Who am I? Should the question I ask be what am I? How am I? Sometime I don’t know what to ask, much less do I know how to answer. I’m a mystery even onto myself. I guess this phenomenon isn’t unique to myself, or other people struggling with gender or sexual identity issues. I very much doubt most people take the time to look in the mirror and wonder about the stranger staring back through the looking glass.
This can be confusing, especially as a young boy going through puberty. On the one hand you want to grow up to be a man, but then there’s this small part of you that really wants to be a woman. It’s very much like I’m two people, not really a personality disorder per se, but…it’s hard to explain since I haven’t been able to fully understand it myself!
I look in the mirror, and I see a man nearing middle age, alone, with no prospects of ever finding love again. I look puffy and old, although a cute girl at work said I only looked 28. She’s adorable! But in my eyes there is a prevalent sadness, one that was born out of years of infidelity from my ex-wife, the broken promises of my ex-girlfriend who swore she’d treat me better. There exists layers of disgust, stemming from my belief that I was not man enough, in every connotation of the word, to keep them happy. The little confidence I possessed is gone, and in its wake the only thing left is a husk, devoid of substance.
So I ask, who or what am I? We so often define ourselves by the relationships we have. I’m so and so’s husband/wife, boy/girlfriend. I’m a parent, child, sibling or friend to someone. Then we also see ourselves through the prism of our jobs, our hobbies and other activities. We label ourselves Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal or libertarian. We’re White, Black, Asian, Mexican. Then there’s religion affiliations, or lack thereof, and the list can spiral easy out of control.
Who am I?
Am I the old man staring back at me in the mirror? Am I the young confused boy not knowing what I am? Am I the woman that prays to break free from this testosterone prison? The harsh truth is that the answer to all of these questions is yes. I’m not one or the other, I’m all of them, and more. There is no simplicity in life. People are complex, and with age it gets even more complicated. Add questions about one’s identity and it makes one ready to give up.
But I trudge alone through this world. No one bothers to ask about my misery, probably because they are too busy trying to make sense out of their own pain. It is here, in the context of my bitter realization, that I have to confront the truth. I am both man and woman, and as such I am neither. I am just a pretender. How many women are strong enough to walk with me, secure enough with themselves to allow me to be me? How many can accept the man that I appear to be, and the woman that I need to be?