Breathing under water 

Yes 2016 was the year I learnt to breath under water.It was a year many people hated, it almost was portrayed as a cursed year.
For me It started with my brother in ICU, I seriously didn’t think he would still be here to tell the tale but thankfully he is and I know he’s had a tough year but hopefully he too has learnt he can also breath under water.

It was the year Jake returned home for half of it due to his relationship break up and final stages of surgery. In may when he returned he looked broken but with the care, love and support a family environment can give he started to heal and I know he still has issues to resolve but I think with in time he will get there, I’m just mindful at the moment to contact him a little more often and plan visits, I guess it can be lonely starting life again in a new town and job, we have always been very close and I do miss having him nearby.

For me 2016 was a sabbatical year as far as my running was concerned, I had lost all enthusiasm and I think this had a lot to do with where we had moved to, it’s a lot more isolated and I don’t feel comfortable heading out alone across the fields, also I was tired, even though I had entered another marathon I didn’t have the strength of mind to train for it so I listened to my body and sort out other types of exercise and fell in love with spinning and boot camp style training. The addition of our new puppy has now given me another option as I have trained her to run attached to me, she’s up to 3.5 miles now and as she gets older I will be increasing her distance. It’s pure joy to be out running with her, a different kind of running as I’m not pushing my pace just running to enjoy.

With a new found enthusiasm I have now offered to help train with 2 friends who are both running their first London marathon and our first long run of 8 miles was just pure pleasure, I ran at ease and it felt great to know I still had s good level of fitness, also to support these friends during their training journey excites me, I remember how I felt during my first one and how much I’ve learnt, it’s extremely valuable knowledge and has made me realise I can do anything.

So jake has had stage 2 and 3 of his surgery and finally all is complete. It feels like a long 4 years but equally the time has passed at break neck speed and the Jess of the past now seems another life to me. I still miss her, as in the young Jess who was a happy go lucky child with a thirst for knowledge, the 2 1/2 year old Jess who was bouncing on the couch singing along to the spice girls, pointing out how baby spice had bunches just like her, the endless games of my little pony, along with the obsession with Snow White. I had a beautiful little daughter and I will treasure those memories within my heart forever.

I’m now making new memories with jake and I guess I feel I have a whole chunk of memories that I should have but are missing, the teenage years were tough and I so wish Jake had not experienced it and just had the privilege most of us never consider, to be comfortable in our own gender.

Who knows what this year will bring the only thing I know is I run marathons, I can drive to London, I can do anything, I can breathe under water.

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Ordinary world

We are now 3 months post op – time has moved on rapidly and our lives have once again changed.
Although it seemed we had numerous visits to the Drs after this surgery Jake had miraculously recovered with no complications and now only has one final surgery, which on the grand scale of surgeries is relatively minor!
At the end of September Jake left the family home, for a second time and moved into his new flat, it’s still 2 hours away from us but a much more manageable drive so I’m happy to visit without sending myself into a panic about driving to London.
Of course I have done little else but worry:-
– is he eating?
– Is he managing the chores?
– Is he lonely?
– What if he can’t cope?

But thankfully he seems to be managing it all, I guess I need to learn to mange my angst. Although a few weeks ago my angst was awakened and I honestly had no idea what to do but I should have realised I have a strong minded son who has always stood up for his beliefs and continued to.

It seems he has been looking into religion and has found comfort in it, which as I explained to him is his choice, I personally don’t need to go to church or be involved in a religious community to feel my beliefs are true, some people need and want this reassurance. He rang me to tell me he had been going to classes ( he has also done this whilst in London) and was planning on being baptised. I asked him which church it was and on hearing his response my angst began, not to incite any hatred I won’t name the church but let’s just say it made me feel uncomfortable , Jess attended a CofE school and never really showed and interest in religion but I did think if Jake was looking for god it would have been within this church.

What could I say but that’s his choice and if he found comfort in it then that had to be good but underneath I was irked, was someone playing on Jakes vulnerability of being in a new town trying to make friends etc etc. All week it was on my mind and how was I going to tackle the conversation at the weekend when I took the remainder of his belongings down. I didn’t want to sound like I was preaching or my opinion was right but I certainly was worried, I shouldn’t have been as Jake was still there, it seems he had to go for a baptism interview at the church leaders house and was questioned on his past relationships, he was told that same sex attraction is worse than murder, which at this point he stood up and told him that his god was clearly different and walked out. That’s the Jake I know, a strong minded individual who had been told not to question and to cut all ties with any LGBT friends, who refused as he knew this would be turning his back on all that he is and a lot of his friends. Once again I am so proud of him, he still feels he wants to pursue his beliefs but with a church that has broken from the main one.

I still worry for him but I regularly keep in contact with him, his new job seems to be going well and all I wish now is he meets a like minded soul to share his life with.

It’s complicated

Jake has settled in well but I do bloody miss having him around, I think that’s part of my next struggle, I guess I just need to accept he is ok, I just wish he would always answer a text, but hey why would he change the habit of a lifetime? He hasn’t answered the one on Sunday, I’m letting it go a while longer but I will have to point out to him I still care and just because his relationship with his dad has fallen apart there is no way I’m allowing it!

My relationship with running, well what can I say, last year it was my crutch, as difficult as it was it was needed to remain sane, to carry on through the tough times, to cope. It’s been a relationship of almost 30 years, in varying degrees. At the moment I guess if it was a FB status, it would be, it’s complicated, or we are on a break!

That’s how I feel, I don’t need the time away from home to recycle my mind boxes, I have lots of time at home to do this now, I no longer feel the need to get out there to push myself, I do miss having that feeling but I’m tired, I’m sad and I feel I need to protect what ever is left that keeps me fundamentally me strong and running is draining that. I’m sure it will return, maybe not in the whole marathon way but there are other goals I wish to achieve.

This blog has helped me, I’ve met others in similar situations so I have become stronger it’s just I also feel lost, what now? I need to do something that makes a difference, I need to challenge myself maybe, I need to think about where I’m going. I just need to be me again, happy, content and ultimately have a joy of life, I’m not sure where I will find it, but I guess it’s best to just go with the flow, something will change, time heals all.

edit- as I posted this Jake text me, seems my powers of thought finally got through, he will ring me tonight, at least I know he hasn’t disappeared completely 😄

Nature or nurture?

I’ve been on a journey the last 2 years, one I never thought I would be taking, but one that has enriched my soul I guess.

I’ve also read many others blogs taking a similar journey, parents and other transgender people and I’m shocked by the amount of intolerance some have had to accept. I wonder if my acceptance is nature or nurture? That old question. What truly shocks me is the amount of religion that is tangled up with people’s misunderstanding. Now I’m not judging anyone on what they believe, each to our own, personally I feel I have no belief in an ultimate God. Sometimes I have been envious of those that have such faith, is it a comfort? I feel I can’t have faith in something that has no proof to me, there have been times in my life when I have needed help, desperately low and did God reach out to me then? No, so the opportunities he could have didn’t occur and this leads me to conclude either I’m unworthy or of course there isn’t one! Ultimately I have faith in myself, my strength to cope and help others. When I read others that have family not accepting them and inciting religious quotes it makes me angry. Surely a God is one that lives and accepts all? How can people claim to be so Christian when they can so easily turn their backs on their loved ones?

I think I’ve always be an accepting person but as the years have passed I have understood many issues by researching, thinking and re evaluating my opinions, that’s how we grow as a human isn’t it?
So where is this going you may think?
I have 2 distinct memories where by nurture has had an affect on how I’ve developed and both are with my mum.
Firstly- I was watching the summer Olympic Games I’m guessing the year is 1976 so I’m 9, my mum is ironing, I cheering at the screen, ah it seems I loved running before I discovered it! I remember shouting ‘oh look the N***** won’ it wasn’t a word I had used before but I guess I had heard it in the playground, my mum turned to me and sternly said ‘ don’t ever use that word again’ obviously I knew I had said something wrong and have never repeated it, but I wonder without this nurturing would I be the person I am today?
Secondly- Most kids have a special teddy, raggy cloth or blanket that they cling on to no matter what, that special thing they hold dear, comforts them to sleep, in fact I still have mine now, a doll I was given back in 1972, a doll that when given I didn’t like because it was different, it wasn’t the normal for that time, I remember flinging her on the floor and saying I didn’t want her, my mum lovingly picked her up and began to bath her and called me to see her tears ( ok it was just soap suds) that were streaming down her face, my mum told me she was crying because I didn’t want her, my 5 year old innocence saw through what was different about her and immediately grabbed her and wrapped her in a towel and she never left my side after that, I insisted she had birthday and Christmas presents, she accompanied me to school met me out of it, she was my special childhood toy, I would twiddle her arm or leg to go to sleep and she still has shiny bits from this! I guess that’s the first memory I have of being taught as humans we are all the same no matter what colour, religion, etc we are and I’m grateful my parents have that view as it has prepared me for my life now.

Anyway what I have come to realise is that adults still have their special comfort blanket, at one point it was the handbag, yes truly, you look around and see girls clinging to their most wanted possession, some have a radley bag or purse, seriously wtf is that about? It has a little dog motif on it and for the privilege you pay over the odds, or am I missing something? Does this little motif protect your goods, does it snarl and bite at anyone trying to steal it? Or how about a mulberry bag? Something so expensive you are afraid to use the bloody thing, hugging it to your body, not letting out of your sight, proudly showing it off to your friends like a newborn baby! I seriously don’t understand it!
Now boys are a little different, once the teddy is outgrown and discarded in a corner, they like to feel part of a group, wearing their beloved football shirts so they can easily recognise a kindred spirit, or sporting the new Nike air trainers.
Now there is a new kid on the block, it’s a universal comforter, one it seems every adult owns, many desire the latest offering with it’s all singing all dancing controls. What is this you may ask? Take a look in your hand are you clinging to your comforter now? Yes it’s the mobile phone. You only have to look around to witness this adult comforter epidemic. Girls have replaced the handbag with the smart phone, some have cases encrusted with jewels, pinging notifications from copious media applications- tweeting what they are wearing, Instagraming their lunch, face booking their check in points throughout the day, it’s never ending. Boys are equally as guilty, sharing football gossip, drinking exploits on snap chat, what’s apping fellow friends.
For some reason people are now afraid to be out of contact with people, couples sit together having a meal whilst simultaneously communicating via social media, quite possibly to one another!
And it seems amongst this social media frenzy many people have forgotten the art of communication, soon we won’t even share a coffee with friends but instead choose to snap chat a picture of it whist tweeting our day.
So for today lets all try and ditch a little of the social media and spend some time with some one we actually care about, just like the time when we were 5 and had that special friend 😃 it may feel good!IMG_1205.JPG

One week on

A week on and we’ve all survived 😄
Jake is healing well and proudly walking around with confidence, I really can’t believe what a difference it’s made. I asked if if he felt better within himself,
Yes he replied, look, everything looks normal, pointing to his body
Of course it was the right decision and I’m so grateful we have the NHS and they have funded his treatment. I guess some may think it’s a waste of money, when money is tight, I guess I may have thought it too wasn’t a priority many years ago, but having witnessed the anguish Jake has endured during the past years I can wholeheartedly support it. Who are we to judge that one illness takes priority over another!
Today we popped into town so Jake could purchase some new clothes, he picked up one of those vest tops and said see I can wear this now, I seriously thought he was joking, but no he popped it with his stash and has proudly worn it today.
He has also been packing up his belongings, that are currently piled in his room, on Friday it’s the big move to London Town, I jokingly said that once he had left there was no coming back, I caught the look on his face, one that gave it away a little, he will miss home!😄 of course I told him he can return at any point, we would always be here for him.
I’ve had a lovely week off work, household chores caught up on and 22 miles ran in total, not a huge amount to what I’ve done before but a start to getting back to normal, and today’s 6 miles started to feel easier, it’s all coming back.

Just a short blog today as to be honest I’ve used all my energy this week staying strong, I’m in a good place but emotionally I’m drained.

And then I understood

Surgery day arrived, Jake was a little apprehensive, I could tell, so I gave him a hug and said it would all be ok. We arrived at the hospital and he was checked in to his own room, our local hospital has had a new addition to it and the breast clinic is situated within it, the ward he was on was for all kind of operations but comprised of individual rooms with en-suite too, whoop whoop to the nhs! Once settled I left him in the capable hands of the nurses who were lovely and headed home.
To be honest I didn’t think about it too much, it was a day I needed to be strong. Firstly I went out and ran, 5 miles of freedom, lovely!
Around 2 pm jake text me to say he was all done and feeling ok, relief washed over me, at least he was ok, so I replied to let him know I would be up at 6 pm to visit. I did shed a tear but soon pushed them away and made myself busy.
Arrived, with Matthew to visit and we walked into an empty room, my heart sank, where was he? I asked the nurse who informed me he had returned to theatre as swelling and pain had occurred, I immediately flashed back to 18 months ago when we was in hospital having a cyst removed and had started bleeding internally, collapsing in front of me and having to watch the medical staff spring into action and take him back to theatre, I just about managed to hold back the tears, it’s ok the nurse said he’s back in recovery and will be here in a while. So we waited, a whole hour past before Jake made his return, but he was lucid and we manage to joke about his theatre encore again!
I had mixed emotions at this point, I didn’t want my child in pain, I felt guilty about what he was having to go through just to feel at ease with himself.
Then the nurse appeared to do his obs and check the drains and this is where it all began to make sense, a moment in time when you think
Yeah I really really understand now
Over the last 2 years I have been trying to understand, I have accepted and supported but understanding is maybe one thing I could never do, how could I? I had always been comfortable with my body and who I was. Maybe I thought one day Jess would make a reappearance, it’s strange what the brain suggests to you, even though I knew realistically the steps to take testosterone were the first and the effects that had had I could see daily, but my heart still wanted Jess back, even though Jess was never truly happy, I guess it was easier to deal with than what I had dealt with recently.
But as the nurse revealed his chest, with dressing I add, I was a little shocked, THEY were gone, Jake lay there with a proud look on his face, not bothering I was there, there was no covering up, feeling the need to hide his body, he displayed it for all to see, like all men do! You see it was as easy as that I finally understood. All the angst I have witnessed, his binding, years of depression and take away the boobs and finally Jake emerged, it filled my heart with pure love for him. I understood why he always was so secretive about his body, why he didn’t like a hug, he didn’t like what was there that shouldn’t be- simple
He has been recovering well, walking around topless, from his room to the bathroom. I feel at last a sense of peace, it’s really hard to explain but after the journey I have been on with Jake so far in his life, this point now seems like the beginning, a new start for him, to begin work and not feel his boobs will give him away.
So anyone thinking they too don’t understand maybe one day you,will trust me it all becomes clear.

The dog days are over

Another week passes at incredible speed making me wonder where this year has gone to, I mean the X factor starts this weekend a sure sign autumn is within our grasp!
I’ve read back over my last 18 months and realised how far I have actually come in this process, I found they evoked many feelings again and also realised I probably didn’t write some of the worst incidents, those that have been in a similar situation need not be reminded of their child telling them they wish they were dead it’s been a tough road to travel but at last the dog days are over 😄
Jake and Matthew have found a flat, after a slightly chaotic week for them and a stressful one for me hoping all was going ok, the contracts are in the process of being signed with my husband and brother standing as guarantors, and that’s what families are all about I reminded Jake, as much as he may feel some may not take him seriously, although they do and have supported him, when the going got tough they stood firm.
I also saw a 12 year old Jess peak through, or should I say the insecurities I associated with Jess emerged, it’s reminded me my child is still the same within. We were chatting about the flat when he looked a little anxious,
I asked him what was the matter,
he stated he was worried,
why I enquired,
well I’m actually leaving home properly and well what if I die?
I tried not to laugh,
Only if you forget to eat I stated!
You see the 12 year old that was always anxious and full of what if this happens made an appearance, it was Jess who of course has always been Jake.
This weekend also had us at a carboot sale, clearing out the remnants of Jess to make way for Jake and leaving home. Only in England would you arrive in a field at 6 am with a car fall of unwanted goods and unload them and wait, the things you do for your kids! Jake was happy to come away with almost £90 I’m happy he’s not leaving it all behind for the bright lights of London Town!
I’m still feeling happy, a little tired after a busy week at work whereby I had to work 5 days, back to 4 next week, I’m liking my new 4 day week.
We’ve also booked a holiday for February and this I’m really excited about, the pacific coast of Mexico to a luxurious hotel, it will be a much wanted and enjoyable holiday, this years holiday in Cuba was nice but I also took many worries with me so never really enjoyed it as much as I should have. Life is looking better and I can only reassure others that think it will never improve, it does, honest just hang on tight, take a deep breath and run with it!