The same song, in a different key.
I’ve had four names in my life. First, before I was even born, I was Michael. Then, for a long time, I was Mike. But neither of those fit the me I knew inside, so for a small while I was Abbey. But that also wasn’t the whole me, either. Now I’m Alex, and it feels complete. Definitely for now, maybe for a long while.
My path has been indirect, filled with stop-overs and dead ends. For the first 35 years, I was seeking something very specific; something that could fill the hole. This wasn’t a particularly special hole, in fact I preferred to ignore it most of the time. The hole was where I put the part of me that never fit; the part of me I never, ever told anyone about.
The thing about holes is they scream to be filled. I tried many things; drugs, work, relationships, money, religion, hobbies, family. Not of all these were bad things; many were experiences I cherish, and helped me to better understand myself and find the people that I love more than I ever thought possible. Always, at the end of the day, the hole was there, unfilled and containing that part of me that could never be part of me.
Then I gave up trying to fill the hole. There was no deep realization or healing; I just came to terms having a hole, and tried to work around being incomplete as best I could. Moving through a gray life in a role I didn’t understand, but had grown accustomed to.
And it all came crashing down. My best friend killed himself. My wife and I had kids, and our marriage fell apart. My businesses, in which I had found an identity and endless distractions, became insolvent. Everything I had built to try and be a complete person disappeared, leaving me, once again, with the hole and what it contained.
I’m writing this with the hopes it is, or can become, four things.
This is one version of a story that needs to be seen in the world. We live in scary times, and too many vulnerable kids are being told they’re wrong, they’re broken, they don’t belong. Silence is complicity. This story needs to join thousands of others so that we can reach those kids; so they know they’re right, and whole, and that there are others out there who know how they feel and how they’re living each and every day. So they know they’re loved because of who they are, and who they want to be, not in spite of it.
This is a community of people sharing the ways they became whole beings, sharing hope. Sharing how they stopped hiding parts of themselves from the world. Sharing how they burned it all down and found what had always been there.
This is a resource for allies. There are too many good, caring people who don’t know how to help, and want guidance. Our fight for completeness needs all the help it can get, and we need to embrace and teach our allies how they can support our cause.
This is a love letter to my wife and children. My heart is larger than I ever thought possible, and my life is more full of love and feelings than I ever imagined. I could not be more grateful for their presence and love, and the least I can do is share my wonder for them.
In the end (beginning?) I made it, and lots of others have too. We didn’t find how to fill the hole; we outgrew the hole. We accepted the parts of us that make us whole, complete beings, and began to share our re-found selves with the world.
I hope you’ll share your story here, to give hope, be heard, and find healing.