Part One: Innocence Lost
Stabbed in the Back
February 17, 1995
Whoa! What a day! What a week!!!! How can I convey the magnitude of the electric charge running through my body? There's a lot of back story to this one, so I guess I'd best get to it...
Chris came to me over breakfast about three weeks ago to say he was unhappy with our financial arrangements regarding the story development software. (You know, I've just realized how LITTLE I've written in my journal about the story software, either in its nature as a theory, or the relationships between Chris, Steve, and myself. That is about to change!)
Chris came to me over breakfast and wanted a piece of my share of the the software profits. Now, I can't divulge what that share is, exactly, because the contract I have with the company forbids the parties from disclosing the details. What I CAN say is that I get a percentage of the gross sales. Not a bad deal, in fact.
When we first made our deal, Chris determined an appropriate percentage for the royalty to go to the creators of the theory (him and me). But, Chris is also the VP of Screenplay Systems, and as such, would be "double dipping" into the profits by taking a creator of theory share and also a Screenplay share. So, as per our intention to share equally in all the proceeds from the software, Chris graciously determined that I should get all of that gross percentage, and he would make HIS share on the Screenplay side.
This had advantages and disadvantages for both of us. I saw my disadvantages relatively quickly. He saw his only recently, and that is why he approached me at breakfast. Well, my disadvantages were that if the company got sold or went public, or if they licensed the software/Mental Relativity technology to other companies, they would realize a "windfall" profit in which I would not participate. I would only get my percentage of the gross. The disadvantage for Chris is that the gross percentage is a "sure" thing that pays off from the very first dollar taken in. His "net" profits are not going to be there for a while because it costs a lot of money to launch a new product and there's just nothing left over.
Well, we were all happy with the deal to some extent until I got my first few royalty checks. Suddenly, here's Chris who worked just as long and hard as I did, signing checks to pay me thousands of dollars, and meanwhile, he is raking in nothing in profits. I'd say that is enough to make one feel things are unfair!
Now I'm going to pick up the pace a bit. Over breakfast, I offered him half of my share. I did this because I still had a sense of obligation to him for all protection he had given me during my transition, both emotional and monetary. I also brought up that Steve ought to share in the profits too, since he wrote the code for the software. Perhaps a three way partnership in Screenplay Systems would make it all one pie we could divide up. Chris said he'd think about it and I didn't hear about it for days.
Of course, there's other little details that could lead to all kinds of little subplots, but I don't want to explore those; I want to stick pretty close to the heart of the matter. What it amounted to was that Chris started treating me in an antagonistic manner for the last three weeks. We even talked about it, both noting it, but he offered no explanation.
Two days ago, he called me into the conference room and told me he wanted half of my gross share. I asked what he was going to give me in exchange for that percentage and he said he wasn't giving anything. He also said that he didn't want to do the partnership. So, I told him that was unacceptable. I said, look, you want a piece of the "sure thing" profit that is happening now, and I want a piece of the potential windfall later. How about he gets half of my software gross and I get half of his software net. Then we'd both have a hand in each pie. He said he wouldn't give up any of his net. His reasons were that he intended to invest that net back in the company and didn't want to hobble that effort. I replied that I didn't care what he did with the net, it was still software money. Besides, if he put it into the company, it was just going into his own piggy bank. I call that profit. I told him that we each negotiated a deal for profit from the software. If he wants part of mine, he has to give me part of his.
Well, he didn't go for that. No deal. What did I care about a deal? He's the one who was feeling cheated and approached me. AND I was willing to give up half of mine for half of his. Now, if he didn't want to trade, doesn't that mean he considers his half more valuable than my half? And if so, how can it be unfair to him in the first place?
Well, to make it short, he was pretty miffed. You see, Chris has always been the kind of guy who looks at things objectively. He'll see the whole game plan and see himself just as another one of the players. He stands outside himself and then divvies up the resources. That makes him OVERLY fair because he never gives himself and preferential treatment.
I've been just the opposite. I saw everybody else as MORE important than me. So, anytime anyone wanted whatever I had, I gave it! What a pair we made, he and I! He couldn't ask and I couldn't say no! We suited each other perfectly. He made no demands on me and made sure things were evenly distributed, from that objective viewpoint, I always gave the extra effort and support if I saw a need for it. I'd volunteer to sacrifice! Just like my mom - but that's yet another story.
Back to this one. The next day, Chris had Steve (the company Prez) have a talk with me. By the time we finished, Steve, who had already heard Chris' side, told me that he didn't think the money was the problem. In fact, he was convinced that if I gave Chris exactly what he wanted, the problem would still remain. So, although Chris is his partner, I got the feeling that he saw me as "guiltless" and flexible in this situation and Chris as rigid and antagonistic. Which, obviously, is how I see him in this situation.
Don't get me wrong. I love Chris. Like a mother loves her son or a sister loves her brother. I care for him. But I won't let him gut my security just because I want him to be happy. Not anymore.
I used to be like that. In fact, all my life I was like that: one bad business venture or relationship after another. As soon as the sharks of the world got a whiff of me, they'd circle in for a feeding frenzy. "Play your violin story in front of Melanie and she'll give you her life savings. Play a little more and she'll give you her life!" Yep. That was me. Not anymore.
You see, Chris and I have both grown. He has now grown to the point where he can ask for what he wants and even try to take it. I have grown to the point where I can refuse to help someone solve their problems, even though it is within my power to do so. I think the problem here is that Chris is carrying it to an extreme. He's trying to grab instead of acquire. If I had gone to the same extreme, I would have just told him "forget it" and not offered alternatives to try and reach a deal. But, Chris has always been an extreme kind of person, and I've always hated binary.
Now, all this might be enough for a week, but its not over yet. Nothing more happened, but I came to some incredible insights just in thinking it over again and again.
Yesterday, after Steve talked to me, he went into a closed door session with Chris. Steve had told me that Chris had told him he didn't think he could work with me anymore under the circumstances. He might even drop out of the classes in story theory that we jointly teach. Last night we were to have a Deep Theory class. I didn't know if Chris would join me.
After Steve met with him, Chris did come to the class. He was cheerful. He was cordial. We shared the duties and were complimentary to one another. After class we walked to our cars together. This is where it gets interesting. Every night we leave together, Chris and I talk for a few moments, then he waits in his car until he sees mine has started okay before he leaves. This time, he just said, "See you tomorrow," in his cordial way, but no talk. Then he just got in his car and left.
Now, he and I have been together long enough that I know what he is doing. He doesn't want to face the real issue that is at the heart of what's bugging him, whatever it really is. He has projected his problem onto me, and see me as its source. He thought he could resolve his problem by making a new deal with me, but of course, that wouldn't have worked. Since we didn't make a new deal, he couldn't see that it wouldn't have worked. So, he gets mad at me, but realizes that he has to work with me or he is cutting his own throat. Then his practical side takes over and talks to his feelings. It tells them, "Okay, if Melanie is causing you problems, the only reason it bothers you is because you care for her. So stop caring." And that is what he did.
He is not being "cold" to me, but all the special warmth we shared in our relationship is completely gone from his eyes. His whole manner is designed to let me know in no uncertain terms, that I am no longer special to him. Wow! But you know what? It feels damned good!!! Double "wow"!
All last night before bed, I was feeling ecstatic. I felt free of obligation. Empowered! Chris was the last person in the world I was still being a doormat for. And, he was my "obstacle character", as I was his. Chris hasn't really changed. He's just traded one personality extreme for another. But I've changed. I'm not going to get raped anymore in any context.
I WILL be generous. I'll give ALMOST until it hurts, but never there. Any surplus I have, I'll share. But I'm not going to give away the store. Not anymore.
This morning I woke up feeling absolutely GRAND. It was like I was a hot air balloon and somebody just cut loose the ballast. I realized I wanted to form my own company again. I'll call it Heart Corps. I want to be in charge. I want to shoot for the moon. Auddenly it felt as if I'd been held back by Chris and Screenplay all these years. Of course, I really did it to myself. Here I have all these ideas I could run with and turn them into something special, but either Chris or Screenplay was not interested. I just let the ideas languish, because I felt I couldn't go anywhere Chris would not go with me because we were partners.
So, I stunted my own growth so I wouldn't leave him behind. Screw that!
I went to my electrologist today for my weekly touch up. As soon as I lay down on the couch, I started relating this to her. (This is where we get to all the "wow"s and "whoa"s of the opening sentence.. Finally!)
I asked rhetorically when I was going to have a boring week! She replied that every week I came in, SOMETHING exciting was going on. She said she'd bet I NEVER had a boring week. (Here it comes...)
I said of course I had. So, I started looking backward in reverse order in my life. Well, let's see... We are doing these classes and we just released the software for Windows and I just had a speaking engagement last Saturday. No, can't find a boring week there. Before that then... I spent the last 3 1/2 years developing the software, going cross country to conventions, writing The Subversive, starting the America Online Gender Group [Transgender Community Forum], having sex change surgery... Nope, my boring life that I see as mine must have happened before that.
Alright, just before the company... Editing a Panavision feature and working on it at Universal Studios. Nope. Going full time? Nope. Starting my own video business, building it up to three employees, directing major educational films and videos using state of the art special effects that I designed (oh, and I starred in one of those as well as writing, directing, producing and editing). Nada!
Well, how about before THAT!!! Directing two feature films before I was thirty. Going to USC cinema, working on student films and holding job at the same time. Getting married. (Still going backwards) Working the night shift 9 PM to 5 AM while taking a home study course in electronics. (Have to back even FARTHER to find a boring week).
Making the first student film ever produced at my high school, getting a letter in track, winning honorable mention in the Kodak Teenage Movie Awards (story and picture in the local paper) Becoming a "Life" scout, one rank below Eagle, Being Junior Assistant Scoutmaster and Senior Patrol Leader.
Junior high then??? Starting a club, Starlight, to study scientific discoveries. Being in scouting - camping and leading patrols. Creating inventions. Building a full sized suit of armor out of tin cans and solder.
Elementary school? Cub scouting (21 arrow point awards, maximum rank). Moving four times in two years. My mom remarrying when I was seven. Having my tonsils out.
Pre-elementary? Investigating everything I saw with an insatiable curiosity. I remember when I was three years old, swinging on my swing set in the back yard. It was a gray, overcast day. I would swing up so I could only see gray, no trees, no buildings, just the gray. I wanted that experience, because each time it was all gray, I remember asking myself, "If I was in the middle of nothing, would it look gray or black? Well, that's me for you!
Alright. All my life I've felt like a victim and a failure. I have only seen myself as a success in the context of partnership with others. I've never wanted to be on my own. Totally afraid of it. I want to support someone else in exchange for their emotional and physical protection. Just like with my mother. Just like with my old friend Bill. Just like with Andy. Just like with Chris.
Here I was again, having created a revolutionary theory with all kinds of practical application. Here I was making more money than I've ever made before. Here I was practically revered in the classes I teach, and I still felt "unworthy". Is that a female thing or what!
Laying there on the electrology table, it all came clear to me in an instant as I spoke. I realized I had no boring weeks in my life at all. I had none because I was a mover and a shaker since I could crawl, but I never, ever saw it.
I'll tell you. Look back at all the stuff I've written in this journal up until now and see if you don't find evidence of that! And see if you don't sense something different in the way THIS essay was written!
As I told my electrologist, when I was in elementary school we studied the California Ranchos - huge spreads of land run by a single family and all their hired help. The ranchos attracted me so much because they were completely self-sufficient. They grew what vegetables they needed, raised cattle, ate the meat, used the tallow for soap and candles, and traded the tanned hides for manufactured goods from Spain.
I was so taken by the concept. I wanted to be self-sufficient too! So, each day after school, I'd go out in the back yard and gather up small stones, maybe a half an inch in diameter. I'd carefully lay them out to surround a puddle, which was my Rancho lake, a clump of weeds, which was my orchard. I would make one big, uneven circle, enclosing all of the things I needed to be self-sufficient. When the final stone was in place, I was secure.
But I got ambitious. I wanted more. So, I'd gather a few more stones and use them to make a "lump" on the outside of the wall. I'd enclose the new area, and ONLY then, would I break down the wall in between the two. This way, I never risked the whole to add a new part.
Well since then, I've grown wiser. I know that not only do you want to add new parts and fresh resources, but often you'll want to get rid of a part that's dragging you down. Seal off an area with an internal wall and cast it adrift. It is no longer part of your domain. Also, you might want to compartmentalize, by dividing the whole into sub-sections with internal walls having gates. Then, you can rest assured that just because the outer membrane is breached, you can just seal off that part and the whole won't be compromised. That's why they have bulkheads on ships.
The only thing I seldom consider is what if the whole darned thing is on bad land and you have to abandon it all and start over somewhere else? Well, I consider it now, but its not my way. I want to hold on to the good, cast loose the bad, protect with internal compartments and make the damned thing grow. It's mine, after all, and to feel the joy and possessing it, I can't turn authority for it over to anyone else. Andy, Chris, or ANYONE else. Not anymore.
I see now why I was so relieved and enlivened by Chris giving me the cold shoulder. I'm free! My last relationship where I gave up control for protection has now crumbled. That relationship formed shackles on my life in ways I had not seen at all. I will not hate Chris ever. I will care for him to the day I die. But I will not die for him.
My life is my own now, just like a loving wife whose husband leaves her, and she is surprised to find herself euphoric. I have always been a success. I didn't really NEED all these "partners" and relationships any more than Dumbo needed that stupid feather to fly. I've always had my wings, but chose to ride around in somebody else's jet.
Look out world. Here comes Melanie.
February 27, 1995
I'm at a strange crux. I've painted my room in a color I have hated since my earliest memories. I don't know why I have hated this color, but I do know that it goes back to age three or four. It is a tan color with some persimmon in it. Kind of like a pink sand. Not quite a salmon, though. I am now surrounded by that color. I need to get in touch with it.
I can't count on Chris anymore. I know he is not going to protect me. Every man I have ever known has let me down, emotionally. That is the nature of men. Not to men, but as seen by women. There is not a man who has lived that can be trusted with your emotions.
What if I had let Chris take half of my profits? That he even asked makes him identical to Andy and Larry and Fred. A string of men who have lured me on to give them what they want by playing against my desire to support them, to make them happy.
Every man will hurt another to get what he wants. Every man will take for his gain at another's expense. Men are animals. But it is their way. It is not mine.
Are you shocked? Did you expect me to stand forever in the Great In-between? Did you think I was some genderless spirit, neither male nor female because I saw each side so clearly? Well, perhaps I was, at one time. But that time is gone. I have no more tolerance for that cold, calculating species that inhabits the world with my kind. No tolerance for the half of humanity that has subjugated, tortured, and physically and emotionally raped the other.
Let them have their system, but don't include me in it. The inhumanity of the workplace: hours, structured minutes, square walls, deadlines, rules, goals, balance sheets - meaningless! One's life gone in the pursuit of achievements that mean nothing.
Yet, I desperately crave the companionship of a man - not men. Just one man who I can count on. But does such a beast exist? Only if I have nothing to offer him. What cosmic irony! I can only attract a man who sees me in possession of something he needs: my spirit, my money, my skill, my support. Even the emotional atmosphere I replenish around him is perceived as nothing more than a commodity. But any man who would have me on any of these bases would see me as a conquest, a possession; to be used and then thrown away.
Trust: there can be no trust of men. They will bark at your tree until you throw the fruit down. When you have no more fruit, they go away. Only in old age do they come back to the tree, now devoid of fruit. Broken, vulnerable, they seek to climb in your branches, a surrogate womb as they dissolve into the blithering infants as which they began.
No, the only way to have the favor of men and not lose them is to give them nothing. The only way to feel protected is to protect oneself. Hold onto your fruit, let them bark. Make them do tricks. Dole out your fruit, but never as fast as you grow it. When the seasons change and your fruit shrivels, be prepared to bear another fruit: the enclosing comfort of emotional security.
And what do we get? Attention. Companionship. Perhaps even respect. But love? There is none in men. I have felt love. I am no man.
I have never met a man who loved, really LOVED. No, their pale mockery of love has its greatest expression in dying for me! That, and leave me all alone? What kind of love is that? Better I should die with you, or instead of you, so that my feelings can stop hurting in that black enclosure, and yours that are so hard and lifeless can remain and better stand the strain.
Don't give up your life; give up your heart. Be loyal and true. If you tire of me, leave. But do not cast me adrift. Be there for me when I am sad. Be there for me when I am under siege. Be with her, the other one and ones who will supplant me, but don't pretend we never were. If contracts are all that hold you in check, make an emotional contract with me. Say that you will honor me always, even if you choose to possess another.
How I long for a man so honor bound that I could turn over to him the keys of my life. But I have never been anything but disappointed. I am 42. In 18 years I will be 60. How can I ever have enough experience with a man to counter their perfect record with me so far? I have known Chris for 18 years. I will be 60 before I could accept, through a man I know now, that the odds of my experience being correct were evenly balanced off.
For all the men I have known so far have disappointed me. And that weight may not be lifted in my lifetime.
Author's Note: At the time I wrote the above passages, I was deeply hurt and almost uncontrollably angry. Since then, my feelings have changed considerably. I now realize that many of the motivations I attributed to Chris were not really his, but merely projections of my own fears and insecurities. In more recent days, Chris and I have re-united to teach additional classes in the story theory, and he has welcomed me back into an ongoing partnership as the two co-creators of the story theory and Mental Relativity. In fact, Chris, Steve, and I are currently planning a whole new product line of software based on our work.
For a time, I considered removing the offending section, as well as a few others scattered throughout my journal. But, it was Chris himself who told me when I was first starting my diary, "Write everything down the way it happened, because you will never remember it that way later." I have taken his advice to heart, and include the material here as an essential link in the chain of my journey, with apologies for any unfairness that surely exists in this rather one-sided portrayal of the events.
Next Chapter ~~~~ Diary Home Page ~~~~ Transgender Support Site Home Page
© All Contents Copyright Transgender Support Site