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About A Dream

Bridge to Rough Ridge 03-Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls October 12, 2014

Bridge to Rough Ridge–03 by Jim Dollar Photography

I dreamed last night about My Denise. I didn’t get to see her. No, it was after her death. That’s what I dreamed. I woke up this morning very, very sad. She’s been dead for years and years—but that doesn’t matter. It will always feel as if it was yesterday.

I think I may jump from dimension to dimension, or from parallel universe to parallel universe in my sleep. Maybe I even do it when I’m awake. I have been accused of such. In my dreams, I sometimes interact with people from here, this awake-world. Sometimes I interact with people who FEEL like people from here, but look nothing like them. Sometimes, I interact with people who feel familiar, like they’ve always BEEN there, but who have no relation to anyone in this world. This is how it was last night. I was interacting with members of Denise’s family, some amalgamations of people, some familiar people who don’t exist here. It was a reunion after her death. Some sort of gathering. We were all sad—but they were still misunderstanding her, just like was really the case with most of the actual people in this reality. That was making me even sadder. It was hard to “get” Denise, even for me, and it’s usually easy for me to get hard-to-get people.

I come from a fucked up family. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it has given me lots of insight into fucked up people, and since those are usually the kinds of people I date and become friends with (duh! because we go to what’s familiar!), it’s made me better able to deal with them. It’s a curse because I don’t even REALIZE how fucked up people are until it’s too late, plus, “normal” people FEEL WEIRD to me. Being around too many normal people all at once, especially loving normal people with healthy relationships, frankly, it gives me the willies. Sadly, I probably don’t get the willies often enough.

Partly because of my familial environment of fucked-uppedness, partly because of my familial genes, I’ve had to deal a lot with suicidal ideations. I know, firsthand, what it’s like to want to die. I go there a lot. Other people I love go there a lot. This month, I’ve had one family member who attempted suicide, another one hospitalized who was suicidal. I don’t blame them for wanting out. I’m not mad at them for wanting out. I don’t even understand how people get so mad at folks who want to die or try to die. They are already so miserable that they don’t want LIFE! They don’t want sunrises or chocolate cake! They don’t want to visit a beach or the desert. They don’t want the smiles of babies or the purr of a kitten. They’ve given up on booze AND coffee! How is my anger even a thing that I think would make a blip on their radar? How can I be angry in the face of such deep and utter sadness? How can anyone feel anything but pity? No, it’s the non-understanding that I don’t understand.

This part is also very important: If someone you love decides to end their life, it is NOT YOUR FAULT. It’s not their fault either. It’s an unfortunate circumstance. I think it’s from being born with too much feeling. Yes, too much feeling can be a detriment. Ask any empath. Trying to work the blessing out of having been born with too-much-feeling, well, for some folks, a lifetime isn’t long enough…so they give up. I don’t blame them. You shouldn’t either.

If you are wanting to die though, if you are considering it, you’ve no idea the pain your death is about to leave its wake. How could you? You’re already hurting so badly and feeling so worthless that you probably can’t imagine anyone caring. Believe me, they do. They may not even know it themselves and may tell you otherwise. Don’t listen. The people saying they don’t care are big fat liars. They care. Otherwise, they wouldn’t waste their breaths trying so hard to convince you that they don’t. They’d simply walk away, and you’d hear nothing from them on the subject.

My mom called me to ask why I hadn’t let her know about Denise’s suicide when it happened. I hadn’t because I truly believed that she wouldn’t care. My mother is a fundamentalist Christian who thinks that all gay people are doomed for hell, that they are of the devil—or that their actions are, at least. Her reaction was a mixture of compassion and belittlement. I expected her to say, “Good! One less gay in the world.” That’s not what she said. She talked of her own experience with violent deaths, how hard it was for her, how she still had nightmares, how it never leaves you. She was right. It was a bonding moment with my mother that I wish I’d never had to have. She also made sure that I realized that My Denise was in Hell for eternity. See. A mixture. Like someone offering you a cocktail, and then your finding out it’s a Molotov one.

The thing is, Denise wasn’t even gay. Denise was transgendered. That’s not something that people were talking about very much when she died. It was a really, really hard thing for Denise to talk about. She didn’t want to disappoint her mom or stepmom, or dishonor them. She loved her family deeply. Deeply was the only way she knew how to love.

Denise was also a man who slept with men. I’m pretty sure that she was ashamed of it. She didn’t really want me to know it. I only know it now because I’ve heard the stories and actually talked to one of the men who gave me lots of details (who is STILL in love with her to this day; as am I). I know that Denise had sex with men in the manner of men-with-men because inside my DID system, there dwells the Gay Male and I’m mostly co-conscious with him (as far as The-Me-Who’s-Speaking-To-You-Now is aware). I don’t think that part she was ashamed of. Since my body is female, and since that was happening before my DID diagnosis, I’m pretty sure that she just filed that in her head under “kink-in-the-bedroom”. No, Denise had sex with men in the way of a woman having sex with a man. I’ve read other testimonials of transgender men who’ve talked about their body craving the act of being penetrated by men. Those tales were tales of anguish, of a body betraying the host. I’m not sure how Denise felt about that because we never talked about it. You may have already guessed that My Denise wasn’t much of a talker.

Once, when we were pretty newly together, I made a grave mistake with Denise. You see, in the bedroom, we were (almost) always boy-with-girl. She was the boy. I was the girl. I began to worry that she would think that I wanted a “real” boy, that I was only into sex with role-playing a thing that she wasn’t. Not really. Back then, I didn’t as fully understand how the mind of most transgendered people worked, and I don’t think she’d ever SAID to me that she was trans. (No talking; remember?) So, I took an occasion to get serious with her and I looked her in the eyes and I said (how in the world could I have been so naive?!), “I hope you know that, even though we play the way we do, I don’t really want a man. I only want you and I would never betray you by actually going out to find a man.” I thought I was being reassuring. For you people out there in a relationship with a person who is transgendered, do NOT ever say anything this stupid! You should have seen her face. No, actually, be glad that you never have to see pain like that on a face—and I hope you never do. Denise didn’t cry easily, but there were tears being tightly squeezed behind her eyelids, some escaping down her reddened cheeks. “How can you say that to me? I can’t believe you would say that to me. I AM a man!!” She stormed out of the room. (Well, don’t you all be upset with me, too! She should have TOLD me! People, talk to your partners! They can’t read your damned minds!)

From that moment forward, I only treated her like a man. I couldn’t see her, wouldn’t LET myself see her as anything else. Why am I still saying “she”? Because that’s what Denise wanted as far as pronouns were concerned. As long as her mother was alive, she didn’t want to be referred to by a male pronoun. She thought it would be too hard for her mother. Even though her mother has since died, Denise has just always been a “she” in my head in terms of language. Not in terms of actuality. As a matter of fact, this caused me confusion and stress on a couple of occasions.

Once, when we were visiting Georgia and Denise was very drunk (which she ALWAYS was in Georgia—but those are other stories for other times), she said, “Show me what you can do with that.” “That” was a device that was “hers”, a prosthetic body part we’d chosen for her. I would never have DREAMED of “treating her like a woman”. Not after that night when I’d so hurt her feelings. It was a very confusing night for me, I didn’t want to do it, and I was quite ineffectual with “that”—I’d like to think due to my emotional distress around the subject and not my lack of experience with “it”. As a matter of fact, when it was man-on-man time, I had no such qualms. I could treat her like a “man” with no reservations. This “woman” thing was something weird to me. Surreal. Not as surreal as a time yet-to-come.

The above incident ended with Denise stopping me and saying, “It’s okay. I just wanted to see.” I marked it up as her being curious about what being a girl felt like. She had told me that her sexual encounters with men had always been forced. I’d been really scared that I would traumatize her, even though she was asking me to do this thing. Apparently, my concerns were unfounded.

One of the most terrible things that I experienced with Denise centered around this dichotomy that she carried so uncomfortably within herself. This other event was my being witness to her having another woman actually treat her like a woman. (A different, longer story for another time.) The most uncomfortable thing to me was that she wasn’t uncomfortable with it at all. The sight made my head, and heart, spin. Since that night that I’d hurt her feelings, telling her that I wasn’t interested in having a “man”, I’d made sure to put her in the category of “male”. I couldn’t un-see her as a boy. I’ve also never been able to “un-see” what I saw that night. Every thrust into her seemed a stab into my heart, and what I was afraid it was doing to the “man” inside of her. Apparently, I sometimes worry more about other people than is warranted. She was absolutely fine with it, asked for it, wanted it, wanted me to do it to her. I never could. I just could not. Why did it hurt me to see her female form being used like a female form when it wasn’t hurting her?

The Me-Who-Is-Speaking-To-You-Now, I know that sexuality is fluid, and that people want different things at different times. The “me” in control of things then, she was thoroughly confused and out of her element. I feel the haunting these events hold for her still, as I’m writing this.

“Why are you telling people all of these intimate details about Denise,” you may ask. “Do you really think that she’d want people to know?” Probably not. She probably wanted all of her secrets to be buried with her. Maybe not, though. She was really into helping people, even strangers, so she might give permission if she thought it would help someone. Thing is, Denise doesn’t get a say, and here’s fair warning: If you commit suicide, people are NOT going to stop talking about you, and you can’t defend yourself or sue for libel. If you kill yourself, I’m taking that as an indication that I can tell anything I want about you. You just might show up in this blog with me willy-nilly spilling all of your secrets. How’s THAT for an incentive to stay alive?

One day, these things that tormented Denise (and these types of things were not the only things to haunt her), they won’t be a big deal. We’ve a generation coming up that finds gender and sexuality a much more fluid thing. I wish I could live to see the day when there IS no stereo-typical male or female for people to plug themselves into. When there is no “sexual-orientation” but just “sexual relationships”—or the lack thereof, which is also, absolutely okay. I want a world where everyone is an oddball and unrepressed, so that no person can be singled out by the rest of the persons, cast into an out-group to be ridiculed, sometimes to death.

And if you ARE one of an out-group who is being ridiculed for whatever reason, please know that it’s not you. It’s really not. It’s us. It’s all of us who want to fit you into a neat little box, and who’s OCD really acts up when the creative bits of you puff up out the edges of said box. Our society has a problem appreciating your ruffles…but our society is made up of individuals who CAN, on a person-to-person level, appreciate the beauty and enrichment that you bring to life. Please, if you want to give up, if you want to drag yourself out of the box-you-don’t-fit-in, take your toys and go home, well, I can’t blame you. I’ve wanted to do it a million times. Hell, I want to do it RIGHT NOW! But then, who will teach the young folks tolerance? Who will help us dismantle the boxes, or at least build lots of new or bigger boxes so that there are more box-options into which more of us will fit and be understood?

Speaking of which, being understood is over-rated. If you’re understood, then you’re not teaching anyone anything and you’re not adding anything new. In fact, I will be so bold as to say that if everyone around you understands you, you’re not doing your job as a human-being. So, come on folks! Go out there and proudly BE misunderstood. Stand stubbornly outside the box and shake your head and declare, “Nope. Don’t think I’m going in there.” Then, turn around and look at all of the other people standing out with you, those who don’t have a box to stand in…and give them an out-of-the-box hug. It will make this world we’re all stuck in on its way to being a better place and, not now, but eventually, and maybe when you’re long gone—but this is a long game—the Denise’s (and Deneen’s) of our world will thank you for it. And maybe, just maybe some of them will choose not to be dead, and some of the nightmares will cease.

Much gratitude, as always to the wonderful Jim Dollar @ Jim Dollar Photography

This Post is Dedicated To: All the People Who’ve Ever Wanted to Die, and the Families Who’ve Lost Them

Posted in My Denise, My Life Today, My Loves and Lovers.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , .

One Response

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  1. Yvonne says

    I have never known anything but nightmares when I sleep. It is a special kind of nightly hell, usually ending with me waking up feeling tired, my heart racing, panting like a puppy and being mildly irritable, sad or melancholy. It is interesting what goes on in the brain when you sleep can affect you physically when you awaken. Asleep or awake, the death of someone you love so deeply can and does disturb your peace.

    When that death is due to suicide, tho, an extra element of sadness is felt, by me anyway. When one dies of a heart attack or a wreck, the pain and loss is almost unbearable. A long suffering death elicits the same pain and mental anguish but almost seems merciful. Death caused by old age still hurts those who loved the individual although it somehow does not seem as sad. But when a person is in enough pain and feeling enough despair and hopelessness to think ANYTHING is better than living, it is difficult to cast aside the sadness that threatens to overtake you. Not only did they kill themselves but they were alone when they died. That thought brings tears to my eyes.

    I hope one day peace will inhabit that place deep within your mind that re-lives the day Denise died. While you were not “with” her in the literal sense when she left this earth, you were in touch with her which means she did not die alone. That, in and of itself, was a blessing to her. Sometimes that has to be enough. Love you.

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