Sunday, February 23, 2014

*** Skid Pan ***

*** May 1997 ***

In 1997 I was given the opportunity to attend the California Department of Education training course to become a state certified instructor.  Simply being accepted for the course is an honor in itself ... the fact that I completed the course makes me a part of a unique group ... I am one of a handful of California State Certified School Bus Driver Instructors.

One of the skills we worked on was handling a vehicle while in a skid ... to do this we were allowed to drive recently retired CHP cruisers on the skid pan.

The skid pan is a driving course made of polished concrete with water flowing over the surface.  The goal is to compete at least one lap without losing control ... but that wasn't good enough for me.  I wanted to see how many laps I could complete.

This was not a pass / fail exercise ... except to me.

I pushed the pace.  We were required to keep the cruiser in first gear, and were asked to keep our speed under 20 mph ... I wanted to complete my laps at 20 ... I wanted to challenge myself ... I spun out ... several times.

Others gave up.

After a short time I was one of three from the class that wanted to keep driving ... and I finally did it.  I made one lap with no spin out ... then two ... eventually up to five laps at 20 mph with no loss of control.

Then we changed directions and the process started all over again.

It was frustrating to a degree ... frustrating to not have the level of control I am used to.  I was amazed how changing a couple elements can make something so ordinary like driving an incredible challenge.

But I met the challenge.  It took some effort and patience, but I eventually achieved my goal ... and had fun in the process.

***


***

It has been far too long since I have given any actual updates.

I've started many updates ... I've had stories to tell ... fun, happy, affirming moments that I wanted to talk about ... but couldn't.  The words ... the thoughts ... the emotions  just were not there.  It's a road I've traveled before ...

I spun out in the curves.

It seemed not to matter how hard I tried there was simply no traction ... and the few times I started to make progress I would lose control again.

I've made the turn ... finally I am heading forward again.  I know there are more curves ahead that I must deal with ... I know I may spin out again ... but I am moving forward now.

Along the way I managed to reach a few minor milestones ... 

I had my 6 month anniversary on HRT at the end of November.  At the time I didn't realize it ... I was dealing with too many issues so it was not the moment of pause and reflection it may have been.

This is really not a huge issue, other than it shows me how distracted ... how out of sync that I was for a while.

I don't know whether I am completely back in sync or not.  I know I am better than I was, and that is enough to be grateful for.  Will I celebrate 1 year on HRT?  I don't know ... it seems like it is just a part of my life now ... 

I have been living full time for 6 months ... I've actually been presenting on the feminine side of androgynous for over 10 months, but the coming out and and letting my feminine side truly show was when considered myself truly full time.

I am amazed how easily it has been to take this step ... how quickly I have fallen in love with being me.  Being accepted and supported by my coworkers ... friends ... family has just been a bonus.  Living as me, no longer hiding, feeling free is the true reward.

I've managed to rehab my sore achilles tendon in about half the time as my previous injury.  The noticeable difference started when I began walking barefoot ... especially outside.  I don't keep my shoes on all day ... in fact I take them off whenever I can, but I just haven't walked around barefooted for any length of time in years.

At some point I guess I decided to stop sitting on my butt and feeling sorry for myself and start being a bit more proactive in my rehab.  I don't know exactly why, or even when I made this choice ... yep ... that sounds stupid, but it is just another indicator how much I was on auto-pilot during this time.  I am just grateful my navigation system was set in the right direction rather than causing me to backtrack.

I do not know what waits for me just beyond the horizon.  I do know with my beautiful Pam, my son Timmy, and all the other friends, family and coworkers supporting me that I can make it.








Sunday, February 9, 2014

Panic

Last week I watched The Hunger Games.  It was the first time I had ever seen it ... I loved it.  I decided to watch it a second time the next night.  

This week I watched Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.  I like intense movies ... especially ones that take an original or unexpected twists.

The only issue ... I do have an over active imagination ... a dark and twisted muse that feeds my mind incredibly detailed images and stories ... and dreams.  She decided to have fun with me ...


*** Panic ***
Based on a nightmare


I draw in a long deep breath, entranced by the fresh air and fragrance of the forest.  I twirl around taking in my surroundings ... nonchalant ... care free.

Everything seems so familiar.  I've been here before ... but I don't know when.

A hint of daylight hangs in the sky as the sun hides behind the trees.  I'm trying to get somewhere ... I don't know where ... I don't know why ... but I must get there.  I meander through the trees gazing at the wildlife.  The weight of a backpack pulls at my shoulders ... I tug the straps ... the butt of a crossbow brushes the back of my head.

I know I need these things.

I see a structure in the distance ... I'll stay there tonight.  I make my way toward the building.  An uneasy wells inside me.

This isn't right.

I'm startled by the boom of a canon ... I scream.

This isn't real ... this cannot be real.

I'm confused ... I'm frightened.

Images of the Hunger Games swirl through my imagination ... the image of a fallen competitor shines above the trees.

What do I do?

I hear rustling in the foliage behind me.  I scamper through a cluster of trees searching for a place to hide.  I drop to my knees in some shrubs along an embankment ,,, I cannot control my emotions ... my thoughts ... my tears.  I am afraid too look ... afraid to breathe ... afraid to sleep.

I must continue.  I must find whatever it is that I am searching for ... I don't know what, only that I am heading west.

I creep out from the branches that cover me.  Staying low to the ground I head toward the ever diminishing glow.  I work my way up a hill ... slowly ... flinching at every noise ... every shadow.  

I must be close ... I hope I'm I'm close.

I reach a clearing near the top of the hill.  I squat down behind a tree.  I see a silhouette at the ridge ... somebody standing in the open ... watching ... waiting.

I grab my crossbow.  I shift my weight to take aim ... I'm trembling ... I cannot do it ... I cannot kill.

I work my way north, avoiding the clearing ... avoiding whoever is between me and my goal.  The detour is taking very long ... I am exhausted ... I want to collapse, but I can't.  I must push forward ... I must reach my goal.

I pause for a moment to rest.  The figure is still atop the hill ... but I see more detail ... I recognize her, but I do not know from where.

She doesn't belong her.

I don't belong here.

I continue around the clearing.  I try to remember where I have seen the lady on the hill ... my mind is blank. I begin to head west again ... deeper into the woods ... back on course.  I take a deep breath.  A bit of relief calms my mind ... it's just a matter of time ... I can make it.

The unknown woman steps out from behind a tree ... I stop in my tracks.

"You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?"  She steps toward me.

I backtrack.  "You can't be here."  Fear grips my soul.  "You're ... you're ..."

"The witch?"  She laughs.  "Oh, but I am here.  And I cannot let you continue."

I run.

I weave through the trees ... she is following me ... I need to hide.  I look into the trees ... I cannot climb fast enough.  I hear her getting closer.  I continue to run.  I turn tight around a tree hoping the redirection will throw her off.

I can't react to a low branch ... it hits me across the chest and shoulders ... I am on the ground.  I roll to my to my stomach and draw my crossbow.

She kicks it from my hands.

I scramble to my feet.

"Don't worry.  This won't hurt ... much."  She smiles.  "You can't avoid this forever."  

Her appearance changes ... cold and evil.  I want to run ... I want to give up.

I feel anxiety welling up inside me.  Everything fades to a dull light ... I do not know how it ends.

*****

I awoke from this dream in the midst of an anxiety attack.  I know it was a dream ... a nightmare, but everything seemed so real ... so detailed.  My words do not fully capture the emotions ... the fears I felt during the dream.

As I looked for pictures I stumbled across this website ( http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/cookforest/ ).  Some of the images are so eerily similar to where I was in my dream.  I altered the to try and recreate the surreal atmosphere ... again, I was not able to fully capture the ambiance of the scenes.

Other pictures from Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

so I walked ...


... I didn't have to ... I didn't even want to.  I didn't go far, nor did I go fast, but I did go.

So here's the conundrum ... I am hiding, or at least pretending.  When I am work, when I am in public and sometimes in front of family I am hiding how much my depression has worsened ... I am hiding the PTSD symptoms and self destructive behaviors it has led to.  I try and act like nothing is wrong.  I try to act upbeat.  It is the professional thing ... the socially acceptable thing to do ... but this is emotionally and physically draining, and at times exacerbates the situations.

Why is it that we feel obligated ... that people expect us to say, "I'm fine" when we're asked how we are?


At times I wonder if it wouldn't be better to say, "I'm having a rough day."

Sometimes I wonder if I should just have my meltdown or my anxiety attack in front of everyone rather than trying to be discrete and excusing myself to a private area.

Would that help?  Would that resolve some of my issues? ... I don't know.

Most of the people I work with have no clue about my depression, let alone my more recent issues.  They are very supportive of my transition and are happy for me.  Would discovering that I feel on the brink of insanity change how they view me?

I don't know ... and I will likely never find out.

So the questions are how do I put these issues behind me without bottling them up again?

How do I deal with issues without becoming consumed or engulfed by them?

How do I let go of pain that is so pervasive that it is intertwined with every aspect of me ... my spirit ... my being?

It seems like if I choose to deal with them I will be pushed beyond the brink of insanity ... but if I don't deal with them soon this run away train will go over the cliff anyway.

Is there a way out of this?

I was sitting outside the CHP office as a trainee took their drive test.  The air was chilly, the sky was clear with a very mild breeze from the north ... perfect running or riding weather.

I was almost in tears.

As usual my mind was spinning at 1,000,000 rpms about 1,000 different things ... that's 1,000 rpms per thought ... pretty impressive, but not the point I was making ...

I was mulling over everything that's happened recently ... things I've been told, advice I've been given, how things were a few years ago ... ten years ago.  I could hear my doctor imploring me to exercise ... reminding me that the endorphins will help with the depression ... that I used to love my bike rides.

This made me feel worse.  I just wanted to ... to ... to do nothing.

I know it's up to me to change my behaviors ... so I walked ... I didn't have to ... I didn't even want to.  I didn't go far, nor did I go fast, but I did go.