Discovering What Has Always Beenadmin
I often think about my childhood and question when I knew; when I knew that I was different. I grew up in a close-knit circle with my sisters and my mom. My dad was around until about 14 years old and then, quite rapidly, he left our family. On top of alcoholism and being unfaithful in his marriage, he severely suffered (and still does) from narcissistic personality disorder (if any of you reading this have a narcissistic parent, I know you get it!). While most memories I have of my dad are of pain and heartache, I always had my sisters and my mom; we had each other. Feeling and knowing that I had true love and support from them was vital for my experiences that were to come. Oftentimes I think I would have been severely bullied if it weren’t for my three sisters. I am a triplet and I have an older sister. They have been my best friends my entire life and they protected me from so much.
From a very young age, I remember feeling a sense of doom and frustration within me. I felt so different from everyone around me, especially my sisters, but I could not pinpoint exactly why. I was a quiet, shy, and an empathetic kid. I constantly felt frozen in my body, and was terrified of being seen. Now, looking back, there is no doubt in my mind that the messages I had received from society informed me that I needed to hide.
I always loved masculine clothes and masculinity. My parents were actually very supportive of whatever I wanted to wear, but there were limits. I had to wear dresses and feminine clothes for certain occasions, and it was a nightmare for me. It was exhausting for all of us when I had to wear feminine type of clothing. Knowing that I had no way out of this resulted in emotional outbursts, so many tears, and my soul being torn apart. As I grew older, masculine clothing became less and less acceptable and I was aware that I either could continue holding onto this form of expression that made me happy, or I would have to conform.
I remember the specific day when I had to make a conscious choice between myself and everyone else. I went to a Catholic grade school and we all had to wear uniforms. Up until fifth grade, the boys and the girls wore the same thing–a blue-collar shirt and blue pants. I LOVED it. Once fifth grade started, the girls were given the option to wear a skirt. It was clear to me that my sisters and all of the other girls in my class would be wearing a skirt. I remember the agony inside of me making this choice. All the girls were excited about this new option, but for me I was heartbroken. It meant that once again, my soul would be taking a hit. I grieved, as I had to choose between being my true self and fitting in. That day sticks out to me because it was so pivotal in my gender journey. It marked a conscious choice away from my truth. I chose to fit in because I felt like it was the right thing to do and the only way to survive.
As I continued through life, I continued to move away from my truth and presented femininely; I got used to having to hide. I was constantly compared to my sisters; they were popular with the boys, but not me. At the time, it was hard on my self-esteem because I felt a constant undertone of rejection. Much later in my life, I would understand that the biggest rejection I experienced was my rejection of myself, not others of me.
I never really dated in school. I was operating under the assumption that I was straight. Energetically, I always felt a disconnect/ a block from connecting with boys. I was constantly confused with if I wanted to DATE a boy or BE a boy. One story sticks out to me regarding this. In fourth grade, I felt like I had a crush on a boy and my idea of “flirting” with him was to get the same cool running shoes that he had. I showed up the next day with the same shoes and he became very distant towards me. This confused me and made me really sad. The following day he showed up to school with a different pair of shoes and it clicked in my mind that you don’t flirt with boys by trying to be one. I know now that I wasn’t really wanting to be with a boy I was just trying to be a version of a boy. Not long after this I was on a bus ride home from a hockey tournament, I remember thinking to myself “what if I am gay” and at that moment I told myself, “no I can’t be…I’d rather kill myself than be gay.” I got the message from somewhere that being gay would be worse than being alive. That is so sad to me. After that moment I didn’t revisit me being gay until college.
Once I went to college, I went W-I-L-D. I broke away from my sisters and I finally felt like I could let loose. I drank a little bit in high school, but it wasn’t until college where I really connected with alcohol. I finally felt at peace when I had alcohol in my system. It was like nothing else mattered but that moment. I was able to let go of caring about what other people thought. I was at peace when I consumed alcohol. I almost got kicked out of school multiple times, but luckily, I didn’t. This time in my life was where I experimented more with my sexuality and experienced dating women for the first time. I loved it and I knew deep down that I was gay. It took me a while to fully come to terms with that, but I eventually did. I received a little push back from my mom, but she quickly embraced it.
My drinking continued to surge during and after college. I found myself in compromising situations often. After I graduated college I moved to Seattle and my drinking only got worse. I eventually felt fed up with this life and I wanted to do something bigger than me. I wanted to be of service to people and to have more structure in my life. This is when I decided to join the military. I thought this experience would allow me to help others, serve my country, and give me a blueprint for life. I completed basic training and I felt so accomplished. It was definitely one of the most challenging things in my life, but I was so proud to have finished. I was immediately stationed on an 87-foot patrol boat in Montauk, NY. I was so excited!!! This excitement swiftly dwindled once reality set in. Once I landed in New York I was picked up at the airport by another member of the crew and I could just tell something was off. I quickly learned that this was a tight-knit group of 11 people and I was an outsider. They were not welcoming, they looked down upon me, and I have never felt so alone in my life. There was one other female stationed there and she didn’t care at all about helping me feel safe or welcomed. This location was so remote, and that contributed to the isolation. There was so much hate talk among the crew around gay people and transgender people it was overwhelming. This was right around when Caitlin Jenner came out as a trans woman. I remember sitting on the boat with a handful of these people and them saying such hateful things about her coming out as a trans. It scared me so much because I think my soul knew deep down this was me too.
It wasn’t long after I arrived that I started being harassed by my supervisor in very inappropriate ways. He was technically my superior and I was not allowed to “talk back to him”. Military culture is very hard to figure out and is very disturbing in a lot of ways. A lot of fear was instilled in me from the beginning. One day I finally LOST IT on this guy. I flew off the handle at him. He threatened me for a final time and I finally told my captain that I needed off this boat and reported him. Luckily, I was able to get transferred to a different unit and that’s how I landed in San Francisco.
After this situation, my alcoholism became out of control. I put myself in compromising situations and was hurt because of it. I was unable to function properly at work, I was trapped in my body, and I felt completely out of control. Long story short I went to rehab twice and was finally able to get sober after multiple attempts. I currently have 3 years sober and this has been absolutely life-changing.
Once I was able to get sober, I really started living. I was able to work through trauma and I was finally able to access my true self. It was the first time I was really able to look at what inside of me was not aligned. I knew something was still not sound and I couldn’t figure it out until I got sober. My gender expression slowly started to revert back to when I was a kid. I started wearing more masculine clothes again and I cut my hair short. It sounds materialistic, but the day I realized I can literally wear whatever I want and have my hair however I wanted was the most liberating day of my life. For so long I received the message that your expression and identity impact other people and you have to be mindful of that. This is one of the biggest lies that our society tells us. My identity and expression are nobody else’s business. Once I truly understood this in every cell of my body, I was liberated. You see, when you are so used to playing dress-up every day and being someone else besides yourself and you get the chance to be yourself it is incredibly liberating. I still sometimes look in the mirror and say “wow I am so lucky I get to be me”. It never said that in the past. In fact, I would avoid the mirror at all costs. Now I can actually look at myself and smile… not in an egotistical way, but in a liberated way.
Through this journey of self-discovery, I found ways to fully express my true soul. This included changing my gender identity, changing my pronouns, and getting top surgery. My gender identity is nonbinary, and my pronouns are they, them, theirs. I don’t identify as a man or a woman, so these pronouns accurately reflect my experience of myself. Top surgery was a hard decision to make. I knew it was what I wanted and needed, but I had a lot of fear around it. I was terrified of what people would think. This surgery was very affirming, and I am so grateful I was able to get it. I have never felt better in my body. I finally feel secure today. I have insecure moments, but my baseline is secure.
I really don’t know where I got the message that being myself wasn’t ok. I have some stories here and there about messages I received from peers, teachers, or other adults, but the fact that I cannot pinpoint exactly where the message that my true self wasn’t ok, scares me. It reveals to me that the message is in the subtleties and it is so much more pervasive than we even realize. It is constantly reinforced by the adults around us, the media we consume, the rules we create, etc. It also reveals to me how impressionable I was as a kid. I soaked in every nuanced message and allowed it to infiltrate my soul. I am strong enough now to know that I am the only decider of who I am. No one gets to infiltrate my soul ever again.
I find it interesting because when I look back at my life, I think I had the answer all along. I knew who I was from a very young age, but I was socialized out of it. I made that conscious decision in 5th grade to move away from my truth. I often wonder what would have happened if I just stayed the course and stuck to my truth. It reminds me that we need to listen to our inner child every day. We have all of the answers inside of us; it is just about accessing it and allowing our truth to prevail over everything else. There had always been this undertone of rejection and once I stopped rejecting myself that feeling went away. I am grateful for all of my experiences and for the hardships. It has built my character today and my goal is to help others see inside of themselves what has always been there. My body and soul are finally aligned, and it is the greatest gift of all.
*I am always open to helping people with any of the struggles so please feel free to reach out to me on IG: @blix_metawellness*
Written by: Britt C.