Shifting Gears

Things I have never been:

  • optimistic
  • a trendsetter
  • an intellectual
  • particularly brave

Things that I have become:

  • less pessimistic
  • the first of my peeps to attempt to parent a transgender kid
  • getting smarter every day
  • braver

It strikes me how the very traits that have, historically, not defined me suddenly do.  It is strange how I, a glass half empty kind of gal, am suddenly perceived as a voice of optimism and strength.  Never one to lead the charge, I take note that I’ve been more outspoken and public about just how okay it is to support ones’ “different path” child.  I’ve noticed that my penchant for trashy magazines and easy-read contemporary novels has morphed into a desire to deepen my knowledge and understanding every day.  (That is not to suggest that I have lost interest in those fine periodicals, quite to the contrary, actually.) And, just to make thing more interesting, my lifelong fear of change has been kicked in the ass but good.  An added bonus of this new life?  Methinks it just may be.

Being thrust into this adventure has shaken me to the core, but has also, somehow, managed to free me.  My brother Robbie hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that I had been given the “gift of not caring what other people think”.  While we all care what people think of choices we make with regard to our parenting, our clothing, our hobbies and, a personal favorite, our children, it is the degree to which it effects me that has shifted.  I still (desperately) want to be perceived as a good person, a good parent and a good friend.  I still care how I look and will not be seen (other than at the gym) without my beloved mascara (aside: when I first met my therapist, I told her that if I ever showed up in her office and was mascara-less, she should become very concerned, very quickly as it was surely a sign that I had given up all hope) but I am far less reliant upon (or driven by) others’ perception of me.  I have let go of the joke that we all subscribe to suggesting that we have any sort of control over anything and have (almost) (okay, not almost, but getting closer) embraced the fluidity of not just Jessie’s adventure, but daily life.

It would be a lie to say that I don’t have sleepless nights (but you probably do, too) or moments of hysteria (you have those, too, right?!) over not just Jessie’s adventure, but Harrison’s, too. I go to the negative “what ifs” more than I should but less than I used to.  Likewise, I knock around self-doubt more than I should, but less than I used to.  There is a lot I don’t know about being a transgender kid (and her parent) than I did, but I know more than I did six months ago.  And while I am still afraid of what the future holds, I’m not quite as terrified as I used to be.   It is an uphill battle, and I’m still in a low gear, but at least my pedaling seems to be getting me somewhere…

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33 thoughts on “Shifting Gears

  1. I like how you wrote this and hoe you tell the truth. There’s an expression that goes something like, You wouldn’t care what people think of you if you know how seldom they do” meaning that most people are too busy worrying about themselves first and foremost. ; )

  2. I randomly stumbled upon your blog through “freshly pressed.” And I just wanted to tell you that your blog rocks. I love the authenticity. Love it.

  3. Pressed done too soon … Anyway. What I was trying to say was I always thought the aerenity prayer was for people who drank too much….. Boy was I wrong ! Worth taking a look at, that and diet coke get me through every day.

  4. You are courageous– so happy that you realize the benefits of challenges. I used to resent the struggles in my life but it exhausted me. I felt both angry and empty. Now I say that my son’s struggles have allowed me to find my soul, my courage, my strength!
    I look forward to following your posts!
    Cara

  5. those things – those traits – must have been sitting dormant (or unrecognized) in you all these years…having read just a few of your posts, no one could have braved the paths you’ve chosen, with a mind and heart open to the challenge, without a pretty liberal dose of courage…optimism’s a funny one – very relative – but you must have had some reserve of hope simmering within you, waiting for the moment it would be most needed…as for intelligence, your emotional intelligence is off the charts – and you’re a damn good writer, so you can’t have ever been all that dumb…with re: the trendsetter issue, well i just couldn’t say for certain, but this blog surely illustrates the leader within you…you’re an inspiration…and a great read. keep ’em coming. and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • My parents both understood and embraced optimism more than I, do it must have been lurking in my DNA somewhere. Thank you for such kind and thoughtful words…they go a long way for me!

  6. I think Amy Ru hit the nail on the head with the word “authentic.” It’s the perfect word for who you are (hmmmmmm….it also describes Jessie, doesn’t it?) and perhaps, as you’ve detailed in this most recent post, the person you are becoming. I think it’s what happens when one is faced with such an enormous life challenge—how could you not grow to be more and more authentic? Priorities do change….thankfully. And one last thing, Julie. You are providing those of us who don’t know you well (and those worldwide who don’t know you AT all!) to have a window into the core of the person you are….a good person, a good parent and a good friend.

    • I, too, like the word “authentic” and give credit to Jessie for knowing how to embrace that before her mom did. Your continued support, Lori, is so deeply appreciated…really. xo

  7. Hey!

    I have read only two posts in your blog and I’m happy that i found your blog.. Your blogging is easy to read and at some point puts me think..
    i have one main blog too.. i have troubles with getting thoughts what I write about.. but yeah.. If you are interested reading my blog, here is the address http://judgedbypple.wordpress.com – there is only two posts but I’m just getting started 😀
    Thanks, keep up great work and i keep up reading, commenting and writing posts into my blog…

    (sorry, about my English)

  8. Ok, I am starting to wonder if we are just a lot alike or if maybe there are more of us who feel the same way than we know of.
    My therapist made me read ‘the four agreements’ & while I don’t pretend to have conquered my ‘need/want’ for the approval of strangers, it did help a lot.
    I guess in the end all we can do is the best we can for our selves and our kids 🙂

  9. Julie,

    That which was “lurking” in your DNA was also passed on to Jessie. With Jessie, it manifested itself with more of a lurch than a lurk, however. We, as parents, teach what we can to our children, often, seemingly, in vain. Sometimes, though, it is our children who teach us – or at least awaken us to those things our parents had taught us. This, to me, is the true meaning of generation.

    As a “mature” “transgender” woman (I don’t see myself as either old or transgender), I could have written your blog, myself (Well, except for the “trashy magazines”, but I do have my own distractions – ya just gotta have something for yourself). It has been only in the last few years that I have become more optimistic, more open to the world as the woman I’ve always known myself to be, smarter (or, at least less dumb), and more brave. It may have been my “inner child” that finally was awakened and allowed these things to happen, but a child nonetheless.

    We all travel the Yellow Brick Road; some of us take more detours. Eventually, and hopefully, we discover that those things were always parts of us. It’s a matter of just when we pull the curtain and begin to pay attention to the man (or woman, or child) behind it. There may be no real wizard there, and Oz is actually in the “ahs” (“a- hahs”, as Oprah calls them), but we certainly can come to the realization that life is, truly, wonderful.

    Rainbows :-),
    Connie

    • It is so true that we learn more from our children. We catch them before they have been soured on the world and before they know that being true to oneself can also prove to be challenging. We are just starting down the yellow brick road, but comments like yours make the lions and tigers and bears a little less frightening!

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