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Accepting the real me
I knew it all along
I remember crying myself to sleep as a young kid and I was the only one who knew something about myself that no one could imagine if they met me and formulated a first impression. I was good at hiding my internal struggle. I could not talk to my parents or my sisters about it. It was all consuming to me but I would not dare tell anyone for fear of being judged unfairly, rejected and not understood. I felt I was a girl in my mind and my heart and when I looked in the mirror I was very sad because my mind told me I was a girl but my reflection in the mirror did not match up to how I identified inside. I had a difficult time with these feelings and my salvation was my predisposition towards wearing girls clothes from the age of 5. I tried on one of my younger sister's dresses which fit me and I felt that I was meant to wear girls clothes. The pain I experienced was that I could not freely dress as a girl nor could I express this part of me. As a result I repressed these feelings and could not express them to anyone. It was my secret and I had to accept it and just try to make the best of my situation. It was not easy and I had many times where I wondered why I was born this way. I had the mindset of a girl but my body image did not match my mental image. I felt I was dealt an unfair hand of cards and nothing made sense to me. I was always a girl on the inside but it was hidden away and I could never be in touch with that side of myself when I started school. I was depressed as a little kid and I had to try to deal with it on my own. I never could tell anyone how I felt. I was trapped and the only times I felt free was when I dressed in girls clothing. I had times where I wished I could have gone to sleep in my own dress and wear it to school and be accepted but I knew that I would never experience that. I had to do it in secret and the times I dressed were the times I felt true to myself. I was a girl just like I knew but it was not for long and this made me cry many times. Why couldn't I just put on a dress and live my life as I felt inside? Why did I have to pretend who I was? Why couldn't I tell someone so I could have gotten the proper help I needed when I was a kid. I lived this pain all my life and I felt suicidal hoping that I could just go to sleep in one of my favorite dresses and never wake up. It was a constant struggle for me and I sometimes wonder how I was able to get through those times.
One of the most difficult times for me growing up was when I hit my teenage years and I saw the girls growing and maturing and wearing their pretty dresses and getting their hair styled and their nails done. I was really at odds with my physical changes and how I felt internally and it was a time of real pain for me. I was lost and had no one to talk to about how I felt. I tried to hint to my mother but I was afraid and my mother had bouts of depression in her life brought on by a chemical imbalance. She was a loving mother and I felt if I told her my true feelings that I was a girl it would break her heart so I never did get the chance to tell her or express this side of me. I feel very sad that I as a person could not express the real me. I had to really bury this and hide it as if it was a bad thing. To me it was not bad. In fact to me it was a wonderful feeling of being feminine and wanting to be the girl I always knew I was. I just felt so trapped and did not know who to turn to. I was a good student which helped me get through these times and I kind of let those feelings lie dormant never acting upon them other than when I had to dress to express my female side.
I could never tell my dad either how I felt as it would have been a very big disappointment to him knowing that his only son was really a girl on the inside. My dad was an ironworker who was very dedicated and hardworking and he had to deal with many things in his life including tragedy. He witnessed death in his job which I had mentioned in earlier writings in his working days. One such incident occurred when he was working on the Verrazano bridge back in the early 1960's when I was just a baby. He had just finished talking to a fellow ironworker and started to go about his business working on the upper part of the bridge riveting when he heard screams coming from the direction of his friend and fellow ironworker he had just talked with. He immediately turned in the direction of the screams and exclaimed "Oh, My God" and ran to try and grab a hold of his friend who was hanging perilously over the edge of the bridge. My dad tried to grab a hold of his friend but his hand was damaged in a previous accident occurring months earlier where he lost 2 fingers. His grip was not the same and as he tried desperately to pull him up he could not. My dad felt his friend's hand slipping through as he also was about to go over but the quick reflexes of another ironworker saved my dad's life as he was pulled back to the catwalk but my dad witnessed his friend fall to his death as he saw images of my mom and me as a baby. He could not save his friend and he felt terrible guilt and was never the same after that incident on the bridge. He escaped his pain by drinking which helped him temporarily but led to his own personal battles later.
I always looked up to my dad and I could not tell him what was going on in my life with respect to my gender dysphoria. I didn't even know what was wrong with me other than the fact that i felt I was a child with a girl's mindset though I was not a girl in the physical sense and this really led me to read and try to understand what I was dealing with. I was dressing more frequently as I was a teenager and when I started to earn some spending money I would take a bus to the mall and look for a dress or two that I fancied. I was so thrilled to buy a dress all my own to wear. I loved to sleep in my dresses and felt all was right with me when I had the dress on. I wanted to keep it on forever and never take it off but that was not reality. I was also now trying on my mom's bras and panties and felt good strapping the bra on. I would stuff the cups with tissue paper hoping one day I would experience having development of my own. It was a very confusing time for me but by dressing I was able to find a way to deal with my situation and find some sense of happiness. I was free when I was dressed and I knew I would always yearn to dress and express this part of me even if it was all by myself and secretly.
I have become a very kind and caring person and one with real understanding knowing from my own inner struggles. I feel that sometimes we have no control over what is happening in our lives and we may at times feel all alone and with no one there to help us. I certainly felt this way because I kept this secret which became such an incredible burden for way too long trying to repress and hide it but no matter how hard I tried to rid myself of these feelings, the clothes and the guilt it would never truly go away. There were times when those feelings lied dormant and I did not dress but it was not for long and once I started to dress again I was so much happier and my need to do it intensified and my internal feelings of being a girl was there as it was when I was 5. I dressed in my 20's, my 30's, my 40;s and i still dress and I am still dealing with these internal feelings which have once again resurfaced and have become so intense that i am now in the process of seeking therapy and medical assistance to help me sort this all out.
I have a family and I love them very much and I hope to keep things in tact and also learn to cope as best I can. My son has his own struggles with autism and I am trying to help him yet I realize i need to help myself as well if I am going to be able to help him. I have to feel right in my own life so I can be his best support system with my wife's understanding and support.
I know I did not choose this way of life. I feel I was born this way and I have no control over it. All I know is I now need to address it as I had put it off for way to long and I have many people in my life who will be affected by it. I did not mean for this to happen but this is something I had dealt with for all my life and I am still trying to deal with it as best I can and I have very real decisions to make now as my life is evolved to the next stage.
I pray for my family to have understanding and strength as I navigate this road and for all those who walk this same road as I because it is not an easy one to traverse.
Edward D. Iannielli III