Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Transformation

Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute the one who shapes it, saying, “Stop, you are doing it wrong!” Does the pot exclaim, “How clumsy can you be!” How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father and mother, “Why was I born? Why did you make me this way?” ~Isaiah 45:9-10

It’s hard to determine, but I can see patterns of my niece Sonya becoming more and more familiar to me. My entire family thinks my niece shares traits much like myself, in fact she’s a repeat of me when I was her age. My sister ends up blurting out my name while calling for her. She’s reminded of the days when I was that age, when my sister would baby sit me. I always poke fun at my sis and say, “You’re totally reliving my youth!”

Sis claims that I touched her stomach and put some spell on her, making her unborn child a ‘spawn’ of me. We laugh and joke about it, but in reality we find it oddly amusing that Sonya is a replica of what I used to be at her age. Not only does she resemble me in childhood features, but she’s also experiencing everything I did when I was her age.

For instance, I never wanted to be a ‘girl’ when I was four years old. This phase lasted until I was about twelve. She refuses to wear girl clothes and tells her mom that she wants to be a boy. She’s offended if you call her pretty or refer to her as a girl. When forced to wear a dress for a special event, she looks angry and disturbed. She becomes introverted and shy.

Going back to my childhood, I could remember how different I felt. I wasn’t like the other girls. They were all into their little ‘girly’ world, while I whizzed by on my three-wheeler motorcycle with the boys in our neighborhood. I started riding motorcycles when I was only eight years old. All the other girls rode their pink Huffy’s and gravitated in a small group planning their next slumber party.

When I was ten years old, the prettiest girl on the block befriended me. She saw how much fun I was having with all the other boys and wanted to be included. She rode on the back of my four-wheeler motorcycle (quad), and let me tell you how proud I was! She was my little biker babe! We would travel all over the paths behind our yard and hide out on some cliff with a waterfall smoking our cigarettes. (Which both of us are health freaks today & don’t smoke.)

Little by little, I noticed myself impatiently waiting for my new friend’s phone call. If she didn’t call, my mood would change and I didn’t want to bother with anyone. I didn’t know why this girl affected me in such a way. She’s just a friend – why would I get so upset about this? I had so many other friends to hang out with. My day was ruined if she made other plans to hang out with another girl from another neighborhood. It even killed me more if she stayed in the neighborhood, yet hung out with another friend and not with me. To me, it meant she was there ‘choosing’ not to hang out with me. I always wondered why I felt so strongly about her.

Then when I turned twelve, she and I would hang out all the time practically. She would try new things with her hair, while my hair was still too short. You really couldn’t do much with it. I still wore flannel shirts with jeans along with a pair of boy’s Nike high tops or a pair of work boots. Some people would mistake me for a ‘boy’. That didn’t bother me at all though. I knew I looked more like a boy than I did a girl. It was a compliment. As my friend and I were getting older (heading towards middle school) she started drifting away from our friendship. Her new friends were so pretty and feminine. I was an outcast. I was the boy- wait- the girl who looked like a boy. None of the popular and cool girls wanted to hang out with me because I was seen as a freak. The funny thing about this was, I had more little boyfriends than they had. The boys loved me because I was ‘one of them’. (Maybe they were gay too—who knows!)

As time went on and we were graduating from the twelve year old awkwardness into our teen years, I can remember my “friend” making comments about my clothes and my boyish ways. She said it in a derogatory tone and it made me feel really bad. I felt ugly. I remember thinking, “Oh…she doesn’t like the way I look!” It hit me – she wanted me to look like a girl. I was desperate to get her friendship back and wanted to be included in her circle of friends. I wanted to be the main focus though.

After a long summer, the first day of school was finally approaching us. We would all gather at the bus stop every morning and the girls would evaluate how everyone was dressed, what styles were being worn and how unfashionable some of the other kids were. It was more like a dress contest. I kept thinking about it weeks before the first day of school. That was it. I was going femme. I decided that if my friend, (which now I realized I had a major crush on), liked girls who looked like “girls”, then that’s what I’m going to be. I wanted to impress her. My hair got longer and my entire wardrobe changed from flannels, jeans and sneakers to blouses, long skirts and pumps. I practiced walking in these awkward and uncomfortable shoes. I looked like a drag queen gone wrong. But I kept at it.

7am I walked out to the bus stop with my feminine attire all gussied up. My hair was long and feathered back like everyone else’s. I had my little ‘80’s poof’, which was thought of as ‘cool’ back then. I wore eyeliner, blush and a little lip-gloss. The palms of my hands were sweating and my heart was racing as I slowly approached them, hoping I wouldn’t be made fun of. They all knew me as “Deb” the tomboy. I was more masculine than any other boy on the block. I had a total transformation.

“Oh…muy….GAWD!!! I neva’ thought I’d see the day! You are GORGEOUS!” My friend said, as she quickly ran over to me primping and fixing my blouse and touching my newly grown-out stylish hair. I could feel my heart thumping as her interest went from the other girls and focused straight onto me. We were back to being friends again and started hanging out like we used to. She would do my hair after school and we would have little ‘girly’ parties on the weekends. I still felt a bit awkward because I was still ‘me’ inside. I wanted to be out riding my quads with the other boys and planning our next bonfire party.

High school was a bit of a blur. Before I knew it, the boys started liking me more and I started dating. I dated the boys to show ‘my friend’ that they thought I was cute too. But what happened was, competition came into play. I was her enemy now. Totally not the way I wanted this to go. Back then, not one person was ‘out’, or known as gay. They would call people ‘gay’, but in terms of ‘not being cool’. If one was thought to be a lesbian, it was the most disgusting thought they could fathom up! “Ewww, she’s a lesbo!” That’s how they said it. Being gay or being a lesbian meant that you weren’t cool enough to date the opposite gender, so you resorted to being with a person of the same gender. A lot of closed-minded people still think like that today.

I didn’t come out of the closet until I was nineteen years old. I didn’t want to still be in school and have the kids shun me because of my orientation. I wanted to be on my own and separate from all of them. Hiding myself behind dating boys left me feeling empty and more insecure about myself. I knew this was wrong for me. Regardless what anyone said or how people emphasized that a girl should be with a boy, for me it wasn’t so. I resented the fact that people assumed I should be dating a guy. I loved all my guy friends because we had so much in common. We all played guitar, rode motorcycles and loved girls! I related to them.

Getting back to my niece Sonya though, I can see what she’s going through. I’m not saying she’s going to turn gay or anything like that, but it reminds me of what I went through. What saved me through my ‘butch days’ was the fact that someone saw me as beautiful once they saw me as a girl and not a boy. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. I wasn’t an outcast or seen as a freak anymore. Some would say that it was influenced - and that’s okay. Maybe it was, but I’m so glad that it happened, or I wouldn’t have looked like “me” today. I know that my girlfriend wouldn’t have dated me if I still looked boyish. She likes feminine women. So because of my friend back in my childhood – I want to thank her for changing me. I still see ‘my friend’ occasionally because we still live close to one another. We always say, “Call me and lets get together sometime”, and never do. But one day, I’m going to let her know what happened. One day, I’m going to let her read this. One day…maybe.


Natalia said...

I think I was blissfully sheltered from anything like that. I grew up in a family where being different was good. But I do know a lot about change. I was thinking about how much I have changed even within the last few years. I loved reading this.


Anonymous said...

Guilty of lurking, with a quick comment.
I love how and what you write. I found todays post especially touching. I remember the same feelings, 12 yo blond blue eyed, my first kiss, Karen. Saw her at the 15 year reunion and she told me I was the only gay person she knew. hmmm>? Im married with kids.
Read the books, got the flyers, therapy, I dont have a label. Just happen to love a man at this time of my life.
anyway thanks for your insight. I'll go back to my lurking, Lol

~Deb said...

Natalia: Change is definitely the tone of this post- whether appearance-wise or just character-wise, it’s “our decision” to be what we want to be and be happy with it. Thanks Nat!

Flaming June: Thanks for “coming out” and commenting! Yep, “my friend” was 12 yrs old, blond blue eyed beauty as well. I wish she was my first kiss- believe you me! But she’s straight, now married to a really nice man with two beautiful children. And, I’ve loved a man once and was actually “in love” with him. I was sixteen at the time and we’re still friends today. I really don’t like labels, but if one were to label me, it’s “lesbian” due to my current relationship with another woman. I appreciate you stepping out of the lurking box and commenting! Most of all, thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I guess I've been lurking too. Flaming June inspired me come out - on your blog, I mean:)

You write so well. I enjoyed this post!

Anonymous said...

Can I open a can??
The majority of Pj's female friends (Pj is my wife of 17 years...I'm 43) call me their "gayest straight friend". I love women's clothes and hair etc. I successfully buy things for Pj that she loves. My female boss quite often asks me if what she is wearing "looks right".
Here comes the question, (and comment moderation is appreciated...you have my email)
Why do you accept your own personal sexuality? How did you come to surrender to it?
I'm not gay, I'm not even curious...men are kinda nasty really, but I do enjoy "girly" things. I've never thought I was gay because of my preferences...

~Deb said...

Art: I appreciate you saying hello and your kind words!

Spoke: A lot of men are fashion-conscious and that’s great! It has nothing to do with sexual orientation though. I accept my own sexuality because I didn’t want to live a lie anymore and date someone I didn’t love. If I dated men just to fit society’s image, then I would be lying to myself and lying to my boyfriend or husband. No one deserves that. Why do you feel men are nasty sometimes? I think men are beautiful creatures, however I’m not sexually drawn to them. Thank you so much for bringing up an important subject matter.

Pittchick said...

I wonder if I was sheltered in a way growing up? I went to catholic school for 12 years. I always wore uniforms. There was no, "she looks better then me" or "i can't afford to dress in the nicest clothes"- all of which I'm grateful for. It took a lot of the stress of adolescence away. Perhaps being in a religous school made us all more tolerant as well? I don't know. I never knew any gay people until I was in college. Well, if I knew them before that, I never knew they were gay.
I remember my one friend was so afraid of coming out of the closet to me because I was a republican and dating an Army guy. To me that just sounds silly. I didn't really care. I did have a lot of questions, and he was more than happy to answer all of them.
I guess I've rambled on enough without actually saying anything worthwhile...

kathi said...

Deja vu or am I going crazy? Oh hush, I'm going with deja vu.

Quasar9 said...

Hi Deb, I think we've all felt like that about a friend when we were 10 or 12.

Even as we grow up, there are friends who we feel 'closer' too regardless of sex or sexuality.

For some people (men or women) their best friend might be the father - the one they want to be noticed and admired by at the 'game' or sport activity -definitely not in any sexual way.

And then there are people we are attracted to sexually - whether they be heterosexual women, or women with a preference for women - is only one of the factors which affects relationships.

I mean, I'm guessing just because someone is 'gay' doesn't mean they are automatically attracted toanother person, just because the other person is also gay.

And again, I can only guess - not all women who are attracted to women - are not attracted to men.
After all I hear bisexual feelings and experiences are common among men and women, and I don't just mean those who are seeking to add experiences to their list of things to do - before they are too old or die.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I bet you were such a looker, kiddo, probably because you didn't even know it. God bless you on your journey.

~Deb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
~Deb said...

Pittchick: You know, it would have been nice if everyone wore uniforms at the school I went to. There was so much judging on how other people dressed, and if you weren’t wearing the latest fashion you were cast aside as a freak. People love to stereotype too- as far as a republican dating an army guy goes. Same goes for gay people. Lots of stereotyping on many levels. People love to put labels on everyone. And no, what you said was worthwhile! Thank you!

Kathi: No déjà vu! I wrote a post about ‘the goddess’- which is ‘the friend’ I write about on this post. The only difference is, I wrote about the similarities about my niece and myself. It was the best story I could remember that related to the situation. You are one loyal reader and friend! Thanks for remembering that post!

Quasar: THANK YOU for saying that! There are so many people who assume just because a person is gay, that they’ll date or ‘like’ anyone who is gay as well. An old friend of mine said, “Well as long as you don’t hit on me, then I’m okay with it,” when I came out to her. I was like, “Don’t flatter yourself sweetie!” She thought that I would go for ANY woman since I was a lesbian. And everyone is different. For myself, I guess you can say I ‘label’ myself as a lesbian because I’m in a lesbian relationship monogamously, however I always emphasize that I would never rule out a man sweeping me off my feet if I were single and if I was attracted to him as well. You just never know! Seeking experiences is a whole other ballgame. That’s bi-curious or whatever they label it to be.

~Deb said...

Enemy of the Republic: I should really post some of my childhood pictures. Eek!!! But thank you for the kind words!

Tense Teacher said...

So what if you were "influenced" to change? At some point in our lives, we all have been. Sometimes, it helps us discover unknown but wonderful parts of ourselves, and other times it might cover up the best parts, but all that matters is that we remain true to who we really are... whoever that is.

You're a special lady, a real sweetie, and if this girl helped you toward becoming that person, that's reason enough to be thankful.

Amy said...

I think this is one of my favorite posts.

Your experience is something I can relate to because I too had those same kinds of feelings when I was growing up - except I preferred brunettes. In high school and junior high, sleepovers were absolute torture. It wasn't just about being well liked or popular. Every comment with a "friend", every giggle and every touch had a much more magnified emotion for me.

I agree with Tense, "influence" is not a bad thing all the time. It is just someone or somethings capactity to have an effect on us. It is part of the process of life and development.

You do remain true to who you really are, Deb. This process that you experienced is one that contributed to the creation of you as the woman you are today.

The shape of you is one that is irreplaceable.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Sometimes there are similarities that run in a family that are just there. Sometimes we notice them almost like déjà vu. Sometimes I mistakenly address my cat, Alex, as “Rob,” the names of my #2 son.

Seven said...

Fascinating from first word to the last. Thank you for sharing the things important to you. Maybe Sonya's path will be smoother with you at her elbow watching and listening.

ann said...

and if Sonya turns out as lovely as you then there's nothing to fret about...

I think we all go through changes in our lives, sometimes to conform and at others to say, "no this is who I am, accept me or not"

a great post :>)

Miss 1999 said...

That took a lot of guts to share that-- I can only imagine how hard it was being different, and all of a sudden changing to become what you *thought* someone else wanted. I know living a lie couldn't have felt good either, but I can definitely understand why you didn't want to "come out" until after school.

Regardless of whether or not your niece turns out to be gay or straight, it's great she's got such a loving and supportive Aunt who cares about her! *hugs*