Nobody knew but me!

I have known for a really long time but I could never tell anyone about it. It is never easy when you face adversity and also struggle in your personal life. If we could live simple lives and everything went according to plan we would never face such pain. For me it has been a long road filled with many ups and downs along the way. I sometimes wonder how I made it to this point in my life. I have come to realize how truly lucky I am and feel immensely blessed for having a wife and son. I never wanted to live alone or feel lost and isolated. I just wanted to feel whole and find my happiness. I believe we all are looking to feel good about ourselves and want to express who we are as individuals. I never felt free to truly express my true inner being as I had to conform and live as others perceived me to be. The problem was that I was not what others perceived me as and this caused me much heartbreak and frustration that not many could understand It was tearing me up inside and making me feel miserable so I knew at some point I had to make a change or else I would just wallow in depression and no one would know the pain I was going through. I could not even bring myself to tell anyone. I went for such a long time keeping this “secret” that defined me and was my very essence as a person. The really sad thing about it all is that no one ever got to know who I really am. I feel cheated about it and many who touched my life never really got to experience who I really am as a person.

To me that is so tragic because it seems that those who struggle with gender like I have and are not able to seek help live quiet lives of desperation and sadly some tragically wind up taking their own life because their pain and isolation is far too great for them to bear. I was at this point several times in my life and I had almost taken my life because I was just so sad and depressed. I had no one to talk to or confide in and I felt as if I was not free to be my true self. I had to make a decision that was not an easy one but nonetheless one that was instrumental in bringing clarity to my crazy mixed up life. At that time it did not seem like much but in retrospect it was the beginning to my becoming free and expressing my true self. I will never forget this moment and the ironic thing is that it really did not make an impact until 2 decades later when I really had no choice but to address my private situation.

The one thing I always seemed to have a gift for was my ability to write and express my feelings. When I was 31 years old I had become very despondent as it was a week before Christmas 1992 and I had lost my mom two years earlier. I remember sending out Christmas cards to family and friends writing simple words of Peace, joy and happiness and yet this was very far from my life as I knew it. I never felt peace, happiness or joy in the sense of my inner being. In fact I felt trapped and unable to express myself the way I felt inside. I was very scared and I felt all alone and I needed to reach out to someone before I became more depressed. Depression is very scary because it is like a deep hole that pulls you in and that hole gets deeper and deeper if you don’t get the help and support you need and it can swallow you up. It is very real and it is urgent that you take the warnings very seriously because many have succumbed to suicide as they could not get past it.

I decided I would write a letter explaining my situation and write out everything. I wanted someone to know what I was going through but I really had to write it with sincerity, honesty and in my own words. So I sat at my desk writing and pouring my soul out on to a sheet of paper. I never did this before but it was something that saved me. I did not know initially who would receive my letter or how many I would write. All I knew was that I had to write the letter as I could no longer go on as I have. I had to make change and I had to be serious about it. In my letter I expressed my inner feelings of being different and dressing far different from the norm. I was not like other boys as I fancied wearing dresses and wanting to let my hair grow long. I wanted to get my ears pierced. I wanted to buy girls shoes. I wanted to have a girl’s name. I wanted to be referred to as a girl. I was a girl. I wrote this out in a way that someone reading it would feel my pain and understand what I was feeling. I was too afraid to discuss my feelings face to face so I did it in a letter and I addressed 3 of them and only three. I sent one each to my two sisters and one to my best friend. It took me about an hour to write the letters and then the moment of truth. I placed each one into an envelope with a Christmas card and I put a stamp on each and walked them to to the mailbox at the corner of our block. I remember it like it was yesterday. I felt a tremendous sense of relief after placing them in the mailbox and I could not wait for the reaction I would receive. It was a very limited revelation but it was groundbreaking for me as I was reveling my deepest, darkest and most private secret.

It seemed that my letters did find their way to the three people designated but they did not really discuss it with me and I was very uncomfortable discussing it with them so for that brief moment of revelation it seemed to die and I never talked about it again until 20 years later after two significant developments took place in my life. In a span of twenty years from that moment I managed to advance in my career as both an engineer and CPA. I met a girl I fell in love with after being introduced by my therapist. I became a husband and a father and it seemed my life was very promising. I have come a long way which is very true. However despite all the wonderful developments in my life i did also face tragedy having lost my dad to suicide and a very close friend to premature death. Those losses were to great for me to bear and then it happened. The very thing that held me back, my fear seemed to escape me and i was no longer afraid. i felt I had come to a stage in my life where I was ready to come to terms with who I am and I was going to come out this time for good and I would never look back. It was my moment and it would be forever my defining moment and I would no longer live in fear. I would just quietly accept my situation and go on from there and I would then begin my transition from male to female which is something I was going to do at some point in my life and this was the perfect time. I sometimes wish I was 16 when I began my transition but then I realize how lucky I am to have a son and to not be alone. I have come a long way as I now work as a girl and am accepted and very responsible and very dedicated to my work and to my family. It has not been easy but if I could sit and talk to someone i would tell them to never give up and to find their way and never let others tell you how to live your life. You ultimately have to decide that and when you do you will find your inner peace and happiness as I have finally come to know. I also am very aware of my son’s situation and must never lose sight of that because my son’s life and happiness is uppermost in my mind and now that i have found my peace i need to help my son find his. 

I plan to write my first book to tell my story so others can learn that we don’t have to suffer for a lifetime with transgender. We can make positive change and we can be who we felt we always were. We should never be afraid to be that special and beautiful person. I am Emily and I am finally able to tell my family, friends, employer and coworkers and that to me is truly wonderful. Live your life and find your joy and happiness because you only have one life to live. You may as well be happy!

Love,

Emily Iannielli