Boiled in Oil
Part One: The Promised Land
Come Chaos: Armageddon Lite
August 2, 1992, Sunday
Ive just gone through some major emotional upheavals. On Friday morning I went in to work, called up Mary and told her that I might not be coming home that night or ever again. Then I went into Chris office and told him that after two years on the story software project, this might be my last day. The pressure had gotten to me, and I couldnt stand all the obligations anymore.
I had over obligated myself as founder and leader of the America Online Gender Group [which became the Transgender Community Forum], as a husband and father and a woman with a woman as a lover, and as a theoretician - it was too much for me.
It all started when I was five years old and, being rejected for acting as I truly felt, I decided to watch and learn to act in a way I would be accepted. What I didnt consider is that my entire personality grew on foundations of justification. My personality itself was just one big justification. And then, I met Angel.
I decided I wanted to find out what it would be like to have a relationship with another woman. And so I signed on to an adult computer bulletin board, and the first person to greet me there was Angel. She is only twenty-nine - ten years younger than me. As a person, she is very sensitive. Shes also very good in bed.
We talked for a couple of days via the BBS, then we talked on the phone and I told her about my past. She still wanted to meet. We got together and met in the park, a week ago yesterday. As soon as we met, we stuck it off well. We held hands, and she took me back to her place. The two of us sat on the couch and immediately started embracing each other.
We lay on the bed with our clothes on and cuddled and fondled, and then we went out to dinner together. When we returned, we had a wonderful night of sensitive, caring love making. It was a different kind of love than Id ever felt before. Unlike with Bernard, who was kind of a give and take, this was more of a give and give. Taking happened automatically by giving. There was a gentleness I had not experienced, neither in making love with Mary as a male or with Bernard as a female.
That night, I guess I completed the grand slam of sexuality. I have made love with a male as a male (even though I thought of myself as a woman) with Andy. I have made love with a female as a male with Mary. I have made love with a male as a female with Bernard. And now, I have made love with a female as a female with Angel.
Having experienced all of that, its left me very, very confused. But what it also did was peel away the last layers of my justification. Suddenly I realized that I had all these obligation that I hadnt entered into because they fulfilled me, but because I didnt want to be rejected by others.
Whenever anyone asked me to do something, I would say yes. I went out of my way to find projects where I could support people, so they would care about me. For example, the other night, after a full days work, someone from the AOL Gender Group wanted to have dinner and talk. I expressed myself some, but the real purpose of the dinner was to provide them with support. What I expected to take an hour ended up taking five. When I returned home I had chores waiting, then back to work the next day, a lunch meeting with another Gender Group member, then I was supposed to go over to Angels to stay over Friday night, come back home early Saturday to be picked up by Juni to go to a slumber party we had planned for a few friends up at a cabin, then return Sunday evening just in time to host the two-hour gender support meeting on AOL, then do electrolysis, then on Monday get ready for the trip I am taking on Tuesday morning with Chris and Steve to Florida to promote the story software. Do I get a vacation while in Florida, perhaps to go to Disney World? No. I am going to Disney World, but with someone from the AOL Gender Group who wanted to meet me. The next day Im spending with someone else from the Gender Group who wanted to meet me, and well spend the day at Epcot Center. The next day I drive from Sarasota to Tampa alone, arrive that evening and being talking with educators about the story software project. The next day I deliver a paper on the story theory to the distinguished members of the University Film and Video Association. The next day I fly home, arrive just in time to host the AOL support group meeting, and the whole thing starts all over again.
The pressure was just too great. I had to do this for myself. When I walked in to Chris office and quit, he told me I had over-obligated myself. He said, You dont have any Melanie time. You dont have any time for you. When I called Mary and told her I was going, she left work and demanded I come home to speak with her. She said exactly the same thing.
I trust both Chris and Mary more than anyone else. So, I figured if both of them were giving me an identical explanation for my feelings, perhaps this is what it really is. It hurts me to think that the answer may not be to run away from all these obligations; maybe the answer is to eliminate them.
In the story theory we speak of characters who are be-ers or do-ers. Be-ers try to change themselves and/or their environment by doing internal work - altering themselves. Do-ers try to change their environment and/or themselves by doing external work - taking direct action.
Be-ers and Do-ers dont often see themselves for what they are. From a Be-ers perspective, I felt that by moving away and changing my situation, I was taking action. It never occurred to me to change things directly. Instead, I had become a different person - one who could walk away from obligations without fulfilling them, and I had never been that way before.
When I spoke with Mary, however, I decided a better approach might be to take direct action. So, I told her I needed some changes in my obligations. I needed her to join me in cleaning the house, doing some of the cooking, and giving me some time alone without interruption. She agreed.
Then, I called up Chris. We had previously talked about my going on a four day week instead of five days when the first version of the story software is finally released. As a side note, they just fired the programmer who was working on the story software because he never really believed it could be done and wasnt giving it his full effort. The result is that the story software wont be ready for Christmas as originally planned. Another year of working under this pressure would have been impossible for me.
Now I know I have value to Chris as my employer at the company. But I also have value to him as a human being. So, I told him on the phone that I needed to go on the four day schedule right now without a cut in the advance they are paying me on my future story software royalties. (Even one hundred dollars a month less and I would lose my house!) Chris replied in both capacities as friend and company vice-president, I dont think that will be a problem. Well, I came into the office Friday afternoon, picked up my check, and Chris also insisted I take a one week paid vacation after we come back from Florida.
So, here it is Sunday afternoon, and I have been in terrible emotional straits. Friday, I went over to Angels, and again she opened up in me so much with the gentle love making, the caring, the sharing, the touching, the hugging, the holding.... It is so special with her, perhaps is better that we only spend one day a week together, because then it is fresh every time.
We are planning on going camping in the future, and going to swap meets and movies, and its going to be a relationship - a real relationship! I dont think Ive ever had one.
So on Friday, after my conversations with Mary and Chris, I stayed over at Angels, and I had not been home for two hours Saturday morning when the elderly lady next door started yelling my name. I went to the fence to see what was the problem, and she said her husband had stopped breathing.
I yelled to Mary to call 911, went next door, and there he was, sprawled on the couch, not breathing. I started mouth to mouth resuscitation, and ultimately began CPR because I couldnt find a pulse. Here I was with all my emotional problems, known as having had a sex-change to the people in that family, kneeling over the patriarch, giving him mouth to mouth and CPR.
Just like my mother, whenever there is a crisis I am level headed, cool, I do what I have to do. But as soon as the paramedics arrived and took over, it was everything I could do to keep from being a basket case. Mary and another neighbor comforted his wife, and I just sat there shaking, trying to keep from falling apart.
I had gone to the limit in doing for others, even if it was an emergency situation such as this - it was still giving of myself to someone else. At the end of everything Ive been through, it was so difficult....
I spent the rest of Saturday doing nothing. If I was in the middle of something and wanted to stop, I just stopped. I didnt make any plans. I didnt have any obligations; I canceled them all.
When I go back to work, I will take Wednesdays off. That way, I work two days, take a day off, work two days and take two days off. Wednesday will be my Sunday. On the weekends, the kids are so wild and energetic, and Mary always has something going, so I cant relax then. I need, as Chris put is, some Melanie time, and that will be my Wednesdays - a time when I can listen to music, write some music, write stories, or just do nothing but sleep and rest in bed.
I will continue to do my gender magazine, but no longer as a weekly. From now one its going to be a monthly. Ill probably still lead the AOL support group once a week, but I will feel free to miss it once in a while, go other places and do other things.
Mary asked me to do something this morning, and I said, Id really rather not. and she said, Good for you! You never say no.
August ?, 1992
Chris is very wise: this paid week off is doing me a world of good. So many unresolved inequities that had been put on hold for years are climbing out of the woodwork and slowly unraveling.
I am amazed at how far from reality I had drifted. You know, I was thinking today that to go through transition, you have to set up a subjective view that is absolutely in opposition to objective reality. Through all the months and years, you believe in a dream and deny the actuality around you. Then, suddenly, the dream is reality and the actuality is just a memory, with a new actuality taking its place.
Suddenly, the subjective view matches the objective view. But what happens to that potential the used to exist between them? Energy cannot be destroyed, just shifted in form, so it has to go someplace. And since it is an internal phenomenon, it goes somewhere inside. I think it gums up the works.
For me, I kinda got stuck in a dream world - a land where nothing was believed to be reality and perception was my only anchor. This week is turning into a family reunion between me and reality. In a sense, here and there, one by one, my feelings and beliefs are compared against the true objective actuality, and then re-calibrated accordingly.
Remember, I ignored reality for three years during transition, and reality drifted quite a distance since then. So, even though I now accepted my new role, OTHER things had changed in three years, as much as if I had been on the bottom of the sea.
This week is catch up - just as if I emerged from a cave and had three years of newspapers to catch up on. Kinda like waking up from a coma, I guess.
I can tell this is not going to be a quick process. Probably, it will take me the rest of the year before everything gets around to re-calibrating. But, I CAN feel the process at work. And every day I am sure that I see things a little more like they really are.
As a creative thinker, I have always had a problem with reality. That is what frees me to consider new ideas. But it comes with a price and that price is being somewhat on the fringe. Yet, that does not have to be incapacitating. The problem I ran into was that I was so involved in so many things, I had no time to stop and re-adjust my views back to reality. Instead, the divergent perspective just drifted farther and farther away. But now, with my one day off a week ALONE, I will have that catch-up time, where I can skip a beat if I get out of step and get back in sync each week. I will continue to drift, it is my nature, but I wont get too far afield in only one week.
August 16, 1992 Sunday
Today I broke off the relationship with my lover, Angel. I never broke off a relationship before. Not a friendship. Not a business association. Certainly not a love relationship. It was the right thing to do for me.
Ive never wanted to be the villain - the bad guy. But this time, I was. And I survived.
As I left, she tried so hard to keep me. And her needs were so great. She needed me so much. And thats why I left.
I was giving up too much to too many people, and there was nothing left.
Each and every thing I was involved in was fine in and of itself. But collectively, it was more than I could handle. If all your time is spent being active in good things, you have no time left to enjoy what you are receiving.
Sometimes you just have to step away. In the last two weeks I have stepped away from everything, and finally the pressure is gone.
That doesnt mean I dont feel any pain. The time I spent with Angel was the most special of any of my intimate relationships. I will miss her. I miss her now. But I know that to stay would have destroyed me.
It was really a choice of staying with Mary and the kids or staying with Angel. I could not handle both. I picked Mary and the kids.
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