A life without hope

Yesterday i had the opportunity to share my story with a group of students at a local career college. It was a fantastic group full of good questions and honest curiosity. As part of an course on becoming an addiction counselor, the topic of addictions in the trans community came up and the teacher (who knew my history from previous presentations) asked me if there is a higher than normal rate of substance use/abuse in the trans community.

I laughed and asked the teacher if he knew something about me (which he did). I then went on to tell the class that I am recovered alcoholic/addict and that I believed that part of the reason I used substances was because I was trans.

Earlier in the presentation I had explained to the class that I had always known I was different but was utterly unable to articulate what exactly it was that made me different from everyone I knew. I could only point out and say that I wasn’t like everyone else and eventually came to the conclusion that it was just me and that i was crazy.

I talked about how I used substances to escape the pain I was feeling; a pain that never really went away. I asked them if they liked how they felt when they were hurting. Predictably none of them indicated it was a feeling they enjoyed. I pointed out that neither did I but that every single day felt like a struggle and the only way I knew how to cope with that struggle was to anesthetize myself with substances.

The rest of the presentation went well and I was thanked profusely for my time and I went on my merry way.

Then last night, as I lay in bed with my partner, I fell victim to a panic attack. Now don’t get me wrong, they aren’t fun and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone however, they are not unknown to me and by and large I just wait them out. As I was waiting it out I was talking about some of what’s going through my head and out came the phrase “ I can’t keep doing this…..this death march”

I realized this morning that I’ve traded one struggle for another. Instead of struggling to figure out what’s wrong and put a name to it, I’m now struggling for recognition and legitimacy. I’m struggling against a health care system who wants to label me crazy. They want to tell me that in order to get medical treatment for a condition I had nothing to do with, I need to be crazy.

I struggle to find the resources it takes to keep myself employed, fed and housed. I panic in interviews because I haven’t had the funds to change my name legally and so am outted every time I need to reveal the discrepancy between my legal and common names. I struggle against a society who says I’m sick and wrong for believing that biology is not destiny and that they are NOT always in agreement.

This struggle leaves me living a life without hope. It’s a pretty miserable way to live don’tcha think?

    • Cody
    • May 12th, 2011

    I’ve only really begun to ‘come out’ privately so far though I can see the process moving ahead pretty quickly because it’s like I finally found exactly what I’ve been looking for for ages but I have changed my name once before and I have not changed it legally due to needing my ex-spouses signature on the paperwork (we aren’t legally divorced yet) so I constantly have to explain to people the difference between my legal name and what I wish to be called. I don’t see this becoming any easier when I once again change my name/start to ask people to use it.

    There is definitely a struggle and even I have had moments where I thought “this would just be easier if I didn’t” but that is not an option for me, the struggle of attempting to contain it is a much worse one for me.

    • Thank you for sharing. I can’t promise the dissonance gets better. I too have a disconnect with my legal name and what I’m typically called. It’s a long journey but one that I would not ever want to abandon

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