“Don’t talk badly about (dead name.) I really liked him a lot,” one of my co-workers exclaimed to me recently. It was weird hearing the name I was given at birth. I’ve taken so many steps to remove myself from that identity. In that moment, I also realized I need to take some time to acknowledge that person’s existence. He ultimately led me to where I am today.
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my former self. In a previous blog post, I mentioned how I struggled with seeing old pictures of me. That person has since become unrecognizable. A few months ago, I showed an older picture to a friend who didn’t know I was transgender, and she thought it was my brother. I think it’s time I talk about him before he completely slips away.
Like my co-worker, I’ve come to understand that many people have favourable memories of me. They remember my smile, my sense of humour and my positive attitude in any situation. I’m grateful for the happy memories I’ve heard lately, because I remember struggling, being awkward, shy and unhappy.
Days before I came out, Megan and I hid old photos of me from Facebook and I cleaned up my Twitter account. I didn’t want any memory of my former self in sight. For me, I needed a chance at a fresh start. I couldn’t wait to begin my new life. I felt so much pain in my heart just looking at him. Even our wedding pictures, one of the happiest days of my life, all I could think about was how awful I looked wearing a tuxedo.
Just like that, he was gone.
I sit here now 19 months later and I need to grieve for him. I need to take a step back and remember where I started, not bury it. My family and friends hardly had the chance to say goodbye to someone they cared about. Megan had to mourn for her husband before she got a new wife. I’m at the point in my transition where I’m meeting lots of people who never knew me before I came out. I hear it’s rewarding for them because they get to meet my authentic self out right. But what about the others who do remember my old self? Am I cheating them?
I’m so incredibly grateful I get to be myself every day. I have no regrets about making my transition and I’m proud to identify as transgender. I know I am so much happier, healthier and more confident. I’m living my best life now and not just existing as the shy, awkward kid. I see me growing into myself even more, as I complete two years of being out in 2019.