An Update on Insurance.

Today I spoke with the insurance agent regarding my eligibility for insurance through my work! I finally reached my 90 days so I’m able to get company insurance, which means that as soon as it goes through I’m going to get in touch with an endocrinologist to discuss starting hormone replacement therapy. While I’d love to manage top surgery as well, just the ability to start hormones would be absolutely incredible. It feels as though I’ve been waiting forever but it’s truly only been a few months. I cannot wait for the opportunity to begin but I know I need to continue to exude patience with the process and enjoy the moments I’m experiencing as they come.

The insurance agent for my company wasn’t exactly positive about the benefits coverage regarding Gender Identity Disorder so he said he would make a few calls to find C out and then give me a call. I didn’t hear from him today so I hope that I will hear from him tomorrow, otherwise it’s going to be a long weekend. It’s amazing that it’s already here, the opportunity to start this process so soon. The process is already started, actually; I now have to wait for the next step of my journey. Said Ella Maillard, one of the twentieth century’s great travel writers, “The hardest part is getting to the station.”

I also decided I want to begin freelance writing to gain experience as a writer and for the supplemental income it will provide. While I’m not where I used to be, I think I still have the capability to piece words together in a somewhat coherent way, so hopefully someone will be willing to pay me to do so. Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do and with this age of the internet it’s so much easier to begin a career. While the market is somewhat saturated at this point, I’m hoping I will be able to establish some contacts and get paid for what I’m capable of doing. I’m not sure what will come out of it but I thought that I could at least start on it.

This blog is an excellent avenue for me to practice my writing skills again. I wasn’t quite sure what to write about this evening but I wanted to get a blog post up and update the few of you who read with that is going on in my transition. It’s not much but every single step counts for me. I’ve been working on maintaining a more positive attitude even though it’s not difficult to get exactly what I want when I want it. Typical alcoholic.

I’ve been questioning my involvement in the things with which I choose to spend my time lately. I want to be more mindful about how I spend the precious time I’ve been gifted, and I’d like to spend more of it reading and writing. I pulled a book from my shelf that I’ve been meaning to read for three years now: The Quest for Meaning by Tariq Ramadan. I’ve been questioning my existence again (as I always do) and I thought this book would be a good place to start. It was suggested to me in my Atheists, Believers, and Religious Debates class my senior year of college and it’s travelled with me from bookshelf to box to bookshelf during each move. I’m thrilled to finally start it.

Wake, sleep, rinse, repeat.

Life has fallen into a state of repetitiveness. Wake up, walk dogs, go to work, take lunch, finish work, go home for an hour, go to group, come home, watch TV, sleep. Day after day, week after week. Someone mentioned to me that perhaps this is serenity due to lack of calamity, but I truly hope this isn’t what my life settles into. I want more for myself. I want to see incredible things, meet amazing people, try things I’ve never tried before. I hope that this is not serenity.

While I appreciate that time slips by quickly sometimes bringing me closer to the moment I’m able to start my medical transition, I realize the last 174 days have blurred past in a series of wash, rinse, repeat. I don’t like that I’m not appreciating each day as it is, focusing on the negative rather than the moments of beauty that I would see if I would only stop for a moment and seek them out.

I live for the two day weekends each week then end up sleeping them away, exhausted from I don’t even know what. I’m not taking seriously the time that’s been given to me, the life that has been saved by half an inch. I’m wasting away not working on the things that are important to me because I won’t take the time to sit down and figure out what those things are.

I know that I’m here to help people. I know that I’m a transgender alcoholic. I know that I’ve been given the gift of writing, however rusted it may be, but as I begin to spin the gears again the rust will flake off and the shininess will show again. I’ve got a small platform to discuss the things that are important to me and I want to assure that I utilize that platform to its full potential. I don’t want to live for two days of sleeping when there’s so much to be seen and appreciated around me.

I’ve made a list of goals I would like to accomplish.

1. Make an active effort on this blog.

While I know that I can’t post every day because I have a variety of responsibilities to attend to, posting at least once a week while aiming for twice is an achievable goal. Often I feel as though I don’t have anything to say; however, when I sit at the computer to write I find there are more words inside than there appear to be. If I can find a way to coax them out the way I used to in college, I can create a nice little project here to look back on in times to come, to see how I’ve changed as both a person and a writer. One to two times a week gives me a few days to notice the things worth noticing and then capture them here as I see fit.

I continue to believe that I’ll be able to sit down and write as well as I used to, when in fact writing is like any other art: it takes practice to be good. Just because I was somewhat well-written before doesn’t mean the talent didn’t disappear; it’s going to take work for me to return to the place I once was. I can’t command my vocabulary the way I used to and I use too many commas now, but I’m trying to put words down and get used to the action of it again, and it will come back in time.

2. Half-hour walks, four times a week.

My original goal was to run a 5k, but I realized I had no true interest in being able to do this. Running has never been an enjoyable activity for me no matter how much I try, and trying to force myself to be something I’m not hasn’t worked well for me in the past. I only want to run a 5k to say I can run a 5k, but I wasn’t enjoying the process of getting there at all. I dreaded the days I came home to run, and the Couch to 5k app dings plagued my dreams.

Instead, I’ve realized I love to take my dogs on long walks and look around me to see what is taking place in my bustling suburb; I don’t want to remain in California forever but I can appreciate my surroundings in the meantime. There are beautiful things to see but because they aren’t snow-capped mountians and endless blue skies I deem them unworthy. The freeway near my house passes traffic constantly and the mossy creekbed smells of rot, but the clouds still trail across the skies creating paintings at dusk that rival those of past greats.

3. Start rock climbing.

I believe that things come in threes and my friend was recently the third person to suggest rock climbing to me. I’ve been a few times and always enjoyed it but it was never something I got “into.” However, I’m looking for more interactive forms of exercise and it may not stick, but it’s something I want to do when I move to Colorado so I might as well start now and see if it’s something I truly enjoy. There is an indoor bouldering gym nearby that I’d like to try out and the memberships are the same price as a gym pass and, I imagine, twice the fun.

I want to try it out before I commit to a monthly pass so that’s another goal of mine. Go climbing. See how I like it. See if it’s something I can see myself sticking to. There seems to be a community among rock climbers that I’d like to be a part of, so we’ll see how I like it. I’ll let you know when I end up going.

4. Learn to code.

This is a difficult one because it is such an open goal. There is so much to learn in the world of coding, from HTML 5/CSS to Java, from Python to C++. It’s not something that I can just “learn,” but it’s something that I can take a bite out of and attempt to work on it a piece at a time. I can pick one language and begin to learn it until I understand it and then move onto the next. I was originally taking a computer science course that is due December 31st, but I ended up too far behind due to outside circumstances so I will attempt it again come the new year when it’s reuploaded.

From what I’ve read, you don’t just go in to “learn to code.” You go in to create a project. That’s where the real desire to learn comes from, from a passion project that you want to put into life. I’ve got some ideas but they’re not nearly fleshed out, so I have some things to consider as I go about selecting my first language and taking those initial steps to get started.

5. Continue my transition.

This is another open-ended goal as there are myriad things I’d like to accomplish within this umbrella. I’d like to start my medical transition, to begin hormone replacement therapy, but before that I have to get enrolled with insurance. My three months at this job is tomorrow so I’ll be eligible but I’d like to talk with the insurance agent before I sign up to assure that gender identity disorder is covered within the plan my employer has selected. I don’t want to sign up for something I won’t be able to use. There’s a small sub-goal: talk to the insurance agent.

I’d also like to get started on my legal name and gender marker change. From what I’ve learned it’s a more expensive process than I originally imagined, but I’m saving up money right now (currently $250 a month) and I’ll be able to apply some of that to the process. I’ve got the forms printed and I need to fill them out, and I’ll go from there and document the experience here.

The two main aspects of my life I want to document in this blog are my transition and my journey in sobriety, in the hopes that some other transgender alcoholic will be able to benefit from where I saw a lack of information. While I’m not going to be any sort of concrete evidence of how to do things, I hope that my experience will help someone else. I’m still very new to all of this so it’s all going to be from the beginning which, I believe, will be interesting to follow. But of course I believe myself to be interesting. I could merely be rambling to an empty cyberspace, but I’ll look back on this project in a year or two and see evidence of the changes I’m working so hard to make.

I believe that having goals will make it easier to remain present while I slowly get things ready to move. While it’s still around a year away, I’m starting to see it becoming a reality. I’ve established both these short-term goals and some long-term goals that perhaps I’ll write about another time and I intend to see them through. I have things I want to accomplish with my life and I don’t want it to become an endless cycle of sleep, work, eat, rinse, repeat. I was made for more than this and I want to see the things I can accomplish. I won’t be able to see those things, though, if I don’t take the first step.

Transgender Alcoholic.

I have abandoned this blog for over three months now; I thought it had been only two but time is passing much quicker than I realize. This also means that I have been out as transgender for nearly three months. Coming out (again) was something I thought I would never do. Once seemed like plenty and twice was simply torturous. Hiding my true self was a massive contributing piece in the puzzle of my alcoholism; up until the end of my drinking and using, the alcohol and drugs allowed me to avoid diverting attention to the part of me that wished so badly to be revealed. My dishonesty contributed to my suicide attempts as well. If I killed myself I wouldn’t have to tell anyone. Now that I’m on the other side of the door again life has taken on a much brighter filter.

Entirely accurate statistics regarding the LGBT community have yet to be collected; there is still fear in coming out, regardless of the progress society has made, which contributes to the inability to properly gather correct information. Studies that have been conducted reveal that those in the community are more likely to use alcohol and drugs compared to the general population. Research suggests that up to 45% of the LGBT community struggle with alcohol dependence. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, there are nearly 18 million Americans who abuse alcohol and more than 100,000 die of alcohol-related causes each year.

I’ve been considering lately my purpose in life. It’s an unknown that’s endlessly plagued my existence for the past few years. What am I here for? What am I meant to do? As the fog of alcoholism slowly dissipates, I’m starting to make discoveries about myself that I was unable to make before. I have been pondering what my innate gifts are and realized I’ve always had the capability to help people and make them smile, so perhaps that is a facet of what I’ve been placed here to do.

I’m starting to accept that I’ve fallen into two niches of the population: transgender and alcoholic. Both have copious amounts of people I can help, people I can make smile. I want to be a place of support for those who are like me, to be a beacon of hope that things can and will eventually get better, as long as you’re honest and willing to work on yourself. That is what I’ve learned thus far. I’ve been far from perfect and have only done a few things properly but as I’ve shared myself with people and taken a step back to see the areas in which I can make adjustments, I’ve grown into a better person. I’m in a completely different place today than I was 163 days ago when I was shattered, hopeless, and addicted.

I’m still an alcoholic; that is as much a part of me as being transgender is. But today I am a recovering alcoholic. I am taking small steps each day to adjust my thinking, my behaviors, and the way I respond to life. Today I try to pause before instantly reacting to whatever takes place before me. Living reactively is exhausting. Today I have direction and goals I am working to accomplish. I want to legally change my name, to begin HRT, to run for thirty minutes without having to pause and catch my breath. I want to finish my steps, to start helping other alcoholics, to become more involved in the LGBT community. I want to find other transgender alcoholics who struggle with the same difficulties that I have.

My reach on this blog is minuscule but I would like it to be greater. I’ve heard the saying, I’m finding my place in the world and I want to help others do the same. I don’t want to see anyone else die to this disease, nor do I want anyone to die feeling lost and alone in the sea of binary heteronormativity. I want to make a difference in this world and that is what I aim to do.

My name is Elliott and I am a transgender alcoholic.

Half Measures Availed Us Nothing.

“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point.”

How true this message holds in every area of my life. I’m at a turning point in regards to each facet of my existence.

In my sobriety, do I want to continue doing things the same way I did before? I do not, because I want to remain strong and steadfast, to avoid another relapse. The divide that grew steadily between who I presented on the outside and how I felt on the inside last year became an impossible gap to close and inevitably led me back to the bottle. I was not rigorously honest with those around me, nor with myself, and I kept things to myself that I should have shared with someone else. Today I have a mentor whom I love and trust with my entire being, and I know her sole motive is to see me stay sober. What an incredible experience I get to share with another human being.

The honesty and avoidance of that ever-increasing divide now leads into my coming to terms with my gender identity, understanding who I am and who I am not. I want to align what I present to the world with the way I feel on the inside, and what I once saw as an ugly demon to keep at bay I now realize is my true self, who I am meant to be. What a disservice to myself and those around me to keep that locked inside, to use alcohol and drugs to hide it and throw away the key. The boy inside wants so badly to be let out and is trying with all his might to garner my attention, to be taken seriously, to be allowed freedom of expression. I don’t want to be scared of who I am anymore, I want to embrace it and learn to love myself for exactly who I am.

I began taking Risperidone in December of 2015 to help stabilize my erratic mood swings from highly manic episodes to incredibly depressive lows, to a more grey area, middle ground to notice my behaviors and how they affect those around me. While it’s helped me tremendously along this path of self-acceptance and working to better myself, a negative side effect I’ve experienced is extreme weight gain. At 5’7″ I was consistently around 140 lbs for most of my adult life, but I currently stand at 185 lbs, an increase of the weight of a young child. Adding on these extra pounds has increased the feminine appearance of my body with its new, soft curves, and has contributed to body dysmorphia and an extreme uncomfortability each time I look in the mirror. While my esteem should not be based solely on my body, it has a part in the way I feel about myself and I want to make changes to continue helping the outside match my inside. I’ve read up on healthy eating habits and small exercise routines to help me lose the weight, and once it’s off I can begin building some muscle mass to help with the gender and body dyspohoria I experience. I read an article from someone who made an important distinction: that my altered eating habits will not be going on a diet, but changing my diet. If I’m going on a diet it implies that at some point I will go off of that diet, but if I’m changing my diet then I realize that I’m making a positive step in the correct direction in how I live my life.

Ultimately, in each piece, half measures will avail me nothing. If I try halfheartedly at any of these parts of myself, the result will be nil. I’m on an incredible path and a new friend told me that I should appreciate each small, everyday victory of this incredible journey. That is what I’d like to document on this blog: the everyday victories that will accumulate into the person I am meant to be. If I don’t appreciate each step of the way I will not be able to fully appreciate who I become in the future. I cannot wait to see where I end up, but the most important aspect of my life today is learning to remain in the present, with each breath I take. All I can control is right now and half measures will avail me nothing. Not every day will be a step forward, but as I make a record of each step regardless of its direction, it will culminate into the incredible human I know is waiting to be let out.

Enduring vs. Living Life.

This is an interesting comparison to consider because not only do I endure life while drinking, I endure it while sober and trying to run the show on my own. I can confuse it for living life, but I know I’m only enduring it by that absolute exhaustion and feeling like I can’t do it. Because, when it comes down to it, I can’t do it. Not on my own, at least. And when I feel helpless, that’s when I know I’m cut off from God, whether or not (usually not) I acknowledge it at the time.

“We pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.” That’s so much easier to remember in hindsight. The Big Book says it will gradually become a working part of my mind, but I can do more to be aware of and ensure that. That’s something I can work on, and it’s something I would do well to work on, especially if I prefer to live life rather than endure it.

Day 50.

I refer to myself a writer but, truth be told, I haven’t written anything of substance since I graduated college in 2014. Even then, the pieces I wrote were for creative writing class assignments and not from my own initiation. So can I really be called a writer?

I continually expect inspiration to one day strike and assume that I will suddenly pen the world’s greatest something, but I’m learning that isn’t how things work. I have to put forth the effort and that’s something I haven’t done in a long time. The only work I’ve done consistently in the last six years was to obtain money to purchase alcohol or drugs in order to fuel an addiction that I’m finally beginning to kick. Now that I’m getting sober (and laid off less than a week ago), I’ve found myself at a loss for what to do. I identify with whatever I find myself involved in at the moment, and now that I’m only getting sober, it is the sole purpose I’m currently able to identify in my life. Like my unattainable inspiration, I hope that I will be ascribed a purpose, something to give me a reason to be, to get up in the morning, to work, to live. But, again, it doesn’t come about that way.

The answer to most of my problems always devolves into doing the footwork. The footwork to what I’m not quite sure, but if I don’t start running in some sort of direction I’ll find myself back at the bottle or hit that wants so desperately to destroy me. I seem to be a fan of destruction. It’s time to construct instead. I start things and repeatedly leave them quarter- or half-finished and that has been my downfall during the twenty-four years I’ve inhabited this earth. I’ve started blogs, began papers, discovered hobbies, all to abandon them nearly as soon as I’ve begun. The only thing I’ve seen completely through is my education. I have a four-year college degree. While nothing to take for granted, I find excuses to add it to the ever-increasing list of why I’m not good enough: I chose to major in something useless, I didn’t try hard enough, I wasted the time of myself and everyone around. I turn it into ammunition for the negative self-talk so pervasive in my mind.

Rather than resting on my laurels, I want to create a new project I can see through to fruition. Whatever that fruition may be, I simply desire to work towards something that isn’t getting loaded, and I want to document it on these electronic pages. I’ve begun personal writing in notebooks again during these last two weeks, but perhaps framing them on a public sector will hold me to a some semblance of accountability. The self-deprecation makes me wish I would have initiated this earlier in my sobriety, but I’m working at not allowing that inner monologue dictate how I live. I have fifty days sober today. Rather than focus on what I “could have” done, I choose to realize that my starting this in the first place is a positive. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t do so right away, I’m doing it now.  I’m not sure who will read this, whether the audience will remain minimal or become substantial, but this is the first honest piece of writing I’ve done since, perhaps, my childhood.