56 Little Marks.

56 little marks. 26 on my thigh. 16 on my left forearm. The rest scrambled on my wrists. Little reminders of how sick I was. Some are long, some are short, some go vertical, some go horizontal. Some are crooked, some are neat. All these little lines mark my body for the world to see. 60 days have passed since I have since picked up a knife and sliced my tender, soft, carmel skin.

There aren’t words to express how crazy it is to know that 2 months have passed since I last hurt myself. When I was self harming it was a daily habit. The longest I could go was usually 2 or 3 days, then I would cut again. Then I would make it a week then relapse. I was in so deep I thought I would never get out of the hole I found myself in. I thought “Okay, this is your life now. This is how you deal with your feelings, get comfortable.” What a relief to know my dirty little habit only consumed a short 3 month period of my life.

What a relief it is to not have to wake up to the massacre on my wrists after a night of excessive drinking and cutting. Half of the time I forgot I even hurt myself until I woke up and saw bandages on my wrist. Bandagaes carefully placed by my drunken self the night before. I would peel back the layers of gauze and bandages to reveal my shame from the night before. Guilt, weakness, shame and embarrassment would flood my body as I would see the risen mark and dried bits of blood stain my skin. I felt helpless, lost and alone. I’m glad I no longer have to go to walgreens and spend money on bandages and tape to cover up my cuts to help my body heal. It’s nice to know I don’t have to worry about being caught stealing another knife from a store because I am too embarrassed to buy a new, sharper, shiner one. What a relief to no longer wince in pain as hot water runs over my skin as I try to wash away the hurt and pain the next day. It’s nice to know I have moved on and have found better ways of coping.

To this day, I still don’t know why I cut. I know what caused the first incdent- a boy I liked didn’t text me back for 13 hours and I thought he hated me and abandoned me. But why it continued for 3 months is a mystery to me. I’m not sure which of my traumas I was trying to deal with when I dissociated every night and hurt myself. Was it my mom dying? My sexual assault? Or just a mere “symptom” of my mental illness? I tried in therapy to piece apart why I was doing this, and I still don’t have an answer. We have moved on to other things, things that still stand in my way.

If you asked my why or how I stopped I would simply say cutting myself served it purpose and I have grown up, out and away from needing to do that anymore. I no longer spent my nights as a drunken, dissociated mess of a human being. Instead I lie in my bed, watching netflix and talking with friends. I didn’t know who I was for 3 months. It’s like I completely disappeared under the knife, and only now am I beginning to resurface. Air is being breathed back into my lungs and I am starting anew. I don’t ever want to feel that low again, but I know my reality. I know that I have very serious mental health problems and disorders that very well may place me on that road again in the future. While I am aware of that possibility, I am not going to sit here patiently waiting for it to all crumble down around me again. I am going to stand in the light that is just beginning again to illuminate my skin. I’m going to bask in the light that I searched so hard, fought so hard to find again. I am glowing. People say they see a change in me, that I am happier. Thats because I was lost and now I am found again.

If I listened to my borderline mind

If I listened to my voice of borderline all the time, I would have no friends and I would have pushed everyone away, of that I am sure. If I were to tell every person when they take more than 2 minutes to respond to my text if we are texting back and fourth, I assume I am not important, worthless, small and not worthy of your time. If I were to tell others that when I sense a change in tone even in writing whether that be simply by the lack of punctuation that I think they hate me and I did something wrong, people would say that I am crazy. People would argue that I am paranoid and need to calm down, smoke some weed. If I told people how attached to them I got after hours of talking to them they would think I am their stalker and a lonely loser. Sure, this does not happen with everyone but with new friendships and romantic interests this is most always the case.

I hang on to peoples word, my mood hanging by a thread on what is said or isn’t said. If I were to tell people how thoughts of abandonment turn to vicious thoughts in my head, people would tell me to seek help. If people knew that when someone does not respond to me I think I am fat, gross, ugly and worthless they would feel bad for me. I don’t want pity. I want a world where it isn’t bad to ask for what I need without the stigma of seeming crazy for having these thoughts. I try to explain these feelings to others and they don’t understand, “take it slow” they tell me. There is no pause or slow motion button in my head or for my thoughts, it’s full steam ahead all the time. How am I supposed to date someone or get to know someone when quickly they become my everything? How am I supposed to be in a normal relationship when I am waiting for the inevitable moment when someone tells me they don’t like me and I am a ruiner. That I have a pretty face, I’m sweet and kind but “too intense” and I “come on too strong?” How will anyone get to love me past my illness when it causes me to push others away? I will never be free of bpd, this is my life- I’m stuck with it.

I just wish there was a world I lived in where I could tell someone all my truths and not be thought of as aggressive or too much. I just want to be freely me and then have someone decide if I am right for them. If I listened to my borderline mind I would have been dead at 22. If I listened to my borderline mind I would have stopped in traffic already or jumped out a window just to see if I would die. If I listened to my borderline mind I allow myself to whole heartedly believe I am crazy and unwell. If I listened to my mind, I would believe that I am unworthy of love and affection because I am too sick. I want my mind to be quiet. To be at peace. To allow things to naturally unfold and not have a ticking time bomb clicking away, making everything so intense and urgent. I want to feel what it’s like to slowly fall in love with someone, and not crash into it. I want to know what it’s like to grow fond for someone overtime instead of them becoming my everything after a day. I want to know what it’s like to have normal, healthy relationships.

Gender is a performance, and I have taken the stage.

April 11,2017 3:24pm

I transcend gender. My gender is too complicated to fit into a box- the binary is just too small for me. I am finding that I go beyond what it means to be male or female, I am neither and I am both all at the same time. I can’t remember the last time I was this confused, yet liberated. Probably since the first time I came out as transgender, when I idneitifed as ftm— female to male. When I first stared questioning my gender, I quietly identified as genderfluid. I thought that since I still liked wearing makeup that must mean I was still “partly” a girl. I am learning now, after being out as genderfluid for 2 months now, that just because I like wearing makeup still is not what in essence makes me “feel” like a girl still.It’s more how I think, act and feel that makes me still identify partly as female. Men can wear makeup and dresses too. I am who I am and I feel comfortable wearing different clothes based on how I feel any given day or situation. I am finding that if I am going out to a party, I like to get dressed up, put on a cute dress and do my makeup, where as sometimes during the day, that seems far from my mind and does not sound appealing to me at all.

I think the clear indicator to me that my gender is fluid is that I can feel male or female given different circumstances. Sometimes when I am with all females I feel like one of the girls again, I feel a sense of kin ship and understanding that I don’t get when I am surrounded by cis men. I always felt like an outsider among my cis male classmates and peers. Something about me didn’t quite click and I always felt like an outsider. I thought I was too feminine and came off flamboyant and “gay” to people if I was compared to cis men. I am now realizing, maybe I’m not flamboyant at all, because I think that is a very gendered term for a male that is flashy and exuberant, but maybe I am just me. Maybe I am just a loud, glitzy, extra person regardless of my gender identity du jour. I think I need to stop putting myself into catergories and say that my gender is what it is in the moment! Maybe I don’t have a “resting” gender identity and I don’t normally sit on the male or female side of things and it literally is different all the time. Does transmasucline even fit me anyone? This can be confusing and exhausting when it comes to picking out what to wear for the day, but over all I feel more free than I have in awhile.

There is a different sense of relief with my second coming out. When I first came out as ftm I felt like I wan’t lying to myself anymore and I was able to just be me. I didn’t have the gender expectations to be dainty and pretty anymore, now I could be rugged, rough and tough (and anyone that knows me, knows that is a far cry from who I am). Now that I am fully living as me, in all my various identities I feel that no part of me is hiding any longer. For the past 2 years that I have been out, I stifled the feminine parts of me, saying to myself that was wrong, and I was “too gay.” But now I see the fact that I enjoy wearing makeup and dresses is just as another facet of my gender expression and who Rilen is as a human being. I am no longer pushing any part of me away in order to conform to societies expectations of what it is to be a male OR a female. I am swimming around, wading in the water, getting wet and having fun. Gender is a performance, and I have taken the stage. It’s all a big lie in my book, and now that I am unthethered to what the world expects of me, I am living my best life, and damn it feels good!

The Magical Majestic Month of March

March 21, 2017

Something changed this month. Something changed within me and I can’t put a finger on it. ( I feel like Elphaba, “something has changed within me, something is not the same.”) I have not self harmed in 18 days. 18 sunsets have cast their shadows on the trees on my block since I have taken a knife to my delicate skin. Since I started cutting consistently on December 8, the longest I have been able to go was 7 days and on the 8th day I would always cut. I stopped smoking cigarettes and I stopped drinking like a fish. In the 21 days of march I have only drank 5 times, and each time I drank, it was to enjoy- not out of necessity.  I no longer want to get drunk, or even feel buzzed anymore. It bores me and I don’t want to put fourt the effort or money it takes me to actually get drunk. It’s like I grew up suddenly. 

I was put on a new med for a week until my face broke out into a horrendous rash. The first time since December specifically I feel like the pieces of me are starting to come together. I am starting to slowly feel stronger and more whole. 

Two really exciting things have happened this month so far. After a 8 year hiatus I took my first singing lesson with a trusted friend. I spent a long therapy session at the beginning of the month saying how lost I felt with my singing voice and how I’ve lost a huge part of myself since starting T. My once almost 4 octave range has now reduced to maybe an octave and a half? My singing teacher, Charles is so sweet and loving and supportive. He understands that this is a hard transition for me to go from singing glitter and be gay form candide to barely squeaking out an E. He made me proud of myself for literally just jumping  headfirst into to lessons after so long. We walked into the room and began vocalizing right away. Within 2 minutes of the lessons the validation that I so desperately craved was given to me and made me feel at ease. My biggest fear was that I was going to open my mouth and it would sound so bad that he wouldn’t believe that I went to one of the Midwest’s most recognized musical theatre schools. But a few simple words,  “there’s some meat there” slipped out of his mouth and I felt at home. I don’t have a job because I’m still not in the place yet where I can hold a job, but I am going to scrounge up all of my pennies to continue taking singing lessons as long as I can because whether or not I ever make it to broadway, singing needs to be in my life. I hope I can at least be in musicals in the future because singing is what makes me feel most whole and like my old, younger, innocent self. 
The next big thing that has happened so far this march is I got my first NYC acting job and my first job off of backstage.com! 3 days after creating an account and paying my $134 subscription fee I received a message from a young film student at NYU who saw my resume and reel that I submitted for the role she was casting (a young transgender male.) The message simply said, “I saw your work on your profile and would love to offer you the role, I look forward to the possibility of working with you -N” to say the least I started freaking out and crying because literally only 2 hours passed since I posted a status on Facebook bitching and moaning that nobody had hired me yet. 
I’ve never been in a film before or been the lead of anything ever. Of course I am still filled with self doubt and think maybe the only reason I got the role is because I’m trans and I’m really not talented or good. I feel guilty for the 84 people that liked my Facebook status and are supporting me, I feel like a liar and a fraud because this wasn’t a ‘feature’ film. My teacher who morphed into my mother figure told me to “SHUT. IT. DOWN” and that there are no accidents. Clearly I need to work on my self confidence and know that I, Rilen AM ENOUGH. My skill set, my look, my training– all of that is enough. I need to become my ally and not enemy. 
Now if I am completely honest, my biggest fear is that I will look obese on film. I am proud of the work that I did in this black and white silent film. I rose to the occasion and was unfiltered and messy. But I am so scared I will be so utterly disgusted with my body that I won’t want to put it on my reel, let alone show my friends and family. My eating disorder is an ever present pest and always lurking in the corners of my brain, waiting to pop out at any moment. I am constantly using the following words to describe myself and my body ” disgusting, fat, ugly, gross.” I am ashamed and embarrassed that people have to look at my fat face when they talk to me. These words hurt me, they don’t help me. I know that my body is not where I want it to be in any means. I want to lose at least 60 pounds to feel healthy. The thing is, I know that my eating disorder runs so deep that even at a healthy weight, I will still hate myself as much as I do now, which is why I have given up. I don’t see the point of busting my ass when I know no matter what I will  still hate what I see. Nevertheless, I intend on cutting back on sugary drinks and trying to get back into running. Now that I am starting to peruse acting in a professional manner now, I need to think of my body as a temple and my first impression I give to casting directors. The roles I want to play are not accessible to me right now with the way I look now (or so I say!) so I need to change. 
And lastly one final update, I am beginning to uncover my psychic abilities. Now, just typing that makes me want to cringe and throw up everything I have ever eaten but, it’s true! I have always been very sensitive to other people’s emotions and energies. I have had many paranormal experiences, one of which happened a couple of weeks ago when a hand gently touched my back as I was sleeping. I have a friend who makes a living as a psychic and we played some games last night to work on my intuition. I believe I am an empath, I am more comfortable using that works instead of “psychic.” 
I gave my first reading to a stranger on a chat website (omegle) last night. I could feel ( and I don’t know how the fuck I knew this) that this young man I was speaking with had many secrets. I knew what it was right away and I later built up the courage free reading him and him affirming that what I said was true and making him cry to confront him and ask him about the eating disorder he has been hiding. He hasn’t told anyone about his struggles and when I finally asked him about it he simply typed “h o w” And my answer at this point is bitch I don’t know!! 
So the magical, majestic month of march is upon me. My future is full of promise and I am starting at feel like the old me again that has been lost for quite some time. I’m not fixed, but I am becoming more complete everyday and every moment that passes. 

When My Innocence Was Stolen

Monday March 6,2017  12:45am

The Loss of Innocence

I thought of writing this post 2 days ago but put it off because I was too scared. I was too scared to see what would come out of my fingers, what I would say, what would I think, but evermore, what would I remember? I want to talk about innocence and the loss of it in my life. Innocent by webster’s dictionary is defined as “lack of guile or corruption; purity.” When I think of the word corruption, I see 2 events specifically and one long term event that corrupted me and caused me to lose innocence.

The first turning point of me losing my innocence was when I was 16 and was dealing with a very sick, alcoholic mother. The memories are hidden and buried deep, and to turn them up to please the eyes of strangers that will read this and never comment seems sadistic, so I won’t say much. I will say from the age of 16 which was freshman year in high school is when my life started turning into shit. My mom was verbally and more importantly emotionally abusive for her last decade on this earth. Those that may be reading this that knew her will be shocked and maybe saddened to hear this, but I have to speak my truth. I strive to preserve her memory of the wonderful, beautiful, empathetic person she was but her disease took over and ruined her. That is the part my family refuses to talk about and acknowledge in public. But I won’t say silent. My mother would call me names, make fun of my body, swear at me, sometimes hit me, bang on my door, break my things, stand in front of my car while I was trying to escape and blame me for her problems and I was the reason why she drank. I got the brunt of it, not my dad, not my sister but little 16 year old Rilen.

I remember one of the first times I made myself sick to try to deal with the pain I was feeling was when we were in ixpapa mexico on vacation at an all inclusive resort. We went to a the fanciest restaurant on the grounds called “Don Quitoe” and I ordered the spaghetti pasta. Mom was impaired and ruined the dinner. Eventually everyone left the table before we even had our meal and I sat there alone at 17. A beautiful meal ruined. I went to the bathroom and stuck my fingers down my throat to make myself feel more balanced and better after the turmroil that unwound at the table. To this day I don’t remember what was said or done, what specifically happened, but I remember my mom leaving first, then my dad, then it was just my sister and I. But the specific moment of innocence lost was when I called the insurance company to find a rehab for my mom at 20 years old. We were trying to plan an intervention for her. My dad and sister didn’t do anything. I was in community college for communications and on a Sunday afternoon at my apartment I was on the phone with my insurance company trying to find rehab facilities for my mom. Why my dad didn’t do this still to this day bothers me. I was a mere child trying to save my mom, I thought I was her superhero, destined to save her. Because I failed, she died. She couldn’t stay sober and I feel guilt because of that even 3 years later. The logical part of my brain says, she needed to have wanted to recover, but the other part of my brain says you didn’t try hard enough.

My innocence then took another dive when my mom died when I was 23 and I discovered her dead body. You can’t recover from that or go back, that chips away at you, it forces you grow up before you were ready. You always picture your parents dying when they are old and grey, after you have given them grandkids, not when they are 56. Seeing her in bed…I can’t describe in words what that did to me or how it forced me out of my youth but it changed me greatly.

When I was sexually assaulted on September 5,2015 any semblance of innocence I had left was savagely ripped away from me. For any survivors out there that are reading this, you know as well as I you were forced to mature wise beyond your years because someone decided they had the right to your body. I thought I had seen it all and was mature and had seen enough for two lifetimes but when that happened I had reached the point of no return, I was now an adult and no longer a child. Any sense of self and security was taken from me, my body was not my own— it was tainted, used and foreign.

Do I wish these things would have never happened to me? Of course. Do I wish I wouldn’t have had to be an adult and sometimes the parent at 16 years old, sure. But there is nothing I can do to change my past. I have to accept it for what it is. I am wise beyond my years. I’ve been forced to deal with very traumatic and difficult circumstances that some people will never have to be exposed to. I guess through my stolen innocence I have learned who I am and what I am capable of. I know that I am strong, ruthless, intelligent and a fighter. So many crack and crumble and never return to who they once were. I am not 100% and haven’t totally retuned to who I was before these things happened to me and I know that even through therapy the chances of getting my childhood back will never happen. I was an adult at 16 and I am even more grown at 27.

Chutes and Ladders

Monday February 27,2917 6:31pm

Recovery is complicated. For some reason when I think of recovery I think of it as a straight line going up with no kinks, just an arrow going up. What I am learning is that recovery is much more complicated than that. While the general direction might be up (if you are lucky and putting the work in) there are a lot of squiggles and knots along the way. When I was in AA, recovery was looked at a day by day thing. Every second by second, as long as you don’t pick up. But then there are the stories of success where people just decided on X day they would stop drinking. When I got sober on February 22,2017, I didn’t drink for 8 months. It was that Monday that I said I am done. We were told in AA that it’s okay to slip up, it’s not the end of the world,but why does it feel like such utter failure when you relapse when its a process?

I have been clean from cutting for 4 days. I am learning to be gentle with myself and say THAT is recovery. Sure, I’m sure soon something or someone will trigger me, whether it be loneliness, depression, isolation or whatever,I am almost certain I will cut again. But I need to realize that at this moment, I am in recovery and bettering myself. Recovery is like Chutes and Ladders. You climb up the ladder (4 days clean) but then you fall down a little bit, but eventually get back up and go further next time. Maybe instead of looking at recovery as a fixed point “I will never cut again” perhaps, I need to look at it in smaller bites. Perhaps it should be, “I haven’t cut in 4 days, that is incredible considering my record used to be 2 days a week ago.” I think the main part in recovery is patience.

I have been manic for the last week since my moms 3 year anniversary. I have been impulsively spending, among other things I am too shy and ashamed to admit to. It seems with me my problems are like a whack-a-mole. One problem gets slightly better and another pops up. I struggle with an eating disorder and have been falling back into those pattern specifically if I am drinking. It’s like, the depression starts to dissipate but then KA-BLAM BITCH! Another problems bitch slaps you in the face. I have felt relatively normal this past week, not crippled by depression mostly because I have been up, because of my mania.

I just hope someday…I’m not sure. I hope things will be easier and I will stop falling down the ladder so far everything, instead of starting at the beginning each time I make smaller slips. But I need to be kind and say I am trying my hardest. I am in therapy 3-4 times a week, I reach out when I need help, I write, I sing, I listen to music. I am trying. But half the time I feel like a loser. To hear the concern and disappointment in my dads voice on the phone when I tell him of my latest relapse or shennagains hurts me more than when I cut my skin open. I want to make him proud of me, I want to be the perfect son who is financially independent and responsible. Instead my days are ruled by depression and now lately mania. Recovery is difficult, but I will keep fighting until I reach the top of the ladder even if I stand shakily at the top, I will get there with the knowledge that there may not be complete recovery.

The Flashback.

Sunday February 19,2017 4:50pm

Snippets of memories come back in a flash the moment I allow myself to fully feel the weight of today. I was just woken out of sleep as my brain tried to process this fateful day. The sound of my sisters voice starling me out of sleep “ I think mom’s dead.” The feel of the hard wood floor as I stumbled, naked to the floor trying to hurry to her room. The feel of adrenaline that coursed through my veins in a split second when I saw her. That shade of purple. The spring in my step as I jumped into the air in a panic and sprinted out of the room “Call 911.” The blue carpet squishing beneath my feet. The sound of my dad’s voice on the phone as I called him to tell her she was gone and the sheer panic, fear, disappointment and disbelief in his voice. The EMT’s arrive with their bags and embroidered uniforms with their patches trumpeting their title “EMT.” I remember how it felt like mere seconds when they crawled up the blue stairs to her room and ascended just seconds later apologizing for our loss. I knew the truth already, you could tell just by looking. But that was confirmation of what my heart already knew.

The police officers arrive. Pictures are snapped. We are interviewed. They question us, I am in disbelief. The take her phone, her belongings. A stretcher is brought into the house. I run outside, harassed by cold February air, refusing to see my mother in a body bag. I cover my ears outside so I don’t hear her body being brought down the stairs as the wheels bang agains the stairs. After that I don’t remember much of the day. Except we ordered pizza. I couldn’t eat, I knew I wasn’t hungry but I asked for garlic bread which went untouched. The embraces in the basement, the tears that were shed.

The next day we planned my mothers funeral. The day was spent in the basement of a funeral home where we picked out a casket and the urn her body was going to go in after the funeral the following day.

The funeral. I saw my moms body in her final resting place. Eyes closed, hands rested peacefully across her chest. I try not to think about what she looks like under her dress because of the autopsy they had to do. I am told by the funeral director that the shade of her skin was so bad they had to put a lot of makeup on her, so don’t touch. She didn’t look right until she had her glasses on. We arrived early so we could have time with “her body.” From the front row it looked like her, just sleeping, but from up close it wasn’t her. She looked wax like and her lips were glued shut. Family and friends shuffle in, friends that I didn’t expect came to support me. I cried and cried so hard during the ceremony, my face buried in my dads chest.

Drinks. We had dinner at one of our friends restaurants. I meet some of moms college friends, they tell me stories of how they used to get in trouble and have fun, how she used to skii. I didn’t know she ever skiied, I wish I could have asked her about it. My best friend Brie, stayed by my side the whole time. I will forever be grateful for her because she let me stay at her house the night my mom died. Her dog Belle protected me, by sleeping close by the bed, something Brie says the dog never does.

Looking back now its all such a blur, and yet so clear. I wear my moms ring around my neck everyday, refusing to ever take it off. I have a tattoo in memory of her, accented by self inflicted scars on my right arm with the words “ let it go this is smaller than you know” by a band we both loved. Loss does get easier with time, as they say. You begin to think of them less, the hole in your heart begins to close a bit, but that pain and hurt will always be there. If you allow yourself to go back in time the memories can feel fresh. I don’t ever allow myself to go back. It hurts too much. The trauma of losing her and the events that lead up to her death haunt me and night so I lock it up and hide from these moments. I have clinical PTSD because of what happened and what I saw and experienced. But I try not to go back, because when I do, its all too real again.