Friday, February 23, 2018

Her Name Was Chloe

I was talking tonight to my son about his birth.  He wanted to know details and so I told him his story.  And then, he and I got to talking about the birth of the twins, his older siblings, his sisters for so many years.  When we described them at birth and things about them in their early years, he and I both wavered between calling Chris by his birth name, Chloe, calling that child of our memories by her birth name, the name we knew her as in those times, the person she was ... Chloe ... or calling her Chris.  Back then, she was Chloe, yet, he and I, both, replaced her name with Chris several times ... "When Chloe, I mean Chris, was born ..."  We did this mindlessly.  We didn't acknowledge that the other was doing it, but I caught the times we each wavered.

You can't have this sort of discussion, have these moments when you find yourself switching a person's name, and not ponder on the oddness of it, ponder on the correctness or incorrectness of it, ponder on the truth of it, even ponder some on the frustration of it.

Her name was Chloe, and referring to her when she was a baby, or even up through High School, as Chloe, seems correct, and, yet, out of respect, out of habit, out of relearning ... we both renamed her, for Chris, while talking about her.

There was a time through this journey where I would not have hesitated to call her Chloe, not given it a thought - even been adamant about it.  There was a time when my greatest fear of all was losing her, leaving her behind, never to be known, spoken of, seen, felt, alive again.  It is something I feared and cried about.  It is something I fought, internally and externally, not to happen.  I learned, eventually, through time, through multitudes of thought, through hours of prayer and months of experience and years of living that Chloe was never going away ... she was simply changing.  I've written in this blog about those days I turmoiled over this issue and subsequent days when the situation, and I, somehow reconciled fears and sadness into acceptance and happiness.  Somehow, through giving her the freedom to be who she needed to be, I learned to change her name and leave the name Chloe behind.

Tonight, I tell myself to know that I am right calling that baby Chloe, because Chris has said, himself, that it was she, that little girl, that toddler, that teenager that carried him for so many years, with abundant strength and persevering conviction to get him to where he needed to be.  Without her, I know, he would not be the amazing person he is today.

But ... while my son and I spoke of Chloe as a baby, of details of her birth and young life, I spoke easily, without sadness, without fear, without agitation, and, yet, as I sit here, several hours later and write, I have had moments of longing.  Not sadness, really - not regret that I will never know her as a young woman or mother, as a girl, as I once fraught over.  The longing, I believe, is the reality that I've let her go.  In so many ways, she was another person with a future that will never be known - not her future.  And, so, it is sort of the feeling of death, in a way.  Yet ... from her, Chris was born.  And I wouldn't choose to lose Chris for anything in the world.

If I could have had both, Chloe and Chris?  Would I choose that?  Or, knowing what I know now, given the choice, would I have allowed his life to evolve as it has, to where he is now?

I believe Chris would not be who he is now, the person who has experienced struggling, pain, trauma, sadness, lessons, insight, empathy, compassion, trust, love, brilliance, fortitude, kindness, fear, loneliness, determination, ambition, humility, integrity, friendship, companionship, direction, bravery ... at the level and abundance he has, if he had known another path in his life.  And, because he has gone through so much and is surviving and thriving because of and in spite of this difficult journey, I would choose Chris and allowed his life to evolve.  It sounds like it would be "easier", maybe, to choose to have them both, selfishly believing that having them both would fulfill something in me, allow me to not feel sacrifice, maybe.  But ... I have not sacrificed.  And, Chris's journey has not been only his own.  I've been there.  I've lived it.  Much of what he has experienced and learned, I have as well.  And he's taught me many things.  He's taught thousands of people many things.  He was, for whatever divine reason, meant to travel this difficult path and take me and so many others on this journey with him.  I would choose Chris's journey.



And, fortunately, I was never given that choice, and ... I didn't have to choose, after all.  I'm one of the lucky in this life to have known and loved them both.  Her name was Chloe, and because of her I now have Chris ...


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Chris's Scream

On August 18, 2015, I started this blog as a way to document the journey I am taking with my transgender son, Chris Rhodes.  That was over two years ago.  That was back near the beginning of this journey when things were far different than they are now.  That was back when I couldn't see what the future would hold - how things would evolve - how I could ever imagine getting from that place to this place without a thousand more tears or a tangle of fears that controlled so many of my thoughts.  Back when I couldn't imagine getting from that place to this place lugging around and cradling so many of my shattered dreams.

I've walked thousands of steps since those early days.  Chris has walked many steps in front of me, many steps without me. We've come together and we've also been torn apart.  We battled, at times, and other times we surrendered to each other.  Through it all, I never let Chris out of my sight, I never ran and I have stayed close, even if, sometimes, my eyes were closed or I refused to listen.  Above and beyond this, Chris never let me go, never pushed me away, even when it probably would have made his life much easier.  And ... he never allowed me to control his dream.

I've often thought, over the years, since having children, that raising them into the world is not just a test toward ensuring their survival, but also a test toward defining ours as parents, as human beings.  A child will most often survive in spite of their parents.  They will ultimately define their own worth.  They will pave their own path.  They will defiantly survive.  Regardless.

My children have tested me on so many levels and survived, brilliantly, in spite of me.  You think you know who you are and WHAT you believe, but nothing and no one will test you and your ideas more than your own child, because just about the time you believe you've created that mirror image of yourself you have tediously tried years to replicate ... they look at you with a face that is not like you at all, counter you with ideas far more powerful, even more convincing to you than your own.  They stand in front of you strong, convicted, different.  As a parent, you spend hours and days and years trying to get your children to conform to your rules, your agendas, your beliefs, because you have only your own life and experiences to guide them by and believe if they follow you they will survive.  But ... a parent should also try to impress on their children to rock conformity, to refuse it, to defy it, to fly when others are walking, to scream when silence is deafening, to stray when lines are formed toward incompetence or boredom or rigid ideas that offer no extraordinary future, no extraordinary life.

Like my other three children, Chris has kept me close, but always makes sure I know that he is going to scream when the silence is deafening, he is always going to fly even if others are walking, he is always going to stray when lines formed are leading toward incompetence, boredom or offer ideas that do not lead him, or anyone, toward an extraordinary future, an extraordinary life.  He's kept me close and embraced those parts of me that compliment his ideas and place in this world, and because he veered far from the path I once believed his life should have taken, he's helped me see that I succeeded in helping him know when and how to take possession of his life.  He's also helped me redefine my own identity.  I am not just his mother or the woman that birthed a baby girl I named Chloe, as I once clung to.  I am now the person that has come to understand that a person's identity is ONLY linked to others or other things when THEY allow it - otherwise, it is personal, always, and it is never negotiable.  And it most certainly should not be driven by others ideas or dreams.

I no longer worry about Chris the way I did a few years ago, and not because I somehow succeeded in helping him to survive on this journey he is on, or survive, at all, really.  I no longer worry because, through this journey, through Chris (and my other kids) I came to appreciate and love the idea that he is not a reflection of me, but his own complete and utter identity.  And that identity is strong now because of the changes he's making in his life, in his appearance, in the vision he is creating, discovering, offering to the world.

Chris is one of my very best friends and favorite people.  Partly, I guess it's because he's my child and I'm his mother, but beyond that ... there are few people on this Earth I'd rather spend time with, listen to, hear laugh.  I honestly believe, now, that if Chris had gone on in his life as Chloe because he was afraid or did not know how to change this thing about himself that felt so wrong, that was wrong, I honestly believe the silence from such sadness would be deafening, the path would be leading him toward the wrong life, the wrong un-extraordinary life.  I know that now.  I'm proud I taught this child to scream ...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

It's Was a Beginning ...

I did it.  I traveled to Plano, Texas with Chris for his top surgery.

It wasn't so hard.

It was not the end of anything as I might have thought a year ago.  Actually, it was a beginning.

I was calm.

At ease.

It was meant to be, somehow.

A "meant to be" beyond anything I had ever reasoned, but a "meant to be" for Chris and, therefore, a "meant to be" for me.

He's changing his life in spite of me.  In spite of everybody who tried to define who they think he is suppose to be.  He is changing his life and I ...

was there

to witness

my child

changing and taking complete

control

of his life.

Somewhere in all of this ...

I give myself credit

For helping give this child courage ...

To change his life

from uncertainty

from sadness

to happiness ...

Somewhere in all of this I have to believe

I am a part

of what makes this child

amazing

Friday, December 30, 2016

Her Head Was Bowed

It was a couple of days ago.  I had a moment of sheer panic.  I kept telling myself I couldn't do it - I couldn't be there when Chris has his surgery - I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that it was finally going to happen.  I know how excited, and nervous, Chris is, but I am also nervous.  I feel confident with the surgeon he has chosen, as I believe Chris has done his research about this doctor, and I believe the surgery will go well; it's not that.  And in so many ways I am so happy for Chris to finally be at the point where he is changing this thing about himself that is a great source of his dysphoria.  I am confident Chris is making the right choice for him and his life.  I was just scared for me.

When I was panicked I reminded myself of the fact that this surgery, this event that is so very important in Chris's life, would also be an event to represent hope and promise of a New Year.  2016 has been a very difficult and trying year for me and our family.  Because I believe Chris needs this surgery to secure his happiness, I have to believe it is meant to be and because it will occur next week, at the very beginning of 2017, I have to believe it is not only an event that will positively change Chris's life but will also positively change mine.

Over Thanksgiving and then again over Christmas we watched old videos of when the kids were younger.  Maybe it was seeing Chris as a baby, as a little girl, that forced my mind to ponder feelings I have been trying very hard to dismiss or leave behind.  When we watched the videos we laughed a lot and I did not find myself sad or mourning, but I have to imagine that it must have been seeing those images of Chris as Chloe that triggered emotions I believed I had concurred.

I am supportive of Chris and want and need to be there for his surgery.  I am not sad and I am not panicked, now.  I think I have to forgive myself for this moment of wonder, this moment of fear, this moment of worry.  I'm strong and caring, but there is a part of me that holds on to the past so tightly that I'm not sure if anything will ever truly sever that grip, even though I have done my very best to let go of what I thought would be, of what I knew to be, of what I wanted.

I said earlier that I was scared for me.  So much of this journey has illuminated the fears I have had for myself.  Fears that, in the very early months, crippled me.  I spent a long time reconciling those fears, and I did the same with this fear a few days ago.  I tried to determine what exactly I was so panicked about.  Was it the realization that, in some ways, I had been dwelling in denial?  I think it was.  This thing is really so big that in order to sometimes deal with it I believe I have built a wall that protects me from the impact certain stages of this journey might or could potentially emotionally cripple me, again.  I think I have certainly become accepting and supportive, truly, but I also think that I am still afraid.

I do not write this post to cast doubt or question anything.  I simply write it to document the reality of a moment in this journey.  A moment when I, the mother of this child, came face to face with the past and the present, with memories and with reality, with me and with him, again.

Alexis painted Chris a picture for Christmas.  It was a portrait of Chris face to face with Chloe and he was kissing her forehead.   Chloe had her hands over her eyes.  Chris was strong in the painting and Chloe was smaller, not sad, but her head was bowed, maybe in reverence.  Because Chris will have his surgery next week, I interpreted the painting as Chris saying good-bye to Chloe, but I think I was wrong; Chloe isn't going anywhere.  I think Alexis is wiser than me and far more perceptive.  I began to think that the painting was Chris thanking Chloe with the kiss.  I think the painting was a gift for Chris but also gifted me, as I am able to appreciate, through Alexis' eyes and through Chris's life what was really meant to be ... even if it often frightens me.

I have very often bowed my own head.  In prayer.  In tears.  In solitude.  I stand firmly by Chloe now ... bowing my head in reverence to Chris ...


Saturday, December 17, 2016

God, Take Me To Him ...

How can you be a mother of a child who is going to have top surgery in less than three weeks and never have talked to that child about their surgery?

I am that mother.

I am a good mother.

I am a mother that is supportive of this child, but somewhere in the scheme of all that is going on with this child's life, I have neglected to find the time, or courage, or words to sit and discuss this life changing event with him. I am a mother who has not yet had any sort of discussion with this child about this thing that is so important in his life, and so important in my life.

How is this possible?  When I am so close to this child and he is so close to me.  Where in the closeness that we meet is that moment when we failed to find each other?

I don't know how to talk about this thing.

Chris.

Chris.

Tell me how to to talk about this with you.  Please.

Maybe it is not up to me to find the words.  Maybe it is up to him.

God,

Take me to him ...

God,

Forgive me ...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

So Many Damn Wrongs ...

It's night again and so I think.

Too much.

About things I need to save and things I need to get rid of.

About what I did and what I did not do.

About what needs done.

About saving and losing.

So much about saving and losing, lately.

I write some of the words down ... maybe so they will leave me, but then I read them and there they are again ...

with me

saved forever

not in thoughts

but in words

written

so I write more ...

I've written a million words

and not nearly enough

to rid thoughts
to save my mind
for anything, really

other than ramblings of a mind that seldom settles

a mind that wakes at night

pondering always what to save and what to get rid of

I walked by a bathroom at Target today
I wondered who was allowed in and who was not
Then I remembered
Everyone is allowed in

Tonight I ponder what to do if Texas passes laws, as it suggests it will, that will harm people
Laws of unfairness
Laws dividing so many people
Laws I fear will harm my child
What will I do?

I think it is good I write so many words
I will write someone
Maybe everyone
About what and who needs to be saved and what needs to be rid of

Maybe my words will be heard, maybe not
but ...
I will write them
until I am heard

It's a ridiculous fight - this fight over bathrooms
but my child has rights
and if others insist on attempting to trample the rights of my child and those like him
then I will stand by him
on the right side
of this harmful battle
that refuses him his freedom.

I never knew I would find myself fighting so many damn wrongs in this world.  I never knew I was bringing my children into a world filled with so much hatred ...

#ChrisILoveYou


Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Damn Darkness

It's at night, like this, when I think.  When I wonder.  When I realize.

When sadness finds me.

I don't want sadness to ever find me or anyone I love, but it does, especially in the darkness of the night.

It creeps.

It slides.

It is like a bug that walks quietly, silently along the baseboard of a room and then slowly begins to climb the wall.

Black and big.  So many legs.

And you see it.

It jolts you.

The bug.

The sadness.

And then you run and search for a shoe.

And you smash it.

The black bug.

The sadness.

I'm sorry, Chris.

You are not the bug or the sadness, but you are that part of me that creeps in the darkness ...

sometimes

That part of me ...

that wonders

That tiny part of me

that lingers

in the damn darkness ...

I want and wish only for your light

I fight for your light ...

I fight the bugs and myself and all darkness so all I see

is your light

Know this