Friday, February 21, 2014

In Life

In life and I am only scratching the surface here, but my point is this:
We all must have our basic needs fulfilled for our very survival. We all know this so I am not stating anything new here. Only our parents or caretakers can do this as God intended and they do it lovingly. We have no control over our care as babies but by the miracle of life and love of family if we are so blessed to have we do thrive and are nurtured as we should be as our very survival depends on it.
If we are lucky enough to come into the world and our parents or caretakers take on the responsibilities of raising us and provide us a name, a sense of who we are, safety, shelter, nourishment, unconditional love and a sense of strength to learn from and be inspired by then we should thrive. As we grow we also must realize that our parents for the most part are trying their best to teach us self acceptance and provide us love and nurturing so we can one day find out that we are special and deserving of our own friendships, finding our inner peace, finding our true happiness, finding the joy we deserve, finding the confidence we need so we can believe in ourselves to prosper and find the recognition we all hope and long for so our lives mean something to us, to our family, to our friends and to all who come into our life circle. We also must realize that our parents also have weakness of their own and can’t be held to a higher standard. They can only do what they can do and if they know they tried their best then that is really all they can do realistically.
We also need to find our spirituality through religion, the bible and our Sunday school classes to live with the love we need in our heart and the faith to live our life no matter what comes our way and our parents lead us in that direction as does our teachers but the rest is up to us once we are old enough to make our own decisions.
This is one of the most difficult to deal with because we all have different observances of our faith but the most common component of faith must ring true for each and every one of us for if we lose our spirituality what hope will we ever truly have in our life. We all must believe and have a faith and we all must respect one another and not judge them if their beliefs differ from ours. That is the whole point of life. We all do not conform to the same things or should we be expected to. We just have to understand that we will have differences of opinion whether it has to do with religion, politics, sex, gender or choice in our careers or decisions we make based on our individual philosophies. 
The meaning or purpose of our life is one of the hardest things we all must face and one of the most troubling because what it means is that we are now coming of age and must now take responsibility for ourselves. It does not happen overnight but gradually and we all must find our middle ground as we seek patience, love, guidance and trust. We must be attentive to our parents, respectful, loving, caring and always striving to be the best we can be whether it is in the classroom, at a dance recital, in a play acted on stage in front of an audience, on a baseball diamond, on a math or spelling test or at home when we are asked to do something by our parents.
If we as parents struggle with our children because of their difficult behaviors and we are looked on as to blame or our children don't respect us or just in the heat of the moment act out at us and if it is in a public setting then how will we handle the situation without it becoming a scene. We always have to maintain a sense of calm and always keep our guard up always being on the defensive it seems when in reality we are just trying to diffuse a bad situation when our autistic child has a meltdown in front of us and strangers. To me that’s one of my biggest struggles because I do want to take my son out and not lock him in the house just to protect him from harming himself, us or anyone in his reach when he loses his composure. It just isn’t fair to see my son beset with such struggle. I know struggle, believe me as I truly do speak from experience. Autistic children and transgender children although different suffer in many of the same ways.
Trust me on this. I know from two perspectives, as a child knowing I was indeed a girl though I was born a boy and I still live with this which is obvious as I am finally transitioning to become a woman. I also know from the perspective of a parent in raising an autistic child who like myself has always struggled with his confidence and self esteem. The only way I survived was by over compensating to fool others into believing I was someone who in reality was the furthest thing from the truth. In my heart I was a delicate feminine girl who fancied pretty dresses and girly shoes but on the surface I was a rough and tumble boy who excelled in baseball and in math. The reality was that technically I was a girly girl who would be labeled a tomboy because I had to pretend I was a boy who was really a girl inside. Sounds confusing?
 I am still trying to figure it out. Anyone out there have an answer for this I would gladly welcome your interpretation of my take on being born a boy with a girl mindset. I also would love an answer to how I help an autistic boy feel better about himself and start to enjoy his life. That really is my main concern and the answer I am truly seeking. The reality it seems there is no common denominator type answer because all autistic children are unique in their own way. I already lived my whole life being transgender and I am finally doing something about it but I am 52. My son is only 14 so he is the one who truly needs the help. I survived and now I am doing what I knew I always had to do. The hardest part is I really liked Ed and thought he is a very kind and caring guy. I also have a wife I love who thought I was a guy and I have a son who wants to believe I’m his father but now he sees me as a girl and I just feel so guilty for all this pain I inflicted on others when in reality all I ever wanted was my happiness, to be expressive of my femininity and still have a family, a career, a house and to share in the joy of raising a happy, successful and well adjusted child to become a wonderful person as I tried to be in my own life without feeling pain, guilt or sorrow. That is not so easy but that is why we dream. We want our special needs child to not be in pain, to not suffer, to not hate life.
This is what parents of autistic children face day in and day out and it finally took me several misfortunes to finally find myself in a position I must now take full control over or else our family will not survive and I will most likely do something that I would regret because it does not have to be this way. The scary thing is it almost did happen and I had to spend time in the hospital for it and luckily my doctor took control of the situation or I would not be here to do what I need to which is to get my autistic son right so he may have some kind of chance in life.
The job and career all of a sudden didn't mean all that much to me anymore as a result of being let go from my recent source of employment and knowing that I would have a great struggle ahead of me looking for employment in one of the worst economies I have witnessed as a CPA.
This would only cause me more grief then it is worth. I realize my financial worries front and center and I am already being threatened by the mortgage company to foreclose on my house which in all sincere honesty is not even worth half the price I paid for it.
If I lived in Tennessee my family would be living in a mansion with multiple bathrooms, bedrooms, lavish kitchen,  a large basement, a garage for 3 or more cars and the largest of dining rooms and living rooms I could only dream of at this point in my life.
We have a small Levitt house that has no basement, 1 bathroom that is hideous to look at, 3 small bedrooms, a small living room/dining room combination, no garage and the tiniest of kitchens and still we are unable to buy new furniture and couldn’t when we bought the house or cottage I should say in 2004. I can’t be a slave to the mortgage company for the next 20 years of my life for a shack nor could I subject this to my family. That would be a tell tale sign that I indeed am insane if I subjected myself to 20 years hard labor to pay a mortgage on a house that doesn’t even suit our needs and has gone so far down in value I couldn’t even give it away. I am fed up with being meek and taken advantage of and now that I am becoming a woman I will fight with the same intensity that a woman has and I will stick to my principals and still be true to my femininity. I am also struggling with mounting medical bills and credit card debt imposing interest rates as high as 33%.
 I'd rather be dead and have my wife receive my life insurance, pay the balance of the mortgage and run from that house as fast as she can with Matty and her mom in tow and buy that mansion in Tennessee that I will never see and if by miracle I did, I would face discrimination as a transgender woman. What hope do I have when the reality is my family would be better off if I were to die so they would have financial protection. It breaks my heart to say it but that is my reality. I very well have contemplated suicide and am taking antidepressants that also contribute to my suicidal thoughts.
The mortgage company does not care that I overpaid for the house when the market was at its height and if I were to be forced to sell I would be very lucky if I did not still owe the mortgage company even after the sale because currently the house (cottage) is not even worth half the price I paid for it and if that was the case my mortgage balance would still not be satisfied and we would wind up homeless in the streets trying desperately to get our son into a residential school where he might have a chance to have some form of normalcy in his life but the family would be destroyed. I would just kiss my son goodbye, wish him well once I know he would be taken care of by his mother and will be ok and I would quietly walk into the sunset hopefully with my wife receiving my life insurance as I go to hopefully a much better place free of the pain I have endured all throughout my life.
I once had optimism and hope and I truly wanted to teach this to my son but sadly I was unable to because not only did I lose my parents tragically and my son lost his grandpa at the age of 10 but my son also remembers September 11, 2001 and he was only 2 ½ years old and at that point in his young life as a little boy he lost his innocence as did most of us on that very very sad day and to this day he still talks of that awful day trying to convince himself it never happened and if I say otherwise he blames me. I just can’t win no matter what I do. I am very sad and despite having my family and finding my true self I still have to feel pain.
Also the school I studied Mechanical Engineering at back in the early 1980’s,Virginia Tech was sadly in the news on  April 16, 2007 where 33 souls were lost just for going to class or being on campus not realizing their lives would be in peril where all is supposed to be normal and safe. I went to the school and I am so proud to say that and on that day I lost another sense of hope. I won’t even discuss the Oklahoma City bombing where dead babies were victims of another senseless tragedy. I was so affected and my son who is autistic is ultra sensitive and it seems we have to almost keep him in a bubble to keep him from these horrors but what good is that as it would just contribute more to his illness. Life is supposed to be happy and fun and we know we are going to die one day but for some although we are still here we already have died. Our innocence has died a long time ago and that is truly tragic.
As a parent we want better for our children and I see how tough life is today for us. What will it be like for my son who is 14, autistic and lives his days wishing he could die. His doctors tell us he is Asperger’s high functioning, yet he can’t tie his shoes, he refuses to wear pants that require a belt and his diet consists of French fries, pizza and chicken nuggets but when he eats it defies imagination.
I love my son and want to do whatever it takes but I am not a miracle worker and I rely on doctors and teachers and therapists and social workers and still there are no definitive answers. When I started my blog, A Father’s Love, My Son and Autism I thought I was doing a good thing and that was my intention from the beginning but with all the help our son has been provided and all the doctors he has been seen by he still is a 5 year old in his behavior and actions but age wise he is a teenager and he has become very difficult and I sometimes just feel  to blame and if I were to die then our family would just be destined for pain and sadness. It seems I am losing my faith and I desperately want my son to be helped but I am not finding the proper help so I now must try my best, give up my job aspirations which were nonexistent due to this long lasting economic collapse.
My career as a CPA is now on hold as I am not sure with my gender change how that will impact on my license but that is minor in the scheme of our complicated family crisis. I finally realize I am only human and am a mess emotionally due to seeing my son just worsen and becoming so despondent about his life and I am and always will be a girl trapped and all I ever wanted was to smile, have a family and raise a child, love him and equip him with all the attributes that will help him become a man. Although I am a woman at heart I still know how to teach my son to be a man. The problem I am encountering is he is autistic, I am transgender and we both are severely depressed. I suffered all my life hiding and living in fear and I would never want my son to have to go through what I had to.
I never had a single person to talk to and there were times when I thought I would be better off dead and the world would be a better place without me because instead of fighting for what I was; I lived in denial, fear and sought pity when in reality all I needed to do was seek help, not live in fear and slowly find acceptance anyway I could. Life is not perfect though and I lived through family tragedy and saw sad things and my parents who brought my sisters and I into the world did a fine job in my opinion despite their illnesses and I wish to do the same for my son Matty. What truly matters is that we be there for our son or daughter and understand that they are not perfect, we are not perfect and all we truly need in our lives aside from the love, support and basics is to feel passion to do something noble in our life, find true meaning and purpose in our life and most of all we need to find the courage to share who we are and to never forget that we are special and should never be told we are wrong just because we are different.
I managed to run track and cross county, play baseball, excel in math and science, study both mechanical engineering and accounting in college. I attained my CPA and I married and we are blessed with our son Matty. I just wish that he could realize that despite his issues he is precious and should never doubt himself. He is a good kid who just needs help and guidance & someone not related to tell him they believe in him and help motivate him and inspire him.
It is hard for us but I know the work I have ahead of me just to get him situated. I’m thinking the best thing for him is a change of doctors, a change of schools to a residential setting where he can hopefully thrive and live healthier. I know I can’t afford this and would have to rely on the school district to help us. I have to be the strongest advocate for my son and I need to be Emily in the process. This is not an overnight situation just like healing depression is not an overnight fix. This may take years and from what I understand with special needs children they are entitled to educational assistance and guidance until the age of 21. My son is my priority and the most important job in my life I ever had. I can no longer work at this point and I am burnt out and suffering from lifelong depression and gender dysphoria.
Other traits and attributes we need to survive have to do with the faith that we hold true to, the achievements we strive for based on our hopes, dreams and goals, the ability to cope with all that comes our way because in life as we learned we will encounter many things and not everything is pleasant. Sometime we have to suffer whether it is physical, emotional, within our control, beyond our control or all at the same time. We all will probably want to enjoy the material things which quite frankly never really affected me because I could never afford them anyway and that was not my priority in life.
Life is not about mansions or how many cars we drive or how much money we have in the bank. You think our ancestors from the stone-age cared about these material things? I don't think so!
For me what I have come to understand is that family matters and family is really all we have and family hopefully can weather adversity and difficult times. My son is my life and I would do anything for him but the one thing I need from him is his willingness to do his best, his desire to find his way with our help of course and a change from his negative outlook to a more positive one. I also want him to be mature and accountable for his actions. The last thing I ask of him is his respect of all people, his understanding that difference is ok and tolerance is a definite in approaching life and relations with others. 
I need to find strength, become the woman I always knew I would become since I realized I was a girl a long time ago and I need to find my son the help he so desperately needs and I will promise myself that I will dress as pretty as I need to. It’s not about me but I also have to take care of myself so I can take care of my son. Next time you take a plane flight you will know what I am referring to. It goes without saying.
I knew I had to be Emily and when I decided that I feel rejuvenated and since being on female hormones and testosterone blockers  for a little over a year I feel much more happier and my gender dysphoria is now being addressed in the proper way as I am seeking ongoing treatment at Beth Israel Hospital for my depression, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center for my transgender issues and the LGBT support groups in the city and near Roosevelt Field for friendship, solidarity, support and inspiration. I am making progress as the girl I always knew I was and on that front I feel great.
I am dressing pretty, going to my doctor appointments as female and essentially living full time as a woman in presentation though I still need makeup and electrolysis and have no plans for surgery. I most likely will never be able to have surgery because I need to see that my son is taken care of and that is more important than the surgery. I’m not saying I don’t need the surgery. Of course I want it but that is a sacrifice I would have to make because I hope to use the little savings I have plus my son’s college fund for his education which I hope is something that will happen for him. I want him to realize his true potential. What would be the point of my becoming Emily if my son wishes he was never born or would want to die at a young age, This truly would break Emily’s heart and then I would come to the conclusion that life is meaningless and pointless if all my struggles were just to see my son take his own life due to his suffering. What kind of messed up life is that? If that were the fate handed us then I may as well just go now because I would be devastated and then I would do what my dad did and then I would see that Life and pain are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other. That is just cold hearted reality. It just explains why suicide can be an option for some sadly. I never want to face that but I unfortunately have come to see why people do come to that point in life and rather die than suffer any more.
My poor dad, Matty's grandpa one day just decided without telling anyone and this is all conjecture on my part because on the surface he seemed ok but I believe he just stopped enjoying life despite all the wonderful things he accomplished and the family he had who loved him and we all knew he was very special and this is just all so tragic, I just can't help but cry knowing my dad hid his pain inside until he no longer could and finally reached his breaking point.
You know at 73 life is not as easy as it was at 43 but he had a life and a good one despite his pain and suffering and grieving. He lived because he knew he had to protect his family and one day he felt he no longer was needed in his mind or was seriously depressed or possibly affected by alcohol when he jumped into the path of a speeding train and changed the course of life as we know it for our family on April 16, 2009. Sure I knew my dad would die one day but the way he died and knowing my mother starved herself to death in the hospital 20 years earlier because no one could help her just makes me wonder why life has to be so painful.
That unfortunately does happen sometimes when a person says they had enough and just wishes to end their pain. Let's face it and I hate to be a downer here but as I get older I find it is not pleasant to age and if it wasn't for the sake that I was transitioning from male to female I don't know if I could go on. The only thing is if I was forced to continue life as a male which to me would be difficult to do I would have to go on to ensure my son that he would be protected. The fact is I am still needed here for my son and family. My business is not yet done as my son truly needs me. I have to be the voice of reason and although I have been in 3 different psychiatric hospitals in the past 6 months on 4 different occasions I feel I am completely sane and know what I have to do for my son. I know I am seeking help and I am very rational and I have a voice to speak with.
I have a mission that I always knew lied ahead of me and that will be mine until the day I die which is to see that my son will be, in simple terms; happy, comfortable, confident, content, sincere, honest, respectful, educated, inspirational, abundant with friendships, loved, devoted to his faith and most of all able to live his life knowing that he is very special and deserves to have a good life and be able to have the same opportunities like you, me or whoever. It took me nearly half a century to realize this in my own life and in dealing with my personal situation and personal struggle it really is very simple.
I just wish my son could see the light and have doctors on his side that can truly help him rather than the system pointing fingers and placing blame on us for no reason. Does Child Protective Services or Police realize the incredible stress and difficulty imposed on the family as an autistic child gets older and stronger and poses a danger to himself, his family and anyone near him during a crisis? I just can’t figure these agencies out and their motivation for unjustified decisions as CPS gave me an “indicated” when I was just released from two psychiatric hospitals after losing my job, getting threatening letters from the mortgage company and in the aftermath of my having a nervous breakdown and being on antidepressants and all I did was call 911 since I needed help controlling my son who was getting out of control and nearly killed me with his own hands because my poor son is sick and not able to control himself and he is getting stronger. The doctors for years diagnosed my son as high functioning. I’d like to know what they’re drinking because they clearly are not seeing the true picture and I’m afraid that I will have to die to finally get my autistic son the help he needs.
Whenever I call 911 for emergency assistance because my son is a threat to himself and to me and has held me in a death grip nearly killing me and  I can’t protect myself from that so I call for help and the police blame me and say it’s my fault and that I’m the one who should be in the hospital when it is quite clear I am crying for help for my son and no one is listening, not even the law.  Is it me or is there something not quite right with the system? My life is literally at stake and I just don’t know how much more of this pain I can stand but I feel I am getting close to breaking point which means suicide is looming. I wonder if this writing is my suicide note or my desperate pleas for help for my son. Only time will tell and unfortunately I don’t think there is much time or hope. I just feel destined for tragedy and I so waned to help my son and live as Emily. What can I say, Life is filled with too much pain and sorrow for me to continually handle. We need help and that is the plain truth.
All I came here with when I was placed into my mother’s arms by the nurse was the love of my parents and when it is my time I hope and pray that I will be comforted by my family and some friends and wish to hear my son say "Dad, (Emily) I will be ok thanks to you and mom with my wife by my side as I smile and give my son a hug for the last time and say good luck kid, I will miss you! I love you and your mommy and I just want you to be happy which is all I truly ever wanted for all of us as I close my eyes and go to sleep knowing my son will be ok and my wife too.
I refuse to go quietly into the night. Not now anyway! I have very important work to do. I need to advocate for my son.
My story and my son's and family’s story still unfolds as I write this and I am praying for a positive outcome. 
What we need is a miracle!

Emily Iannielli

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