What I Hate

I hate ambiguity; it is making me crazy.  I had never put much thought to how I felt about it, but ever since being told (repeatedly) that I need to be able to tolerate the ambiguity of Jessie’s transgender self I feel as though it (ambiguity, that is) is systematically eating away at my very fiber and forcing me to make announcements such as, “I hate ambiguity; it is making me crazy.”

Over the years I have professed my unwavering hatred for a few things.  Some of the most dyed- in-the-wool include (but are by no means limited to):

  • Black licorice.  I believe it is actually thinly disguised poison.  I have really tried to like it and have even gone as far as to pop a Good N’ Plenty thinking (hoping) that the candy coating would help mask the offending flavor of anise.  Candy fail.  Cannot do it.
  • Vomit.  This includes: mine, my husband’s, my children’s, yours, your children’s and strangers’ (hospital roommates are the worst – trust me).  I am equally horrified by hearing about it, smelling it or even thinking or writing about it.  I am a card-carrying, certified vomit-phobe.
  • Chipped fingernails.  Not a good look for anyone.  Either maintain ‘em or leave ‘em naked.
  • The final leg of laundry and supermarket shopping; I don’t mind doing it, I just hate putting it all away.
  • Inconsistent assholes.  If you are an asshole, I am fine with it.  It is when you are only sometimes an asshole that I loathe.  Too hard to deal with the, um, yep, ambiguity.

I am a straight shooter which is probably why I detest being a situation in which I do not know where I stand.  So, you can only imagine how the ambiguity inherent in Jessie’s social transition is getting deep under my skin and festering.  Everyone knows that I have been told by more than one therapist (okay, three…not including my friends who are therapists…that brings the number to closer to 12) that I must, must, must learn to “tolerate the ambiguity” but, the truth is, I don’t want to anymore.  I want someone to tell me where we are going, how we are going to get there and where we are going to land.  Is that too much to ask?  Apparently it is.

Black licorice, vomit, chipped fingernails, the laundry and marketing piled on the kitchen counters and (most) assholes leave nothing to chance, pose no questions and simply are what they are.  There is very little room for interpretation, speculation, self-doubt or anxiety. While I have an intense dislike of not just the licorices of the world but the resulting emotions they create, nothing drives me as utterly crazy as the ambiguity.  (Well, the vomit does.  I guess that makes me not only a vomit-phobe but an ambiguity-phobe, too.)  Further, any interaction or exchange with any of the aforementioned horrors has a decided beginning, middle and end.  Ambiguity – no matter what it is specifically referring to – is, almost by definition, endless.  Oh, dear G-d…

To be clear, my support of Jessie has not changed, but does that necessarily mean that I have to like the process?  Well, it better not, because if it does, then I am screwed.  Truly.  This is a complicated, loaded, lonely, scary, tiresome and overwhelming experience for everyone who lives in this house, Jessie included.  Not surprisingly, some days (hours, actually) are easier than others and there are brief lapses of normalcy, but the (here it comes again) ambiguity is kicking everyone’s ass.  There, I said it.  It is hard to admit, but in fairness to myself and, frankly, anyone reading this, I need to keep things real.

While I don’t normally go in for the pity on these pages you have likely surmised by now that I am in the midst of a little pity party.   I might even close out the afternoon with a cry.  But we can all take comfort in knowing that Jessie, exhausted from the heat, the hours logged at the pool and, I suspect, the burden of her own ambiguity, is lazily killing off brain cells watching stupid television while luxuriating in the central air and is none the wiser to mom’s internal hysteria.  As long as no one force feeds me black licorice or considers (or, worse, goes through with) vomiting, I’ll be fine in an hour or so.  I hope, but who knows… g-ddamned ambiguity!

p.s. I have gone through trying to count the number of times I used the word ambiguity and keep coming up with different numbers.  It is somewhere between ten and twelve. I am blaming my inability to count on my overwhelmed state but will say that I’m glad the total never came to thirteen because I am a little superstitious.  And tomorrow is Friday the Thirteenth.  One of you is now going to count it for me (thank you) and give me the number which may ten, eleven, twelve or (hopefully not) thirteen.  If it is thirteen do me a favor and don’t tell me, okay?  Oh, man…welcome to my world.

45 thoughts on “What I Hate

  1. I love you and your situation and as one of your therapist friends, I don’t like it any more than you do, that’s black licorice and ambiguity!

  2. Ambiguity can be counted, but not counted on, I guess. Let’s just say it’s somewhere between 12 and 14 – close enough! I could be an asshole and say that it is 13, but I’m not an asshole (a smartass, yes, but not an asshole).

      • I wouldn’t know; I don’t count (or so I’ve been told before – I really don’t believe it). Even if I did actually count , you could try to beat it out of me with a licorice stick, and I’d never tell.

  3. Hi Julie,
    By ambiguity I am equating it to uncertainty. I am right there with you-afraid to buy green bananas right now. Trying to just live in the moment is a horrific task…there is no room to make plans or count on anything definitively. It is a contradiction to everything I have been raised to do. Hang in there though!
    By the way, I also hate all of your hatreds except for black licorice…hate it plain but licorice all sorts are pretty good (and pretty!) XO

  4. While we all have to live with the uncertainty of what our children’s futures will be like, I think your family’s situation is uncharted territory. I don’t want to discount the experiences of TG kids and families and TG grownups and families, but there aren’t a lot of references or experts to consult on this one. (There are some, and some readers of your blog are among them, but there is no Princeton Guide for this!)

    I get why a therapist would say you need to tolerate ambiguity — and we should all get to that place — but you have to do more than that: you have to pioneer what you’re going through. That’s hard.

    Maybe the trick, then, is to cultivate some other part of your life that you feel more masterful in — whether it’s personal or professional — and have that as a respite from the part of your life in which you’re on less firm ground. I find that the open-ended things are more tolerable when there are some clear cut ones to be sure of.

    • jelizabeth said it absolutely perfectly. You have more than just ambiguity and that makes it harder. You also have unpredictability and uncertainty and judgement from others and almost no role models. That makes what you are able to do both astounding and wonderful and you are doing it well. I don’t doubt that it wears you out, however–this is not the stuff that is rejuvenating in life. But knowing you’re doing the right thing, watching Jessie thrive–that is rejuvenating.

  5. Ok – I can’t believe I am going to admit this but I have the song The Climb on my iPod. Yes – I am totally embarrassed to admit that I listen to Miley Cyrus (not often, I swear!). I was power walking today in this unbeareable heat (terrible idea) and because I was too tired to do anything but concentrate on walking up the hill, I didn’t select another tune. It struck me that we would all be better off if we could learn to appreciate the small blessings that sometimes come out of experiencing tough times. I felt inspired (briefly) before I began to feel dizzy from dehydration.

  6. Am I one of the 12 therapist friends? Did you have chemo? If that didn’t get you immune to the vomit, I guess nothing will.
    Hang in there, sistah……ambiguity sucks.

  7. Julie, there is nothing wrong with a well deserved pity party, even if it is a brief one. I have found that it is really important to make sure you have a really nice glass of something and a really decadent and tasty treat – that way your pity party will be well catered. It also gives your pity party a beginning, middle and end. 🙂

  8. I did not count but 13 has ALWAYS been a very lucky number for me and my family!!! this damn autocorrect has not been so kind though!!! Am parshal to red,, and in a pinch will get pull and peel… In a pinch…and have to pull, peel and yes knot it…
    Death by laundry will be on my tombstone.. That large rolling ball commercial is my reality, and shopping for my crew is like constant root canal. Yet I just cleaned out the pantry which yielded two hugely embarrassing garbage bags but oh how beautiful and tidy it looks… I can actually see what is in it!! I am keeping the door opened for awhile just to ooh and ah ( which came up as pooh and ash… *|>#* auto correct!)
    Uncertainty seems to be the main ingredient these days…… so let’s just raise any glass …… And see where our journeys lead!!!
    Xoxox Laura

  9. Julie,

    You’ve been through a lot, and you know that there is a lot more ahead. Of course there will be eruptions.

    I have a sister-in-law whose twin sons are both autistic. She loves and treasures them and sometimes does not know how to cope with her life, yet she does. I don’t know if she knows how much she inspires me. Like you do.


  10. Yup – this time I got 14…if you include the PS. Why the hell is counting words so difficult?? Hang in there. Ambiguity sucks, but your nails will always look good, so there’s that!

  11. Not to spoil the counting fun but I used IE’s counting function: including the PS you definitely have 14. Counting the rest in all the comments (so far), you even get 20. Plenty to get you past that dreaded number!

    A good wallow is a good thing. It allows you to re-establish perspective afterwards (that’s kind of a moment of clarity in itself). But we are not perfect so trying to force the ‘not crazy’ all the time is just asking too much. We’re human, not machines – just as it ought to be.
    There are better times ahead!

  12. Julie, I’ve so been there. You go for awhile and feel so proud of yourself…..”Hey, look at me and how well I’m handling this-I should win Mother of the Year I tell ya!” And then all of the sudden it hits you what this all means……and what it could bring…..and what it might not bring….and how others feel about it….blah, blah, blah. And you feel that sickness in the pit of your stomach. I’ll share with you what I share with myself when I’m going through this emotion about Kyle’s journey (yes, I call it a journey-I’m not quite up to the adventure word yet) and that is that what’s on the outside is all just casing. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. And your daughter sounds like my son-caring, witty, bright and proud to be who they are in this world. And that does say something about us, doesn’t it?? I mean, would YOU have done this at Jessie’s age? I sure as hell wouldn’t have. But they know that we have their backs and that our love is uncondtional. And anybody who doesn’t understand that can kiss our ass! 🙂

  13. I just found your blog and am dealing with the same feelings albeit with a Kindergartener. I’ve been told that I need to live in the grey area for now while he figures it all out. Being a planner, this is a daily (hourly!?!) challenge.

    I’m looking forward to reading more:)

    • Thanks for the link. I did not see it yet and have only had a chance to see a few snippets from it! She is funny as hell…like laugh out loud funny…when she isn’t driving me crazy, that is. LOL

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