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A Formal Introduction

by Vanessa Emily Rose Wilcox about a month ago in Humanity
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Coming to light with the damaging effects of the gender binary and their roles.

The Good Ol’ Days

For most of my childhood, I suffered from uncontrollable anxiety, feelings of guilt and shame, self-loathing, fear, and a cemented thought that I was a bad child and a failure at best – not to mention I believed that I was damned to hell. At the time, if you had asked, I couldn’t tell you exactly why I felt all those feelings. Truth be told, I don’t think I had half of the vocabulary, I do now, to even describe the sensations I felt. It did not take long for the self and family neglect of my internal and unspoken needs to mount and fester into disease.

In my household, I was the youngest of three. I was the only boy in my family, of my two sisters. My dad was proud he had a son he could help raise to be strong and tough and my grandpa was happy my dad had a boy for a change. My grandpa was fond of me and would frequently ask to talk to me on the phone after he had spoken with my father. One day, after speaking with my grandpa on the phone and hearing him tell me about how he wanted to repair a 1920's model car and give it to me for my 16th birthday I asked my mom, “Why does grandpa like me so much?” She replied, “Because, you are the only boy in our family. So, when you get married your wife will take your last name, and when you two have children, their last name will be Wilcox. That really means a lot to grandpa.” As a twelve-year-old, I was confounded by her response.

I was raised in Black Forest, Colorado. It was heavily wooded, mostly conservative, and in our neighborhood, there was a sense of old & silent racism. There were only middle-aged white people on acreage and with subtly larger & nicer homes than the average. Most of our neighbors were religious in some way, and a highly protected covenant was upheld by the majority of the neighborhood. My mom, and a few other mother neighbors with roots in early feminist activism, were the opposition, they were the rebellion against arbitrary rules and regulations, and I was fully aware of this information. I felt like we were the white trash problem family that somehow got access to a home and land that they do not belong in. In my heart, I knew otherwise, but this message was relayed to me by neighbors, listening in on my mom’s conversations with others, and of course, the pending housing market crash to come in 2008. There goes the neighborhood was a common phrase repeated by many, in my early life. All these nuances were like a silent hand that gripped my throat while a voice was telling me how hard my parents worked and how little they had to show for it, then as soon as the hand would let loose, with a gasp of air from my lungs, the hand would point at me and the voice say, “your hopes and dreams are next for my consumption.”

Smells Like Teen Angst.

Being a child from a dysfunctional family, while having an Individualized Education Plan and getting medicated on Big Pharma’s latest & greatest A.D.D. drugs weren’t enough to help with the internal dysfunction I faced, nearly daily. Soon, stabbing pains in my stomach would begin to haunt me. The pain would be so intense that I would need to be hospitalized. I truly thought I was dying. If it wasn’t the pain alone, it was accompanied by asthma.

I developed asthma in middle school and had two severe asthma attacks throughout my early teen years. Each of these episodes happened when I faced incredibly-high-intensity emotions while grappling with the overwhelm of everyday life and each caused me to be hospitalized. In one of those episodes, I remember seeing the fear in the eyes of the school nurse, principal, and other staff while waiting for paramedics to arrive. My sister was working at the school at the time, and they called her in to face the very real possibility that I would die in that nurse’s office. They wanted to give my sister one last chance to see me.

Shortly after the paramedics’ arrival, I remember hearing one male paramedic in his thirties start demanding of me “Stay with me kid! Long deep breaths! You’ve got this! Stay awake! Keep breathing!” He was firmly coaching me while buying the others' time to get an IV into my arm. Just after they administered the life-saving drugs into my body, the same person that was telling me you’ve got this turned to his colleagues and said, “If he doesn’t respond to this in 30 seconds, we need to call flight for life and intubate him.” Today, I don’t know if it was an act of the universe, God, or the last bit of fight I had in my body that somehow managed to muster up after hearing the severity of my situation, but in those thirty seconds, my body began to stabilize, and I was beginning to absorb oxygen again.

Very real, very deep, and very scary adverse childhood experiences created the fragile, chipped, and cracked ceramic vase that held my identity, my liquid heart, and soul. The vase was nothing, but a vessel and I knew that. I grew to understand there would be a time of immense pain, sorrow, grief, and loss, followed by a time of reckoning in my life. One where, I could exist and breathe comfortably, both literally and metaphorically; where my vase could no longer hold my liquid self, shatter and force me to reform, reshape, and remold. I didn’t know exactly when these events would occur. And I also knew that I kept a secret from myself within the vase. I knew that I didn’t know what that secret was nor what it meant.

My internal dialogue was so strong that I assigned him a name, John. John kept me company, kept the secret safe, and did his best to keep me out of trouble. John was helpful until life became too complex to even trust his judgment. At that point, john simply became the protector of the secret. Distrust formed when John wouldn’t allow me to know the secret within myself. I felt that I deserved to know the truth, I apparently was hiding from myself, but John would simply refuse. I thought to myself, “If John is just a figment of my imagination, then so is the idea that I have a secret that I’m keeping from myself, therefore John and his secretive secret that he refuses to share actually don’t exist at all.” I was satisfied with the breakthrough that occurred in my early teen years - repress, repress, repress, yes!

By six-teen, life’s shit surpassed my capacity to cope in healthy ways. I started smoking cigarettes at 14 and by age16, taking a bit of my sister’s marijuana and smoking it in old receipt papers, stealing my dad’s expired cigars and liquor, smoking dry hollow bamboo shoots, and heating baby Aspirin with a lighter in a glass tube and inhaling its aerosol contents were not out of the question. I wanted to feel the deepness of my numbness. Cutting myself wasn’t enough by middle school’s end. And neither was anything else I could get my hands on. I was so desperate. Desperate to either conform to the pressures of my family and society or to break free of the mold of expectations and live life happily. And I hadn’t a clue what true happiness was. So, until I had the freedom to explore that concept, numbing and deepening the numbing was my filthy, guilty pleasure. And, in another light, that was the only coping method I learned. I was coping, I was learning; unfortunately, the coping methods and the knowledge learned were very damaging. It’s important to recognize, that I was not the problem, my behaviors were problematic. This truth can be applied to anyone expressing delinquent behaviors and I encourage its real-world application.

Because of impactful events in my life, I believed what the voices of others said. The following were my core beliefs; I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t strong enough, I wasn’t tough enough, I wasn’t man enough, I was a failure, I was destined to be a burger flipper for the rest of my life, I was going to end up living homeless naked in a cardboard box, I was going to end up dead or in jail, and I was probably not going to last very long in the real world if I can even manage to graduate high school. These were my fundamental truths. Oh, and I seem to be neglecting the truth, that I was a hell-bound fag for experimenting. I never liked acknowledging that one because of my own internalized homophobia that I am working to shed today.

Goodbye, Ordinaryish people!

Five years of intensive counseling, a few years with anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication, a supportive partner who I’m grateful to call my wife, a supportive network of true friends & family, and many painful experiences have taught me a lot about existence. The only thing that is linear in life, is our brief existence. And even our capacity to exist is not linear. There is and always will be a force acting in our opposite motion and it’s not about how we control it; it’s about how we control our response to it when it inevitably arrives.

It took more than five years to get to this point, however. And here is not the end. Here may very well be a new chapter, for me and you. Here is where I shed myself of the toxic hetero binary, toxic hetero masculinity, and toxic hetero normative experience. These traits alone, are inherently toxic; the level of exposure to these culturally normal teachings I received throughout childhood and adolescence until early adulthood, without any alternative option to life, was. The deep-seated notion that if I was to deviate from the divine-societal-imposed expectation then I was completely doomed, was very real because, from my perspective, it was already too late. That fear withheld my ability to share vital information that could've allowed me to be myself decades ago.

If I had known that all these expectations were false, nonexistent, non-enforceable beliefs that didn’t pay the bills, nor make me happy, I would have let them go in my childhood. Now, I cannot and will not shy away from my truth. It’s not my responsibility to conform to others’ comfort or appeal. I am not here on Earth to make you feel comfortable, I am here to use what privileges I have to provide a voice for the voiceless; to put words to experiences that countless individuals can relate to.

I’m here, to tell you that we are here. We are all in this together. And together, we are going to go on an existential journey wherein we encounter emotions that encompass the essence of the human experience. I’m excited to share with you the journey of my transition from male to female, to share with you the emotions and situations that I encounter, and how I manage the challenges along the way. Most importantly, as a life coach by day, I am ecstatic to help provide you insight that only costs your reading time. It will not be perfect nor full of toxic positivity. This journey will be real and raw, and what I hope you leave with is a sense of satisfaction and thought-provoking insight. May the final words of this introduction be, my thoughts are not the truth, my reality is not the truth. I am simply a human, experiencing the human experience. I am a human, being. And together, we design the human experience for those presently on earth, and those yet to come. Thank you for joining me, until next time.


About the author

Vanessa Emily Rose Wilcox

Transgender🏳️‍⚧️⚧️ She/Her

Owner of Inspiration Equity Limited

"Only you can make it happen!"

NLP Certified Life Coach 💪

Funding your inspiration through open-minded writing, pictures, and coaching sessions!

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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