About two months ago (@Feb'06) during a morning walk I became very aware of the presence of something large overtaking me from behind. This all takes place in my mind of course. I wasn’t sure for a while what it was, but it didn’t go away; and after several days it seemed to me to be either a large boulder or a huge black cylinder – much larger that I am; it could easily crush me. My awareness of it would go away when I was occupied, but whenever I relaxed it would be there. I didn’t feel particularly threatened, but I knew I must figure out what it was doing there. Don’t ask me why, but I intuitively knew that it was connected to being transgendered and Rebekah.
As the days passed, the scene slowly evolved and became the edge of a tall cliff; I didn’t see myself in that scene, but I knew I was at the edge and the big thing was coming behind me. Some days went by and the scene evolved again; now there was a ledge cut into the face of the cliff. The ledge is about six or eight feet wide and about four feet deep. The side and back walls are perfectly vertical and go straight up to the top of the cliff. I still didn’t see myself on the ledge, but I knew I was on the ledge. I wasn’t sure how the thing behind me had turned into the back wall, but it had. I also knew somehow that that back wall had pushed me to the ledge. My overall feelings were ones of unease, knowing something needs attention; but that things were going to get worked out.
I talked about this scene with my therapist here and said I was sure it had something to do with my transgenderness and the increasingly intense desire to transition. We came to no meaningful conclusions about it, but decided I needed to seek a gender therapist. That last ledge scene followed me around for the next weeks and nothing more changed about it. I began to realize that the back wall was going to move and force me to jump; I’ve never seen the bottom below, but my feeling is I am not able to see that far. Time passes and I realize that when I jump I’ll actually be able to fly, but that I don’t know how yet. Time passes and I understand that someone will help me learn how to do that; this brings a measure of peace. I also came to understand that the jumping and flying is the transition – it is something that I “just knew”. I am able to find a gender therapist that feels comfortable to me and fits my situation – Dr. B.
The day before my first appointment with Dr. B. (spring of ’06), I saw my therapist here and we talked about all this, again with no real conclusions, other than it looked like I was headed for transition. It was a really positive session. The next day I talked with Dr. B.; I felt that was a positive session and had a sense of well being, progress and peacefulness. This was reinforced when a woman who I’d met at a blues festival here about a month ago walked into the shop; I was really surprised because I present pretty femininely and would not have been surprised it she never showed up again. We’d gotten along really well and she’d called several times to keep in touch. We had lunch and chatted. I knew I must tell her that I am transgendered and considering transition. I expected that to send her away for good. Instead (after a very long pause and some prompting from me) she said that she was probably a lesbian and had been in a female relationship before. She said she was attracted to me because of how I present and “felt” to her. You can imagine how pleased I was. I walked her to the ferry and we agreed to see each other again. Nice! I went to bed that night feeling very good.
(Note: After my session with Dr. B., I had this scene: I am standing outside the front gate at the walk leading up to a small wood frame house with a front porch; just a cute little house. I knew right away that this is where I am going to live the rest of my life and that I was supposed to have moved here a long time ago. I was finally coming home. This scene remains and has everything to do with my transition.)
The next morning I got up and as usual was drinking my coffee on my porch and meditating, thinking and just enjoying the beginning of the day. At some point the ever available ledge scene pops into my mind. I always looked at it from slightly above and to the left of the ledge. It was empty as usual. I had the thought that perhaps the back wouldn’t move and I had the choice of staying in that miserably confined space or jumping. I started to reflect on the flying part and realized that Dr. B. was going to teach me how to do the flying. It felt like the last piece of a puzzle falling into place and I started to cry a little. I was looking at the ledge. I then understood (in a very deep and profound way) the only way that I had gotten there was through the heroic efforts of Tom and I became very grateful for all that he’d done and been and how little he’d ever understood. It was a huge moment. My crying increased; but it was good, cathartic and acknowledging. I decided that I was either going to have to sketch that ledge or have some one do it for me,
As I turned the sketch idea over in my mind I suddenly saw for the first time that there was a figure on the ledge. It was Tom. As I watched, suddenly Tom was standing there holding Rebekah in his arms (as one does when carrying someone someplace). They were stick figures; Rebekah had a triangle dress on. I felt with such intensity the enormous effort that Tom had made to get there; I also realized the back wall represented the closing of Tom’s history. He’d just slogged along his entire life down in that channel and that channel was now gone and his work was done. All that remained was the ledge.
I was just bawling at this point. My hands started waving around a little and I kept saying “Tom just can’t do this anymore; I can’t go on” etc. My emotions were incredibly intense and I was feeling like I might explode or something. As I watched the ledge I saw Tom put Rebekah down and then he lay down and I knew he was dying; he could go no further; his work was done. (As I write this now, I can hardly stand it, the emotions are so strong.) I was sobbing uncontrollably at this point and waving my arms up down in little short, quick motions. I was starting to feel like I might lose control of myself somehow. I also understood that after Rebekah left, the ledge would seal up and be gone.
As I said before, I’d always just looked at the ledge from outside of it. As I watched the scene, I sensed Tom’s spirit departing and as I understood that, the next thing I knew I was on the ledge. And I was inside Rebekah looking at Tom laying there. Something compelled me to turn around and I started to turn around and face outward. I was terribly frightened and knew it wasn’t time to fly yet, but somehow I had to face it. At that point the scene washes to white (I never did see out) and I just went sort of crazy. I was shaking and trembling all over; I was so weak I could barely sit up in my chair and walking was not possible. It started to feel like I might lose my grip on reality. I began to realize I might need some help. My feet and hands were getting numb and I didn’t understand what was happening. I then thought maybe I should write an email to Dr. B. and maybe he might be able to call me later in the morning after I got to work. (I am clueless as to how I thought I could get to work or hang on until he maybe called.) It took maybe another ten minutes to get it together enough to get to my computer; I could barely walk, I was shaking like a leaf, numb all over, dizzy and like sort of a buzzing in my brain, all the while just sobbing. I got the computer going and managed a sentence and a half and then I just lost it all over again (never having regained much ground anyway). I realized I needed help right now, couldn’t wait; I felt like I was just going to lose touch with myself and pass out. I felt that if I passed out I might not get back to myself again. So I called my therapist’s office number; it was a little after 7am and I knew she wouldn’t be there, but I could get her cell number off the recording. It took five or six times to get the number right. Then it was her fax machine that picked up. My sobs were huge and I kept saying, goddammit and what the fuck over and over again. Two more tries and the phone rings. She picks up. Unbelievable! (God knew) I’ll say this, she surely is a pro; God I love her. We start talking and I manage to get myself to my bed, because I knew I needed to lie down or fall over. (As I write this last paragraph all the emotions returned, a little of the numbness and tingling with a lot of crying. This is Saturday and I haven’t gone over this since Thursday morning; yes that’s the morning.)
Well, we got it talked out; must have taken almost an hour. I hung up still feeling weak as a kitten, but at least under a semblance of control. I was empty, spent, drained and emotionally flat as a pancake. My brain felt like someone had grabbed my head and just shaken it into jello. After a couple of hours I somehow managed to get to my shop (why I thought I needed to do that, I’ll never know, looking back) – maybe the security of routine. Thank God business was abysmal and I didn’t have to deal with customers.
So that was it. The ledge is still there; I cannot look directly at it for now. I can’t take it somehow. On my way to the shop on Thursday, I “glanced” at it and it was covered in dark roiling clouds with a little lightening. I sense Tom is still lying there; I sense Rebekah is standing there frightened and trying to see past the storm that is raging there. I sense there is trouble there, but it seems more about me trying to go there and get things straightened out; it’s that I don’t have the emotional resources at the moment to deal with it. The dark clouds are still there today (Sat) - I can’t go there yet. Since that morning, I wouldn’t say I’ve been rock solid emotionally; I’m flat, still kind of empty and I’d say a little sad or melancholic – depressed doesn’t seem to fit. There is a slight pressure at my temples all the time and I’m carrying a moderate amount of tension in my neck and shoulders. I don’t focus and concentrate well; I’ve made some really thoughtless, rookie mistakes sewing. I can’t listen to the radio; quiet, melodic, blues seem to help.
This morning (Sat) without warning I came very close to having another “episode”. I was again having my coffee and Rebekah just came on and wanted out and just “to be”. I was getting the buzzy, shaky feeling again and knew there was no way I could go there. It had something to do with Rebekah coming out. I hugged my shoulders and told Rebekah I loved her and wouldn’t give up on her until she’s able to whole. That seemed helpful. Several weeks ago I decided that she needed a middle name. I worked through all the family females and the only possibility was my aunt. I put the question on the back burner to see how it felt over time. Well, in the middle of the hugging and talking it came to me that it’s time for the middle name (why then?). So I am now officially named Rebekah Jane Lee; a wholly named person. That seemed to satisfy something and I got it back together enough to write this little story. BTW, my aunt was a strong, intelligent creative woman, who I always loved and admired. I’ve also started to share some of this with my best girlfriends (not romantic) here, because I just can’t handle this by myself and there are no support groups on St. John. Thank God for my TS forum girls. Both groups are so loving and supportive. All I really know for now is I need some healing help/time; I need to begin my hrt and electro; this is not something I think – it’s something I know. And I need those flying lessons.
This too shall pass, Rebekah
EPILOGUE TO THE MELTDOWN
It is 3/27/07, a few minutes past 6am. I am walking a little past the Francis Bay Ruins parking area, I look up at the developing sunrise colors on the clouds and notice a large red-tailed hawk; it came from behind me and is flying east toward the sunrise. The lift isn’t good and he works a little searching for effortless, soaring flight. Within minutes, a pair of brown Pelicans floats past, working their way into the sunrise and a complimentary early morning a la carte breakfast – on the ocean.
I walk a couple more minutes and hear bird talk unfamiliar to me. I look around trying to locate the source and then, finally up. A smaller red-tailed hawk is doing a lot of chittering, interspersed with sharp piercing single note cries. Beating her wings quickly and powerfully to gain altitude, I listen and watch, wondering what all the chatter is about. She works hard, speaking continuously as she climbs and is soon in the Ajax ridge wave – soaring confidently on firm, uplifting air currents; totally silent now.
I say a silent thank you to God for sharing his beautiful birds with me and continue my walk. As I start up the approach to King Hill Road (@ ½ mile further), the scene of Rebekah and Tom on the ledge bursts clearly and instantly into my mind; completely unbidden. Then the image of the soaring hawks connects to me standing on the ledge of the original meltdown scene. I sense I am totally Rebekah and am now standing at the very edge of the cliff. The broad valley below stretches out in front of me. I am irresistibly and completely filled with the thought that it is time to fly. My mind’s eye returns to the hawks and I understand the cries of the second hawk are inviting me to step into space and join her. It is time to leave the ledge. It is time to soar. Glancing back at Tom (he’s still lying motionless on the ledge), I stretch out my wings, look out into the valley and step into space. It works; a little tentative and apprehensive, me wings find purchase and I work to catch the hawks. As I do, I know that it is only Rebekah now; Tom is no more.
I glance back at the cliff, to the ledge I’d just left, but the ledge isn’t there anymore. Tom isn’t there anymore. The cliff face is solid and sheer from top to bottom. There is no return. I am mildly anxious about being able to keep flying, but the hawk’s voice comes to me and tells me to keep beating my wings; that I will soon find the air currents that will allow me effortless soaring. I slowly realize I am alright; I begin to relax and slowly enjoy the flight. It washes back over me that it is only Rebekah now. It is very peaceful. Thank you!
I have no idea where all that came from or exactly why, how or the timing – it just burst into me. It was just another morning walk. I hadn’t thought about the ledge scene or meltdown for sometime, but did always have some sense or awareness that it and the situation on it remained. I know this much for certain: 1) the hawks and the pelicans were no accident; 2) they were precursors to help set the stage for my departure from the ledge (I knew from the first time I saw myself on the ledge in the meltdown, that I was going to fly – there was no other option; it was just a question of when). 3) It means for sure that I’m Rebekah from now on; my old character identity and my attachment to it are laid to rest.
Thank you Tom for standing in all those years; you actually did a nice job; I love you and thank you for what you helped me through and to.
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