Small steps lead to change 

Tonight I feel pretty proud of myself. It may have been just a tiny step for some but for me it was huge. 

I’m currently on holiday in Mexico and was enjoying an evening drink in the lobby bar when my attention was drawn to the table next to me. The issue of transgender was being discussed. The family I think were mother, father, son and daughter in law. Daughter in law was very pro transgender rights and was discussing the topic with the family. 

The usual jokes and laughs were made and the oh it must be a mental issue, DIL was very firm in her knowledge trying to explain how it was for a transgender person and their rights for treatment in the USA. Not once did she falter on her beliefs whilst her so called family mocked and argued with her. 

I listened intently and realised this was an opportunity I too needed to stand up for those rights as it’s the little things that actually get the momentum flowing on issues like this. 

So as we left the bar I walked over to the girl and thanked her for her knowledge and understanding on the issues and said not everyone could understand, thanked her again and walked away. I didn’t need to explain myself I just needed her to know she wasn’t the only person standing up for the rights of the transgender community. 

I’m hoping that small action will have larger ones in others. I knew I couldn’t remain silent, I’m not one for confrontation but sometimes it’s a necessity. 

Shall steps are all we need to take in life to change the future. 

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.

Audio

Saying goodbye 

 

I’ve meant to have been here a thousand times but I’ve found a thousand reasons not to be. I’ve had to put all my energy into staying the bright and optimistic person I generally am. Jake returned home and has been extremely stressed about everything. He wisely booked a GP appointment who then referred him to mental health, who unsurprisingly were astounded he had manage to achieve what he has over the previous few years without combusting. My job has been to make sure he is eating regularly, taking what stress I can out of his life and helping him to think ahead.
Whilst it has settled me in some ways to know I’m helping him through this it too takes it toll on me, I’m tired, I find some days it’s hard to be optimistic when I feel life has been so cruel to him. My inner angst has once again taken over, the swirl is constantly reminding me of how my life is but I’m hoping once again it will subside. I guess not being here has stopped me thinking too hard about what’s been occurring, if you don’t think too deeply it can’t hurt you too much.
Some good news now, Jake has gained his degree so is how the proud owner of a 2:1 BA (Hons) in business management. Something we as a family are extremely proud of, he has also secured a new job starting in September, which I hope will bring a happy new stage to his life, a beginning of new friendships.
We have been looking forward to his degree ceremony on the 18 th July, a proud moment when 3 years ago at the start of his course he almost didn’t make it, a day that took tremendous courage from him, until he received a call from the hospital to offer him the next stage of his surgery on the 16 th July, of course this is perfect to fit in with his schedule of leaving his present job, recovering and preparing for his new position, the only downside being he won’t be able to attend his ceremony, but jake said he didn’t work 3 years for a ceremony, how true.
As I mentioned earlier I’ve been struggling lately, just with lots of things but after a chat with a new client who is also a therapist, I guess I’ve been trying too much with everything, some of my worries would be ‘normal’ worries but I have the added twist of a transgender child. I’m worry too much and I must learn to let go of the past, Jess has gone and I have to remember I have a level headed son who has proved he can achieve but sometimes you wish you didn’t need to be strong all the time, that others realised things aren’t always rosy and even the ever optimist doesn’t know what to do. I know I’m tough, I put on a brave face but I’ve noticed recently how some friends just don’t ask, you know, don’t actually say ‘ how are you during through all this?, some I’ve not heard from, I know we are all busy but if I know someone is struggling I try to let them know I’m thinking of them or offer some words of comfort, that hurts and it’s been from some you wouldn’t expect whilst others have been great. Again I’m trying not to dwell too much.
Friday we are heading to London to do a few tourist things before Jake check is into the hospital and I will return home until he needs picking up, life goes on and this will be my final goodbye to Jess, all that was her will be gone and I need to move on.

 

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.

Feel the music

In my quest to understand the world we all live in I tend to read, I love books, always have done, i can’t imagine a world without reading. I still remember the joy of disappearing to bed early when Jess was about 5 months old, a sleeping pattern had been established and finally I could take some time for me, to delve in to some make believe world of fiction, along with running it’s been my rock in life. Nowadays I find myself on the other end of a google search, or exploring amazon for information to download to my kindle. One of my recent purchases is ‘transitions of the heart’, Edited by Rachel pepper. I wanted something affirming to read, something that would fill me with hope and happiness, not tales of fear, worry and guilt. I’ve dipped into this book, it’s my car book, the one I can read between appointments, during lunch or a spare 5 minutes I have. But during the foreword I read the following

“no one ever tells you having a transgender child is a possibility. It isnt in any of the baby or child rearing books. How can anyone be prepared for this journey? It’s as if we have been forced into running a marathon and all the other runners are given a 5 mile lead and a map of the course. We spend our time trying to catch up, with no idea if we are even on the right path”

As I read this the irony of it actually made me smile which then turned into a little laugh, I suddenly felt I actually knew why I ran marathons. My running relationship of 28 years was my preparation, ok so 18 months ago with 3 marathons under my belt, when Jess told me and Jake emerged I knew very little about transgender lives, but I guess I knew how anything can be overcome with determination, passion and understanding. You don’t wake up one day decide to run a marathon and then run it, it takes months, weeks, days, hours, minutes of your life to prepare, it’s something you have to respect, the distant is an entity the majority of the population cannot even comprehend, there were times during each training session I had wanted to give up, to stay in bed when the cold winter weather beckoned me from my warm house, it’s cold windy breath hollering into my soul to run. There were times I thought I couldn’t continue but deep, down in my heart I knew I had prepared as best I could and my faith in my training and myself helped me. So I’m going to use this enlightenment, things I have little knowledge on I will research, i will try to limit the angst swirling in me knowing that Jake is more contented in his life and as he prepares to leave home and begin his work life I feel blessed my son is one of the most wonderful, level headed people I know.

I loved the film Flashdance, being a kid of the 80’s, what a feeling frequently appears in my running play list still, it also reminds me of the times I would put Jess to bed, a small child who didn’t want to sleep alone, so I would turn on the radio and tune it to a classical station and tell her to close her eyes and like the film flash dance I would say’ close your eyes and feel the music’ I love this quote, as who actually takes time to feel the music, not just listen to it? We would then make up stories of what the music evoked. Horses galloping along beaches, fairies dancing in the garden, dragons swooping in the air, dolphins swimming through the sea, what a feeling makes me feel as if I’m gliding over the ground, running with ease and eloquence even if others are seeing something different! Today maybe take some time, close your eyes and listen to some music and then feel the music. 😄

How you doing ?

I guess it’s been a while since I asked myself that question, it’s one that can open up a whole can of worms so I try to avoid it, I’m good at avoidance.
Well I don’t cry everyday, so is this progression? In my eyes not really its just that I avoid thinking too deeply any more, so if I did open up the box with the big J on it every day I would be a wreck by now. The tears are not because I haven’t accepted, that came a long time ago, it’s the fear and angst I hold within myself, the fear of what others could do to Jake, the intolerant people that just don’t understand, will this ever go? I still feel guilty that maybe I could have helped earlier, that maybe I could do more, who knows, it’s a horrible ball of angst that I guess has become part of me.
Running has kept me sane, I have no idea how I have got this far this year considering how I felt on January 1st but it does allow me time to switch off from my angst or sometimes just to let it out, it’s hard to run properly with tears blubbering out but it does feel good!
Jake has achieved a tremendous amount over the last 18 months and I’m in awe at his courage and strength it’s sad his father is taking it harder to accept, maybe one day, it’s not that he says he won’t support but the contact has reduced greatly, but maybe that’s his story to tell and I may just ask him to write it.
I have to constantly remain strong with the smily face, cos when days get tough for Jake I have to be there to support, its exhausting  you know. I have changed and I know my relationship with others has too, some because of how I have become and some because of how they have reacted to my sadness- sigh- that’s life I guess.
So I shall continue to box my woes, recycle them occasionally and hope the future is bright.
Next stop the London marathon and time for major box recycling 😄