On Changes, Part II

Hello world. My name is Rebecca. It's nice to meet you finally!

As of today, it has been 573 days since my last post to this blog. Prior to this period, the most I had ever gone without posting here was a few months, going all the way back to 2005. I have literally never gone that long without blogging in my entire life, dating all the way back to my LiveJournal and OpenDiary days. More than a year and a half has elapsed. And it would be easy for me to say that my job was taking up all of my time, but that is only a fraction of what was actually going on.

As it turns out, a lot can change in a year and a half. A whole, whole lot. But I suppose we can start with one very obvious one.

My name changed!

… okay, maybe that’s underselling it just a bit. 😊

A handful of you have known this for a while now, some longer than others. If you are just finding out about this now from this post, please accept my apologies for not being able to tell you directly. I hope you can understand that with the sheer number of people in my life and geography that spans continents, there is simply no way I could tell everyone individually even though I would have liked to.

But since it’s important, especially considering the current climate around these issues, to not only to say the label, but to own it and to say it loudly, I’m going to do that. I was fortunate in my journey to acceptance to have people who were loud and proud about their identity and their journey, and because of their bravery, I felt safe to find my own path to acceptance too. Because if I own it, then maybe others will feel empowered to own their own journey to acceptance as well.

I am transgender.

It’s something that I knew, at some level, since probably 5th grade, though I would not have had language and understanding to describe what I was feeling until many, many years later. Even once I understood, I had to disassemble decades of trauma, repression, depression, self hatred and very bad self-destructive coping strategies to finally kind some kind of peace and acceptance. Walls that you build over that length of time are not torn down easily.

This is a journey that began six years ago when I walked into a therapist’s office in downtown Huntsville with a seemingly simple question: “why can’t I be happy?” Why, in fact, was I passively suicidal and had been for years? It’s like that boiling frog thing, you don’t feel it getting bad until you look up one day and literally everything is on fire. That’s kinda where I found myself at the end of the 2010s. And as we picked through the carcass of my life, lots of things started to surface that I had been desperately pushing down and swearing I would never, ever face. I would literally rather have died than face them.

A few times, I almost took it that far.

All those years of deep, deep self hatred took an almost indescribable toll on me. It cost me time, relationships, friendships, and my own physical and mental health. I tried everything over the years to deal with my feelings. Simple denial, drinking, and drugs. I tried papering over the depression and anxiety with anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. Over the course of more than two decades, I tried almost every anti-depressant on the market, sometimes taking multiple at the same time, and none of them ever really worked. At best, they made me feel numb.

My choice coping strategy of choice for much of that time was just simple overwork. If I could just keep busy with something at all possible times, I didn’t have to deal with any of the things that I desperately kept shoving down inside me. So, that’s what I did. I worked all day at work, then would come home and work more. I took on large consulting projects. I threw myself into dozens of hobbies or projects big and small. As long as I stayed busy, I didn’t have to think about how miserable I had become and what a miserable person I was to be around. I’m honestly surprised so many people stuck around, because I could be a pretty awful person.

More than anything, the COVID pandemic forced my hand. When you’re trapped in your house for months on end, with all of your coping strategies are taken away and just your thoughts to work with, well, you kinda start to make some realizations. And when I was able to resume therapy, this time, I had a much better idea of the things I was dealing with and the directions I needed to go. Even then, it still took an immense amount of therapy, a lot of deep self reflection, and more than a year of further questioning and examination to finally reach acceptance.

That’s the abbreviated story. The full story is long enough for a novel, or maybe to be shared among trusted and understanding people over a few glasses of wine, but definitely not something I will be putting on the Internet.

To answer the inevitable next question: yes I am transitioning. That process began several years ago, it’s just reaching the point where questions are being asked and I can’t in good faith deny it any longer. And to be truthful, I don’t want to. After all, the whole point is to be myself. I kinda backdate the start of my transition to December of 2020 when I started growing my hair out. But the more active parts began in 2022 and over the course of 2023 into this year.

Some of you, especially if you’ve seen me recently, may have noticed I’ve looked a bit different from what you may have been used to seeing from me. Dressed a bit differently. Acted a bit different. If you’re especially observant hopefully I’m starting to sound different (voice training is a nightmare, by the way). Maybe I’ve seemed a bit happier, talkative, less prone to just mindlessly staring at my phone or laptop … and more grounded with my feelings and in family. Well, now you know why: when you’re not spending all your energy hating yourself, it turns out you can be a much better, happier, more fulfilled person. The physical manifestation of health and a body and brain finally running on the correct fuel.

In writing this, I had to decide whether or not I wanted to “make a clean break” from my old identity. Just take the old site under my deadname offline and roll forward with a new blog under my name. I waffled over this for months before finally deciding that I didn’t, and I would rather acknowledge my entire self and her history. At a certain point, when enough people have known me a certain way over my lifetime, just refusing to acknowledge that, for my life, feels disingenuous. That’s not to say others might not reach different conclusions for their life. I view myself, as Rebecca, as very much a continuation of the same person I always have been. Just different.

Because that’s the thing I want people to know: in so many ways I am the same person, just a better, more complete version. I may look different, present differently, and talk differently, but I still have most of the same interests, activities, abilities, likes, and dislikes. I will still talk your ear off about computers, history, aviation or trains, and I still hate cilantro and Miracle Whip. I still love jam bands, alternative rock and progressive rock, still read lots of sci-fi, still love to write code (though I do it a lot less now that I’m not using it as a crutch to escape reality.) But now, I get to do these things as myself, a true and authentic person!

This Sunday, March 31st, is Transgender Day of Visibility, and I am choosing to celebrate my trans brothers, sisters, and pals … and myself. The journey to get here was long and fraught, but I’m here now, and proud to claim that label as my own.

So, that’s a whole bunch of words to say: if you knew me before 2022, I hope you’ll get to know me again, this time as the woman I am. An authentic person and not a bitter ball of anger, depression and self-hatred wrapped in a coat of bad coping strategies. Finally, a happy, fulfilled, loving, joyful and complete human being grateful to be alive and welcoming every new day with peace and joy.

Hello. My name is Rebecca Peck. It’s nice to meet you! ❤️ 🏳️‍⚧️

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