Copyright© 2017 Rebecca Jane
All Rights Reserved.
Author's Note: I know that this isn't something to be read for pleasure, trust me it's hard for me to write. While this is mostly me purging old demons, I do hope that sharing this might help someone, anyone to know they aren't alone... ~Rebecca
Chapter 3-Hoping beyond hope
The next few months of my life, I had to piece together over the years, only from hearing bits and pieces from my mom. No matter how much I’ve tried to remember, those several months have been and continue to be, mostly blank to me. I had asked my mom what had happened during that time, hoping to jog my memory. The best I could ever do was to remember how I felt at the time, with hardly anything else. As one would expect, I remember feeling hurt, and a sense of loss over my dad, but there was more. I also remember feeling betrayed by my mom, and also yet more hurt and loss from being moved away from my Aunt’s… And also Susie. I’ve also found out that I was able to meet my step-dad on the same day we buried Dad. He was there to pay his respects to a friend, and fellow soldier, as they were both in Korea at the same time. He had buried his wife earlier that year, and when paying his respects, he reconnected with my Mom. It was three days shy of being three months from the day my Dad passed away, to when my mom married Ernie…
I know now, many of the reasons that they married so quickly, hindsight being what it is. The truth of the matter is that with the cost of the funeral and the medical bills from Dad’s collapse, had Ernie not come in when he did, Mom would have lost the trailer, and also me. Scraping like she had been doing we were already behind on pretty much everything, and by the time of the funeral she had seen the writing on the wall. They had also been friends already long before I was ever born. Ernie and his family used to be in my Dad’s congregation back when my parents had lived in Mississippi back in the early 60’s. With the death of Ernie’s wife earlier in the year, and then when Dad died, they both reconnected in their friendship and shared loss. Sadly I knew, or understood, none of those things at the time. I only knew that months after we lost Dad that I was loosing everything else I knew, my home, my friends, my Aunt and my cousins.
That’s what led me to having a ‘new’ Dad just six days after I turned eight years old. We did spend Christmas in our trailer five days after their ceremony, but the week afterwards was spent packing our meager possessions and moving our lives to Starkville, MS, which was where Ernie lived. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to the few friends I did have in the 2nd grade, before we moved. Not really fitting in with most of the kids, I had drifted to the ‘outcast’ clique. Yeah, even back then in elementary school there were cliques already forming.
Even with how hazy my memories are, I distinctly remember how frightening starting a new school halfway through the year was for me. I also remember that was when I started comparing myself to a ghost. I was determined to fit in and be the boy I thought my Dad would be proud of. I had created this image in my head, not only of the man that he was, but also how other boys were. My goal starting the new school was to be that boy.
To say that it was a steep learning curve for me to try to fit in to a new school, would be one of the worlds greatest understatements. The remainder of the school year only proved that I couldn’t truly fit in, anywhere. The more I tried to emulate the other boys, at least the more popular ones, only caused my behavior to get me into more and more trouble. I thought that if I copied what the other kids did, but just do it more, that I would no longer be laughed at or picked on. It also caused me to get into trouble, not only with the teachers, but also my parents. It was quickly believed that my behavior was directly linked to me acting out because of what happened with my Dad. I guess indirectly it was, but not for any reason anyone thought.
My behavior also got me ‘incarcerated’ in an older type daycare where it seemed like mostly troubled kids were, simply because my parents didn’t trust me to stay at home during the summer. Also with their reasoning it also meant that after school I would get dropped off at the hospital where my mom worked and be stuck with her in her office until she finished work in the evening. That was my life for the next few years.
Towards the end of 2nd grade I completely gave up trying to fit in, the embarrassment of my failures were too much for me to bear. It was also the time that I started reading heavily, basically anything I could get my hands on. The ability to get lost in a story was heaven for me, it was the only time that I could truly forget about everything. That was my escape, from the bullying, from the failure to fit in, and also the perceived way I had failed living up to what I thought my Dad would have expected of me.
I find it fascinating how difficult most of my memories are to recall during those years, except those I have of the first times I read a new book. I still vividly remember the first time I sat foot in the Lantern Waste with Lucy, or the first times I set sight of Middle Earth, or fighting the cauldron born alongside Taran in Prydain. I honestly think my closest friends were people who I’d never met, CS Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Tolkien, and Herbert. That’s how I lived my life, enduring the real world until I could truly feel alive between the pages.
A positive outcome from my voracious reading habits, is that I developed an incredible level of comprehension of anything I read, plus I was a borderline speed reader by the time I was 11. Information came easily to me, no matter what it was. I was an A student, and because I no longer was causing any trouble from my ‘acting out’ my parents began to trust me more and more. It was also ultimately the reason I found out why I felt like I did.
As I have said before, after school I had to go to the hospital where my Mom worked. She was the first ever Medical Staff Secretary for the hospital, and she dealt with all of the doctors in the hospital. Since she was also the first one in that position there wasn’t an office ready, so they made the medical library her office. So the times that I was stuck there waiting for her to finish her job, when I didn’t have homework or a book to read, I’d start reading medical journals. It was somewhere towards the end of the school year of 4th Grade when I came across an article in one of the journals. It described, in as much detail that was available in 1983, people who had felt wrong in their bodies, people like myself that felt completely wrong in the gender we were born in. For me it was an epiphany, I wasn’t the only person that felt like that. Over the remainder of the year I’d often reread that article, and try to find anything else related to the subject with what was available in the library. Sadly there wasn’t much that I could find. It was enough though for the wheels to start turning in my head.
It was during the start of 5th Grade, when my parents finally started to trust me enough to go straight home from school, my grades and behavior had given my parents the impression that I was as close to the ‘perfect’ child that one could get. That granted me a lot more freedom in the afternoon, which meant I had almost 3 hours almost every day to start exploring my feminine side. At first that just meant I could quit trying to act like a boy should, or at least how my young mind perceived it. Even if no one else was in the house at the time. I started to quit feeling so withdrawn, and as time progressed my mood throughout the day started improving. By the time the second semester had come around I had started trying to look more feminine for those few hours each day, playing with my moms makeup or trying on some of her clothes that she no longer wore. I was trying to rediscover the girl that I had thought had been gone forever. It was working, and working well. I was becoming more and more confident in myself about the direction my life was heading. Except for the time around Susie it was some of the happiest moments of my young life.
It was also during this time that I had been given the ‘birds and the bee’s talk by my parents, and also when the boys and girls were split to watch a video showing the difference between the sexes. What I was hearing was terrifying for me, the thought of growing big and hairy, having to shave my face, and having my voice drop into a masculine register was the last thing I wanted. Even with a short boyish hairstyle I could still look convincingly like the girl I pictured in my mind.
Armed with the new knowledge and what I had discovered in the medical library I started making a plan on how to talk to my parents and get them to understand. I was so sure of myself by the time summer break had started, I had it all figured out, or so I had thought. I just knew that once my Mom saw how content and happy I was as Rebecca, that she would listen to me and help me to become her. With them having given me the, “You can be whatever you want to be, just as long as you’re happy and healthy speech’ countless times, it made sense to my naive and preteen mind.
Over the end of the school year I had been collecting clothes from a friends donation bag his parents had started collecting. He had three older sisters all who were close to my size, and they always started outgrowing their clothes that were bought at the beginning of the year, it was like a treasure trove for me. In my desperation, I had rationalized since they were giving them away, it was okay and wasn’t hurting anyone.
It was the second week of summer break that I decided to put my plan in action. I was several weeks past due for a haircut, I had faked not feeling well every time Mom had planned to take me to the barber. I got up early to see my parents off for work, which surprised them that I got up on a non-school day before 7AM. I waited about an hour after they left just in case sure they didn’t forget something and come back home. The last thing I wanted was for them to surprised me half way through all my prep work. I intended to look my absolute best when they came home, it was going to be perfect.
I spent an hour taking a bath with my moms bath beads, and spent extra time carefully shaving what little fuzz I did have on my legs and underarms. I had been keeping my eyebrows neat, but now this time I actually shaped them. I had also been filing my nails for several weeks, keeping them shaped and clean and growing a bit longer as well. I had even taking one of my moms sewing needles and pierced my ears that morning. It was well after noon by the time I had my hair and nails done, my makeup immaculate, with my hair curled in cute blonde curls. I put on a nice, but well worn, black skirt with a maroon sleeveless top, and a pair of mom’s 3in heels that she rarely wore. I admired myself for almost an hour, practicing my smile just so I could prove how happy I was. Then I waited.
By the time I was ready, I only had about an hour and a half until mom was Due home, so I waited in the living room with no distractions, so I wouldn’t miss hearing her drive up. When she arrived, I went and stood at the doorway and waited for her to open the door. I was expecting her to be surprised, but I was positive she would see my smile and everything would be okay. It had to be.
People often say that I have one of the most expressive faces they have ever seen, something that passed down directly from my mother. I remember vividly how all my hope and happiness started to fall with each range of emotion that passed over her face. First it was shock, which was expected, then disbelief, confusion, then anger. At that point I stepped back in fear, and softly told her, “Mom? It’s me… I wanted you to see me… This is who I really am…”
In anger, she retorted, “This is all your damn Aunt’s fault and her kids! They made you think that this is okay! You’re not a girl, you're a boy Robbie!!!” Seeing the hurt in my face, seemed to catch her in the middle of her rage, then the anger turned to something even worse. As tears started falling from both of our eyes, her face slowly shifted from anger to shame…
She ran to her bedroom, which was next to mine and locked her door. I knocked and called out to her, begging her to talk to me, but the only response I got was her sobbing. After several long moments I gave up and went into my bedroom, and I started removing everything… The whole time I could hear her crying in shame over me… Which only made my tears fall even faster, I had hurt my Mom, after everything she had done for me, this was all my fault.
That was the day that self doubt started replacing the hope that had faded. It was the day I showed my mom the real me, the best version of myself, the day she rejected me… I ended up taking off everything that screamed Rebecca, and sat in my room just waiting for them to come talk to me, or yell at me or anything else… I sat there on my bed waiting for them, until I finally fell asleep. With no one even checking on me the rest of the night.
I still remember how it felt to be that self assured, and having that much hope… Even after 5 years in my transition I still am striving to have that level of confidence that my 12 year old self had on that day…
To be continued as often as I can.
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