The moon from my front porch @ 4.45am
Rosie; f 4.5 iso3200 about 4 second exposure
Even though I knew I hated being male and felt female from a young age I tried to be a guy for so long. For some reason I felt it would be better, for everyone, if I just kept my feelings to myself and suffered through life.
Before school age I didn't know my thoughts and feelings were different so I just accepted them. There wasn't any discussion of it really. Whenever I would say things like "I want to be like her" or "I want to be a girl" my parents would either think I was talking about the particular activity the girl was doing (Like, Tank Girl) or they would say "everyone wants that at some stage" thinking I just wanted to know what it feels like to be a girl. Like in those movies when a guy and girl swap bodies to learn a lesson (which further reinforced my belief that it was normal).
But then school started and I realized, very quickly, I had a very definite role to play as a boy. And I wasn't normal.
I was able to get through a lot of hard periods by Immersing myself completely in something else, like sports or art. The problem with that was I still spent a lot of time looking inside myself trying to make myself "better" at whatever I was doing. This isn't very helpful when your hiding from yourself. It made me hate myself more for not being able to be normal.
Because of this total immersion, coping mechanism, I lost sight of everything else in my life. I didn't care about school, work or whatever else was happening at the time. And the future wasn't of any concern to me. I actually believed I wouldn't live very long anyway, so I didn't care about much. Because of this, everything became harder for me. To everyone else I just seemed like a rebellious kid (which I was and probably still am).
The reason I started sports was because I was getting bullied, a lot, when I was young. People would call me queer and freak and beat me in the playground. They would even search the school for me to do so, because I would walk around the corridors away from the recess areas to stay away from people. Even the girls I was "friends" with would bully me sometimes. So I thought if I was doing guy things people would leave me alone.
By the time I got to high school I could jump higher, run faster, throw farther than anyone else in my school and would compete with the seniors. So instead of being the queer kid I became the geeky kid that was good at sports.
A street light @ 4.40am
Same settings as above picture
After school I still didn't care about much, but I realized I couldn't just sit around doing nothing all day. So I kicked around doing crappy jobs for a while. During this "limbo" period I went to a wedding, with my girlfriend of the time. Because I was bored, I started drawing people at the reception. Two of the people that were sitting at my table during this boredom were her cousins. One a Graphic designer/Illustrator the other an Architect. They were sitting there looking over my shoulder for a while. I didn't really care, I hardly knew them and by that stage I was used to people staring at me for being weird.
One of them eventually introduced himself and his cousin properly. They asked me what I did "I dig holes and carry shit for people" was my eloquent way of telling them I was a laborer. They both looked a little shocked and then asked me what I really wanted to do "I don't really care. As long as I can make enough to live I s'pose it's good enough". They told me what they did and asked "have you ever thought of doing something like that?" I laughed and told them I couldn't imagine that because I couldn't even draw. They both looked at each other and back to me and told me they were both embarrassed to admit it "but you're better than us...and we draw for a living"
So, I went to art school. And I LOVED it! (not so much the pretentiousness and arrogance)
Just as I was beginning to come to terms with "my feminine side" and was starting to "find myself" through my art, I became a parent. As a result, I threw everything to the side again and tried to "harden the fuck up and be a man" (a common line I heard while working construction). This is when EVERYTHING started to get too much. I spent another 5 years hiding, in a massive depression, from myself. I worked as a laborer and got into a trade. I absolutely hated every second of it. I became loud and manly just to fit in on the construction sites I worked on. I became everything I didn't want to be.
The worst part of this time in my life, was, instead of throwing myself into something productive, I threw myself into drugs and alcohol.
After a couple of years I sobered up and I went back to school and studied design. To get away from the work and life I hated and back to being creative. Things started to get okay again, although I was still severely depressed. My ex and I developed a more civil relationship and we started to talk.
One night, when I was visiting my daughter, my ex asked me to stay for a while. I didn't mind, I knew she was lonely and got scared of being by herself at night. We just talked, about nothing in particular and watched a little TV. After a while, she randomly told me she had thought I was a gay, and I liked men, which is why she was so hateful toward me when we were together. I told her I thought I was at one stage, but I just wasn't attracted to guys. That I hated that I was a guy and wanted to become the woman I was always supposed to be.
That was the first time I had ever told someone, without any confusion, that I was Transgendered. What she did I was not expecting and gave me the biggest shock of my life, up to that moment.
She held me, and told me it was okay. I cried for hours in her arms.
I was finally free