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