05 October 2008

Denials from Their Child and Grandchild

Today a sadness set in. I was working on my bike, which can get me meditative sometimes. (As if I need to be more meditative!) It rained last night and this morning, and most of the day was overcast and rather chilly. It's the downside of fall.

I was thinking about Grandma again. The other day was the anniversary of her death. Strange, isn't it, that she died two days after her 68th birthday and Grandpa died on his 72nd birthday.

For about two or three years after her death, I went through one of the most prolonged periods of severe depression I've experienced. For me, that's saying something, because I was essentially clinically depressed from some time in my childhood until I was 44 years old. But during those years immediately after her death, I was about as bad as anybody could be without being confined. Maybe I was sick enough to be criminally insane and simply didn't get caught.

As I recall, I had been drinking enough to float away a few islands (except for the one--me--I really was trying to float away, or float away from) and doing a fair amount of drugs. And I was sleeping with people I wouldn't go anywhere near now--and having unprotected sex. Around the time Grandma died, almost nobody outside the Village or Castro had heard of what would come to be called AIDS. And those who knew were still calling it "gay cancer." So, I reasoned (sic), I wasn't going to get it because I wasn't gay. (Which, of course, I'm not: I'm a bisexual woman who's functioning as a heterosexual one.) Never mind that my sexual partners included men. But they were not the majority, and none were more than one-nighters. And one was part of a menage a trois with the woman with whom I was about to break up and the guy she would marry about a year later, so that didn't count because it was kinda sorta straight.

OK, you can laugh at my logic, if you want to call it that. I do now. But I also understand something about the down-low. In other words, I know why men deny that they're anything but straight while they're sleeping with other men. It's always an "experiment" or some such thing, even though it's the 45th time it's happened. I said things like that to anyone who asked. I mean, it was terrifying enough to admit that I was bisexual, never mind gay or transgendered.

It was during that dark period after my grandmother's death that I went to a therapist for the first time. I skipped our second scheduled appointment, ostensibly because I didn't have the money. Actually, that was true: I wasn't making much money (not that I do now!) and I was often broke, or close to it. So, she scheduled a session for the following week, for free, and said we would discuss fees. Then she offered me a very reduced rate. I took her up on it for a couple of weeks.

Near the end of my fourth session with her, she declared, "First of all, you need to go to AA, or to do something like it that will help you with your drinking problem. And next, I think you need to see a gender specialist."

Talk about getting your baloon popped! With no conviction at all, I muttered, "Thank you." And I left her office, never to return.

It took me a few years before I acted on her first recommendation. And, about fifteen years after that, I took up her second. Sometimes I'm tempted to look her up and see whether she's stilll practicing (She may be retired by now.) I don't know what I'd say to her, or what she'd say to me.

Well, I could tell her I'm not on the down-low anymore. But she would know that, just by seeing me. Ditto for the drinking and drugs.

Grandma wouldn't have approved of those things. However, I don't know how she'd take my changes. I actually did "come out" as gay (mainly because I didn't feel like a straight man and the idea of being transsexual--the word we used then--was too terrifying!) to her when I was in my sophomore year of undergrad school. Because of her beliefs, she said, she could not give her blessings to it. But, like my mother, she would not deny me, for I was her beloved grandchild.

One thing she'll never know is that what she said has helped me, especially now. Always her grandchild and my mother's child. So don' mess wid me. ;-)

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