lies began to get more complex and form a tangled web of deceit, lies covered the essence of the person i was….. and as this dream began to slowly unfold the lies just continued….. i promised with blackened lies, again and again, that surgery was not a part of this dream…. but i could never stop lying to myself, not anymore…
i spent a lifetime trying to understand my forbidden desires and finally i had to stand in front of them, stand and accept the harsh truth of who i really was… and for that truth to be fulfilled i had to stop lying to at least myself… no, with all my heart i wanted this Surgical Center to become a pivotal point in my journey…..
i will never forget the first time i walked into Dr. Meltzer’s office… i heard of his name from many, always it was “his” name that they spoke of with love and admiration….. well it took me almost a year just for a consultation that i believed would really never lead to anything but more broken dreams…. that office was my “land of Oz” and soon i would see the “great one”, and it was during that visit that Dr. Meltzer introduced me to my surgeon, Dr. Ley…… words cannot express my respect and appreciation that i have towards you Dr. Ley….. i’ve been through his office doors many times now, and yes this will be the second time i have been blessed with the opportunity to walk out of the Greenbaum Surgical Center reborn….
and today i will walk through those doors in a river of tears…. i will walk out as a person i could only dream of being…. i will open that door to leave, only wanting to never leave… leaving means saying goodbyes that i just don’t have it in my young heart to say… to the nursing staff of Greenbaum Surgical Center you ALL are my dreamcatchers and i love you to death…..
to Dr. Meltzer and especially my surgeon, Dr. Ley, i don’t even know how to begin to say thank you…. to your unbelievable staff, i want to hug each and everyone of you….. “you all” have always been there for me, been there with a smile, with love and i knew you held my dreams with love and respect… that i will always hold dear…
today i will walk out these hospital doors screaming to every girl like me, screaming never stop believing in your dreams, believe in fairy godmothers, in angels, in ballerinas and especially in God…. and know that in my heart i pray you can all find your own Greenbaum Surgical Center and that special doctor’s office, a place where dreams will become not just a dream but your life
tess julianna 3/24/18

“thoughts on my 50th high school reunion”

there was a simple royal blue envelope, in the pile of mail that i brought into the house,. it was announcing my 50th Class Reunion from Sterling Regional High School…. i left it on my desk while i went about opening the other mail and finishing the various little tasks that i had been doing…. finally out of curiosity i opened the announcement that stated the reunion would be held this coming October…. no, why in the world would i ever want to attend…. i noticed no names that rang a bell but did see a Facebook site i could go to in order to register and get further information about my classmates from a time that i would just like to forget… i then tossed the paper aside, as i had other things i would rather be doing…

curiosity kills the cat they say and later that evening i found myself going to the Facebook site where i could see the old classmates that had registered…. i slowly scanned the names and only one or two seemed to ring a bell but what did interest me was what a lot of these people ended up doing and where they now lived… before i knew it i was out in the garage looking for my old high school yearbook, and yes i found it…
as i opened it and began to slowly turn the pages all that pain and dysphoria i lived through during my teenage years seemed to come rushing back… i looked at photos of girls that i had stared at for endless hours just wishing that i was them and not the person i was…. i remember staring at their hairdo or their makeup and the smiles they wore, why was that not my reflection, my life instead of the hell that i had to live in…. i looked up the photo of my english teacher from my sophomore year… i remember how i would look at her and just dream about a life that wasn’t mine to have….. there really were very few signature in my yearbook as i remember how hard it was for me to ask someone to sign my yearbook and then what would i write in their book, “do you know how many hours i stared at you wishing i was simply you”….. i saw the photo of Laurie Tate, a cheerleader i actually dated, well i wouldn’t say dated as i took her out twice and feared every minute of that evening not knowing how to make conversation or just thinking about what i would have to do when i dropped her off later that night… i looked at the photos of some of the boys i would associate with while at school…. i remember our lunch table and how i just couldn’t fit into their conversation about girls…. i remember clearly i always walked to school and from school alone… i remember once when i left the crowded scene of other students i would carry my books in a feminine way, just wishing to God things would change…
i spent four years at Sterling HS living in a prison created by my gender dysphoria, 4 years of just nothing but tears, living in the shadow of that rusty razor…. i was a below than average student in high school, hell who could focus or get excited about school work when you were living in a hell…. i never joined any clubs because i always feared what the other student would think… i had always lived my whole life in a fear of what others would think of me, would my dirty thoughts be known… and i remember the Saturday morning football games where all i did was stare at the cheerleaders…. always asking why, never getting an answer….
i then saw a website i could go to inorder to update my data… there was my high school graduation photo… i wore a fake smile and there was just something about my eyes…. yes it was marking a time i would graduate from high school and move on into the real world, to college and then make my mark in this world… i left my high school years and my years of living behind locked doors in fear of my secret moments, in fear that what i was doing would be known….. it seemed i would spend most of my life behind locked doors in fear…..
i left my high school years only to fail at college and dropped out after only two years….. socially i was nothing but a misfit for i lived my life in dreams that always were broken….

and if i did go to that website and update my biography it would look impressive… i spent eight years as an Air Traffic Controller, graduated from ASU with a degree in Geology and went on to a teaching career of over 20 years during which i pursued two more graduate degrees in science…. i retired early and was now employed by Princess Cruises as a Naturalist (Geologist/Marine Biologist) which enabled be to cruise throughout the world… yes i have been to 6 of the 7 continents and sailed all the major oceans and seas that blanket this planet…. i sailed every degree of longitude and most of the degrees of latitude….. would i even put that my wife and i just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary…….but then how would i update my photo… would you see the beautiful smile i now wear and the name that all know me by today, tess julianna…..
yes i am transgender and lived in a dysphoria of 66 years…. my teenage and high schools years were wasted in a nightmare… why in the world would i ever want to return to my high school reunion… what was there to treasure or smile about
tess julianna 2/21/18

Spotlight on Cinderella

“thoughts on “Studio Spotlight Cinderella”

i wanted to touch but i knew not to, i wanted so deeply to belong, but i knew i never could… my eyes raced around the room trying to grasp it all, yet i knew in my heart i never would be able to…. i cried deep within my heart and my chest seemed heavy because of the sorrow, or was it the joy as my tears continuously stained my face…. i watched so closely those that belong, they had that feeling of ownership… this was no big deal for them for this is where they belonged, this was their world…. i watched as the door, a door i would never be able to have the ownership of walking through open and let those who belong walk into an entirely different world than mine, it was the world of a dancer, and these dancer were so special to my heart, as these dancers danced the ballet…. i thought of all my friends from last summer, i thought of you Zachary, for i listened with my heart as you told me about this world…

i finally stood in the lobby of Ballet Arizona, this was the School of Ballet Arizona… i belonged to many different educational experiences in my lifetime and walked through countless door to learn… i had that feeling of ownership that those dancers who casually walked through their door had, but this was one door that was never opened to me, and today i cry because now i wanted that lifetime… no they didn’t carry the books that i carried when i walked through my doors, no they had their bag of sweats, their tights and leg warmers but mainly they carried their badge of distinction, they carried their ballet shoes…. my shoes were always heavy and bulky for they took me into a world of geology, that was the world that i had ownership of… their shoes were soft and seemed so delicate to me… and i wonder what they felt like on their feet, but i knew they were soaked in sweat, the sweat of a dancer’s endless practices…
i quietly watch the dancers, the little girls in their black tights with their long hair tied in a dancer’s bun on their head… they chatted as they walked through that door with smiles on their faces…. i thought of how many countless hours they had already practiced… their conversations were probably filled with images of the world of dance and i knew in my heart they all carried the dream of being that ballerina on a stage, a stage with the spotlight on them…
and then i saw the images of him, he was young and had an innocence about him… this too was his world of dreams… already his body was lean yet his reflection was gentle like a dancer’s should be…. he knew in his heart that this was the playing field that he belonged on, and i’m sure he never listened to the harsh words that many other boys playing on their field of dreams would throw at him… i never would of had his confidence or his belief in his dream, no my world would of been shattered by those harsh words….
and that endless moment finally passed… my thoughts were broken as the reality of the moment became clear… i walked away from “their door” and saw myself become part of the crowd that waited for a performance, a performance that i knew would unleash another flood of emotions…
i didn’t sit in the seat i sat in all summer long, no this was a different theater, a different world, but i sat as close to it as i could…. this theater was different and i could sensei it in the emotions that filled my body…. i could see it on the dance floor, the curtains… this was sacred ground to me but i knew i had to be close enough to see their faces, that expression of joy that i always saw in my dancers from last summer…. and as the music finally filled the room i saw the dancers enter… i wanted to see Paul there dancing with Stephanie but i couldn’t find them amongst these dancers so i cried… i did a lot of crying in that hour… i was so happy to be alive, to be here and to have the love in my heart for this world that i was witness to….
and what i loved most about this evening were the dancers were not in their elegant costumes but just in their practice tights…. the colors didn’t blend but each wore the reflection of that individual dancer… were these their favorite tights, the ones they felt most comfortable in, the blend of colors that were their favorite…. these were the badges of their countless hours of practice….
i wanted these minutes to go on forever, i didn’t want the music to ever stop… i didn’t know where to focus so i let my eyes dance aimlessly, yet i tried to see every dancer’s face in those minutes…. my eyes were always racing back to their feet, standing so effortlessly on their toes…. the movement of their legs, their muscles tensed yet the motion so soft and gentle… and my tears of joy kept silently flowing….
and when Cinderella and her prince finally came into view and began their ballet i saw immediately what all those others dancers strived so hard to achieve… these two dancers were at a level that seemed far above the rest… i saw it in their faces, the poetry of their motion and in their feet…. but then it was over, the music had stopped only to fill that room with the applause of love and appreciation…
as the applause died down the Head Dance-Master took the floor and called out a few of his dancers… they wore the reflection of being exhausted, of giving their all in these moments… they stood there with a respect for their dance…. this was their playing field but it was a sacred field and they showed that respect…. before us they stood there quietly trying to stretch out their tired muscles, they stood there with modesty not parading around making useless noise of “their” performance…… they stood there with dignity yet each one took a moment to talk and let us into their sacred world of dance…
i left quietly, just as i entered but my heart was filled with an incredible joy

thoughts on my immortality #22

“reflections: thoughts on my immortality #22”

reflections…
the past that silently left,
left when we were not aware
that today will never be our yesterday’s…
you want to hold on tight
but sadly you realize
leaves will always change their colors
and fall
while our winter’s of tomorrow await…

be it a song,
for you remember those feelings well,
sometimes even better than a faded photo
of a frozen moment…
lost amongst all the other fragments of time
that you tried to steal
but you can’t,
you can’t because those moment were lost
and it’s hard to hold on,
to cling to something that isn’t there anymore….

and what of dreams
don’t they too tarnish
tarnish in the winter of life….
so are my dreams really just a compass
silently guiding me
from my past to points unknown…
but then with a compass you must have faith,
a star you can see
believe in and trust…
so are my dreams then reflections
reflections of pain and disappointment,
tarnished wishes or dreams
forgotten by my fairy princess,
or are they the last remnant of hope
fading silently in the shadows of my age…
tessjulianna 1/22/18

 

Studio Spotlight Cinderella

Feb 3 thoughts on “Studio Spotlight Cinderella”

i wanted to touch but i knew not to, i wanted so deeply to belong, but i knew i never could… my eyes raced around the room trying to grasp it all, yet i knew in my heart i never would be able to…. i cried deep within my heart and my chest seemed heavy because of the sorrow, or was it the joy as my tears continuously stained my face…. i watched so closely those that belong, they had that feeling of ownership… this was no big deal for them for this is where they belonged, this was their world…. i watched as the door, a door i would never be able to have the ownership of walking through open and let those who belong walk into an entirely different world than mine, it was the world of a dancer, and these dancer were so special to my heart, as these dancers danced the ballet…. i thought of all my friends from last summer, i thought of you Zachary, for i listened with my heart as you told me about this world…

i finally stood in the lobby of Ballet Arizona, this was the School of Ballet Arizona… i belonged to many different educational experiences in my lifetime and walked through countless door to learn… i had that feeling of ownership that those dancers who casually walked through their door had, but this was one door that was never opened to me, and today i cry because now i wanted that lifetime… no they didn’t carry the books that i carried when i walked through my doors, no they had their bag of sweats, their tights and leg warmers but mainly they carried their badge of distinction, they carried their ballet shoes…. my shoes were always heavy and bulky for they took me into a world of geology, that was the world that i had ownership of… their shoes were soft and seemed so delicate to me… and i wonder what they felt like on their feet, but i knew they were soaked in sweat, the sweat of a dancer’s endless practices…
i quietly watch the dancers, the little girls in their black tights with their long hair tied in a dancer’s bun on their head… they chatted as they walked through that door with smiles on their faces…. i thought of how many countless hours they had already practiced… their conversations were probably filled with images of the world of dance and i knew in my heart they all carried the dream of being that ballerina on a stage, a stage with the spotlight on them…
and then i saw the images of him, he was young and had an innocence about him… this too was his world of dreams… already his body was lean yet his reflection was gentle like a dancer’s should be…. he knew in his heart that this was the playing field that he belonged on, and i’m sure he never listened to the harsh words that many other boys playing on their field of dreams would throw at him… i never would of had his confidence or his belief in his dream, no my world would of been shattered by those harsh words….
and that endless moment finally passed… my thoughts were broken as the reality of the moment became clear… i walked away from “their door” and saw myself become part of the crowd that waited for a performance, a performance that i knew would unleash another flood of emotions…
i didn’t sit in the seat i sat in all summer long, no this was a different theater, a different world, but i sat as close to it as i could…. this theater was different and i could sensei it in the emotions that filled my body…. i could see it on the dance floor, the curtains… this was sacred ground to me but i knew i had to be close enough to see their faces, that expression of joy that i always saw in my dancers from last summer…. and as the music finally filled the room i saw the dancers enter… i wanted to see Paul there dancing with Stephanie but i couldn’t find them amongst these dancers so i cried… i did a lot of crying in that hour… i was so happy to be alive, to be here and to have the love in my heart for this world that i was witness to….
and what i loved most about this evening were the dancers were not in their elegant costumes but just in their practice tights…. the colors didn’t blend but each wore the reflection of that individual dancer… were these their favorite tights, the ones they felt most comfortable in, the blend of colors that were their favorite…. these were the badges of their countless hours of practice….
i wanted these minutes to go on forever, i didn’t want the music to ever stop… i didn’t know where to focus so i let my eyes dance aimlessly, yet i tried to see every dancer’s face in those minutes…. my eyes were always racing back to their feet, standing so effortlessly on their toes…. the movement of their legs, their muscles tensed yet the motion so soft and gentle… and my tears of joy kept silently flowing….
and when Cinderella and her prince finally came into view and began their ballet i saw immediately what all those others dancers strived so hard to achieve… these two dancers were at a level that seemed far above the rest… i saw it in their faces, the poetry of their motion and in their feet…. but then it was over, the music had stopped only to fill that room with the applause of love and appreciation…
as the applause died down the Head Dance-Master took the floor and called out a few of his dancers… they wore the reflection of being exhausted, of giving their all in these moments… they stood there with a respect for their dance…. this was their playing field but it was a sacred field and they showed that respect…. before us they stood there quietly trying to stretch out their tired muscles, they stood there with modesty not parading around making useless noise of “their” performance…… they stood there with dignity yet each one took a moment to talk and let us into their sacred world of dance…
i left quietly, just as i entered but my heart was filled with an incredible joyIMG_1325 - 2018-02-02 at 18-20-43

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