Thursday, September 22, 2011

More On My Parents

If Sunday was one of the harder days on this journey, Monday was one of silence.  After years, decades actually, of therapy one thing M and I have learned is to talk about the elephant standing in the room.  He isn't going away so you might as well learn to ride him.

Rick told my parents the big news Sunday night after dinner and now it’s Monday morning and I’m looking in the mirror.  Dana looks back and smiles at me.  She’s happy to be back.

So there I stand in the guest bathroom looking at Dana thinking I’m going to have to go out there and make my entrance as Dana.  I’ve struggled with this my entire life.  I’ve hidden Dana from my parents for 50 years.  I spent the first 20 years ashamed of her.  I’ve lived in fear of them finding my secret up until last night.  And now I have to go out and audition for the part of Dana to my parents.

So much of this path is mental.  The E changes you.  Yes, it changes your body, but it transforms your mind.  As I look in the mirror and see Dana, I see her as a woman sees her.  My view of the world has changed from one of greys to one of colors.  I’m a woman because I see the world as a woman does, not because I wear her clothes.  But for my parents it will all be visual.  I’ll be a woman because I look like one.

This first impression is going to tell them more in 30 seconds then the entire night the night before.  If it goes well, it will tell them that this transformation is going to work.  It will tell them that we can go out in public and I won’t embarrass them.  It will tell them this is me, and I’m comfortable as Dana.  That Rick is gone, and I’m happy as Dana.  That I am happy, a happiness I never thought possible.

I turn the corner and my Mom say’s ‘Good morning M’.  I smile at her and she sees Dana for the first time.  There’s a tiny bit of shock in her eyes and she hugs me.

My Dad says ‘Good morning, can you get me some coffee’.  And there it is.  The first thirty seconds are done, 90% of their opinions are formed and the real process of telling them starts.

We spend the rest of the day walking around the elephant.

This transformation has been hard on M.  She’s watched Rick die, and be replaced by Dana.  Every day she has had to process this transformation and learn to let go of Rick.  Learn how to love Dana.  She has worked hard every day for the last year and half on this journey.  This is not something you do in one day.

So our plan all along was to tell them on a weekend, fly home to work the week and fly back the next weekend to continue the process.  This would give them time to process the news and let the mind see clearly.  We’d follow this up a month later by staying the week.  But this transformation is not one you do in a week here and a weekend there.  My parents live a continent away and I can’t afford to fly out to see them every weekend for the year and a half it’s going to take.  So we leave.

We leave with no big blow up, no tears, no hard questions and no plan.  The elephant is standing in our room and we’re ignoring him.  At this point my Dad seems OK with it, life just goes on.  My mom seems distant and worried.   I hug my Dad, and for the first time in years he hugs me.  We say our goodbyes and I work a week from home 3000 miles away.

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