I am feeling conflicted. On one hand, I am touched, honored and moved by the outpouring of support that has resulted from my blog. On the other hand, I do grapple over whether I am somehow exploiting (damn, I hate that word) the situation of my ten year old child. I know in my heart that the benefits (thus far, anyway) have far outweighed the shockingly small number of negative response I have received, yet I cannot help but wonder.
When I consider the many people from far and wide who have expressed support of not only me and my family while describing themselves as having been Jessie thirty, forty, even fifty years ago I am humbled by their stories of shame, secrecy and marginalization. While most of them eventually found the courage and voice to be true to themselves, only some have found the unbridled support that they craved. Many have told me that my going wide with our story has helped them to find greater peace. That right there, is, as far as I am concerned, a terrific benefit to both them and to my family. No conflict there.
Jessie knows about the blog, but, to my mind, only as much as she (being a ten year old kid) needs to. She has seen many entries. Others, while not kept “secret” per say, have been written, posted and commented upon without her explicit knowledge. There are anecdotes which I have censored and others which she has specifically requested I not write about – all of which I have, and will continue to, honor. That said, I have not lost sight of the fact that she is the main character and, as such, perhaps deserves a greater editorial role. But, then again, she is a ten year old kid. Now you see my conflict?!
On the occasions when my blog has blown up (the first was when there was an article in The Phoenix: http://thephoenix.com/Boston/news/134795-telling-jessies-story/ , the second was immediately following my guest post on www.scarymommy.com and, I suspect the third will be now that it is on www.huffingtonpost.com ) my level of internal conflict has risen exponentially. It would be less than honest (I am nothing if not honest) to say that the accolades (while they still make me bristle) manage to serve as a huge boon to my ever suffering self esteem and anxiety levels. At the same time, I live with constant worry over what it means not only to Jessie, but the rest of my family as well. Overtly, they are nothing but supportive, but this is complicated, loaded stuff which every one of us is facing down for the first time. Each time things heat up I (half-) joke about putting more money in the “therapy fund” since I am acutely aware that their expressed nonchalance is not necessarily a true reflection of their psyche. I know that I, for example, manage to project a far greater sense of confidence in living this reality than I necessarily feel at any given moment. This is pure speculation, but I would be willing to bet that everyone in my inner circle feels the same way. And there it is again: conflict.
Armed with the knowledge that prepubescent children who have identified as transgender have been known to change their minds, I have often commented (to anyone who would listen) that I don’t know if I am more fearful that she will or that she will not continue on this path. Right now it seems highly unlikely to me that she will change course, but I am (just barely) wise enough to know that I, in fact, know nothing. Add that uncertainty to the ever growing list of conflicts I have rattling around in my head and we’ve got, yep, more conflict.
I’m not gonna lie – it is very exciting to be published in places like Scary Mommy (a site that enjoys something insane like a gazillion unique users per month) and Huffington Post (ditto on the stats) – but I sometimes feel, well, conflicted, that my main line of conversation is about my kid, even though she is (supposedly, anyway) down with it. In my heart I don’t feel that I am exploiting (crap, there’s that word again!) her but what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t feel guilty about something?
So, on we go with this real time adventure, my anxiety be damned.