For the most part, I am a pretty private person. I don’t put my personal business out there for all to see. It takes me a long time to decide what to share with whom. Chances are, if you’ve met me within the last few years there is lots of stuff you don’t know about me that happened a dozen or more years ago.
I can imagine that this is hard to believe. My kids would argue that everything goes on Facebook these days. It’s all superficial stuff, for the most part.
“She is blogging about her transgender son, for goodness sake. This is not someone to hold back,” one might think.
Well, you’d be surprised. And, no, I am not going to reveal all my secrets in this post. Truth is, after Hunter came out to me it was a long time before I spoke to even my closest of friends. I needed to process it. I needed to figure out how I felt about the situation and what sharing was going to feel like.
This is not really news that you bring up in casual conversation. You also don’t want to blurt out, “by the way, Olivia wants to be male.” At least for me, it wasn’t the right approach; I needed to try it on for a while.
A few years back my sister went through breast cancer. Thank g-d she is now ok. However, when she was first diagnosed, while I rushed to be with her, I didn’t rush to share the news with others. It just didn’t feel right. It took me a long time to reveal to my co-workers what was going on. Maybe saying it out loud made it more real and ominous.
When we lose someone, it is natural to want to hold on to something(s) of theirs. At item, perhaps, that meant something to them or symbolized who they were. We have pictures all over the house of our children. Hunter is probably not too crazy about the “before” pictures that are displayed. For me, those photographs represent moments in time; memories. Even if your present is different, you can’t change the past…nor would we want to obliterate it. Of course, we have made a point of adding new photos of Hunter. And as we move forward, more moments will be added to the gallery of our family’s life.
I might have mentioned in an earlier blog post that Hunter cleaned out his closet. He gave away 99% of anything that was purchased in a girls’ department. This was his way of saying goodbye to his former self and welcoming the person he hoped to become.
This purging was bittersweet for me. I looked longingly at the skinny jeans, capped sleeve t’s and various skirts and dresses purchased for one occasion or another. Wistfully, I mentally made a checklist of when I might’ve seen Olivia wear one of these outfits.
Among the cast-offs was a black, three-quarter sleeve cardigan and a “barely worn once” dress purchased for his cousin’s Bat Mitzvah party. The sweater was a favorite of his. Soft, easy to wear, go with anything, Olivia wore this over and over. The dress showed off a waistline, model-like legs and fit her to a tee.
I just couldn’t part with the sweater or the dress. They hang together in the back of my closet. I can run my hand along the sleeve of the sweater; if I am looking for something…I am always surprised when I give a tug and the dress reveals itself.
Now you know the secret in my closet.
This made me cry.
My son has just come out to me in the last month. I have been trying to learn everything I can since that time. Your blog has been invaluable and I thank you for what you have created. Your story resonates with me more as well since my son’s birth name was also Olivia. We have cleaned the closet as Hunter did. I actually wish there was a piece of clothing that I could keep as you did that would have great memories, but the truth is, Matteo never liked his girl clothes….ever. That’s probably one of the many reasons I know this is not a “phase” as many parents may want to believe. I did however come across his baby blanket last week that has the name Olivia on it in large felt letters. I was so emotional when I saw it and your post above helps me realize it is okay to keep things from the past and to enjoy them for what they were. Thank you so much…I look forward to future posts.
Wendy, I still run across the outfit that is tucked into the back of my closet. It was a symbol from the past for me. It definitely wasn’t something that Hunter wanted to keep. The sweater was one that was worn over and over. I guess he liked it because it covered up the girl-ness. Even Hunter agrees that the past is part of our family history. He never asked to get rid of photos or to wipe out the past. This is our family..the way it was and now the way it is. I recognize that not all families can do this so I do feel grateful for this small gift. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. The Stand with Trans website has some good resources on it. Take care.