Practicing Vulnerability

There’s something precious to be said about being able to be vulnerable with someone. And not vulnerable in a way that you tell someone things that you’ve been through to just get to know someone on a scratching-the-surface level, but the kind of vulnerability that makes you feel like you’ve gone to the hospital and they’ve used spreaders on your rib cage so that they can expose your heart on a level unattainable in any other way.

That kind of vulnerability is terrifying. If you don’t know personally, well, good. But, also, take it from someone who’s never been able to be rib-spreader level vulnerable in his entire life until recently. Sure, I’ve shared intimate details about things with people before, but never with a partner. It was deep enough to be meaningful, but not in a way that would leave me feeling so naked and exposed to someone who held at least part of my heart.

I’ve had trust issues my entire life. Sure, I have people in my life that I trust with things deeper than most know. But my past relationships just confirmed that it’s safer to not trust for pretty much the entirety of my dating life. Compound that with trust issues from things that happened when I was growing up and it’s a recipe for someone who gets close enough to be close, but not close enough to really get hurt. I didn’t have a bad childhood. Not at all. My parents are great people and always made sure I had everything I needed and most things I wanted. But, like everyone else, there are things from childhood that I carried into adulthood and through relationships. So without getting too deep into that, that’s what I mean when I say trust issues from growing up. Nothing terrible, just things.

I never wanted to be vulnerable, either. The thought of it is nice, of course, because it seems like Hollywood makes it so that being vulnerable is what gets you closer to having the relationship of your dreams. Kind of a pathway to happily ever after, of sorts. What they don’t show you is how many tears you shed when you realize you’ve been vulnerable. They don’t show the anxiety and the slight panic at waiting for that to be turned around on you. They don’t show you that you have to practice vulnerability over and over again until you figure out that it can be the most beautiful and freeing experience of your life.

Let me take it back.

Almost eight years ago, I found myself in the hospital literally fighting for my life. Everything that I had become accustomed to in my life at that point had all come crashing in on me all at once. My life had pretty much ended, my 4.5 year relationship had definitely ended and I learned about some health issues I had. When I was at my weakest, the person who should have been there for me wasn’t. Not in the least little bit. That just solidified my lack of wanting to ever be vulnerable like that again. I’d been let down so hard by someone I had so much hope for. So I slammed that gate to my soul shut. Nope. Not gonna do that again.

I started really working on my health and my life getting it back to where I deserved to be after being dragged down. I continued to make some pretty questionable decisions in regards to who I got into relationships with because apparently I learn hard lessons. The truth of it is actually that I always want to help people who need help to move up in life. People who haven’t ever really been loved unconditionally and treated the “right” way in a relationship. Because, granted, I have my flaws, but when I love, I love hard, and I think that everyone should experience that love and feel what it’s like to have someone care for them in that way.

Joke’s on me, right? I mean…it was. A few times.

After my relationship ended three years ago, I buckled down on working on myself. I came out to more people and started pushing forward in continuing to live my authentic life as my authentic self. For the most part, that all went really well and I gained a lot of confidence in people not only seeing me but really knowing me as Heath. I’d started shedding the old skin as much as I possibly could and really coming into myself without Heather dragging behind.

Then I decided to try and trust again. Not because I was lonely — I can do being alone. I’m an only child who grew up in the country, being alone is kind of my jam. The only person I need is myself and I’d finally gotten to the point that I knew that to be my ultimate truth. I had to work on loving myself so that I could love better and also accept that someone could love me as myself for myself.

I dated a girl for almost a year and in so many ways, she helped to heal that insecure part of me that was still hanging onto having to be Heather in some capacities of life. She showed me that it was possible for people to meet, know, and love Heath without Heather in the picture at all. Up to that point, nobody had done that. Things happened and we drifted apart for a while, but she changed my life completely. I’d known love in a way I hadn’t before and from that point on, I decided that never again would I settle for anything less than absolute unconditional love and acceptance from a partner. I’d finally gotten a taste of what it should be like.

Then I continued working on myself. I went to the doctor for the first time in years and am on track for getting a referral to the endocrinologist. I’ve lost 20+ pounds to date and decided I was going to settle for nothing less than someone who set my entire being on fire.

Then she came back into my life. At a point where I wasn’t even looking for her. Or anyone else, for that matter. I was deep into working on myself and pushing forward, but there she was. Here we are a couple of months later and she continues to change my life every day for the better.

But this isn’t a blog about her.

For the first time in my life, I am consciously practicing vulnerability. I’m learning that not everyone will use the deepest parts of you to hurt you. That some people actually take that and put it in the vault, guarding it to ensure its safety. Not that I haven’t been vulnerable before, because I have. But not on this level. I never made a conscious effort to do it and now I do. It gets easier every time, and nearly every time, it brings me to my knees with tears. Not an ugly cry, just tears. Tears of release. Tears of healing. Tears of restoration. I don’t see being “weak” as a bad thing. I don’t have this need to always be the safe haven and I’ve learned to let someone be my safe haven in a raw and vulnerable way without having a panic attack waiting for the bad to come.

It is my highest hope that everyone gets to experience that and gets to live in that at least once in their life. Because it, for me, has been very healing in a lot of ways that I didn’t even know I needed.

Forty

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post to commemorate 40 years of existence since before my birthday back in August, but I just haven’t ever gotten around to doing it. Today, I’m making myself do it because I’m going to wake up and be 41 and still not have written it.

I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that 40 is going to be another year of major progress for me. I had no idea in what ways, that’s just been the vibe I’ve been pumping out into the universe for a couple of years now. Apparently it worked. I’m not even a month in and there are so many things going so right for me right now.

I went to the doctor back in June, which I wrote about at the time so I won’t reiterate all of the things that spawned from that. I hit a point in life about six months ago that I realized it was time for me to stop talking about change and actually make the changes in my life that are going to get me to my goals. I made a doctor appointment and in June, I started doing Weight Watchers. Summary of doctor: we’re working on getting my A1C where it needs to be and then I’m getting referred to an endocrinologist so that I can start hormone replacement therapy.

Weight Watchers has changed my life, y’all. In 2 1/2 months, I’ve lost 25 pounds. Even though the scale is moving slowly (as it should if I’m being healthy about it), my clothes fit different. Last week, I did a side by side of me from June 27th to August 27th and the difference is pretty incredible for such a short period of time. I’m still eating pretty much what I want, just learning to balance and moderate things instead of having this really unhealthy relationship with food. I remember looking into Noom a while back and it talked about how it was about the psychology of your relationship with food, but I never had the money to sign up and really work the program. Weight Watchers was having a special deal and I decided to join yet again. Only this time, I started actually learning how to change my relationship with food and eat to live instead of eating my emotions. I still struggle sometimes with it, but for the most part, food is something I do because I have to to survive and be healthy, not because there’s a bunch of stuff going on in my life that I need that food comfort for.

I started gaining weight once I hit puberty and it’s been a downhill slope since then. A combination of unbalanced hormone levels, pcos and just general misery in not knowing anything about being transgender for so long was a recipe to get me to where I was. I’ve known that something wasn’t right with my body/brain combination birth dealt me since I was very young. Like 5 or 6 years old was the beginning of it all. But living where I do and having a really religious and conservative family didn’t afford me the luxury of being exposed to knowing that transgender was a thing. I was 30 years old when my girlfriend at the time asked me if I was sure I wasn’t trans. I had no idea what she was talking about, but when I started researching, everything just clicked. Like ohhhhh hell. It’s been a 10 year road to finally really being 100% at peace with who I am – and being confident enough to not be afraid to let the world know, too. Not that every day is a cake walk, because sometimes I have bad days with it. But for the most part? I’m 100% at peace with it.

A few years ago after yet another failed relationship with a woman who was hung up on my biology, I stepped back from relationships and trying to be happy with someone and really worked on falling in love with myself as I am and being in a healthy place with that. I’ve played Second Life for years and it was a pretty big part in that acceptance of myself. I was able to present 100% male and most people even after talking to me on voice for a while had no idea because, well, I’m just a dude. So between that and really working on loving me and surrounding myself with people who saw and loved me for me, I really did fall in love with myself. I set a lot of boundaries for people that I would no longer scoot far enough to make them comfortable and was at peace with whatever that wound up looking like.

Five years ago, I left my church that I’d gone to since I was 11 years old. Being trans in this evangelical part of the country wasn’t something that was working for me any longer. Being gay and in church was hard enough, nevermind being transgender. So for my own spiritual health and well-being, I left. During the pandemic, I found Left Hand Church based out of Colorado and absolutely fell in love with the people there and the way that they view God’s love and acceptance – without any labels whatsoever. For almost two years now, I’ve been their podcast director and I get to do the podcasts of the sermons every week. It’s a tiny bit of myself that I can give, but the outreach and the messages of love and kindness that are presented are so huge. I’ve met a lot of really wonderful people through that church and one day I hope to be able to road trip it out to Colorado to finally hug all of the people that I’ve grown to love so much.

Also a couple of years ago, I met MJ. The first conversation I ever had with her, I knew that I’d be with her. I’ve always thought it was such bullshit when people say things like, “I knew when I met you that I was going to marry you.” But I get it now. I won’t get super mushy or anything like that about her because I’m not one to air my relationships for the world, but I will say this. We both went through some stuff that rocked us to the foundation, but we agreed when we had our first conversation that friendship would be more important than anything else with us. Even though we were apart for several months, being where we are now is a pretty wonderful place to be. We met each other when we needed to know the other person existed so that when we were both in a place to come back together, we’d be able to. My mind is blown every day by her and the relationship that we have and it’s one of many things that I’m so grateful for.

Last week, I had to go meet with my attorney for some other things and I’d asked her what it would take to change my name when it came time for me being ready to do that. She told me basically $750 and a party to officially kill Heather and I couldn’t have loved that more. I worked with her husband at the bank back when I was in college and I’ve known and loved them for 20 years now. The fact that she’s ready to have a party to officially and legally make me become Heath brought me so much joy I can’t even explain it.

So, yeah…my 40’s are starting out with a bang. There are other things going on that I will write about when it’s time to and I’m able to. I’m just overwhelmed with how blessed I am. Not everything is perfect, but the things that really matter are pretty great right now.

Funeral Processions

Weird name for a blog post right? Hear me out.

Today I went to a friend’s house for dinner and I was just a couple of miles away from home when I was being met by a funeral procession. Now keep in mind that I live 12 miles away from town and people are usually zooming right along on this road at 70 MPH. So I put on my flashers and pull halfway to the shoulder and stop. The closest traffic behind me is about a mile and a half back and they’re not stopping.

Which is honestly one of my biggest pet peeves. From a very young age, I was taught to always pull over and pay respects whether you knew them or not. I’ve always gotten so angry when people don’t pull over and show respect. This was concreted more when Nanny died. Because to me a big part of my world had just been taken away from me so why couldn’t people be bothered to stop for five minutes and show respect?

So today it just hit me wrong I guess. I was far enough in the lane that people couldn’t pass me even if they wanted to. I had quite a line behind me when the procession was over and I’m sure they all were cursing me by the time it was over with, but I really didn’t care. As I sat there watching car after car go by, I just started to cry. Remembering how it felt to see the policeman stand there at the corner to the cemetery at attention saluting out of respect for those of us who had lost someone so special to them. The thought of anyone being angry about my self-centeredness kills me, so I make extra effort to not do that.

It’s a random blog post, I know, but it’s what’s on my mind, so here it is.

And for God’s sake, if you’re one of those people who don’t stop for processions, it’s time to start. It doesn’t take much time or effort and everyone on the other side will appreciate the respect.

The Little Things

So you’ve heard the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”? I’ll go a step further and ask how many of you have a harder time sweating the small stuff than you do the big stuff? Doesn’t it always seem like there are billions and billions of things that would qualify as “small stuff” every day? Like sometimes it’s a constant stream of small stuff.

I used to be one of those people. Nowadays, my anxiety would like for me to still be one of those people, but my willpower sometime can overrule my anxiety. This is one such case that I have like <5% of a problem overpowering it.

On the drive home from work yesterday, I was thinking about my life. Thinking about the things that I’ve been through, the things that I’ve clawed my way through and just how damn proud of myself I am. And proud of myself for where I’m headed, too.

I’ll be 40 next month and while the fact that I’m turning 40 doesn’t bother me, it has me in a very contemplative head space. Because, listen, my life’s like halfway over and while dying doesn’t necessarily scare me, there’s so much more I want to do in my life. And I want to do it before I’m too old to really enjoy it. I’ve finally found a doctor that’s going to help me get on hormones and get my shit together, and it’s given me a renewed sense of hope for my future. It’s such a strange experience to be so hopeless about your future based on nothing other than how the world perceives you. It’s not that I don’t want the world to see me in some certain way, but I don’t want the world to see me as her. Without getting the proper medical treatment done, the world will see me as her for the rest of my life. So being in an area where generally the medical community that your insurance allows aren’t really on board with who you are (not based on your genitalia) is a pretty hopeless place to be in.

But now there’s light down that tunnel. I can see it shining through and I can see that the path to get to it might not be easy or fun, but that light on my skin will make it all so worth it.

I’ve also kind of come to this place of just complacency. Getting back on iron and vitamin D and taking allergy medicine has done wonders for me. I’ve had a week with very little anxiety generally speaking. Work has been good, home has been good (which it is 99% of the time because I’m all about a peaceful home) and just generally speaking it’s been a pretty good week.

Seven years ago, I almost died. I’ll spare the whole story and details because that’s a whole lot more reading than you’re already going to be doing. I had a flesh eating infection and it was pretty bad. At the same time, I found out I’m diabetic and anemic. I was also in the midst of a pretty rocky relationship and wound up ending that high on morphine (yay courage!) and in the hospital bed. It wasn’t a very pretty thing. So between trying to deal with that, finding the drive to live and heal, stressed about no income (because I was off work for three months), living with my parents…it was a lot.

But it also taught me a lot. It’s the foundation of why I am who I am today. I just had a whole lot of emotional damage from relationships and a lot of anxiety that I had to just clear out of my life in order for me to find that foundation. I’ve found that a lot of people who were used to quiet Heather who’d do anything she could to help someone regardless of the cost to herself aren’t really necessarily on board or as warm and fuzzy bout Heath the man who finally found himself.

Does this bother me? I mean – on a general level, no. What’s frustrating is that these are the very people who once upon a time called me a best friend. People who told me that they’d do anything for me. Except unconditionally loving me, apparently. I think that hurt the most out of everything. Realizing that people who you thought loved you in that way (the way that Christ commands us to love, by the way) actually have a condition on their love for you. Which, at that point, I don’t even want it at all. You either love me unconditionally or don’t waste my time. Is that arrogant? Is it selfish? I mean, maybe so? But you know what? That’s my choice. It’s not arrogant to expect that kind of love from people who you keep in your life.

“I love you, but…”

No thanks. Keep it away from me. Work on your own life. Fix your own problems. I’m over here keeping to myself not hurting anyone else, so let me be.

My point is this, put simply. If you find yourself being that person who is overwhelmed by the small stuff, you might consider doing a cleansing. I don’t mean grab the hose and blow the leaves and grass off the porch. I mean – tank full of soap, high pressure nozzle, pressure wash that shit. Down to the last nitty gritty piece you have hanging on for dear life. It’s not easy. I won’t pretend like it is. It’s not a quick process, either, so if you’re going to embark, by all means, pack your patience. But do you know what it is? It’s worth it because in the end you’re protecting your space and your peace and your life. Because in the end, you’re the only one that’s 100% always going to be there for yourself.

It’s time we take better care of ourselves, guys. The small stuff will be forgotten. It’s not worth it to destroy yourself over things that will be gone in the blink of an eye. We’re a tiny blip on this great radar of the universe. Don’t give the small stuff that much power. Be a beast.

Progress

Well, it is my first full week of Weight Watchers and since I started the program on June 22nd, I’ve lost 6.2 pounds. In some ways it feels like it’s only a drop in a 500 gallon barrel, but you know what? It’s progress and I’ll be proud of myself whether it’s 1 pound or 16 because any weight lost is that much less my joints have to carry around. I’m 100% for that. I have a long way to go, but for the first 10 days, 6.2 isn’t too shabby.

I know that all of this is going to come together for the greater good and to help me reach my goal. Which is to lose weight and be able to start testosterone. Eye on the prize. Because I’ve totally got this.

I’ve been having trouble focusing and concentrating at work for months now and when I went to the doctor, I found out I’m anemic and have tanked vitamin D. So that explains at least part of that. My anxiety is probably accounting for the rest of it, to be honest. I had a conversation with my boss about it and I’m working on getting my levels back up to where they need to be. I’m already sleeping better. I haven’t slept good in months and for the last week I’ve been not only sleeping better, but getting more rest than I have in a long time.

Overall, I know I have a long way to go, but I’m also stoked about the progress I’m making so quickly.

HB

Transparency

So last week, I joined Weight Watchers again. I’d done this a couple of years ago with a very dear friend and we did pretty good. Then life happened and blah blah excuses. Not even going to waste my time typing them out because they’re all bullshit. Lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better about giving up on something good.

But that’s a whole other blog post.

So I know that in order to actually be able to start testosterone, I need to get my diabetes under control and just generally get my ass into better shape. I don’t eat terribly, but, listen, when I’m stressed, junk is my go to. Specifically things like ice cream and Snickers with almonds. Not really chocolate-y things, though, but still, plenty of stuff that’s not great for me. I’ve had such a hard time with it for so long, too. Not that I really gained weight, but I’m definitely not losing it.

I was talking to some people about joining and we’ve gotten a few of us in a group together to go through this and support each other through our individual weight loss/lifestyle change journey. Because studies show that if you have support and encouragement in it, you’ll be more likely to succeed. While getting on testosterone and top surgery and being able to live as who I am on the inside is definitely motivation and a fire under my butt to stick with it, having people who not only love me for me, but will also be there to support me and push me when I need it, means everything.

I’ll be 40 in August this year. This doesn’t bother me one bit. Bring it on.

I just don’t want the next 40 years to be like the last 40. I have too many things I want to experience and do to stay stuck in this rut of feeling like hell and not being able to because I’m too fluffy and out of shape. Life is short and I’m dedicated to being able to do the things and enjoy the things that matter from here on out.

As of Sunday (my weigh in day), I’ve lost three pounds. Considering I only joined six days ago, I’d say that’s pretty good. I don’t weigh in otherwise because if I do, then I become obsessed by the number on the scale and that’s not good for my mental health. So I’ll update everyone this weekend probably on where I’m at with that.

Be blessed, y’all.

HB

First Dr Visit in 5 Years!

Guys, I’ve got kind of a long story to share with y’all. Not many will probably care or have it matter to them all that much, but it’s been a pretty big deal for me, so here we go.

I went to the doctor today for the first time in probably five years. I was diagnosed diabetic over seven years ago when I had my leg surgery and only have had help managing it for a couple of those 7 years. Because several years ago, I pretty much wrote off going to the doctor full stop. My insurance only covered Kansas and the doctors I had been to in Kansas were so quick to dismissive of anything that I brought up about my health as a trans man. So I said eff it why bother. And since then have been managing (or not, as the case may be) my diabetes by doing what worked for me when I first got out of the hospital. Admittedly, for a long time I didn’t do anything about it. I was in a spot where I just really didn’t care because none of it was going to help me feel more validated. Not that I *wanted* to die or anything, but whatever happened happened.

Since I’ll be 40 in another month and a half, though, I’ve been thinking about getting back to a doctor and giving this one more effort to be heard and seen and try to get things done. I finally have insurance this year that will let me see doctors in Missouri and the endocrinologist that I wanted to go to is in Missouri. But since it had been so long since I’d seen him, I had to get a new referral from my PCP (which I hadn’t had one in 5ish years).

I had no idea who to go to. I’d talked to my mom about it and she suggested that I go to the Dr. Williams here in town and though I was hesitant, I was like, okay. It’s like three blocks from my work and he’s a young guy, so what the heck. I’ll give it a try and we’ll see if this destroys my view or if it brings me hope.

So I get there and weigh in (which my scales at home are three pounds heavier than at the dr office, so that was victory #1), they take my blood pressure, which was high because yay anxiety, and then I wait. He comes in and says hello, introduces himself, and I said “Well legally I’m Heather but I go by Heath.”

Sidenote: First time I’ve ever been confident enough to not just roll with being called Heather. Win #2.

He goes “OK Heath. I can get on board with that.” And immediately, the walls that I’ve been building and buckling down started to crumble. For the first time in YEARS I feel like a doctor actually listened to me. He asked me all about my history with diabetes and how I’ve been treating and taking care. And I was 100% honest with him in everything. He didn’t lecture me, just took the information in, took some notes, and said “OK well first I want to get your A1C so we have a starting point and we’ll go from there. And I want to check your blood pressure again now that you’ve been here for a bit see if it’s come down any.”

He leaves, the nurses come in and prick my finger and stab my arm to get vials to check organ functions and vitamin levels and blah blah blah. He comes back in and he goes “Well it’s not great news.” I said “How bad is it?” He goes “It’s 8.2.” I was like “OH! Well that’s better than I thought it’d be!” (Win #3!)

So we talked about my diet and I told him that I’d just joined Weight Watchers again with some friends and I was getting serious about changing how I eat for life and not just a diet that will fail me for a 157,000th time and how this and that. He goes, “So are you still wanting that referral to Dr. Hamlett or are you wanting to just have me help you manage it?” I said, “Well…” (deep breath) “I’m totally cool with you managing my diabetes and helping me get all that in check, but I’ll need a referral to Sean eventually because I’d really like to start T soonish.”

Dude didn’t bat an eye. He didn’t laugh, he didn’t scoff, and not only did he not do all the things that I’ve gotten as reactions before, but he goes, “Well excellent then! Because I can help you get your diabetes and other things under control before we send you to him.” I said, “Cool. Because every other doctor I’ve ever talked to about it has just dismissed it or even laughed at it when I bring it up.” He goes, “Listen, I’ve helped a few people start their transition and I know doctors around here aren’t always super open to being helpful. You are who you are and what I care about is your health. And if things don’t work out at Hamlett that he helps you with it, then I’ll send you to KU. But we’re going to get this done.”

Y’ALL! It took everything I had to not jump off that table and hug him and start crying. This is the cooperation and effort from a doctor that I’ve been searching for for SO LONG. In that moment, I just smiled so big and I was like, “That’s amazing.”

So – I’ll get results back Monday from my blood work and I go back in 3 months to check A1C again and see where we’re at.

Everything happens in its own time. My parents and I are finally at a good place with me being Heath and not Heather so that we can do this transition together instead of me feeling like I’m alone when it comes to having their support. They don’t always get it right (more often not than so, actually) but one of these days, they’re gonna look pretty ridiculous calling me their daughter when I have a full beard! LOL

This is finally happening. FINALLY! What a way to enter my 40’s.

Here’s to the next 40 living perfectly as myself, who I was perfectly created to be. Thanks for being here with me. I sure do love y’all.

Let’s Get Uncomfortable!

I’ve never been the type to enjoy the spotlight, despite being a Leo. I’d go out of my way to make sure that people were comfortable, regardless of how it made me feel.

I’d just keep my mouth shut, sit in silence, and let people continue to go on as if the way they treated people—the things that they thought were right and wrong—was absolutely correct.

Put that on the backburner.

Eight and a half years ago, I came to the realization that I’m transgender.

Thirty years of my life made sense in a matter of just a few days. Thirty years of confusion.

Thirty years of feeling like I was different but having no idea what made me different.

Thirty years of feeling completely out of place. Thirty years without feeling like I belonged anywhere.

My friends and cousins had boyfriends and girlfriends, many friends, and it just seemed like they knew what they were doing and where they wanted to go in life.

At that point in time, I had been out as a lesbian for four years, but, as the previous 26 years of life had gone, I never felt “right” in that box, either. I hate boxes, for the record, but everyone has to categorize people, so here we are.

I don’t know how to describe to anyone what I mean when I say that I never felt like a lesbian. But…I didn’t.

Growing up, the friends I played “house” with always put me in the “husband/dad” role. We never had to discuss it; it was never up for debate; it just was.

My first crush was a girl. When I got to be old enough to learn that boys were supposed to be with girls and not boys, and girls with boys and not girls, a whole other level of discomfort set in.

I give you this back story to bring you to where I am now: I’ve been out openly as a trans man for a little over two years. I don’t wear flags, and I don’t go around announcing it because, honestly, it’s nobody’s business.

But if someone brings something up that opens a conversation, I’ll totally go there. It’s a fairly recent development thanks to a few factors, but this post isn’t about that. (Don’t worry; I’ll touch on that another time.)

Now, to the meat of this. Listen…

How are we going to grow into our humanity if we aren’t made to be uncomfortable?

Does change in any shape or size come without at least a little discomfort? Hint: if you answered anything but “Hell naw!” you’re wrong.

I don’t mean that as asshole-y as it came out, but hear me out.

Why are we so likely to just sit by and let people remain ignorant? Sure, educating people can be exhausting. Trust me. I get that. But also…do we really want people getting educated by Bing and Google?

And I’m not even talking solely about LGBTQ+ issues. I mean things across the board, from religion to the LGBTQ+ issues and literally everything in between.

It’s going to take being uncomfortable and being willing to make people uncomfortable for us to progress and unify on the hot topics that keep us so divided. 

Haven’t we been divided long enough already?! It’s ridiculous.

We have to stop being so afraid of the tough conversations. We have to quit being complacent in this division. Reach across the aisle. Offer a handshake or a firm slap, whichever is appropriate for the situation at hand.

Being uncomfortable sucks. I’m 10,000 percent with you on that.

But you know what makes it suck less? When you come to a middle ground with someone who you never thought you’d be able to find common ground with. 

That is what it’s all about. Seriously. 

We need more compromise. We need more discussion. We need more discomfort.

It’s the only way we’re going to become more comfortable with each other.

A Response to Ace Metaphor’s “Why Men Cheat”

I’ve seen a lot of posts and videos about why people cheat.

Men, specifically.

I guess some famous guy got busted cheating on his wife of 12 years or something and now, of course, the internet is blowing up about it. I don’t know if any of you follow Ace Metaphor or not, but he has had a few videos touching on this. This morning as I was getting ready, I was watching one about why men cheat, which is problematic from the start because the implication is that women don’t cheat. But that’s a whole other issue that I’ll touch on in a minute.

His reason for men cheating was basically two key points:

>> watching too much porn
>> cheating being what they saw growing up from other males who were important people in their lives.

So, I’m going to unpack this.

First of all, watching porn doesn’t make you a cheater. Watching porn gives you unrealistic expectations and ideas about what sex is like, but it doesn’t make you a cheater.

Secondly, okay, I’ll go with the idea of cheating being normalized in childhood to a degree. But when you’re a grown-ass man? You should know that it’s not something that’s okay to do.

We’re all raised in different ways with different examples being set for us. Our abilities to love and respect people, along with our desires to be loved and respected, are pretty universal, though. This thought goes along with so many aspects of life for me, too. We all had things in our childhood that hindered us and trained us to believe or think a certain way, but guess what? At some point in time, our issues are no longer our parents’ fault. We have to take responsibility for what we do and how we treat people across the board.

I know that people have a lot of messed up childhood trauma that will certainly affect them into adulthood. It will shape how you respond and react to situations. I’m not saying, “Get over it already.” I’m saying, don’t use it as an excuse to be a shitty human being. Don’t use it as a way to always be the victim. Rise above and live your life as the best human being you possibly can.

And now I’ll get down off my soapbox about it. But I know plenty of people (myself included) who have been through some really messed up, traumatic stuff. But they’re wonderful human beings. They don’t use that as a crutch to be a hateful, spiteful, terrible person.

The other side to why this bugs me so much is that people always focus more on men cheating—as if men never get cheated on, which I have a lot to say, but really I don’t need to say anything. See above about not being a shitty person.

Here’s the thing—and I’ve been wanting to touch on this for a while now—why are we all in such a big damn hurry to be tied to, connected, and “owned” by another person romantically?

(It’s rhetorical; I have my theories.)

I’m aiming this at myself just as much as anyone else, so don’t think I’m being preachy. It’s a recent revelation of how “toxic” this is to us. We claim others as our own before we really know them. We jump into bed and bond with them physically and emotionally before we know if that’s a safe thing to do. We’re in such a hurry to belong and not be single and be attached that we ignore a whooooole bunch of stuff that we should have really stopped and paid attention to.

In the end, we wind up hurting ourselves much more than was ever necessary because of this.

I’ve always been pretty quick to jump into the physical aspects of dating and relationships because that was part of the acceptance. Especially after I came out as being trans. Like I needed that validation and I got it in that way. Every other aspect was a shit show, but, hey, the sex was good (enough) so why pay attention to warning signs? (Yes, sarcasm!)

It’s funny now because I’m beyond all that, but, at the time, it wasn’t funny. I wound up enduring a lot of abuse and trauma because of it. Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for me. It is what it is, and I learned and grew from it. But, damn. It was so unnecessary.

After I sent my last ex packing, I decided that I wasn’t going to do that anymore. Dealing with the rejection and disrespect and everything else that came with those relationships was too much. I was 37 years old and completely over going through that. I’m not a person who’s afraid of being alone; I love to be alone, actually. I’m an only child who grew up in the country—I’ve got being alone on lock, believe me. But I also have always known that eventually someone would accept me and love me exactly where I am with exactly the past and trauma that I have and that it would be pretty easy.

So, when I was single and ready to date again, I made a promise to myself not to get physical for a while. Luckily for me, my dysphoria makes that easier, but still. I knew it was something I needed to do so that I could have a relationship with someone I’m compatible with on a spiritual and emotional level and not just someone whose physical touch I enjoyed.

You know what? It’s paying off.

When we rush into the physical, we mistake physically feeling good for being in love. For having connections with people who we aren’t actually compatible with. Tying this back into the cheating theory: I think this is why cheating happens so much. Because when you get past the orgasms, when shit gets real, you aren’t connected to that person enough to stick around when things aren’t fun. That is where relationships are built. During the harder times. People just don’t want to put in the work.

Put in the work. Be patient physically so that you aren’t blinded by feel-good hormones into thinking that red flags are okay. Because they’re not. If you see warning signs, stop, dig it out of the ground, and evaluate it. Don’t be afraid to leave. Because if you don’t when you first get the twinge not to, then you’re going to wind up hurting yourself much more in the end because you stayed in a toxic relationship.

Toxic relationships of any kind—friendship, kinship, romantic relationship—aren’t good for anyone. You have the right as a human being to leave any of those toxic relationships at any time.

Let’s take better care of ourselves and of each other.

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