Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Struggle is part of our Life and we must be strong within

 
 
 

 

In Life all we can do is try our best to give everything the attention it deserves, to work hard enough to enjoy our accomplishments but not at the risk of our own health and to not lose sight of what is most important to us which is to insure the safety, security and financial well being of our family and the emotional support, encouragement and unconditional love we need to provide for our kids because they depend on us and we must set an example and try our best to be a source of strength and hope despite our imperfections.

I had a major life change, many in fact that all came upon me like an emotional tornado and completely uprooted my life at the age of 51 and now I need to rebuild it, heal, rely on my approved disability and spend my new found time to encourage and advocate for my son who is on the autistic spectrum. I need to dedicate myself to my son's situation and figure out a game plan that will assure our son's ability to find his niche in life and give him the tools he needs to draw from within to be his best. I have learned how much my son means to me and I will be the first to admit my weaknesses but I also can teach my son to accept and embrace his uniqueness and start to believe and move forward as I have in my own personal life. It is a testament to my parents that I learned to fight for what I feel is right for me.

If you think about it, you will start to realize it is an absolute impossibility that 100 % of all born boys feel they are boys and that 100 % of all born girls feel they are girls. How could that be? If that was the case then that would defy our individuality and uniqueness. It is a mathematical and a psychological impossibility for this to occur throughout time. It is more common that most transgender individuals are born male and transition to become female. It is not uncommon however for some girls to feel they were born the wrong gender. 

Logically speaking there has to be allowance for occasional conflict with one's birth sex and one's gender. I knew I was a "girl" and the sad thing about it is that we are told that we must abide by nature's designation of who we are, It is just not possible because Life is not perfect. It is what it is and that is the simplest way to express what makes some of us different and the real question I pose here is the notion of "normal". After all, What does Normal truly mean? . I believe it is a construct of what has been ingrained in us by societal view and that in my book is not reality.

My tone in this writing is very serious because suicide is a real major problem today given all the stress we encounter in life including financial stress which leads to depression. Now with a depressed economy that seems to be nowhere near where it has to be for our quality of life to improve there has to be organized leadership that realizes the severity of a real fundamental problem in our country. Our county's leadership needs to wake up, come together for the needs of those struggling and realize that most people are working harder and harder and in most cases both parents are working just to pay their bills while their children suffer because the time spent with them has significantly decreased. They have to start to come together and establish bipartisanship in a collaborative effort to bring a sense of hope back to all the people of this country who are trying to understand what is really happening in Washington.

Our lives have to revolve around healthy influences rather than the day to day grind causing enormous stress and making life seem more and more robotic. Hard working people need to find enjoyment and plan a family vacation even through these difficult times because our children need to have some form of pleasure and sense of normalcy in their lives and we as families need to have fun and wonderful memoriesLife can't always be all about work. We have to have a healthy balance for our own sanity.

More and more people are suffering health problems brought on by these stresses that could lead them to the emergency room or far worse, their premature death. My major concern is what will life be like for our children which should be a major focus in our lives because we can not rely on Washington because our economy has collapsed with a poor job market resulting in more and more families coming apart at the seams and the quality of life is worsening which over time can prove fatal if things don't change for the better. We as a society must learn that we will continue to struggle unless the markets stabilize to provide some degree of normalcy and sense of hope we can find once again. Our fears and concerns must be addressed as well if we are going to believe again in our government which will take time.

I'll tell you something that is alarming as it proves we do run the risk of facing personal struggle and great emotional pain which truly can be life threatening. I'm not playing games here. What I am saying is that many of us face the prospects of severe depression at various stages in our life or times of great hardship and if we are pushed to the edge we can lose all sense of hope due to our financial insecurities and our medical concerns brought upon by just living and trying to cope and find our happiness and some peace in our crazy and very hectic lives. One thing I have lived with all my life was when I felt frustrated and sad was that I would cry as this was my way of coping with my intense feelings of sadness of wanting to wear pretty dresses all throughout my childhood and adulthood.

Personally I am currently facing the prospects of mortgage foreclosure. I literally live in fear every day when I think my family and I may have to confront the very scary possibility of homelessness which naturally triggers my instincts and immediate reaction to protect my family through my life insurance as I have already met the two year suicide clause. This is a sad tragedy because the truth is that it really has happened to desperate individuals suffering economic hardship as they felt this was their only solution.

The better solution of course is to be prepared for adversity and structure a plan to survive potential or imminent job loss, failing health or forced retirement by implementing an effective way of saving as best we can even despite these difficult times we now find ourselves living in. The reality though is that it is easier said then done for most of us dealing with a 30 year mortgage and educational costs for our children.

I am also transgender which is very difficult to live with and I have struggled with it since the age of  4 and had attempted suicide as early as age 16. What saved me was my commitment to my school work, my dedication to my sport, my wonderful parents, family & friends and the belief that my high school cross country coach had in me as he helped instill confidence, discipline and a desire to do my best whether I win or lose knowing I tried my best. This helped me in my life endeavors and made me realize I can achieve if I put my best effort forward and truly believe I am doing it for all the right reasons.

Despite my propensity towards depression which I have struggled with as early as age 4 when I realized I was different from others I tried to cope as best I could because I had no choice. I had to be strong and a survivor. I just kept my girlish ways  a big secret. I hid it so well. In fact I feel I could go to Hollywood to win a lifetime achievement award for my acting, spot on as a guy, when in fact I was always a "girl" crying and wishing for better days ahead.

There are some families who are barely getting by and have exhausted their savings and are just miserable. That my friend is not living. It is suffering and although we are struggling to survive we must try to realize what life is like for those suffering from poverty. All of these sobering realities just make me want to just get away and go back to a more simpler way.

I am a CPA licensed in the state of New York and I am a dedicated professional. My CPA website which I proudly display here is what gives me some measure of hope as I try to pick up the pieces and try to just focus on what is most important that we can never get back and that is the bond we establish with our children. I have always been dedicated to the positions I held in my career but it did come at a cost as it brought me apart from my family and only limited me weekends to forge a relationship with my son but tax seasons were really pressure filled as my time with my son grew even less. As a result of the cumulative stress and my need to bury myself in my work for both noble reasons and an escape from my transgender struggle which eventually caught up with me.

I am now coming to terms knowing I need to recover having suffered from severe depression leading to a complete emotional breakdown brought upon by job loss, foreclosure threats, the tragedy of my dad's suicide 4 years earlier where he shocked us all by throwing himself into the path of a speeding train and our son's desperate struggle with autism. The hardest thing I had to confront as I tried desperately to shield this from my son who developed a wonderful bond with his beloved grandpa which I knew was imminent. I remember it as if it were only yesterday as he looked at me with a puzzled face and asked "Why doesn't "Pop" visit with me anymore?" I literally had to hold back my tears and try my best to tell him that his grandfather was very sick and God reached out to him to bring him to Heaven's Pearly Gates so he can rest and no longer be in pain.

I know my son's struggles with autism which is different from my transgender but I feel a bond because although our struggles are different we had the same experiences of painful isolation, depression, low self esteem and lack of friendships. It is so hard for me to see this happening with my son because I know it only too well. That is why I need to be strong and not let my son down. I need to be his "dad" even as Emily which he has come to accept as I can truly teach him many fine things about what he can do with his life if he comes to accept and embrace his uniqueness so I need to fight to go on so I can be there and help him in his life and serve as his advocate. We need each other to survive. We also are working with the school district to find an appropriate residential school upstate near the Syracuse area called Hillside. It will be a very emotional "letting go" since Matty is our only child and we will miss him desperately but ultimate since he is struggling and miserable and not able to behave appropriately we really have to act as loving parents and try our best to help him so he may have a chance and have as best a meaningful life. I know I will be up to visit him as often as I can and we all will cry as we send him off but we must realize our children too have to grow up and we need our son to be prepared for life and to find his way. We will always be there for him for however long we all live as family together and though there will be separation we are hoping this will help Matty to make strides and improve. We love him so much we are willing to let go if this is what will help him to grow, mature, learn discipline, find where his interests lie, participate in fun things, eat more healthy, come to like himself and make many friends. If this is what we can pin our hopes on and we see the improvement then we will finally feel joy for our son. That is all we ever wanted for our dear son Matty.

My dad, a proud ironworker who worked on the Verrazano Bridge in the early 1960's and the World Trade Center in the early 1970's was on the bridge there front and center on a cold windy October day back in 1963. I believe in my dad's attempt in trying desperately to pull his coworker up screaming to God to give him the strength to pull him out of danger he was consumed with grief but my dad had lost two fingers in a previous job related accident and weighed only 135 lbs as he tried to pull his friend up with all his might but it was futile because of his friend's size and in a moment of time he felt his grip of his friend loosen and my dad was about to go over too but the quick reflexes of a fellow ironworker pulled him back and managed to safely keep him in place. My dad witnessed the tragic fall of his friend which truly devastated him. The job site halted operations to do their investigative work. My dad was so shaken up that he drank away his pain at a local pub shortly after the tragedy and that was the beginning of his severe depression and battle with alcoholism.

Despite all my struggles I have been blessed with a very loving and supportive family, a son who means the world to me, friends who have stepped up and been there for me and my team of doctors at Beth Israel Medical Center and Callen - Lorde both located in the city. I am also very grateful to my attorneys, Sullivan and Kehoe who helped me with the application process for social security disability and in being awarded the much needed support on the first attempt. I am truly grateful to all the staff I dealt with, Jessica, Emily, Mr. Frank Kehoe and all the wonderful staff who all were very supportive and understanding of my situation and they all addressed me as Emily which made my day. I also can not express it enough how much the AICPA has been there for me and helped me immediately upon receiving my application and all my medical paperwork with a favorable decision for long term disability in a relatively quick time frame as I patiently waited out the 13 week requirement.

The joy in coming to accept yourself for who you are as a male to female transgender

 
We all find life to be a wonder, a joy and a miracle. The sad part of life is we all must have some pain to bear and that sometimes becomes too much and sadly I have felt like I had enough but my life is not about me anymore. It is about my son and my family. I have to be strong for their sake and find the good things in life for our own happiness.

Please never judge one harshly just because they are different. Accept them, Embrace them, Love them, Celebrate them and most of all Befriend them.

Autism and Life

A Father's sentiments on Autism

All I ever wanted as a small kid was to wear a pretty dress and Mary Janes and be accepted by my family, my friends, my teachers and by my classmates. Simple as that but our society has not addressed the health, welfare and need for the transgender individual or for that matter the struggles of autistic children that grow into adults. I have to try my best to teach my son to try his best, believe in himself, love himself, and become the young man he will grow into with maturity, happiness, dignity, self respect and confidence and find the passion he needs so he can make his mark in the world, even if it is within a 5 mile radius. He needs to learn to love and accept himself for who he is and never let anyone tell him otherwise.

Emily

2 comments:

  1. Hello Emily,
    Well said, one thing that people tend not to understand is the loneliness that goes along with being transgender. You are very lucky that you have a loving family that stands behind through everything that you have been through.
    Keep your chin up and always stay positive :-)

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    Replies
    1. Ashley, I could not have stated it any better as you say it so eloquently and what you say is so true and I am so deeply touched by your kind words and I consider you a friend and wish you all success and happiness in your life. Love, Emily Iannielli

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