BACK IN THE DAY:
There were six of us. During that time, our dad was an abusive alcoholic and our mom had untreated mental health struggles. This was what I believed to be the norm. Of course, not really, because I saw how other families lived and they were different. There was affection, laughter, not a lot of drinking, no screaming, hitting or cops showing up at their houses. At times food was scarce and walking was the only mode of transportation unless dad wasn't working, even then it would depend upon his mood whether we would get a ride. There were some really good times, it wasn't always scary and bleak. Everyone knew us, some liked us but others didn't want their kids playing with us, "those Petty kids". It was hard but we managed. OH, and one more thing to add. There was this thing that I kept a secret because it was not safe to share and that was my orientation. THAT WAS THEN.
After getting married (that really sounds weird to me now) having a beautiful son and leaving TN, that is when growing up started for me. There were things I had never seen, done or even heard of before. It never occurred to me just how big life was outside of the world of TN. It was pretty doggone awesome! That is also when my secret life came to surface. It was never an option to be who I knew myself to be living at home, life was fearful enough. That is also when the crazy came into life! Out at all hours of the night, drinking, clubbing, and other not so healthy behaviors. It is also when I had my first adult relationship. Man it was awesome, at first (isn't it always).
EVEN LATER TO CURRENT DAY:
Moved to Rhode Island, following that relationship like a blind puppy dog with so many plans believing I was going to finally have the love, life, and family I had always dreamed of. NOT! Things got bad, then good, bad again, then worse, then good again, you get the picture. This part is the important part because it was the first time I went to counseling.
When I first thought about seeking counseling it was more about trying to "fix" that relationship. It wasn't long before I realized my life was a hot mess. My struggles with anxiety, poor self-image, and self-destructive behaviors brought me to a place that felt dark and unmanageable. Life had become what I swore it never would, one that was lonely, chaotic, and at times controlled by abusive relationships. I admit that when I first engaged in counseling, I was skeptical, thinking "what in the heck is talking gonna do!" After a few sessions I felt a sense of safety that I had never felt before. With time it became easier to dig into the core and figure out why life had become what it had for me. It was not easy, sometimes very emotionally painful. Memories began to surface, secrets unfolded, along with shame, anger and resentment. It certainly was a journey with peaks and valleys and then more peaks and valleys but with that one step and steps to follow, there was a feeling of freedom, liberation, and a spiritual awakening. Through that, and periods of refinement and emotional tune ups, I discovered some pretty cool stuff about who I actually was and that life has great possibilities for me. As life always provides an opportunity for discovery, I have now come to the realization that I personally relate to the life of Transgender folks and continue to discover possibility, openness, and loving me for the authentic person that I am. Today, we are blessed with a wonderful son, two beautiful grand kids, and a loving and wonderful marriage of 14+ years. IT CAN WORK!