Thursday, November 22, 2012

A new appreciation of life

I have always believed that if we hold on to faith and truly believe in the lord and ourselves then we will be blessed in our life. If we were to examine our life to assess where we are and where we want to be I am sure we would want to fulfill all our hopes and dreams that we always held on to even since our early childhood. I am not sure why but I feel we all at one time or another succumb to our inner fears and anxieties which hold us back and prevent us from doing this. We place restrictions on what we wish to do or what we feel we can do and then we wind up getting upset, frustrated and feeling like we had never truly lived our life as we should have. No one wants to look back on their life and feel regret. We all want to feel loved and accepted and have fulfilled our dreams like everyone else feels. Sometimes we fall short of accomplishing our dreams and we lose heart and focus of what we should be doing to be truly happy.  It takes courage and a willingness to challenge yourself to bring out your very best. We all know that our very existence is predicated on our true happiness and we are all in search of that.

When I think back to my childhood I see a little boy feeling so alone and in need of a friend just to talk to and share a part of himself with. I remember quite vividly my childhood and I look upon it with positive feelings in many ways. I was very fortunate and I had very loving and nurturing parents and two sisters who were younger and very sweet and kind girls. I still felt all alone because I was going through something that was very personal, very emotional and very real and I felt very different. I don't quite know why I had such feelings but I knew they were there and that they were never gong to go away no matter how hard I tried to rid myself of them.

It is no secret now but as a child and throughout most of my life it was my biggest secret and I was afraid to talk about it or tell anyone. I was all alone on this and I couldn't even seek a doctor or someone to reveal this part of my life to. I thought that I would never know what it really means to be happy or true to myself. I thought I would have to pretend that everything was alright when deep down my very foundation as a person was rocked to its core. I was completely baffled by this and not sure what I could do. It is quite sad to feel this way especially because I did not have a life threatening illness. I just felt unhappy and did not identify very well as a young boy. I truly felt much happier dressing and being a girl. I knew since I was 4 years old that things were not right with me in how I perceived myself. I just knew instinctively what was wrong but I could not put it into words and I was very afraid. I was afraid I would be made fun of. I was afraid that I would be laughed at. I was afraid I would never have friends. Most of all I was afraid I would be found out. So I had to be good at pretending. I had to push myself to greater heights. I had to be someone who I truly wasn't inside. I had to live as a boy when my mind felt more like I was a girl. I was very conflicted and I cried quite often and spent a great part of my childhood in quiet solitude afraid to come out and be the girl I felt I was.

I even struggled with depression but I was never taken to a hospital or administered medicine. I just had to be tough with myself and I had to be a survivor. I had no choice. I was kept busy with my school work so I did not find my feelings interfered with my learning. In fact I was a very responsible student and I did well but things did not come easy to me. I really had to study and apply myself to everything. I had to be tutored in math and reading but I managed and became adept in both areas. I was good with my schoolwork and I enjoyed being challenged. This helped me tremendously. Another positive influence in my life to help me cope was my ability to do well in sports. I was naturally inclined in playing baseball and actually won a great deal of respect as a good second baseman and shortstop from my peers. I was not good enough for the pros like Derek Jeter but I could play and I really enjoyed it. This helped me to make friends and not feel so alone in my life as a young boy. I still enjoyed the time at home when I dressed up in girl's clothes. I loved to wear dresses and felt much happier and dressing helped me deal with how I felt inside.

Despite my internal struggles I managed to live a fairly normal life aside from my painful shyness and low self esteem. I loved mathematics and sports and I excelled at both. I was interested in pursuing a mechanical engineering degree and also obtaining my CPA license. I even wrote about this in a homework assignment when I was in the 9th grade on my career aspirations. I wanted to combine math, engineering and business into my working life and I pushed myself to excel in all these disciplines.

I also married a sweet girl I fell in love with at first sight. When my wife gave birth to our son I was overjoyed and I fell in love again from the moment I saw him placed into my wife's arms. It was a defining moment in my life and it gave me a wonderful sense of life and what I needed to do to protect and take care of my son and family. I was on cloud nine and I was so very proud. I struggled still but I was so happy with having a son. It was and still is my greatest moment.

As a parent we all want to see our child happy and growing normally and we become so protective and want to always ensure their safety. When they are hurting we are hurting and that is so very difficult to deal with. I see my son as only a father can. I love my son so very much and I want to always be his biggest supporter and help him especially when he needs someone to listen to him. He is now a teenager and he is going through an emotionally difficult time in his life and I too still face my inner struggle which is a very difficult thing to balance. My son is my priority as I want to always be there for him. I know I also need to help him find himself and help him find a way to be happy. I know I also strive for my inner happiness and that is my biggest source of conflict as I have to balance my son's special needs with mine. I know I am not perfect but I love my son and I will always be there for him as long as I am blessed here with my wonderful family.

My biggest awakening is my journey of transitioning to become Emily. I know it is not an easy road and I will face many challenges but I am the same person though I dress and look somewhat different. I am still a loving parent to my son and I love my wife. I am just trying to find my happiness before I die. I lost my mom as she died at 49 and I lost my dad in a tragic way to suicide three years ago which still hurts no matter how much time has elapsed. I also lost my very good friend, Moises two years ago and he was a great listener and was there for me when my dad died. The hardest thing for me was going to his funeral. He was only 40 years old and he left behind a beautiful wife and baby daughter. It was truly heartbreaking as I embraced his wife and saw his daughter praying for her daddy. I had tears streaming down my face as I struggled with his premature death. This pushed me over the edge and led me to rethink my personnal struggles and led me on my path in pursuit to be true to myself before I too must go. I need to find my happiness so I can try to help my son find his. I now go to work dressed as Emily and I am referred to as Emily. I am back and forth between Emily and Ed at home as I need to be strong for my son in his struggles with autism and battles with depression.

The hardest thing for me is to see my son going through the same painful loneliness and isolation that I went through. It really makes me feel awful and I so want to help him get his life situated and help him to conquer his fears and anxieties. It has taken me a lifetime and I am still trying to cope. I will not pretend with my son. I need to be strong and truthful with him but I also need to be his father and let him know that I can even as Emily. I also need to help him understand that life is beautiful but it is also filled with sad times too so we have to learn to cope and deal as best we can with the heartbreaks of life.

I know in my heart that I will be there for my son always until my dying day and I will always love him and his mommy as both Emily and as Ed and that Emily and Ed are the same person and will be the best she can be to a child who truly is special in so many ways and who has touched my heart and has made me realize the beauty of life despite its imperfections.

Matty, my biggest wish for you is that you have many friends, you are truly happy and you succeed in every aspect of your life and you never feel alone.

Love you always, my son.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A special development in my life

For many of us a date will have special meaning and denote a significant event in our life and we will always feel good when we reflect upon that date if it is for a happy occasion. In many instances we have several that stand out in our mind and if asked we can explain the reasons placed on those specific dates in great detail as if the events just happened. I certainly feel this way about the day when I married my beautiful wife, the day our son was born and the day I graduated college. One date which is very recent that stands out in my mind and is significant is the date of September 5, 2012. I'm sure you all may ask me why and the reason is very simple. Before I tell you why though let me share something very personal that has been a major struggle for me throughout my life.

I have struggled as you are all aware from my earlier writings from a condition called gender dysphoria and  it has been a difficult road for me in so many ways. I can certainly open up now about it and free myself from all that held me back and kept me from seeking the help I needed as a young kid. I was very scared and not sure why I had such emotional struggle and I desperately wanted to find someone to talk to or at least confide in. I had no one I felt comfortable talking to however and I felt very ashamed and all alone not even knowing how to explain my feelings to even my parents. It was a very painful time and I am wondering how I survived my youth knowing how sad and alone I felt. I never fit in and the times I did I had to truly prove myself. I had a love of baseball and I had to do my absolute best to prove I could not only play but actually compete and play at a competitive level where I even won accolades and great praise. I was really very fortunate that I enjoyed the game and had a natural ability to play. This was huge for me because it helped me to make friends and fit in where I never really knew that feeling before. It was a great feeling for me and I never wanted it to end.

As the years passed and I became a teenager my situation only worsened and I felt very alone continually with no one I could relate to. I had no one to talk to about my gender struggle and the only times I felt happy was when I secretly cross dressed and wore the clothes I felt comfortable in which were designed for girls. I was completely lost and the only times I felt peaceful and good about myself was when I imagined I was a girl wearing the pretty clothes I always felt happy wearing. I never felt comfortable as a male and I always identified as a female for virtually my whole life. I cried many times about this painful dilemma I faced on a daily basis. It was quite hard for me and I felt so alone. I do admit I had wonderful parents but I felt I could not talk to them about my most inner secret. It was tough and it made me feel hopeless and just so isolated. I can tell you that to survive i always placed importance on learning and achieving. I was a good student and I loved numbers, mathematics and science. In fact I excelled in these areas and I was a teacher's favorite. It was this that kept me going and gave me direction in my life which helped shape me and gave me something to strive for which allowed me to escape my transgender feelings for a little time.

I always lived with my transgender feelings and though I was able to carry on in my personal life I never truly could escape my situation. I tried so hard to suppress my feelings and to pretend they did not exist but I was only fooling myself and setting myself up for what was inevitable. I never knew how my transgender feelings would influence my life but I seriously felt that if I distanced myself from those feelings I would somehow manage to overcome them and find a way to live a normal life. I was always trying to manage my feelings and emotions but it was not easy and I always had to pretend to be someone I truly never could be. I knew deep down I was a girl but I had to pretend otherwise and this was very painful for me. I have lived with a heavy heart and if I could relate why I would state it as follows:

Sometimes I feel so alone and wonder why I have so much inner turmoil. I never asked for this struggle but I do know what I had to do about it since I was just a kid. If I did not find a way to deal with my transgender feelings I may not be here today quietly reflecting on how my life has turned around remarkably with truly understanding and caring people who have come to accept me and provide me with emotional support and understanding. I am one of the lucky ones!

I must say that I have come a long way since I was living secretly and in such pain. I have survived my inner struggle. Sadly many tg girls lose the fight and succumb to their emotional pain and decide to end their life. there are so many who do not find the help and support they need and sadly resort to suicide. Suicide is a very real problem in the transgender community and I have heard of so many tragedies that I feel it is important to share my feelings on this. I feel many girls going through this are all alone like I have felt and they have no one to talk to. they meet up with tremendous resistance and are made to feel awful and have to endure criticism, hatred and prejudice from those most closest to them. most have families who turn their back and look the other way. I often wonder why for us life seems so painful and so many simply don't understand us. I truly don't understand this at all since I am a peaceful, kind, caring, sensitive and compassionate person. yes, I too am transgender but that does not change the inner person. I am a truly wonderful person and sadly I had to for so many years hide her and not allow her to experience life as she certainly deserved. Life could have been so much more wonderful if I could have shared Emily with all of my family and friends so much earlier instead of feeling ashamed and afraid to live and be her. I have cried many times and just feel like my life has been so incomplete and lost in ways that you who do not face this could ever understand. I am deeply emotional about this and every time I read or hear about a tragic story surrounding the unfortunate loss of a sister who just could not bear the pain anymore I just feel so frustrated and helpless. The sad part of all this is I do understand why this happens. I was almost there myself. I would be lying if I told you the thought of suicide never entered my mind. In fact I had struggled with these feelings of sadness, hopelessness, inner pain, prejudice and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness for most of my life. I lived in hiding and very secretive for fear of being found out. I was truly scared and viewed life in a precarious way. I was in deep emotional pain and I had no one to reach out to for help or guidance. It seems that what has affected me for a lifetime is not at all understood by society and people would rather bash us and tell us we deserve to die. they view us as freaks without even trying to understand that we are kind, caring and truly wonderful people. most people don't want to have an open mind about those who are transgender and would rather make us feel awful and not worthy of living and finding our happiness. I am so outraged about society's view of transgender and why there is so very little understanding and acceptance.

Is it really that hard to grasp the idea that sometimes a little "boy" is born with feelings not shared by many typical boys? I was that little "boy" who felt most happiest in a dress while clutching on to a raggedy Ann doll. for most of my childhood I felt I was a girl but I was all alone and did not know what to do about it. I was afraid and uncertain of my life. I became very closed off and lived with a pain that would never go away. every time i saw a girl dressed and looking so cute I wanted to cry and hide away from everyone. I did not want to have these feelings and the only times I was happy was when I could dress up and be that girl. I was so alone that sometimes I just wanted to go to sleep in a pretty dress and never wake up. I truly wanted to not be here living in such pain. Somehow though, despite my feelings I did manage to survive and do wonderful things. I was a very shy kid with heart and determination and knew I had to work hard to achieve anything in my life. I knew I was alone but realized I did have wonderful parents and family. I was just too afraid to talk about my feelings with them.

Not many people understand the gender thing at all. They believe if you are born a boy you are a boy and you can never dress as a girl or express feminine feelings. They believe there is no such possibility of a boy actually feeling more like a girl. They dismiss it and feel it is completely abnormal and immediately do everything possible to stop and discourage it. They go by what seems like a mandate from society that boys do not wear dresses or play with barbie dolls. What is wrong about this is that there are sometimes little "boys" who are indeed little girls from the viewpoint of gender. Gender is what you feel and identify as. Since I was 4 years old I felt I was a girl and knew I was different and yet I could not reach out for help. I was afraid and suffered so much. Of course I wanted to die. I wanted to be free of this awful pain. I wanted to die as early as age 12 when I was not able to be that little girl I felt I was inside. I had only one source of comfort and that was the secret times I would dress up and have a chance to be that little girl.

It is my hope that I can share my experiences and teach others that being transgender is ok and we are people who deserve acceptance and our happiness too. life is not always black or white. Sometimes there are shades of grey. I pray for all the tg girls who have died in their fight to be true to themselves and I applaud the tg girls who are strong and are able to live their life as girls as they always felt they should. Life is too short for us to live in pain and hide who we truly are. It is about time people and society understand us and take into consideration our feelings and not turn a blind eye to it. It will save a life and if we can accept and tolerate each other the world would be such a better place to live.

I am on my way to transitioning and I am working as a trans woman and I am finding acceptance and understanding. It has taken a lifetime as I am now 51 years old but I am finally happy to be true to who I am. for the longest time I was not able to live like this. i am taking one day at a time and I am there for my family and I am fully supportive of my son and I always will be. I am truly sympathetic to his needs and I come from a perspective of understanding and knowing what it means to be different and misunderstood. My son is wonderful and deserves a truly happy life and I will do all I can to help him achieve this. We will both be there for each other.

Let's find it in our heart to love and accept all no matter their differences. It will definitely save a life!

This is so true and this is my view of life struggling with being transgender.

Now let me get back to the date of September 5, 2012. This date is significant for me because it is the date of my formal start in transitioning from male to female since it was my very first day working for my new employer who accepts me without question and fully supports me as being transgender. I can dress as I feel most comfortable and I was asked how I wished to dress days before my official start date and I stated simply that I wish to dress as Emily and they were delighted and very accommodating of my situation which really made me feel finally free and happy. I was so overjoyed I literally had tears in my eyes and I felt a feeling I can not put into words because I was just so overwhelmed and so happy all at the same time. It was the end to my secret and it was the beginning of a brand new start for me.

I am thrilled and will continue to share my feelings on this and on my son and his experiences. I also realize how much my son means to me and I will always need to be there to help and support him and encourage him to be his best and to never lose sight of his hopes and dreams.

I will continue to write and share our life experiences.



Friday, August 24, 2012

The importance of expression

As I reflect and start to realize all the recent developments in my life I am truly appreciative and filled with a hope I once never could imagine I would ever experience. It has been a long road filled with many obstacles and unfulfilled wishes, hopes, dreams and realities for me, personally. If I could tell you all the things I had wished and hoped to have accomplished by now my list would be very long and it would be obvious I did not live up to my intended plans. I was detoured and found myself travelling on roads that led away from where I truly needed to go. Don't ask me why? I truly planned in my heart and my mind I would take the proper steps to ensure I was heading in the right direction. I actually do know why I got detoured and lost along the road of life. The short answer is because I was afraid! I was afraid to accept my situation. I was afraid I would lose all the people I love in my life. I was afraid I would face rejection and loneliness. I was afraid I would lose my opportunity to work and practice as a professional. I was afraid of never meeting someone to marry and raise a family with. I was afraid I would not be strong enough to hold up and be strong to my convictions. In my heart I knew what I needed to do but in my mind I was not yet prepared for many reasons. In my youth I was not yet ready emotionally to embark on such a journey and was held back for family related issues.

I so desperately wanted to be understood and express what was going on inside of me but it was not that easy. You see, I never was able to ever open up about my situation and I felt all alone and the only times I felt happy was when I could get all dressed up in such pretty clothes. For me when I wore a dress I was a new person. I was completely immersed in my own version of what I thought I should be as a woman. I knew from the age of 4 that I really was a girl. It was quite obvious for me to come to this reality. For others in my life it was never obvious nor was it ever known. I never had a confidante. I could never find someone to open up to and share my secret with. I was all alone and I was scared. It was such a difficult way to live and sometimes I wonder how I managed. I can tell you that I was very good at portraying an image and pretending to be someone I could never truly identify as. I dressed the part though to me it was very difficult because I was not happy. I wore clothes that made no sense to me. Imagine a girl having to wear guys clothes her whole life never expressing her self the way she was meant to. Girls are supposed to wear pretty clothes and dress up and enjoy such wonderful things. That is how I always felt. I was supposed to wear dresses and feel pretty to match my internal feelings and needs. I could not express my true self. I was trapped with no one to turn to and I was all alone and I just wanted to cry and be heard but I was much to shy and could not speak for myself. I was not yet ready and i was not strong enough emotionally.

I withdrew from others and pretended to be happy though I was plagued with sadness and depression my whole life because I was transgender and I could not tell a single soul. I had no support system. I had no medical professional to reach out to. I felt very insecure and was always throwing myself into my school work to escape my isolation and found that I luckily was able to do pretty well. I was very serious with my studies because my parents taught me that to suceed you had to be comitted to your school work and you had to try your best always and this was a common theme for me. It was what helped me to cope and survive despite my inner pain. I was closed off emotionally but was able to carry on and forge a life though it was not what I felt or wanted. I had to create an illusion. I had to be male in my approach to life since that was my appearance and how the world perceived me. They did not know what was going on from within. How could they? How could anyone for that matter? If I was not able to express how I felt how would anyone know? I was deeply affected by this pretend game I found myself entrapped in but I did not know how to escape it other than to dress up in total isolation with no one but myself knowing. This was my reality. This was my life and I was so used to it because I knew no other way. I was frustrated. I was sad. I was dying on the inside but I had to fight it and had to pretend I was ok but i knew I wasn't. I just faked it. I was always good at faking it. I came to a point where I could no longer fake it. It was a fight of my life and for my very survival.

You don't know what it is like to want to die because the pain is so intense. I truly wanted to die and I planned my suicide on many occasions. I planned it with such careful and deliberate thought to make it seem like anything but a suicide. Deep down in my heart I never truly wanted to take my life. I just wanted  to be free of my pain. I wanted to be Emily! I would truly be so happy if everyone got to meet Emily and see what a sweet girl she is. I am that sweet girl and that is what I always knew and felt in my heart and my mind. I can't help it. It is just who I am. I can tell you that Emily is just as sweet as Edward and the two are really the same. You will see that if you just give me a chance to show you all the real me. The me I had to hide and never reveal. This to me was so very painful and so very unfair. Why did it have to be this way? Why did it have to be 47 years before I finally said enough is enough! I could not fight this anymore. If I did I certainly would die and that is not what I want at this juncture in my life. I want a fresh start. I want complete and total acceptance. I want to be free! I want to be happy! I want to be me, Emily. That is all I ever wanted. I also want my family and my friends to stick with me and realize this is what i have to do, what i need to do and what I must do to ensure my very own survival. I want to see my son grow up and become a man and go to college and marry. I want him to be happy and i want to be an active part of his life as his father and as a girl.

I will never hurt my son. I just want him to understand that life is not so simple and we all are not perfect. I want him to know I love him and I will always love him. I love his mother too, my wife who also is very special to me and with her and Matty in my life I will be so very happy! I do understand, however if my wife can not accept this and then I will have to make the painful decision to set her free so she can find her own happiness. I would never force this way of life on her. I will still support her and provide a house for her and a college education for our son. That is my responsibility which i gladly accept. She will have no fear of me leaving her. i will never abandon her. I have several life insurance policies for her and Matty in the event I die and I need to have this in place because I love my wife and I will always love my wife and my son. They mean everything to me. i want them both to be happy just like I want to be happy. That is after all what we all want in our life. i don't care about the material things. I never did. Yes I need a car and we need a house and we have those things. I realize we need that but I don't feel I need to live a life devoted to material things. I never did and I never will. I just want to be able to live my life as I need to and still be loyal to my family and have the opportunity to work, make a good living, have a career and support my family and be able to live my life as Emily.    

Life is too short to live in pain for a lifetime. I need to find my happiness and I need to transition so I can finally be me, Emily. That is all I ever wanted in my life, to finally be me.



Saturday, July 14, 2012

My thoughts on Life, Family, Struggle and Friendship

I have learned so much about life, responsibility, family, friendship, tragedy, joy and struggle. It seems we all have to have some struggles in our life just to remind us that we are human. It is what defines us and gives us character. We all must rise to the occasion no matter how difficult the situation we are in may be. Life is a testing ground and we must try our absolute best to deal with all that comes our way. We also must realize that we are not alone and that we must always seek someone to talk to when we feel like things are a bit overwhelming. We do not have to feel ashamed to seek help in our life. We all must realize that it is much better to talk our feelings to someone we trust than to keep them bottled up inside of us. What good would that do for us? It is very unhealthy to feel we have to face our problems alone and to get so down that it affects every aspect of our life. We have to be strong in our mind and know that we are just as important as anyone else and we should never let our feelings of despair bring us to a bad place. We have to trust in ourselves and believe that we can do anything we set our mind to. Life is a beautiful thing and despite the struggles we may face we must realize this because we only have one life and when we realize our own mortality we have to know that each and every day we get to wake up and share with our family and our friends is a blessing that we should always be grateful for.

I have a son who is such a joy in my life but he can certainly have his moments where he can test my patience but I understand this knowing what he deals with every day. I am very patient with him because I love him and I want to let him know that I truly understand him even though I will never really know what he is going through. The same can be said for me as my son loves me too and he accepts me for who I am even if he can never truly understand what it is like to be transgender. He still is my son and I still am his dad and that will be forever. My wife is very good with helping our son get through those difficult moments and she dedicates her life to helping autistic children which I think is a wonderful thing and I am so very proud of her and her commitment to our son and to all the autistic children and adults she helps every day on her job.

I also realize how important it is to have really good friends in our life. If we had no one to talk to we would feel very sad and it would bring us into a depression that no one ever wants to go through. It is so very painful and the best medicine for that is a good friend to talk to just to listen and understand us. We all want to have a good friend we can relate to and bear our inner most secrets to. A friend like that is hard to find and when we do find such a friend we should be truly grateful because that is a very special thing.

Family is the most important connection we have to our identity, our feeling of being safe and our need to feel loved and respected. When we have a loving and supportive family we find we can thrive in our life and we should never feel we have to face our struggles alone. We must know that our family will help us through the low points and celebrate with us the high points. We must always treasure the memories of family and appreciate the life we have. We are all special in the eyes of God and no matter what our weaknesses and frailties are we must realize that God loves us and will always understand. We just have to believe this and have faith. God will help us through any difficulty if we truly believe.

I have many views of life and what it is like to have personal struggle. For the longest time I felt all alone in my life never ever thinking things would ever be resolved but as I am older now and addressing my feelings I now realize there are people who truly do care and are there to help and that means so much to me because I have struggled for so long and felt so alone. I don't feel alone anymore and that is a wonderful feeling. I am now finally taking proper action and I know in my heart I will be much happier and a much better parent to my son and will always be there for my wife. I am not perfect but who can truly say they are? I think life is a journey that we are all traveling in our own ways and we all have to figure it out. I also am truly grateful for my friends who stand by my side and who truly understand me. I know it is very special to know that people are there for you no matter what. I will always be there for my family and my friends too, no matter what. I am grateful for my family and for my life even if it is a bit different. That is what makes us unique. Thank God for uniqueness! Life is more interesting that way. For my son I pledge to do all I can to help encourage him and guide him because my life is my son.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Transgender, Parenting and Hope

I am a loving father of a son who is autistic. I have always been supportive of both my wife and son and I am very loyal and have always been there and intend to always be there for them both for my entire life. I also have been struggling with gender all my life. I have tried to live with it and deal with it the best way I could. I have supressed my feelings through the years with occasional efforts to address my feelings in a way that confronts my dilemma. I have always wanted to transition from male to female as early as age 18 and had felt I was a girl since the age of 4 - 5 years old. Later in my life I had tried to transition from male to female when I was in my early 30's and was seeing a therapist but was talked out of it by her which was very difficult for me but I was overwhelmed with the process and not sure how to go about it so I retreated. I was still seeing the therapist over the years and felt it was important so I could express my feelings. I was still living with my transgender feelings but tried as best I could to supress them and hopefully mask them and live as I was supposed to. It was not easy for me but I didn't know any other way. I was dressing as often as I could in womens clothing but it was in secret and all in complete isolation.

I was introduced to this "very cute Filippino girl" who I would eventually marry after meeting her which was arranged by my therapist and I was immediately attracted to her. I was very shy my entire life and I feel a lot of it was attributed to my transgender feelings. I very rarely dated girls but felt attracted to them and I always admired the way they were strong and how beautiful they looked. I also loved the clothes they wore and felt more connected to them in a way that most guys do not. I felt more like one of them and I was very attracted to the kinds of clothes they wore. I was very content when I could dress and it felt right for me too. I was living in pain though as I was not able to tell anyone how I truly felt inside and it was taking its toll on my mental state. I tried to find peace and dressing was my way of dealing with my situation.

Life is a wonderful gift and we all should be happy and appreciative for what we have and I can truly say I have a lot to be grateful for but I always felt I was born with a girl's mind and a boy's body which really caused a great deal of confusion and sadness for me. I was very upset and I cried a lot over it. I felt all alone and very isolated and I always wondered why I had to live with such pain. It was a pain I knew very well but no one else did because I hid it as best I could and pretended through a low key and sensible way of interacting with others. I tried to develop a sense of humor as well though I was very serious in how I approached life. I also lived 2 very distinctive lives. In private I was a girl dressing as often as I could in total secrecy and in public I was one of the guys playing the role I was entrapped in. I truly felt free as a girl and smothered as a guy. I felt so upset sometimes I just wanted to die but I forged on dealing with my transgender issues hoping one day I would realize my hope of becoming a woman to fulfill my needs and to cure my gender dysphoria.

As I am married, a parent and a working professional I realize my life has meaning and value. I truly love my wife and son and am grateful for the employer I have and the people I work with who are very dedicated and hard working professionals. I am very lucky and yet I feel such emptiness not being able to express the real me and dress the way I should, as a woman. I have struggled with these feelings all my life and it is so hard to find a sense of peace when this is an every day occurrence for me. I struggle with my gender today as I did when I was a 4 year old. Those feelings never truly go away and I have tried many times to deny them to no avail. Therapy really just makes me realize more how much I am struggling with my gender and my therapist agrees I am a male to female transsexual and I must move forward in transitioning for my own happiness. As I am in my early 50's my time clock is ticking away and this is my last chance to transition and find my true sense of happiness and match my physical presence with my mental grasp of being a female. I am truly transgendered and my only chance at being happy aside from seeing my son graduate college, find a career and marry is my transtioning to become a woman.

I wish I was not transgendered but what good will that do for me. I have lived in denial for so long and now that I have come to accept who I am and have found people who can help me I have a sense of some peace now as I start on my transition. I also realize how much my family mean to me and I will still be there for them and hopefully we can work through all the confusion that will occur. I am new to all of this but I feel it is far better being the woman I have always felt I was rather than a victim of a broken heart. I pray that everything will work out and we all will find peace as I go through my own personal journey of self discovery.

I also will stand strong and proud and I will be there for my wife and son and I will still have the very same work ethic I always have. I will not change and I will be happier as I finally live as I truly felt inside all my life. I just hope all the people in my life will understand me and accept me because I will still be that sensitive, caring and honorable person and I will also finally be the real me.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Monday, May 14, 2012

Coming to terms with my situation so I can help my son

As I write my blog entries I find it important to focus on my son and all that he goes through in his daily life encountering a world he only sees and one that most of us don't understand because we are not autistic. I am trying to give my son the love and support he needs and I find that no matter how hard I try to understand what goes through his mind I will never know what it is like to be autistic but I know I love my son and I will do everything in my power to help him in every way I can.

I do have experience in my own life where I have struggled and found myself not being truthful or open with my family with my own personal situation. I sometimes wonder why I had to bear such pain and feel so alone. I can certainly relate to my son in many ways because I too felt all alone as a child and I felt I could not talk about my inner feelings. I felt painfully shy and isolated because when you have feelings you are different from others you tend to keep them bottled up and repress them and you find yourself all alone with no one to share them with. When I think back to my childhood I remember a 5 year old kid who was very shy and felt all alone. I remember when I tried one of my sister's dresses on that was hanging in the laundry room I was very excited and happy. I remember this as if it was only yesterday and it was a life changing moment for me. It is very rare to equate something that happened at such a young age as a life defining moment but I say this because it is very true. I remember as a young child that the times I was most happiest was when I was wearing girl's clothes. I did not understand at the time why I was more comfortable dressed this way but I knew it made me happy and I did not fight it. I remember crying myself to sleep many nights and the only times I did not cry was when I was dressed. I was a different child when I was dressed in girl's clothes and I was so happy. 

For years it was like this for me and I remember not wanting to take the girl's clothes off. I always was content at night when I was dressed and I felt natural and that it was so right for me to be wearing girl's clothes. I felt the clothes were a way to be in touch with the girl I felt I was. I wondered why I had such feelings and it was quite a struggle for me and it was a very confusing time as I approached my teenage years. I remember being very depressed as my voice started to change and I started growing as a typical male while my friends who were girls were blossoming into young women. I cried so much during these years because I was so desperate to become a girl and I knew that it wasn't going to happen. It was the time I really wanted to die because I felt cheated in my life. I felt that I was cursed with a female mind and a body that wasn't true to who I was. After struggling with these feelings I had to find a way to learn what was going on with me. I remember a breakthrough I had when I was at the local library and I read an article about Christine Jorgensen who was a male to female transsexual. I knew when I read her story I could relate and that I too was so inclined to be considered transsexual. I really did not fully understand the gravity of the situation but I knew I had to explore what I needed to do. I was always trying to read all I could about transgender and transsexualism and I remember reading about Dr. Harry Benjamin who was an expert in this area and he prescibed a protocol that transgendered individuals must adhere to before they are considered for hormone treatments and sex reassignment surgery.

Life for me was like a mine field. I was doomed no matter what! I was either forced to live my life out as a male until I die which to me is not what I want or I begin the process to transition so I can find true happiness and match my physical presence with my inner feelings. It would be a long road I would have to travel and it would be a rocky one at best. To me transgendered individuals are people who are misunderstood and I believe they should be treated with love and compassion. It is a very real medical condition and it affects a good number of people and most transgendered people are married with families who are hard working people, professional and special in so many ways. I believe it is time that transgendered individuals start to find acceptance and respect. There should never be shame or guilt associated with being transgender. As I write this I feel that I am finally being honest with who I am and I am finally coming to terms with it. It has taken me so long to find an inner peace and self acceptance. I have always known of my situation but I tried to deny it and repress it because I felt tremendous guilt and shame. I was also trying to escape this most difficult situation and had considered finding a way out so I did not have to live in pain. I wanted desperately to tell someone and find acceptance. I could not do this alone anymore. It was killing me and taking all the good I could give away. I was finding myself hoping to die to escape the pain and lonely isolation.

I have always valued my family and I am slowly gaining acceptance from my wife and son. I have discussed my feelings and the pain I felt all throughout my life with them both. I am so very proud of my son because he understands and he is very sympathetic. It is very difficult for me to express this side of me with my son but I feel it is very important to do so and it is something my therapist said I need to do. My wife has known for a while but she was hoping it was a phase. It was never a phase for me. I knew from the beginning that I had no control over this. I was born this way. I would never choose to be transgendered. I am transgendered because God made me this way.  It is not easy to identify as transgendered and I only hope that I can find acceptance in all aspects of my life so I can make the right decisions that will help me to be a better person and find what I always needed which is a good support system to help me transition to become a female which is what I have always been in my mind. I did not choose to be transgendered but I have to do what I have to otherwise I will lose the will to go on and most certainly will die of a broken heart if I was forced to live the rest of my life as a male which is not what I am in my mind, my heart and my soul. Once I am whole and can relate as a female completely I feel I will be a much happier person and I will be more able to help my son and that is what I have always wanted from the beginning since I started writing this blog. I find the title of the blog a bit ironic but even if I am able to transition to become a female which to me is a necessity I will still be the father to my son only I will appear more feminine and will be much more content. I believe in my mind, my heart and my soul I will be far more able to help my son as a woman and I will still be his biggest supporter and I will always love him and my wife with all my heart. I am transgendered but that does not change who I am as a person. I am still a loving, caring and hard working person and I will still be that same person only I will be much more happier and I will then be able to support my son in ways I could not in the past. My blog will still be a resource I use to help my son and I will still continue to write and I will still be as expressive in my writing and the love I hold within my heart for my son and family.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Autism Awareness

I have been very truthful in my writings and I write from the perspective of a father who has a son on the autistic spectrum. I know how to convey my feelings in this format and I find it helpful in expressing what is happening in our son's life. I am directly impacted by his setbacks and wish to try to help him through them. It is not easy to be a quiet observer when you realize you need to do the best for your child. I am not always sure what is best for my son but I know I want to do all I can for him. I started my blog with the intentions of finding an outlet to express my feelings and share my experiences of raising our son as he navigates life and explores life outside of the home.

I have had the special privilege of being contacted by Ms. Jodi Bakken who found my blog and expressed her interest in what I shared about raising an autistic child. She also shared the good news that my blog was going to be selected as one of ten parent blogs that would be showcased on the website she represents called They are actively involved in raising awareness for autism and wanted to share personal blogs from parents raising autistic children.

April is Autism Awareness month and it is very important to educate others whether they are parents of autistic children, educators, siblings of autistic children, the medical community and families who experience life with autism every day. We all must learn to understand what autistic children have to deal with on a daily basis. It is very difficult to understand what autistic children go through but if you spend time with an autistic child and try to understand what is going on in their life you would then find ways to try to help them and understand their situation. It is truly a challenge at times trying to understand and cope with the day to day happenings. Autistic children can have some major hurdles to overcome and it is a parent who must learn to step up and take proper action and they must learn to find a support network that will not only help their child on the spectrum but will help each parent to understand what is going on and to find comfort in knowing they are not alone and can find others who can help shed light on raising and providing autistic children with the love and nurturing they need which hopefully will help to turn their life around.

I am so happy to meet people like Jodi who certainly is doing her part in helping raise Autism Awareness and she and her staff have selected ten wonderful blogs that help shed light on what it is like to raise an autistic child today. I am very happy to share my experiences and I am dedicated to helping my son and provide him with the love and support that a parent can. I know I have my own issues that I must deal with but that will not affect my love and support for my son and my wife. We are in it together as loving parents to our son and we always want what is best for him.

I look upon my writing as important and therapeutic and a journal that hopefully my son will come to appreciate and read. I want him to know how much I love him and his mommy and that we are all in this together and will always be. It is my intention to put my son through college while my wife will be supportive to our son in ways that I can't. I also will be more open minded and also very supportive and try as best I can to understand that things will never be perfect. I am not perfect so how can I expect my son to be. I have to understand we all have to be true to who we are and we must be responsible for our children and teach them to understand what they face in their life and we must learn to listen and find the proper help they need.

I am sharing the link to healthism and proudly applaud Jodi for her involvement and her commitment in helping all autistic children, one child at a time.

I will continue to write and express my feelings on my son and his day to day life and his medical diagnosis. I will also gladly showcase the efforts and beautiful work of my new friend, Jodi and am glad there are people like her working to raise awareness for these beautiful autistic children and their loving families.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's not just a game! It's a whole lot more!

I have been touched by a baseball game my son was part of this past weekend. My wife and I have been trying to help our son find a way to be involved and learn new skills, have fun and make a friend or 2. I did not know what to expect when enrolling our son in the Challenger League in East Meadow, New York. I was a bit nervous as my son has never played an organized game of baseball before. I have had a few catches with him in the back yard but it was not something he really showed interest in.

I seemed to be more excited the day of his very first game then he was and I wanted to make sure we got to the ball field early so we could practice and I could help him start to develop the proper skills in catching and throwing. Hitting I would need to focus on later and obviously would need one of the coaches to help him as well.

When I was a kid the game of baseball was something I had a passion for. I always had an appreciation for the game and I was hoping my son would also find his passion but it seems he needs a little encouragement and our involvement and guidance. I was proud to see my son in his uniform and felt that he would at the very least find some fun and enjoyment from his experience playing. I was not sure what to expect but I felt it was well worth the effort to get him there and playing despite his reluctance. I did not want to force him to play but I know how he is searching to make friends and I felt this certainly was an opportunity for him to at least connect hopefully with some of the kids.

The complex where the baseball fields and the field house are located is very impressive. There are four baseball fields and they always are occupied during the spring, summer and fall seasons. As we took the field to start having a catch I noticed parents and their children starting to gather on the field each doing pretty much the same thing I was doing with my son. I want to instill in my son confidence and a belief that he can learn and develop the skills required in baseball and if he can master these skills he most certainly can master the skills he will need in other areas and especially in life. The game of baseball is one of the most common games played by so many kids and I always took it for granted not realizing that the game would have an even bigger meaning for the kids I would see today playing including my son.

My son has Asperger's and he certainly has his challenges and to this point we have been trying to find a sport or activity where our son would benefit from participating. When I saw the kids gathering at the field I was touched very deeply and emotionally as I saw kids just like my son who were autistic and I saw kids with a diversity of challenges. I saw kids in wheel chairs, I saw kids with cerebral palsy, I saw kids with downs syndrome, I saw kids with leg braces, I saw kids of all sizes, some very tall and over weight and some very small and petite. I saw boys, I saw girls and I saw young kids who wanted to just play and have fun.

I literally had tears in my eyes seeing how these kids had such challenges yet just wanted to be involved in a game of baseball. For me this game started to take on a more important meaning then what I remembered when I was a kid playing little league baseball. It seemed to me these kids normally would be passed up and would never have such an opportunity but this league was so very different because this league actually encouraged these kid to come and play. It was a very heart warming experience and I was so delighted that my son was a part of it.

As the coaches started to ready the field for play they had the buddies assigned to each kid participating and these buddies were kids who have had experience playing the game and had excellent playing skills and were very involved in providing support and encouragement. My son had a buddy paired off with him and he introduced himself to both my son and I. I was impressed with his maturity and his level of skill. He started to have a catch with my son explaining to him how to properly position himself and his glove when catching. I was happy that my son had this one on one interaction and I was no longer worried. I was very delighted and saw what sets this league apart from the traditional leagues. This league is devoted to special needs children and the coaches are actively involved in the game and in making sure each and every kid gets up to hit and are positioned in the field. The coaches pitch the ball in a way that helps enable these kids to hit and run the bases. The game is not about competition. It is about these kids learning and developing skills and having fun and being encouraged every step of the way by their buddies and all the coaches, staff and parents.

I saw kids come up to bat who seemed to struggle at the plate but the emphasis was that each kid get a chance to hit the ball and to get on base. I was excited when my son got up to bat. He had a good stance and he managed to hit the ball after a few swings and I was so proud of him as I heard all the coaches and his buddy and all the parents cheering. It was an incredible experience and I was so happy we signed our son up for this league. The founder of the league is very committed and wants to see all these children have fun and succeed. It is such a wonderful opportunity for these kids and I was inspired so much that I wanted to share this with all of you.

The game was a three inning game and it took on a dimension different from what I was used to but I understood why and I was very grateful because these kids need encouragement and nurturing and competition is not what these games are about.

I was so happy for Matty and I will be there with him next week looking forward to the next scheduled game. After the game I shook the hands of some of the coaches and my son's buddy offering my thanks and appreciation and my son and I then went to McDonald's for lunch.

What I very much enjoyed about this game was seeing the smiles on all these kids faces including my son's. These kids all have their own challenges but for those three innings of organized play they had a chance to be kids just like any other and they were all having fun and learning something very valuable. It was very touching and i was emotionally impacted by the wonderful experience and my son got to play his very first game with such wonderful kids. It really made our day.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reflections on Being different, Autism and Life

We all have times in our life where we must have quiet introspection. It is very important that we understand and learn how we are influenced and affected by things happening in our lives. As young children we may find that we may feel different and that we are alone most of the time. We may not wish to change our ways but we have to understand what it is that is causing us to feel the way we do. We may never really know what it is that causes us to feel different but we must learn to adapt and find ways to deal with our situation. We may feel we are alone and have no one to talk to about it. This makes it very hard because we then find we must suppress what we are trying with our heart and soul to understand. I remember as a child not truly understanding what was going on in my life and harboring a secret that I could not talk about. I denied and repressed all throughout my childhood and my adult life but it never goes away and the feelings we have as small children tend to remain with us even when we grow into adulthood. We just need to find acceptance and try to understand that we are ok and there should never be any shame associated with our feelings. We sometimes can not help what it is that we are feeling. It is just an inherent part of who we are. If we can come to terms with it then we will find self acceptance and will be able to find our way. We also need to have approval and acceptance from our family and friends and this is not always so easy. We can open up and discuss it and hopefully find a sympathetic ear. We all want to be loved and accepted for who we are.

I as a father know what it is like to feel empathy and concern. I have a deep desire to help my son who struggles with his autism and it breaks my heart to see my son struggle. I am a very caring and compassionate person and I would do anything to help my son. He is my life and he means the world to me. My life is so much more complete because of my son.

I also have a desire to make things right for him in every way I can but I am no expert and I am just a father who sometimes feels helpless in what is best for our son. My wife sometimes is stronger in her ability to maintain calmness and keep things together where I am sometimes more emotional and expressive of my feelings. I need to be this way because I can not keep things bottled up inside. I have done that all throughout my life dealing with my own issues. I am not perfect but I am a very loving and caring father and I would never do anything to hurt my son or my family. I just sometimes have a hard time knowing what is the best thing to do to help our son. I have cried many times when I see my son have difficulty and get so frustrated that he feels he has no chance of fitting in. I want my son to always feel confident and believe in himself. He is a remarkable kid and I know that. I just wish he would realize that.

I was very shy too growing up so I know what my son is going through and he is now at a difficult age so I feel for him. I want him to come to me and talk and express what is going on in his life. I don't want him to feel alone. I want him to know that his mom and dad are there for him and will do our very best to help and advise him. I am so very proud of him in so many ways and when I see him smiling and happy I am happy too. I live to see my son happy and I want what is best for him. I realize life is not always perfect and we have to deal with things in our life. I know I too have things I deal with and need to reach out to others when I can not do it alone. I want my son to realize he too needs to recognize when he needs help and guidance and he should never feel afraid to ask for it. I will always make it my priority to be there for him and I recognize his needs and I want him to feel comfortable talking with me about anything and everything.

One of the main things we should always maintain with our family is complete honesty and a sense of hope and faith. We must teach this and never let our children feel alone. We do sometimes feel alone growing up which is normal but we must try to help find a healthy balance where we can overcome the obstacles we face and break down the barriers that hold us back. We only get one life so we want to make the most of it and we want most of all to find happiness and acceptance. We all need that in our life and it is what makes us thrive and become the best we can.

I was so very proud of my son today when he steped onto the baseball diamond today in his first ever little league baseball game. He is 13 and is in a special league for kids with disabilities and other emotional isses. It warmed my heart when I saw all these kids participating. My son was paired off with a buddy also to help him learn some of the fundamentals. It was an incredible day and I am so grateful to all the coaches, the buddies and all the kids who all deserve to be there. They have just as much a right to enjoy the game and play and participate. I was so proud of my son and I feel happy that he was able to experience this. I am looking forward to the next game and I feel he will benefit by the experience and he will learn the game and have some fun. We are very grateful for the league and thank all those responsible who dedicate their time and efforts in helping these wonderful kids. I had tears in my eyes at times watching some of these kids who have incredible challenges and were there playing. It was a very emotional day and I am glad I got to share it with my son.

After all this is what we live for. We want our children to find something they like and we want them to be happy. I am not sure if baseball will always be my son's area of interest but we have to try and if he can learn and have fun and make a friend or two then it is all worth it.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Self Expression and Liking yourself

The ability to express yourself and finding things you like to do are so important in growing and discovering what life is all about. We all have times when we get down on ourselves and we feel bored and just want to hide in our room and never come out. I remember having these feelings as a child when I felt alone or had nothing to do. As a kid we are looking to our parents, our teachers, our family, our friends and those we trust for guidance, to learn and seek advice from. Sometimes we feel we are uncertain as to what we are trying to learn or accomplish. We as children need to have consistency in our lives and we need to feel loved, protected and respected. We may not always feel happy but it is very important that we understand the "big picture". Life is not perfect but it is the greatest thing we could ever hope for. We are given an incredible opportunity to experience and live our lives and hopefully we will find that if we have patience, learn respect, and never give up when we feel like doing so we will benefit tremendously and our lives will start to take shape and we will start to develop and mature along the way.

I try to instill in my son this same ideal and it can be a challenge at times because he sees and interprets things much differently and he is very easily distracted and loses focus. An autistic child has a disconnect and easily gets upset and frustrated. As a result they have more difficulties concentrating, being attentive and exploring outside of their self imposed boundaries. We see it most of the time with our son. He is now trying to develop friendships and as a teenager it seems more difficult for him to relate with kids his age. It is not easy for kids growing up today but like we did when we realized what lied ahead of us, we must provide our kids with sound advice with regard to their personal development, their education and their social encounters. As a father I have learned that patience and understanding is so important in establishing effective communication with your children. There are times when you feel your children are growing up way too fast and are trying to exert their independence way too soon. I see it with my son as he wants to stay up when we say it is bedtime. He will get very upset and will become difficult. It seems this has been a regular occurrence as he does not want to go to bed. He seems to have a sleep disorder which seems to be somewhat common with other autistic children as they have so much stimuli and find it hard to totally shut down.

The life of a teen can be a difficult time as there are so many things to deal with and it is also a time of awakening physically and sexually. Teens desire to experience friendships, relationships and it is critical they develop a healthy sense of themselves with a high self worth that will enable them to meet the challenges they face and achieve all they wish to. All children growing up must learn to have patience and they must realize that anything worthwhile is certainly worth the effort. They must also learn to like themselves and feel good about who they are. If they have self acceptance then they will be able to forge healthy relationships with both boys and girls. If a child is content and finds happiness in the things they do then things will naturally fall into place.

Parents must always be there for their children and they need to spend time with them, listen to them, encourage them, teach them, guide them, help them, support them and love them unconditionally. When a child feels love and security in the home they will learn to love themselves and they will develop confidence and will be able to establish healthy relationships and develop friendships. As a parent of a special needs child I find I am trying to over protect my son and it seems my son realizes this as he brings it to my attention. I only want what is best for my son and I will do anything for him. I just want to be there for him and help him so he can grow and develop normally and find a good sense of himself so he can feel good, find interests and have many friends. I also believe we have to learn to let go sometimes and let our children feel free to explore and learn on their own too. We can not control our children but we must point them in the right direction so they can make wise choices and not be afraid to venture out and try new things. I too am learning and we do indeed learn from our children as well.

I have wishes and dreams for my son and I want him to know that we love him and will always try our best to help him and we make a promise to be with him for as long as we are able to and if I can show him the way by setting a good example and with my writing then I will have some comfort and peace of mind because as a parent we always want to be there for our children and teach them right from wrong and help provide for them so they will be able to set out for themselves one day and not be afraid. I want my son to believe in himself, love himself and freely express himself so he can truly find happiness and success in his life. This will bring us great joy.  

Matty, always take heart and believe for you are very special and you deserve the best in your life. We love you so much and we will always love you. May you always know this in your heart and may you never feel alone.


Mommy and Daddy

Edward D. Iannielli III

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Understanding our own Mortality

It is sometimes hard to understand why and it is one of the greatest mysteries as to when, where and how. We all know we have to face the reality of our own mortality and must eventually make peace and accept the inevitable that we too will die one day. Life is unpredictable for most of us who are blessed to be born and live our life as God intended us to. I sometimes wonder what it is like for someone who is diagnosed with a terminal illness and is given a finite time to live. In essence they are aware now as advised by medical doctors that they will die. Is it any easier for them now that the mystery is gone to some degree? Does knowing you will die in a certain time frame make it any easier or does knowing make you feel more anxious and depressed? Does someone in this situation start to feel sorry for them self and lose hope or do they try to manage to smile and live what ever amount of time they have left? It's really hard to know unless you are in that situation. I also wonder what it is like for someone who had been told they would die in a relatively short time frame but wound up beating the illness and making a full recovery. What is it like for them now that they had cheated death? Do they feel invincible or do they still wonder if they will eventually run out of time and will die as they had been told?

Does knowing allow you to be prepared and try to capture the remaining moments in a more special way. The make a wish foundation allows for children who are diagnosed with a terminal illness the chance to live a dream before they die which is very special and heartwarming. Although it is very difficult to face the end for someone we love we try to live and accept the situation as best we can for the sake of the person who is going through it and we try to support them as best we can and love them and hold them for as long as we can holding back our tears.

I believe when it is our time to die we will instinctively know it and hopefully we will have experienced a full life filled with love, happiness, joy, success, friendship and a loving family. We know that the hardest part in coming to terms with this is that we will no longer be an integral part of the lives of others who mean so much to us. If we have children we will worry for their care and their future. If we have to die when our children are still young then it is a tremendous burden we take with us and how can we die in peace with so many unknowns. I believe the younger we are when we die the more we feel that we had not been given the chance to live and do all that we wanted and hoped to do. I feel for young children who die so young never really experiencing life. It must be such a heartbreak to the parents when they lose a child. How can a child be so brave knowing they will die? I have seen children in the cancer ward undergoing chemotherapy treatments but they still manage to smile and are happy when their family and friends visit and bring them a present as they are still kids though they are faced with such a hard thing to deal with. A part of me cries for them as I realize they are most likely going to die young.

I will never forget attending a funeral of a friend's baby daughter. She had just celebrated her second birthday but had lived all her days under nurses care due to a seizure disorder. Her parents were very loving and caring and so devoted to their baby girl. It was the hardest thing seeing the little white baby coffin and the precious family pictures. I cried many times that day as I tried to offer words of consolation to my friend and his wife. The tragedy affected me so much that I had to get away so I went to the happiest place on earth. I went to Disney World to try to find a sense of happiness as I felt so sad for my friend and his family after losing their beautiful little baby girl. It was such a heart break to me as I was good friends of the family.

The tragedies that surround death are also heart breaking. We hear it every day or sometimes come upon it as we drive past an accident scene. It really makes you wonder why. It just seems so hard to comprehend how one moment someone is saying good bye to their loved ones and the next they are fighting for their life or are pronounced dead at an accident scene. They had no way of knowing this would be their fate until the moment up until it happened. What could be going through their mind at that instant in time.

What goes through the mind of someone who decides they had enough and feels their only way out is suicide? It is very sad when someone feels so alone and in despair that the only way they will escape their pain or hopeless situation is by taking their life. The hardest thing to come to terms with is the loss of a loved one to suicide. I have tried to put my father's tragic death into proper perspective and I feel very sad of the circumstances surrounding it as I wonder if the outcome could have been different if I had sat and spoke with him that fateful day. I try to find solace but a part of me feels the pain that he could not express to us. I have gone through so many emotions and feel guilty that I wasn't there for my father in his greatest time of need.

I also felt that way when I visited my mother at the hospital when she lost her will to live and just withered away. I tried to be strong and made my daily visits to see her even though I felt the situation was bleak. It is so very difficult facing the reality that you are about to lose someone very special to you. You try to believe that everything will be ok and you hope and pray for that but you know in your heart that you are about to lose your loved one. When I found out my mother had died I just cried and cried and I really never did get to say goodbye as I had wished to. I visited her every day but she was not aware of our visits. On occasion though I did feel her faintly squeeze my hand but I could tell her body was so weak and it was just a matter of time. My mom was only 50 years old when she passed.

I have experienced death of loved ones through the years and as I spend time with my wife and son I try to hold on to these precious moments and enjoy them because they are fleeting. Our son is special needs and is autistic and he has difficulty in social situations. My main emphasis is to spend as much time with him as I possibly can and instill in him the strength and courage he will need to help him find himself and live his life with a sense of hope and promise. I want him to be his own person, confident, happy and able to take care of himself. I prepare now for the time when I won't be there and the peace of mind I look for is that I have enough in life insurance to protect my son and wife in the event of my death.

Of course we feel we will be around for a while and we avoid any such discussions of death and life insurance but the reality is that we need to plan for our family because we just never know. I have lost two wonderful friends this past year and was in complete shock when I learned of their untimely deaths. I certainly did not expect to hear such news nor did their families but sadly it was true and I just felt so sad. I lost a friend who was about to celebrate his 40th birthday in a couple of months and he died in his sleep leaving behind a wife and a 3 year old daughter. I sometimes wonder why we have to endure such emotional pain in our lives and why we have to lose our loved ones so unexpectedly. Another friend who I had lost touch with but considered a good friend had died of a heart attack. He was only 35 years old and was planning to marry later that year but it was his time to go. It just makes you think and wonder when the ride will end for us when we see it come to an end for friends we once talked with and had good times with.

I remember the first time I was touched by the death of a friend. I was 17 years old and I had just found out from a high school friend by telephone that one of our class mates had died in a horrible car accident while visiting a college campus for an interview to attend in the fall. I was devastated and will never forget it for as long as I live. Every now and then I think about my poor friend Scott who died way to young. He had so much promise and hopes for a bright future but it was not to be.

This is a very sad story to share and I did not know the people involved but I remember hearing it in the news and it was very tragic and it was something that affected me that I talked of it when I had visited a psychologist years later after dealing with my mother's death. I consider myself a very caring person both sensitive and strong but this really made me upset and depressed even though I was not a relative or friend of the families involved.

We all think of our wedding day as the most exciting and happiest of occasions and for virtually everyone it is but in life there are tragedies that occur and sometimes they occur on a wedding day also. The bride and groom had just taken their vows and were now husband and wife and they were now enroute to their wedding reception in Long Beach Long Island and were making the turn into the parking lot where the reception was to be held when a young driver of 21 was drag racing down the roadway and collided head on with the limousine. It was April 3, 1987 and the tragic results was that the groom and his brother, the best man were killed at the scene and the bride died later on at the hospital. The limo driver and the bride's sister were both injured but they survived. The driver of the speeding car also survived but he was responsible for the tragic deaths of the bride, groom and best man. It was one of the saddest stories I had ever learned about and I could not help but wonder why such a tragedy had to occur on a day when all was supposed to be joyful and beautiful.

I feel deeply connected to my family and friends and I am living and doing all I can for my son hoping that I will be there for him to share in his ups and downs, his successes and celebrate alongside him, my wife and family when he graduates and goes on to college. I don't know what the future holds but I must live my life with the belief that I will be there for my wife and son for as long as I can and hopefully will be there to see our son graduate college, marry his beautiful bride and welcome a baby into the world. This is what I live for as I start to take stock of my life and wonder what the future holds.

So as I relate all this I realize that life is not perfect but it is a wonderful gift we have been given and although we may not always feel happy we should live each day with wonder and joy in our heart because we really do not know what tomorrow will bring and we must appreciate that we are alive and with our family and friends amongst us which is truly wonderful because it will not always be this way. We must truly appreciate it now when we have it. I remember my parents and how they loved me and made me always feel good and now that they are gone I only have memories which may be distant but they are still in my heart. I am well aware I will die one day so I will try my best to live and do all I can as I do not want regrets when it is my time to say goodbye.

As I write this I have just learned of the sad news of the passing of Whitney Houston who was a tremendous woman and very talented singer and I feel heartbroken. She was just 48 years old and was planning on attending the Grammy awards show. She will be missed and I'm sure will be honored at the event. My prayers and thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time.

I love you Maria, Matty and all who are special to me.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Autism with a slice of optimism

A little boy sits at his computer staring at the screen as he dreams up a story he wishes to write about. It is not easy for him but it is something he finds fascinating. It is his way to express what he can not verbalize. He loves the creative aspect of arranging words into a story that can be whatever he wants it to be. He can have fun with it and use his imagination to portray something of great importance to him. In essence he is telling a story of his life and he wants to be noticed and given the attention he so desperately seeks. He wants to be acknowledged and accepted and most of all he wants to feel good about himself and what he has written in his own words. He does not speak but is very pensive, he does not laugh, he does not cry, He sits in silence, he does not have a friend to play with and this makes him feel sad and a bit lonely at times, he displays very little emotion yet he wants to be hugged. He tries real hard to focus and concentrate on his writing as he listens to music and compiles lists of his favorite songs and artists that keeps him interested and hopeful.

He is a sensitive child and he has an innocence that is a true blessing. The music is what makes him happy and allows him to find comfort and helps to drown out the silence he has grown so accustomed to in his short life. His parents love and cherish him and they shed tears that he is unable to. It is so hard to see this precious little boy so alone and in a world that only he sees. Why is it that a child so young has such difficulties? A little child laughs, cries, points, talks and makes friends along the way. A little autistic child too can laugh, cry, make friends and be heard. They don't have to live in total silence. Autism is many things to many people. We don't fully understand the magnitude or the dynamics of it but we do know the disappointment, the sorrow, the heartbreak, the fear, the frustration, the loneliness and the painful isolation. It does not have to be this way. We just have to find something that gives us joy and hope. No one has to live this way. They have to find an inner strength and they have to be nurtured, loved, heard, taught, encouraged, praised and hugged every day.

If I could teach my son and show him the way so he can break free from what holds him back I would feel much more hopeful. We have to always be guided by our faith and our heart. Our children provide us with lessons to learn of life too. We surely must listen and be attentive to our children and live in the moment because that is all we really have in life. Our lives are always moving at a pace we can never truly grasp or comprehend. Before we know it our precious little baby is now a child full of wonder and hope. It is our actions as parents that help to shape our child and we are always learning. Both child and parent share a unique bond that is built upon a foundation of love, hope, patience, virtue and experience. We must impart what we learn in our lives to our children and let them experience life in their way so they can learn and understand. We may not always know the answer but we must try our best to listen, understand and guide our child as we are meant to so they can learn and understand as they grow and develop. No child must feel alone. All children must feel loved and encouraged so they can find a sense of belonging and develop a feeling of self worth.

I often wonder what it is that makes us act and behave the way we do. For most of us we don't know what it is like to be autistic. We may have struggled with our own insecurities resulting from shyness, isolation and painful rejection. Therefore we can come to understand what autistic children may feel in their day to day life. For most children it is not easy coming of age. We all have a wide range of emotions and feelings we experience as we start to grow and mature. Childhood can be both a joy and a time of loneliness. We all must realize that this time in our life is fleeting and before we know it we are thrust into having to abide by rules and living in a formal structured way. It is not so easy and it takes time to adjust. For autistic children it is more difficult to find their way and when they lack the ability to connect socially they tend to withdraw and live in silence and a world unto themselves. It is very important to help encourage and teach an autistic child to believe and to find something that they enjoy. We must teach them to have hope and feel good about themselves. We must help them to appreciate things and to not feel all alone. We must help them to write their story and to dream. We must teach them how to accept themselves so they can find true friendship. We must lead by example as parents and we must always be optimistic and we must share this optimism with our children. Children learn from their parents and they pick up on all types of cues so we must always be careful with what we say, how we say it and when we say it. We must always be understanding, have patience and provide words of wisdom always. I will always encourage my son in every way I possibly can. As he writes a story or does an assignment or just has a question I will be there to help him, teach him and provide him with the love and support he needs with a slice of optimism added in for good measure.

Edward D. Iannielli III