I remember as a child, as a teenager and growing into early adulthood having worries and feeling scared at times for various reasons including family financial struggles and the declining health of my parents. I also realize many of my worries were attributed to my own insecurities brought upon by my inner struggle with being transgender. I did not know the medical term at that time but I knew I was different. In my heart I felt I was a girl from as young as I can remember with my earliest recollection being at the age of 4 so it is hard for me to compare my fears and insecurities with my son’s fears and insecurities. He is a teenager who has his own personal struggles and as a baby was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome since the age of 2 years old. It was a difficult “pill” to swallow for us as parents because we want our son to have a life filled with joy, happiness, friendships, self confidence and a high self esteem.
The reality we face as a family is far from normal and I believe this weighs heavily on all of us and given my son’s sensitivities and social difficulties it makes us constantly worried for him and very concerned for his future. We as parents always want the best for our son and would do anything in our heart for him. It is just the natural instinct of protecting our son. We always want to shield him and take proper precautions so we don’t affect him in ways that would cause him unnecessary pain or stress.
One of the most difficult things I ever had to deal with in talking to my son about was telling him what happened to his beloved grandpa who he bonded with throughout his young childhood. It was a joy for me to see my son smile and my dad smile when they spent time together. It was very special and as I think back to those wonderful times I just can’t help but cry. They are now distant memories that bring a tear to my eyes and occasionally a smile too which helps lift my spirits when I need it.
Sad day for the Iannielli family
When I learned of my dad’s tragic and violent death of being hit by a speeding train, presumed a suicide, I was going through an emotional crisis feeling every possible emotion I could feel mixed with terrible and sustained guilt. It only seems normal to feel this way. My son could not be told the truth so we had to protect him and just have him understand that Grandpa would no longer be able to visit with him any more.
My story of dealing with our current situation
Eventually our son found an article of what happened and it was very painful for the both of us as I had to tell him that his grandpa was not feeling well and had suffered from depression. I told him that life is never perfect and at times we will encounter pain and sadness including loss of our loved ones. It was an emotional time for the both of us and after talking to my son he surprised me by saying the following, “Daddy, I know it is very sad and painful but I also know that Pop is now with the angels and is smiling and happy to be with grandma again.” Matty really was very understanding and very compassionate and I knew he was wiser than I ever could imagine as he comforted me more than I did for him.
The sad part of life is that there are times we face when it seems like everything is going wrong for us and we are suffering as a result. Sometimes we have no control over our situation and sometimes we do have control. Living today I have come to understand that stress and discontent apparently are a part of life we wished we never had to contend with but the reality is stress is a major part of our life and even affects our children and no matter how hard we try we still feel like we have not achieved all we had hoped for or still wish to.
USA Today article in 2009 of children and stress
I currently find myself out of work in one of the worst job markets I can recall after losing my job in a traumatic fashion; I am facing threatened foreclosure with the mortgage company; I am severely depressed having been hospitalized three times recently; I am trying to deal with my internal struggle I knew I would eventually have to face without hurting my family balancing my male and female lives; I face untold discrimination in the job market as male to female transgender when and if I am able to bounce back and work again and I am trying my best to maintain optimism in a very stressful and difficult time for the entire family.
My wife and I are also raising an autistic son with his unique challenges knowing he has a great deal of emotional struggles which affects all of us. Therefore at home I present always as his dad though my hair is starting to grow long and my hormone regiment is starting to take effect with some evident change which is helping me in dealing with my gender dysphoria. The reality however is I must shield my personal struggles and recent setbacks from my son as best I can. It is something I never wanted to inflict on anyone, especially my son. It just seems transgender individuals can never truly find peace and the stresses of life sometimes can be so overwhelming that a person’s point of desperation could sadly lead to suicide.
My Hubpage writings
For many years I worked very hard and diligently and provided for my family. We still had to deal with stress and make sacrifices but we were able to manage and I felt reasonably secure in providing for my family as I always have even though I had to settle for less salary to help reduce work stress so I could focus more on my son’s needs. Then the insecurities of a poor job market, a bad economy, a depressed stock market and a severe decline in home valuation started to take its toll on my outlook.
It just seems there is no real progress being made due to the family stresses and our son’s constant depression and sad outlook on life. He has many medical professionals treating him since he was young but it seems he still struggles daily and it can partially be attributed to my personal situation which I feel tremendous guilt over. This is hard for any kid to have to deal with and since my son is autistic it makes it even harder. The sad reality for me is I feel I really have no other choice but to accept my situation as transgender and face it with courage and be truthful to myself for my own happiness since I have been suffering emotionally all throughout my life. It just seems so sad that we have to live with such pain and burden when all we ever hope for in life is our happiness, our health and our ability to take care of our family providing them the love and support they need.
Matty does also exhibit a side of him that is very creative and he is very empathetic and wishes to put forth his best effort in things that interest him and has contributed to writing in his blog called “Matty’s Blog” and has created some videos showcasing his blog, my blog and my hubpages and I am very proud of him for his enthusiasm, his promotion of our writings and his desire to educate others. He really is a very special kid and I feel very blessed to have him as a son. I just wished things could be better for the family.
Why does life have to be so difficult, so stressful and so painful not just for us as parents but for our children as well? I just wish life could be more enjoyable then it seems. Now I can understand why some of us succumb to these pressures and feel the only way out is to end the pain through suicide. The sad irony of this is that the ones left behind have to live with it for the rest of their lives and that is not what the intent is. It’s a heartbreaking situation and people in crisis truly need help and children who are struggling and threaten suicide must be taken very seriously because kids too feel pain and stress too unfortunately. That is the sad reality of life. We want our children to have a better life than we have but as we struggle we feel our children will as well. When will life be what it should be which is peaceful, enjoyable and filled with happiness and laughter? Sadly I don’t believe this is possible since we have to also suffer with pain whether it is physical or emotional. That is truly what we have to face in our life as well as the happy times. Life is not nor could it ever be perfect. It is a gift but it is also filled with stress, worry and concerns which is something we can’t avoid.
Edward D. Iannielli III
aka Emily Iannielli