Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thanks Mom

I tried to write this on Mother's Day and emotionally could not do it.  I try again.

I lost my mom 6 years ago this last February.  It was not unexpected since she was in her late 80's. I know she passed on with no regrets.  Her beloved Boston Red Sox had embarrassed the dastardly Yankees and won the 2004 World Series and her kids were happy and productive. I owe her my very existence for so many reasons I do not think I have ever really written them down so I will try on this Mother's Day.

I was the second of her children and everyone thought I was going to be born a girl and they were a little surprised.  I was a small baby which may have led to the belief I would be born a girl. Another brother was born 2 years later and we were a happy family from what I was told until that fateful day I told my grandfather I was a girl. I have no rationale or reason why I felt that way but even at 4+ I thought I was a girl. Those prophetic words, "Grandpa I am not a boy, I am a girl", would lead my Mom down a path I am sure nobody was prepared for in 1950. I was just convinced I was a girl and nobody could change my mind.

Rather than screaming and yelling, like many would, my parents were calm, it was passed off as a phase and forgotten when Mom came down with Polio and the worst kind, Paralytic. She survived and I just seemed to get worse but I kept my mouth shut until mom was healthy again and somehow she beat it. She would always walk with a little limp but she beat it.

By the early 50s my Mom noticed how quiet and sad I was and asked why and again I told my parents I was not a boy and again rather than get upset she decided they would get me help. My parents wanted me cured and I understand that was what Mom wanted.  Nobody in the early 50's wanted a son to become a daughter and it is not much better today.

There was no question they wanted me cured so I could just be the boy I supposedly was.  The Psychiatrists I met with destroyed what little self esteem I might have had and I became self destructive. I was confused, scared, and felt there was nothing anyone could do for me so I tried suicide and I kept trying because I was never really good at it.

When I look back at it she never once got mad at me or was angry with me but more important she never made me feel like a freak which seemed to be the aim of every Psychiatrist I met. My father almost punched one of them out when he said some particularly horrible things to me. We lost my dad in 1956 and it was hard on everyone but she always told me we could get through this. I realized even then how much I hurt her when I attempted suicide but she never said anything negative. I would never have survived if she had turned on me.

When she took me to Children's in Boston because I looked so different than my brothers she could have ignored the Physician that told her she might want to talk with a certain Dr. Benjamin in NYC in August 1958 but she wrote to him hoping she could get me cured or maybe find some help. They would end up writing to each other for over 30 years and became friends. I never knew about this when it was happening.

I realize it was not easy from her to deal with me. I pushed gender boundaries in my home town in my dress because simply I refused to try and be something I was not in the summer of 1958. I was oblivious to so much in my youth. My mom knew I had a boyfriend and before she died I asked her why she was not upset by that and her reply was simple. "You seemed so happy and Kevin was a good boy."

She was not easily convinced by Dr. Benjamin but when she finally was my mom was all in to help me. There was no halfway in her when it came to her children. She helped arrange the first meeting with Harry and flew with me to NYC for my second visit with Harry. She never once mis-gendered me when she realized Harry was correct.  i was her daughter.

When Kevin died in 1963 she had a stroke that hospitalized her and that was when I was subjected to Aversion Therapy. When I was released I thought it was my brother Ray that had me released but it was her.  She burned many a family bridge to force my release. I thought she did it and was so hurt I ran back to my scholarship in college and did not talk to her for almost 6 years. Mom told Harry, "It is better she hate me than hate herself", when I know she was hurting. Unconditional love is all I can think of.

When I called from Houston distraught over a situation at work she was the one that arranged for my Uncle to hire me for work in NYC. Something else I never knew about until she was gone. She suffered through my bad decisions involving men with a smile and when I had questions about raising my step-daughter,  I really had no clue by the way initially, she was there with sage motherly advice including how to handle diaper changes.

When my first husband broke my heart she was in California in a heartbeat. I was confused as a child because there was no information about what I was but my mom always loved me which was lifesaving important. There is no way to count the number of times she found me crying and just held me while telling me we would get through this together. She was always there when I survived the multiple suicide attempts reminding me not to be silly and telling me I could talk to her about ANYTHING.

I know I would never have survived my childhood without my mother.

Thanks Mom for being so perfect.





3 comments:

Ariel said...

A beautiful tribute!

Dawn1257 said...

Elizabeth,

What a beautiful story. Your feelings really come through quite clearly and eloquently. So fortunate a person you are, that your parents – especially your mother - were absolutely ahead of the curve in conventional wisdom for their day. Truly admirable.

One such as myself, could only wish that their parents were as open, lovingly helpful and focused upon the 'clues' being left by their child. Sadly, that type of life fortune was not mine. Though I have no regrets of who I am today, I do have yearnings for an earlier in life acquisition of my rightful existence. I'm so glad that you and others were/are able to make the corrections necessary at an earlier time in their lives.

Anonymous said...

You were blessed to have her.

- an old aunty