Every once in a while, I realize just how tired I am. As I write this, it s about 6:00 AM and as much as I'm yawning, I can't sleep. I spent the night watching my flight tracker for Natasha's plane to take off to Atlanta, then waiting to hear that she landed, then that she found her sister. On top of this, I've had a sore throat and cough for nearly a week that keeps me up sometimes (The doctor thinks it's a virus, which can't be treated with medicine).
But I'm not actually talking about sleep-deprivation tired. I'm used to that. I'm talking about mental exhaustion.
A few months ago, my dad said to me in reference to working things out with Natasha's transsexualism that he didn't know how I was coping so well. I've been through heaps of poopy situations throughout my life, and no matter what, I've somehow come out the other side without losing my sanity. He said to me that if he were going through all of this, he probably would have killed himself. My dad doesn't joke about those things. He's one of those people with a plan should he become so "useless" that he considers himself a burden not worth carrying. But he's really a strong person. So is my mother. I don't think they give themselves much credit in that department, but I had to have learned it from someone.
So lately, my emotional strength has been tried not by my own doubts about Natasha and myself - I'm mostly clear on the idea that we'll be together forever with more rarely occurring moments of having to remind myself why this is possible - but by Natasha's dysphoria caused mostly by her need to be Mr. Teacher five days a week. As crazy as she can act as Theatre Teacher, she can not let slip her gender secret. Not here in this state, and especially not in the part of the city where the school is located.
I get so frustrated when she gets so depressed about having to hide. She gets those "I hate my penis" moments more often, too. The fact that she doesn't like that extremity anymore isn't the issue: it's the depression that I can't cure. She tells me that I help just by being there, but honestly that's not enough for me. When someone you love is just plain sad and teary and you can't do much more than sit there and watch, it's one of the worst feelings in the world. This concept is one of the things that just stumps me when it comes to these partners who blame the transfolk for "doing this" to their relationship. This is also one of the things that stumps me when I read other transfolk lay into those who can not transition because of obligations. Not everyone is in a situation where they can admit the issue and then dive right in to transition. For both the blaming partner and the black-or-white transfolk, there seems to be a lack of sympathy for someone who is just trying to do her or his best in a situation he or she did not cause intentionally.
And then last Thursday, two days ago, we find out that Natasha's half-sister was nearly strangled by her husband. She has a baby girl by this guy, too, and she had no where to turn. She reached out for help on Facebook and Natasha answered. Without much hesitation, knowing that we were the only people who could possibly offer her and her daughter a chance at a stable, happy life, we offered her a place in our home. Can you imagine: not even her mother was willing to help because her boyfriend was coming over! It wouldn't work with her living there, anyway. Mother is a major reason why A is who she is today. A hasn't had the most stellar record as a person, either. She has never done anything to us, but she's had the emotional issues of a generally unloved, pooped on by her parents, young woman. Her soul is good, though, and she recognized the urgency of getting her daughter and herself to safety. That's a huge step in the right direction and we believe that she can finally learn how to be a loving, trustworthy being and great mom if she's just given a chance.
But it's going to be difficult. While Natasha drives across the country, having long talks with A about her new life, Mom is going to watch the kids while Dad and I move my office into another part of the house and build a solid - albeit temporary - wall for some soundproofing (I teach online from home). We're giving A and her daughter the office/den so they can have some privacy. Our privacy, however, will be a bit less. Already, we are spending money we really should not be to prepare for their arrival and stay. A's mother should be paying for these things, but again, she's a lousy mother (Mother has plenty of money). The thing that is tiring my mind most, though, is having to lay down the law for A. I am wishing to the Universe that my concerns (based on years of evidence) for my family and their safety are unnecessary, but as I said, she has a reputation that she will have to overcome. She knows this, I'm sure, and if she doesn't now, she will by the time they arrive in a couple of days.
Yesterday, I realized that I'm very tired.
My dad asked me again how it is that I'm handling all of this so calmly. I told him what I've been telling my students for the past fourteen years when they have contacted me with reasons why their work was late or non-existent: Just keep moving forward. If you don't, you stall, and that's when situations become overwhelming. Moving forward does not mean avoiding the situation. You can't unless you run away. What moving forward means is as things happen, accept that they have happened, acknowledge that you have new or additional parameters within which you must live, and continue forward with your life under those new/altered conditions. Sounds too "logical"? Trust me: I am highly emotional. That's why it works. Have your emotions about a situation, make a decision based on those emotions (and, hopefully, a bunch of objectivity too), and move forward.
Here I go! I'm taking a step forward... into the kitchen for a dose of caffeine.