Before last night, I couldn’t tell you the last time that I properly broke down in a good, old-fashioned ugly sobbing cry. Thanks to the alcohol that bolstered already-high emotions, I’m considering myself fortunate that I can even remember last night’s, to be honest. Still, though, I think that letting loose and allowing yourself to simply unleash from time to time is important. Whether it’s bottled-up negativity and pain or, like mine, a well of overwhelming gratitude that spills out over everything, being in touch with and true to your own feelings is something that I think all humans could stand to do a bit more often.
I’m terrible at this, myself. I keep nearly everything inside, choosing only a few people and a few moments to really put emotion on display in any meaningful way. It’s something I’ve meant to work on, but struggle still to do. Much of this, likely, stems from the fact that so many of my internal struggles are ones of self-doubt and introspective arguments. Of course, there’s a likely chance that many of these could be pretty easily resolved if, rather than twisting myself silently in knots over them, I’d actually open up and talk to those close to me about them; that’s neither here nor there, though, and is something that I’ll just have to continue trying to get a handle on. Maybe I’m just not used to being in a place where my emotions are actually relevant to others, or meaningful enough to share.
The root of much of my ineffective turmoil should come as no surprise to those who’ve known me for any length of time, or have followed along my musings here on the blog. In case it’s unclear, I’ll recap. Some years ago, without having discussed the topic with anyone, I used this platform to announce to the world at large that, despite the biological equipment that life felt fit to give me, I identify as female. The outpouring of support I got from close friends, total strangers, family, and – most importantly – from my wife was incredible, and is something I’ll never forget. Since then, though, I’ve continued to struggle on a near-daily basis with my own identity and where I see a fit for myself within it.
While the world we live in now is decidedly more open and honest on these sorts of topics, my gender identity is still something I don’t talk about much outside of this space. While a certain degree of this is my own trepidation regarding society’s take on the idea, it’s really my own self-doubt and internally-restrictive reasoning that holds me back. I often struggle with wondering just how feminine I’m really allowed to be, how much of that identity I’m truly free to embrace. Complicating this, of course, are the two wonderful children who call me “daddy”, and all of the various considerations that I make on their behalf. I am overwhelming concerned about doing anything that would make life difficult for them, and I doubt that’s going to change anytime soon, if ever.
On the other side of this same struggle is the amazing woman that I am dumbfoundedly fortunate enough to call my wife. Her unconditional love and support for me through this turbulent journey is probably the only reason I was ever able to put voice to my own identity at all, and the fact that she knows me more than I could ever hope to know myself brings us to the aforementioned outpouring of emotional backlog that sparked this post. You see, it turns out that while I’ve been silently stewing over these things in my own mind, she has also been stewing about many of the same things — but not from a perspective of confusion or struggle, but wondering when I would truly open up on the subject and address it in a way that’s perhaps a little more practical than screaming into the void of the internet.
While I’ve been turning my own thoughts over and inward and around themselves to ask just how “me” I’m allowed to be, she’s been waiting for me to simply start doing it. While I’ve been hesitating about whether this is even anything that I should ever really discuss in the open, she’s been wondering what name I’d take for myself when I allowed my identity to shine through. While I’ve been trying to puzzle out what it means for me, she’s been talking to her own coworkers about her wife, and explaining me in words that I probably wouldn’t ever really find on my own when they ask questions or want to understand. I’ve been tearing myself up, over and over, wondering if I’m truly able to exist as the person that I see myself as, and all the while there’s been someone standing by my side just waiting patiently for her partner to emerge from herself.
And that, I suppose, was the root of my emotional outpouring. After a highly-emotional day surrounded by a family wedding and fueled by the inhibition-releasing powers of alcohol, this is why I found myself collapsing into a heaving mess of tears; it was not a breakdown over my own self-inflicted doubts and fears, but an overwhelming relief and thankfulness. It was realizing that, while I may still beat myself up over trying to really find the best way to be and express who I am, that there is someone simply waiting for me to do it. More to the point, though, was the simple revelation that this wasn’t my struggle to go through alone. It had honestly not occurred to me that this was something that anyone else was thinking about regularly, that someone else was living through my own struggle and ready to help me with it.
Anyway, I guess the point of all of this is that it’s good to open up. While, of course, not everyone is likely to find such support so close at hand, it’s impossible to know unless you’re willing to take the initial step. I think society still trains most of us to keep our thoughts on many things to ourselves, and we forget that there is still a world out there simply waiting in the wings for us to come and live in it; not just exist in it by whatever path is the easiest, but to become unabashedly who we are and to truly embrace what we, as these people we keep hidden under our many masks, can bring to it. I’m still not through my own struggle, and I still have a great number of questions about my own future course, but at least now I know that as I find more of myself and new ways to express who I am, there’s someone who’ll be beside me and helping me when I stumble along the way.