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The crowds settle down as the music starts to play…

Walking into the Arena

The [Public] arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue

— Emma Goldman

He was tossing and turning again. He had been this way for a couple of days and I could sense that it was his conscience brewing. This wasn’t the first time he had given me news that tore my world apart with one of his secrets. He repositioned again, this time more frustrated than the last and I could feel the intense hot and cold of fear and pain and anger coursing through me. I love him. I would do anything for him but he won’t ever let me in…

“Hey… I don’t know what’s going on with you but I want you to know that I love you. I don’t care what it is”, my voice started to crack as I fought to hold back tears, “I just want you to know that I can’t help if you don’t tell me.”

Silence for a few moments. I felt my body pulsing and my head dizzying. The tears were trying to break through but I wasn’t going to let it happen. I knew what he was going say. I knew it was ‘her’ again, the girl that for whatever reason he can’t seem to let go of even though she ruins his life and tortures him with her indifference. he flips over violently and faces me in a panic,

“Are you sure that you’ll love me no matter what?”

Here is comes… He’s still seeing her…

“Yes”

He grabs his face and looks almost sick,

“I’m trans”

…… “What?”

Relief, confusion, fear, grogginess from the lack of sleep the past few days. He fills the silence with an explanation,

“I like to wear women’s clothing and I dress up like a girl.”

….. “Ok, Did you want to do that now?”

“…..yea… I guess?”

“Ok, did you have something in mind?”

“The sparkle dress you wore for New Years”

We tried on clothes for hours and talked about what it meant to be trans. This is how our journey into living our truths in the Public Arena of stereotypes, LGBTQ ignorance, our own expectations, fears, beliefs, and ultimately ourselves.

The Trans Community is more than just Transpeople

Brooke shared an article the other day that was incredibly powerful and brought a new perspective to what I considered to be the trans community. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines community as:

 “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals”

This means that myself, just like the other men and women that date and have intercourse with transpeople, we are part of their community as well. We share an interest however, many people are shamed for either being trans or judged harshly for loving a transperson.

<a href="<!– wp:paragraph –> <p> <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pa77mn/straight-men-are-part-of-the-trans-community">https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pa77mn/straight-men-are-part-of-the-trans-community</a></p&gt;
 https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pa77mn/straight-men-are-part-of-the-trans-community

Trans bodies are beautiful and transpeople are human beings with feelings and hopes and dreams like everyone else. They are no different than anyone, except that they may be a bit tougher and have higher walls than most. But that’s because we as a society built those for them. Now it’s time we help them feel safe enough to tear them down.

How do we tell the kids?

As those of you that follow me may know, I have 2 wonderful children, Bito and Nena. I would tell you their government names but you probably can’t pronounce them and almost everyone I know, has no idea what their real names are – so let’s stick with Bito and Nena. Actually, I refer to them as “bitonena” because they are one unit of child.

What I mean is, when I tell one of them to stop doing shit, the other one IMMEDIATELY starts doing the same shit I just told the other one to stop doing so I got into the habit of telling them both to stop doing shit. When we are leaving the house? Bitonena go get ready. Somebody walking around the apartment with cement shoes on? Bitonena stop stomping around! Saves me time from having to tell one of them, and then the other.

So before I tell you how we told them about Brooke being trans and myself being bisexual, let me tell you a little bit about my kids…

Princess Nena

The kindest and most aggravating girl in the world is my daughter Nena. She is too smart for her own good, she is her own worst enemy, and she is freaking HILARIOUS!! Sometimes… She is definitely goofy and she is herself. No one else. That is my favorite about her. She doesn’t give a fuck what is cool or what everyone else is doing – she is who she is. She is fucking awesome and she KNOOOOWWWSSS it already.

Nena has mild dyslexia and she has learned to appreciate that about herself. She loves to do her make-up and she ALREADY KNOWS everything that you can possibly tell her. She has always been the sweetest person you will ever meet and I have watched her literally giver the jacket off her back or the food on her plate to a stranger all on her own because she saw they had a need. She is also the biggest asshole when she gets into her mood. As Brooke would describe her, “She’s a weeble-wobble head ass”. At the end of the day, she makes me proud and stressed because I know she is capable of so much more than she lets herself do.

Big Booty Bito

My son is the quintessential Italian mama’s boy. He is very protective of his mama, he needs his mama, and he is the most perfect little boy in the entire world. He is the protective type with his sister and he is protective of Brooke, even though sometimes he pretends not to like her (it’s all for show…). He cries during soppy movies and loves those love songs that we grew up on. You know, that old school R&B where they’re singing about pussy in the rain and shit.

Bito is also an overachiever that has impossible standards for himself. He plays soccer on a travel team (plays center-mid) and loves to cook. He has always been the smartest kid in his class – literally. He is sarcastic and his humor is developed well beyond his years. He loves to walk around naked, watch anime, and play fortnight. He is also the NOSIEST FUCKING KID EVER!! God!! He is so fucking nosey… always in my business. He makes me so proud to be his mom, I just wish he wan’t always so hard on himself and learned that even when he loses, he still wins.

The Talk

When Brooke finally decided that she wanted to be a woman, we immediately thought about the kids. How are we going to live this life of truth with children? I started the conversation talking to the kids about sex. I know, I know… it was rough because bitonena were 9 and 7 at the time and the concept was not something that they even knew about. Was it a bit early? Probably, I felt like it couldn’t wait. I told them that Brooke wanted to be a girl and not a boy anymore. They were confused and initially, they were quiet. Then after about 30 minutes they started asking questions… A LOT of questions.

“Why doesn’t he like being a boy?”

“Does this mean that he is going to be different?”

“Will he still love us?”

“Does that mean that he is gay?”

“How do you become a girl?”

“I think he will be an ugly girl.”

Obviously I didn’t have all the answers and Brooke was not ready to answer some of the questions either because she, herself, had no idea. Some of it was just kids being kids in all of their honest glory that can sometimes be hurtful, while other parts were about feeling secure in their relationship with her. Some of it was about what my thoughts were and how the relationship between Brooke and I would work.

Nena’s notes when she is upset

Over time, their questions were answered (some of them were a little sensitive so we told them that we weren’t ready to answer them or we felt that it was something that was appropriate to answer at this time). They accepted Brooke for who she was. It took Brooke more time to accept herself than it took them to accept her. She was always afraid that the kids would be bullied or made fun of – and that is still a very real fear that we face everyday. However, we have come to find that if they have a strong and supportive home where they feel safe, and 2 moms that will throat punch anyone that tried to make them feel bad…. they will face adversity but they will also have the tools and resources to overcome it.

The other fear was the backlash from their father, Viejo, who is the most misogynistic Trump supporting asshole in the world. Brooke didn’t want her desire for transitioning to affect my custody of the children. It hasn’t, and it hasn’t come up as we have been quite strategic about it but the constant “hate talk” is apparent and it is something that the children work through with myself and a counselor. I don’t have all the answers and I am not afraid to ask for help if it means my babies mental or emotional health is on the line. I will do anything for them with a smile on my face regardless of how much it might hurt. Then I’ll ask for another…

They really are amazing kids. I couldn’t have asked for better children. They make myself and Brooke feel so accepted and loved and we love them more than anything else in the world. We are not perfect by any means, but we accept each other as we are and that is perfect for us.

The Apartment

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

– Lao Tzu

Brooke and I reconciled all of our issues and finally opened up to each other about a lot of things that we had been carrying around with us throughout our relationship that caused us to feel disconnected. Since Brooke is still living in Chicago and I had to move due to the custody battle that I am still fighting with my ex-husband (Viejo).

We talked about ways that she could explore how far into transition she wanted to go safely. If ONLY there was a place that we could go where no one knew her as a male and she would never see them again…

Grand Rapids is perfect!! Not really, I hate living here to be honest…. We devised an idea that while Brooke is in GR, she can indeed be Brooke and live as a trans-femme, then go back to Chicago and no one would ever know. This would be that start to acceptance and living our truth. I am a bit more adventurous and a lot more “go fuck yourself” than she is – so we planned it out.

A little bit about GR’s LGBTQ Scene

For those of you that are not familiar with the “bible belt downtown” that is Grand Rapids, there are 2 Gay clubs here: Rumors and The Apartment. There used to be a couple more but over time, they have been shut down. I think one of them was shut down a few years ago, Diversions. It was a decent place and I don’t know why it was shut down. There is also a church downtown that holds support group meetings for LGBTQ.

Let’s talk about sex bay-bee!

Back when I was in highschool I went to one of these “get togethers” with my friend Stacie, she was a lesbian and her older brother was dating my best friend. Who was also my best friend. Anyway, I was Stacie’s date for this formal event and I remember that back then, there was really no place for anyone to go if you were LGBTQ, it was nice to see how much the community has grown in GR but there is still A LOT of work that can be done. Things are getting better but you still see signs that say things like “All are welcome” and when I see it, it just reminds me that I need to keep the fear alive to stay alive because this is still not the safest place for us.

While talking with Brooke I told her that I had been to Rumors several times, I go there on Tuesdays when I get out from my bartending job around the corner and have a couple drinks while I watch the same fucking guy dance in the mirror.

He is a TERRIBLE dancer and he always has the same shorts on with his shirt off and a hat. He dances the same way to EVERY song. Don’t get me wrong… He’s got a hot body but I wouldn’t fuck him. I might be the only one though. I’ve seen him leave with a guy each time I’ve been there – KUDOS to him!

The First Living Truth Date

It seems that bars are the thing for Brooke and I – we met in front of one and our first date living our truth was at one. What a bunch of lushes! Haha… So Brooke and I decided to go to The Apartment which seemed to be a lot more chill and I had never been there before. Brooke arrived on Friday and we went shopping for clothes, she wore girl jeans to the mall… That may not seem like a lot you but for her?? She was fucking terrified the whole time. She has long hair and everyone mistakes her for a girl anyway – but she was terrified. We shopped, she bought some super clothes, and we also stopped at Ulta to get our eyebrows done (Of course!) and buy some makeup to cover up anything that might resemble facial hair.

Make-up Tutorial that I Studied

I gotta say… YouTube is a LIFESAVER! I suck at make-up horribly but I watched some videos and I was able to paint a gorgeous work of art on Brooke’s face. She looks amazing ❤ and to make her more comfortable – I wore this romper that I never wear because it exposes the 2 things I am the most insecure about on my body – my boobs because they are deflated from breast feeding and my thighs because cellulite.

We were both incredibly nervous and agreed to have just a couple drinks and then go home. When we got there, there was a crowd outside smoking… f f f f f u u u u u u u c c c c c k k k k k k

My Brooke ❤

So we waited in the car for like 15 minutes until they left. Cold sweats the whole time… When we walked in, we rushed to a booth and the bartender came by. May I just say, this bartender was awesome. Simply awesome. He was so welcoming and nice and cheery – immediately calmed our nerves. We ordered Chinese food and had it delivered, then we went home and drank the rest of our “high” and the rest of the booze we had in the house. It was a game changer and it brought the dream to life. Suddenly, we realized that we totally could live our truth and that the scariest part about it, was in our heads. We had a great time.

Brooke went shopping again and we have a Christmas Party that we will be attending for one of my jobs… The dream is becoming our reality and it feels like we’ve won the lottery. We are more in love than we have ever been and we feel so connected. Talking to each other is no longer a chore or something we fear because of what might be said. We talk all the time and everything flows so naturally. We are more supportive and completely unafraid to ask for the things that we want. I wish I had words to describe how excited and happily overwhelmed I feel to know that I found her, the woman I’ve always wanted.

“When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free”

– Barack Obama

Unfucking Myself

During the dark time when Brooke and I were broken up, I was unemployed, attending therapy a few times a week, and suffering from intense depression I found myself at the bookstore again…

I was again with my kids just looking around while they decided what to spend their chore money on and I saw the word “fuck” in big letters. Of course it caught my eye… so I picked up the book and read a little bit about it. I figured if Brene Brown could get me to change my inner thoughts, then why not take a risk on this guy, Gary Bishop.

I started reading this book and just like how I did for Brene’s books, I picked apart and analyzed myself trying to apply the concepts he was so brutally communicating. While Brene held my hand and told me it was going to be ok, Gary bitch-slapped me with the truth about the shit I was doing to sabotage myself and told me to stop being stupid. I felt right at home!

Gary’s methods may be cringe-worthy for some, but he spoke to me in a way that I could understand. Direct. Straight to the jugular. No mercy. I loved it. I would carry this book with me everywhere and whenever I would start to have a panic attack or a “sobbing-attack” I would bust out this book and try to read through my tears and shaking hands to remind myself that I am sabotaging myself with my own inner voice.

Gary has a second book that I also read that dives further into what are called your “conclusions”. He names 3 of them that affect your perceptions of the world:

Conclusion about Yourself

Conclusion about Other People

Conclusion about Life

As I pondered what my conclusions were on these topics, I would talk to Gloria and found that I was definitely not an optimist person about myself. My conclusions were:

Personal (Self)Other PeopleLife
I am worthless
I am broken
People are cruel
People don’t care
Life is unfair
Life is hard

These conclusions are the lens I used through which I filtered the world and every single one of my interactions with my environment, including the ones that took place within myself and my subconscious. This meant that I had to completely change my entire perception about life, unlearn as much as I could about the world and everything in it to “stop doing that shit”.

I had to learn to interact with people from a place of worthiness and unbrokenness. I had to learn how to see the interactions with people from a different lens – like they aren’t cruel or like they do care. Lastly, I had to find a way to perceive life as a whole as “fair” and “not-hard”. I have not completely mastered this and I work on it everyday. This is one the most exhausting endeavors I have ever decided to take on.

My Inner-Bitch Bully

My inner voice was the meanest bitch in the world. I came to realize in picking myself apart YET AGAIN that I was my own worst enemy. I may have been a bully to others, but I was an even bigger bully to myself. I hope that makes my past victims feel a little better…

Me and my Inner Bitch

I was causing a lot of my own issues in my head with overthinking. On the outside, I told everyone I didn’t give a fuck about them or their thoughts, but my inner-bitch did. She cared a lot. A lot more than I was ever willing to admit. And when she didn’t feel that they liked me, my inner-bitch would tear me apart in some of the cruelest ways. I was indeed, my very own bully. It was a realization that I never expected and I am still trying to actively redirect my internal thoughts to become more present – and a lot nicer to myself.

As my good friend Chris once told me when I was telling him how shitty I was:

“Hey!! Stop being mean to my friend”

– Chris Denhoff, AKA MC Tech

And this has been my mantra since. I need to be nice to his friend, and be my own friend as much as I am his and he is mine.

Poetic Expression, for the love of Art

We all feel like foreigners in our bodies at one time or another. Our bodies can make us feel so many things..

Fear Shame Hopelessness Insecure Pleasure Pain Euphoria Belonging

For me, Lee speaks to not only the experience of being trans but also the experiences I went through after having children – when my feet grew, my hips were wider, and my whole body changed. I felt like I was in someone else’s body. I can only imagine the struggle that would come about if I was told that my feelings were invalid because of ONE organ.

Wholeheartedness

I was talking to Gloria, my therapist, and she brought up a lady named Brene Brown. She said I needed to listen to what she was saying and read her book about shame. I told her “ok” and had no intention of looking into this.

Gloria knew that.

So the next time we met, she had a book waiting for me. “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. Gloria is quite persistent…

I love to read and she knew that but I also didn’t help with figuring out who I was. I was DonMon, I was either 0 or 100!! I wasn’t going to just listen to her – why would I do that?!? Fuck this shit. I don’t have shame. There’s nothing for me to be ashamed about. I am who I am, and I’ve done the shit that I’ve done.

It is what it is.

– Literally, Everyone

During this time, I was heartbroken and entering one of the darkest times I will have ever experienced in my life. I had just lost my job, lost the love of my life, and failing miserably at managing my PTSD. I was falling head first into a severe depression that would leave a scar so deep, I can feel it as I type about it.

The Shame Researcher

I had a moment of weakness and saw Brene Brown’s name on a book at Barnes and Nobles while shopping with my kids. We love the book store. I picked it up and being the fast reader that I am, breezed through the first 3 chapters in the hour we were there. I was hooked. As I absorbed everything I was reading, I also kept thinking about Brooke. My heart was still raw from our separation and I wanted to try to connect with her in any way that I could. I was still in love with her even though I told myself I wasn’t.

So I ordered it online and sent to her. Then I bought the book for myself.

The infamous TED Talk from the gifts of imperfection

I studied this book and embraced everything it offered. I then finally picked up “Daring Greatly” and let all of the information pour itself into me. It was my productive way of coping. I systematically picked myself apart and analyzed every behavior and every aspect of my being. I took notes and did additional research on the things I read. I watched Brene’s TED talks and then when I was done…

I read it all again, reanalyzed my notes, systematically picked myself apart again and then tried to rebuild what I could with the pieces I found.

I bought more books and studied harder. I looked for employment and worked out WAY too hard at the gym – would be there everyday for hours just pounding away at my body until it hurt to move. Then I would do it again the next day.

The talk that started a journey

I would have panic attacks and random bits of uncontrollable sobbing in public; gym, grocery store, coffee shop, the bar I started working at to help cover what unemployment couldn’t. It was bad and I was so embarrassed and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I couldn’t control the feelings or the guilt but mostly… I couldn’t control the amount of disappointment I felt in myself for the things I felt made me “great”. I was an asshole. My behaviors were asshole behaviors. I walked around like I had everything figured out and I was fucking clueless. I felt ashamed of the person that I was. I was practicing cowardice by not facing my own fears and not living my truth and yet there I was – telling Brooke to “figure it out” when I should’ve been saying it to myself.

Discovering Wholeheartedness

With intense therapy and a compass guiding me towards understanding that which I thought I already knew. I was so lost and it took a deep hit to my pride and my ego and it broke everything in me to accept that I indeed, knew absolutely nothing.

I let go of the thought that I knew anything and began to un-learn all of the behaviors that I calculated were causing me more harm than good. Then I had to figure out what I needed to learn to become wholehearted. I started doing things to take care of my mental health like meditation and being more deliberate with my thoughts, my words, and my actions. I listened more and tried harder to understand their perceptions.

Brooke and I were not on good terms. Somehow, we ended up having a conversation that was just the “business” since we still had some financial stuff mixed together. During that conversation, I went with the “fuck it, she’s already gone anyway” approach and opened up. I opened up and accepted that she was on her path – far, far away from mine. I was healing and it felt good.

I didn’t realize that my healing would completely rock the world that she had created as a result of our separation. In opening up to her and finding myself because she couldn’t hurt me anymore – she began to allow herself to be found as well. And very quickly, we began to hold each other’s hand and finally allowed the other to see the raw truth of ourselves.

And we felt more connected than ever.

Meet DonMon

Trying to sum it up in pictures so you get the hint

I am a regular ol’ gal born to a toxic and abusive mother, a father that felt daughters were worthless, grew up in poverty, and of course to top it all off, I’m Bisexual. I’m not going to get too much into details about my past because it doesn’t define who I am. It took me more than 30 years to finally figure that out. Actually, I am still figuring it out…

However! I do understand that in order to join in my journey, you have to have an idea of the trials, tribulations, accomplishments, and connections I have experienced along the way.

I am 1/2 Spaniard and 1/2 Italian, first of my immediate family to be born in the great state of California. Southern California to be exact. Those of you from Cali understand that there is a DIFFERENCE! Everyone else was born in Europe and migrated to the US in the hopes of a better life. I am a gym rat, through-and-through. 1 of 6 children, I have 1 full brother and a bunch of half-siblings. I go to the gym on a daily basis and consider it to be my ‘sanctuary’. I love food and cooking. I hate the cold. Love beaches (and bitches, haha!). I’ve had an interesting life with flying planes, being in the military, traveling quite a bit, music festivals, mental breakdowns, suppression of traumas and sexuality, concrete and internal prisons, raising my fucken awesome kids, finding the love of my life unexpectedly, and so much more.

I am loyal and honest to a fault. I am incredibly driven and sometimes stubborn (if you ask Brooke, I am ALWAYS stubborn…) and I also fuck up a lot. I am not afraid to admit to a mistake and I’m a good listener. I’m introverted but at work, I am an adapted extrovert. I have a Master’s degree and I hope to someday become Dr. DonMon because I like to flex REAL HARD. Then I would like to teach at Universities and someday educate our youth on the things that no one talks about because we are shamed into hiding things that don’t meet the societal expectations. I am the person that nergasms about shit often, I play D&D and also any sport you can think of. I’m all over the place. Here’s my backstory.

In The Beginning…

It just so happens that in 1986, year I was born, the United States had an amnesty to allow immigrants to obtain citizenship if they proved to have been good hard working citizens. My mom, pregnant with me at the time, married the older brother of the boy she was a nanny for who had JUST turned 18 not even a month prior to get citizenship. He was a sexual predator – she didn’t care because just so happens, she never wanted daughters either. I’ll let you think the worst because yes, you’re not far off from the horrors of my experiences.

Elementary years were spent living in a broken, toxic, and abusive home strung on Roman Apostolic Catholic beliefs. We never really practiced religion unless it was to shame, or punish, or to hear my mother pound her chest about how great of a person she was while she manipulated men into giving her money by any means… mostly at the cost of my own virtue.

When I started to get boobs, I was tasked with providing for the family because I was the only “unclaimed” child by a father, and since she abandoned my older sister, the oldest and most expendable “thing” she owned. So I did some time as a recreational pharmacist (what else is an 11 year old to do?).

I was considered to be the “tomboy” type – played sports, partied, did a lot of dumb shit, and had awesome mentors and teachers who were probably not the most law abiding citizens or great examples – you probably wouldn’t let your kids be around these people – but they cared about me. They wanted to see me break the cycle, not become a part of it. THAT matters.

The Suppression

I knew I was Bi sometime when I hit puberty. I’d seen porn several times and I liked women’s bodies the same as I liked men’s bodies. I liked the thought of intercourse with a man or a woman, sometimes both. I didn’t exactly know what it meant BUT!! I knew that it was considered “bad”.

I kissed my first girl when I was in 7th Grade. Her name was Paulette, she was blond and we used to smoke weed together. I never told anyone that my first kiss was a girl…

I kissed my first boy in 8th Grade. Had my first make out session in 10th grade with my friend’s male cousin when I was completely hammered. Only remembered that his face was scratchy and I didn’t like that. During my high school years I was in constant fear that someone would catch me staring at a girl for too long or that in my drunken state I would show the world that I was a “sinner” going to hell. I had made out with a few girls, almost even had sex with a lesbian friend of mine but my fear and shame kept me from exploring myself and my sexuality.

At one party, everyone had retreated to go have sex in their bedrooms and I was left in the living room by myself (as usual) and for whatever reason we were watching porn. A woman came on the screen but she had a penis. She was stunning and sexy af. I wanted her. I didn’t know how she got to be that way but she was perfect. I never dared to look into what I had seen or how to find it because I was afraid someone would find out. I also never allowed myself to explore my preference for women, just some drunk make out sessions that were played off as “drunk girl shit”.

“What if the girl I explore with tells someone?”

“I’m only gay if I have sex with a girl.”

“People will stop hanging out with me.”

“Everyone will talk shit about me.”

“I won’t be popular anymore. My life will be ruined.”

“I’ll never have a real job.”

“No one will ever want me.”

“I’ll get raped and murdered and no one will care.”

These are the thoughts that justified my silence – forced me to hide my truth and be mean to myself internally. I suppressed everything with drugs and alcohol because the reality and shame of what I really was, was too much to bear….

Ah yes… good ol’ Forest Gump

I dated one guy in high school, and that started on a bet. We dated for like 7 months and he broke up with me to fuck some other girl that was the “hot girl” at the time. Her name was Jenny…

Fast forward to 18, my life took a wrong turn again when I married a man 13 years my senior so that my mom would love me and finally be proud of me… and also be thousands of dollars richer! Knew the guy 6 months before we ended up married. He had a daughter from his previous marriage who hated me, of course she would – she hated herself too.

Regretted the decision almost immediately. No wedding, just signing court papers to say that I was now HIS property instead of hers. So what does one do when your life is totally out of control, you’re depressed, suicidal, and you want to run away?? YOU JOIN THE FUCKING ARMY!

Ah yes… the Army. HOOAH!

“The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution”

– John F. Kennedy

I joined and I loved almost every minute of it. My battle buddies are my family – no… they are more than that. I have no words to describe them. I had no intention of coming back home alive. I planned to give my life away down range to save someone who was worth something. I was a Medic, 91 Whiskey. I was finally in control of my own life.

Until….

I got pregnant. YUP! Came home on leave, got wasted everyday, and ended up pregnant by my at-the-time-husband. You can judge me if you want, but I tried for abortion. I didn’t want to have a child – I wanted to be a martyr.

The Army treats you like shit when you accidentally get pregnant while overseas. Like you did it to abandon your battle buddies or like you’re a coward. It was brutal. Broke me in a lot of ways. I developed pretty severe PTSD and was trying to stay out of the psych ward while dealing with pregnancy. Then I had a baby…

The Other Identity I Feared

Most moms will talk about how they immediately loved their baby and all that mushy shit. I was scared shitless and I felt completely foreign to myself and I had NO FUCKING CLUE wtf you do with a baby. I felt like my life was over… again. Like I had lost control of it AGAIN! I failed at shit AGAIN!!

This lil nugget right here, 2008

I hated my mom, I never wanted to be anything like her. I hate everything about her and yet, I’m the only one of her children that looks like her. Life’s funny that way sometimes. I didn’t want to be a mom because SHE was a “mom”. Couldn’t change it now so I had to just deal with it. I spent many years trying to make things work because I didn’t want a broken home and I wanted to do things “right”. Like my mentors and the people who cared about me, I wanted to break the cycle. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work when only one of you thinks the cycle needs to be broken. So I tried to leave him. His kid from his previous marriage was a monster. She was just as cruel and mean as he was, I was only 8 years older than her and back then, I hated her. Now, I forgive her and I understand why she is the way that she is. I especially hated her because she tried to have my lil nugget taken away from me, I was facing a year in jail. She hit me when she was 15 and I hit her back then she called police because I busted her lip.

While I was attending court hearings I had another life changing accident come about… 3 words…

Birth.Control.Failure.

YUP!! I was pregnant again and I was terrified that I would have my baby while in jail and lose the one I already had. I didn’t end up in jail thanks to some outstanding people I met while I attended law school who knew of my awful home life and tried to help me thrive (had to drop out – dreams crushed). My at-the-time-husband couldn’t give two shits. He had a son, with his name, his entire purpose had been served…

My Princess Nena, 2010

Fast track past the horrible time I spent trying to convince myself that making the marriage work was the right thing to do, desperately trying to escape being controlled and treated like property, and fighting with my own struggles of parenting, mental illness, and confused sexuality.

I had run away to Spain to live with my family, only to be court ordered to come back to the US (crushed again). I ran away to Puerto Rico to take care of my at-time-husband’s mom who had fallen sick with salmonella poisoning. I ran away again to Florida to escape him because he wouldn’t just let the fucking divorce happen. He was already fucking everything under the sun, we didn’t sleep in the same rooms, he wasn’t ever involved in the children’s lives, we didn’t even live together, we rarely even spoke.

Then finally, he decided to try to “punish” me by filing for divorce. Little did I know he was doing it because he completely fucked up my credit and needed an out. WHOLE other story…

The point is, I had regained ownership of my life. I was broke and homeless for a little while. I had the most amazing and supportive friend who saved my life and let me and my 2 babies stay with her until I got on my feet. Tara Lester – you’re one of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I wouldn’t have made it without you. I mean that.

“In everyone’s life, at some time, their fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people that rekindle our inner spirit.”

– Albert Schweltzer

A Woman Reborn

I spent a few years single because I didn’t want to be “owned” again. They were tough years, not gunna lie. They were also the years where I got to figure out more and more who I wanted to be. I wanted to be me – the type of person that I could be proud of. Loyal, intelligent, helpful, virtuous, honest, driven… all those things and much more but something was holding me back. I was still not allowing something about myself to come forward…

I was still Bisexual.

So what did I do? Suppressed it. And then in 2015, a friend from middle school that was living in Chicago was moving back to Michigan. I was helping her move. I went to Chicago and we partied… HARD. In Boystown.

THIS is where I needed to be. This is where the trans-femme are, this is where lesbians are accepted, this is where I can be with a woman and NO ONE will know because no one cares here. I had found an out and I was going to take it.

I found a job in Chicago, Lived in Lakeview East and had every intention of exploring intimacy with a woman. I was pretty determined. I hadn’t thought about how this would affect my kids, they were little still and they would just see it as “Mom’s friend”. I totally didn’t think the whole thing through – I was impulsively irresponsible and desperate to let this fucking desire JUST GO!! I wanted to feel free to explore a woman’s body or find a trans-femme to date. I wanted so badly to do the things I felt were only in the made-up-world that I dreamed about where I could be with a woman, or anyone really, without judgement. Just love.

Yet again!! The universe had other plans for me. I was partying another weekend in Chicago that I didn’t have my children, helping my friend move the rest of her stuff on our way back and…

BAM!!

There he was…. right outside Trace with his friends while I stood outside and smoked my cigarette. The connection was instant. He was hot and there was something about him that immediately drew me towards him. I couldn’t understand why or how or what – but it was there and it was there to stay. I fought it anyway… because I’m stubborn and this was NOT PART OF THE PLAN DAMMIT!!

There was the man hiding the woman that I love with all my heart. The human being that would mean so much to me in so little time. The human being that would grow with me even when we were lost and too busy building the walls to hide ourselves while we silently reached out for understanding but recoiled when touched.

Suppressing her because like me, she was full of shame, fear, loneliness, and a yearning to be free of the cages that suppressed her for so long.

Her name is Brooke….

“The course of True Love never did run smooth”

– William Shakespeare