Trans*forming Family

thoughts on the transition journey of our entire family, from the proud mother of a transgender youth

“learning how not to worry”

koi pond at hotel near surgeon's office

koi pond at hotel near surgeon’s office

January 1st marked the turning of a new year; it also marked exactly three months since Jacob’s* surgery.

These last few months have felt like a new era in our home. My child, who for so long was withdrawn and depressed, is now cheerfully making positive plans for his short-term and long-term future.

For me, this has taken some adjustment. Since i first realized how serious his depression was several years ago, i’ve spent nearly every waking moment worrying about my son. I monitored his voice for the slightest signs of a change in mood, i examined his facial expressions for hints of distress, and i questioned him incessantly about how he was feeling and what he needed to help make things better.

Then, suddenly, he got what he needed: thanks to the testosterone injections he began last April and the chest reconstruction surgery in October, his voice and body fit him, and he has blossomed.

Yet, i was still conditioned to be on the alert for my depressed child — the one i must worry about constantly. So, for example, when i saw him wearing a hoodie in the house, my first thought was that he was once again sad and trying to hide from the world. But…he was just cold.

And when i saw him taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon, it had to be due to depression, i thought. But…he was just sleepy.

And so on.

I started to feel like i just didn’t know what to do with myself. I went from worrying about him practically all the time — definitely to the point that i’d neglected other things — to no longer needing to worry obsessively. And without worrying i felt lost. In sharing this with a friend, he replied that after everything we’ve been through in the past few years, learning how not to worry must be the best thing!

And it is.

*Jacob is the name i use for my son at this blog to protect his privacy

16 responses to ““learning how not to worry”

  1. anexactinglife January 13, 2014 at 6:16 am

    I’ve been wondering how you guys are doing – so happy to hear that Jacob is on a good path. I can relate to how difficult your mindshift must be!

    • Trans*forming Mom January 13, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you for thinking of us. I’ve felt badly about not writing but i had to take some time to sort of re-find myself, if that makes sense…and then of course our entire family ended up with the flu and i couldn’t think of anything for about two weeks except wishing i was well again! Hope to be more regular at writing here and catching up with others now.

  2. Tristen January 13, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I’ve been talking with my mom about her feeling like she’s losing me the more I transition. I don’t know what her feelings of loss are, but I wonder if that’s part of it – she’s adjusting to the child that’s not moody and depressed and is blossoming.

    • Trans*forming Mom January 13, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      That could partly be it, Tristen. And then there is also a sense of loss that comes from the subtle changes in the relationship (or in our perception of it, anyway). I felt a great deal of loss in the earliest days of learning that my child was transgender, and that continued on some level for at least a year, maybe longer. At the time, i thought i was grieving for my “lost” daughter, but i was really grieving the relationship.

      I’ve also been doing some reading on caregiver grief. There is actually a level of PTSD that caregivers experience when they care long-term for a loved one who is ill (often Alzheimer’s patients, or family members with terminal cancer). I believe that those of us who have young folks who are severely depressed, suicidal, experience eating disorders, and have other conditions that require monitoring go through the same type of post-traumatic stress once our loved one is well and/or no longer requires our care. Once my son started feeling happier and i could begin to let go of my worry, my migraines increased and i’ve been sick almost nonstop.

      A few lines in your comment stood out to me: “the more I transition”; “the child that’s not moody and depressed and is blossoming” — i hope this means things are progressing well for you! Sending you and your mom warm thoughts.

  3. transadventures January 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I’m glad to hear he is doing well! I think for everything in life, habits are hard to break especially when they’re essential.

  4. Matthew January 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I came out to my mom about a year and a half ago and so nothing has changed except my hair and clothes. Which, of course, isn’t as bad as it could be, but it’s certainly not ideal. Yesterday I gave her the book “Transitions of the Heart” by Rachel Pepper, in hopes that she’ll be able to relate and that it’ll help her. I was wondering if you’ve read it and if it helped you at all. Thanks.

    • Trans*forming Mom January 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Yes, i have read that book and it’s a good one. The stories were very familiar to my own experience and to those i’ve heard shared by other parents at in-person and online support groups. Another great book is The Transgender Child, also by Rachel Pepper co-authored with Stephanie Brill.

      I also really like the “Welcoming Our Transgender Family and Friends” booklet from PFLAG. You can view a .pdf of this document here: http://community.pflag.org/Document.Doc?id=202

      Best wishes to you!

  5. Ren'Ai January 14, 2014 at 12:45 am

    What a wonderful transformation your son and you are now going through! Such great news all around~

    ~Nina

  6. transiteration January 14, 2014 at 12:57 am

    It’s wonderful to hear from a parent’s perspective that it’s possible to adjust. I often worry that I cause my parents too much worry and although it worries me to hear that my suspicions that I worry them are founded, it gives me a bit of comfort knowing it can get better from here. I haven’t had the time to read through all of the archive, so you may have already done this topic, but I was wondering if you could talk about things trans* children can do to make things easier on their parents, or help them cope, that sort of thing. Cheers!

    • Trans*forming Mom January 14, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      I have not written a post like that, because, i guess, my feelings have always been that it’s a parent’s job to do whatever is needed to make sure their children are safe and comfortable and healthy and whole; not the child’s job to put the parents at ease (if that makes sense?). So yes, i worry about my son and your parents worry about you, but worrying is part of the parent-package. If we are doing parenting right we’re supposed to be worrying, especially when our kids are going through a difficult time.

      I guess the one thing you could do, and the one thing i greatly appreciate from my son and from all of my kids, is to keep open communication with your parents. Let them know how you are feeling instead of making them wonder. Parents tend to always think the worst. When my son was having really down days, i worried i’d find him in his room…well i can’t finish the sentence, but you get what i’m saying. It helped when he reassured me that yes he was feeling terribly bad but he was not feeling suicidal. It helped to hear when he was in the worst of anorexia that he wanted to be able to eat and was really working and fighting. Ultimately it’s my role to take care of him, but having something hopeful to cling on to in the darkest days helped a lot.

      I hope this is sort-of what you’re looking for. If you & your parents worry about each other, it’s a sign that there’s a lot of love in your family, and that’s a good thing.

      Best wishes.

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