For What It’s Worth…

Picture: blue haired anime girl.This will be a bit personal of a post, which means I’ve spent a considerable amount of time opening the editor of my blog, closing it, writing a few lines,  deleting it, circling the draft and smoking cigarettes (I should really quit) while trying to make up my mind if I should press the “Publish” button or not. If you are reading this now, it means that I didn’t chicken out and press the delete button to the draft.

Fair warning, this post is about my sexual orientation and what it means to me. If you’re not supportive of this, that’s okay, I respect that and you are entitled to your opinions. You’re free to stop reading at this point and unfollow my blog, at any time! I won’t have any ill feelings about it. I wish you all the luck in life! ^_^/

However, you are NOT entitled to comment or push your hurtful views on my blog. It will not change my mind or who I am, only make me feel like crap for being who I was born to be. You may do whatever you wish on your own blog. If you don’t own one, WordPress is free and you can have one of your own today! If I follow your blog and you post something that really disturbs me, I will have the respect to not comment or push my views on your blog. I will do the adult thing and simply stop reading and unfollow. It’s no big deal.

Furthermore, I want to leave a trigger warning for those who may be reading, that my story about my life does contain a few bigoted slurs. It’s not an easy story for me to share, nor is it an easy story to read.

You may be wondering why I am bothering to share it at all. The true reason is because I need to get a few things off my chest and I don’t have any close friendships at this point in my life. I do have a blog! And there’s always a possibility that my story could help someone else, who may have experienced or currently experiencing such things now.

I have always alluded to the fact that I’m not strictly 100% straight within my blogs. I’ve used the term “bisexual”, once or twice. Although, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I usually don’t share about my sexuality with others, as I honestly feel that it’s none of anyone’s business, this is something important between me and whomever I’m dating at the time. However, with today’s politics, unjust laws, and other media drama, it makes it pretty difficult to keep such things private.

Yes, I am bisexual, which means I honestly feel sexual attraction to both males and females. It doesn’t mean that I am a sex addict, as I’m very old fashioned and will not have sex with anyone that I haven’t dated for a very long time and is madly in love with. That means, I never do the one-night-stand or “hookup” deal. Not that I have a judgement against those who prefer to have casual lovers. It’s just not my deal personally, because I tend to get jealous very easily and I’m highly monogamous.

In simple terms, what I mean to explain is, genitals are not what causes me fall in love with someone and wish to commit my life to them. I could care less if a person has a penis, or a vagina, or breasts; I like them all. For me, personality means everything. I care if a person is kind, smart, funny, thoughtful, generous, and causes me feel to comfortable around them. It’s not that common for me to feel comfortable around others, you know.

I care if a person has something in common with me and vice versa, some great passion that we can share together. I care if a person makes me smile and I can make them smile, that my heart races whenever I see them or hear their voice, that I can become lost whenever I gaze into their eyes. That is what is important to me, personally.

I don’t care if a person is transgender, cisgender (those who identify with the gender that they were born with), or genderqueer. I only care about a person’s spirit and mind. I’ve been this way since age twelve and I’m currently age 35, so no… it’s not a “phase” and it’s not going to change. I am who I am. To deny this fact would be a total lie and deception.

I am bisexual, but I’m also “genderqueer”, which is a label that I stumbled across a few years ago. The term is an umbrella one, which includes some transgender (those who identify as the opposite gender they were born as) and genderfluid (those who identity varies as male, female, or non-binary).

I know, that’s so many different terms and can be confusing/overwhelming for first timers! LOL! I’ll try to simplify it further; if you were born with female (or male) genitals and identify as female (or male), you’re cisgender. If you were born with female (or male) genitals, but identify as a man (or woman), you are transgender. If you were born with female (or male) genitals, but feel that you’re both male and female regardless of that, then you’re probably genderqueer. And genderfluid is too difficult for me to explain more simply, I don’t understand it fully, but feel free to google it!

Or if anyone from the genderfluid community wish to share links or comments, please do! I would certainty update this post. I never dismiss new knowledge about things I have no clue about!  ^_-

Under the genderqueer umbrella, I simply identify as both male and female. I’ve always stated on other forums, that I honestly feel that 65% of my brain is male and 35% is female. Of course, people often take this as if I’m making some kind of joke, but I’m not, really… I was always confused with the response of a chuckle. o_O

And yes, my biological sex is female and I have no wish to have male genitalia (or facial hair, eww!), as I’m not transgender. However, I can’t deny the fact that my spirit, mind, and ambitions are more masculine than it will ever be feminine. I don’t mind if you call me “ma’am” or “sir”, I don’t really think about it, the few times it has happened. I’m okay with this! However, there was a time that I wasn’t okay with who I was and hated myself…

The majority of my teen years and young adulthood was spent in depression and suicidal thoughts/attempts. It was because I was hiding my true self and lived in deep shame of who I am. I grew up in a VERY conservative and religious household. And my school peers, neighbors, and most of my community didn’t take kindly to “those faggots”. I grew up hearing my parents make fun of gay men, so when I realized that I was bisexual at age twelve, I was beyond frighten.

I refused to tell my sister or older brother about it, because I had feared that they would tell my parents, and I would get into serious trouble. And because I was bisexual, I believed that I could somehow repressed my attraction to other females, by diverting my attention to males. At some point, I believed that I could “pray the gay away”. It didn’t work. And at age twenty, I decided that becoming an Ordained Christian Minister would do the trick… Nope.

I tried so hard to make myself become “straight”, but it just wouldn’t work. In spite of myself, I would notice a good looking female walking by, along with any other teen or young man in the area. I felt such guilt and hatred against myself, every time it happened.

I had stumbled into the music of David Bowie and Prince, in my preteens, which their music and personalities did give me a lot of comfort. I didn’t feel so alone. And one of my most favorite songs of Prince is: I Would Die 4 U. The lyrics “I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I am something that you’ll never understand.” resonated with me, as I screamed in my head “Me too! I am the same!”.

In subtle ways, I was trying to alert my parents of who I truly was, by mentioning to them that I loved these artists. I guess, I really wanted my parents to accept me and love me for who I am, in spite being so afraid to outright confess to them. My heart still hurts, because neither one of them ever did accept or love me for who I’m truly am. I don’t know, I sometimes wonder if my wish is childish at this point and if I should just “get over it” and move on with my life. I do try to do that, but it’s hard sometimes and makes me cry still.

Their response to my love of Bowie and Prince was… well… terrible at best. My father called them both “faggots” outright and laughed. On many occasions, my mother went on and on about how Bowie was confused, that he couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted to be a girl or a boy. She just didn’t get it… Bowie was never confused, he knew who he was and didn’t care about anyone else’s confusion about him! That was their problem and not his.

As for Prince, it was another occasion when my mother made it known how she really felt about him. I was trying to convince my peers to check out a cassette tape of Prince, that I swore was awesome, and I kind of “borrowed” from my older brother’s room. My mother shouted at me, “Leave them alone! No one wants to hear that faggot!” I kind of emotionally shriveled up into myself, after she shouted that and my peers laughed. I took my cassette tape and retreated to my room to cry.

My parents had no idea how much they were hurting me and made me feel like a “mistake”, for ever being born.

By age fifteen, I thought about confessing to my mother the truth about me. However, at the same time a neighbor had kicked his nineteen year old daughter out of his house when she decided to come out of the closet as lesbian. The neighbors were in a buzz about it and sympathized with the father. I decided quickly that I would continue to hide my truth, as I was “passing” well as heterosexual, no one would figure it out otherwise.

In one confusing moment, my mother sat me and my sister down for a serious talk about the neighbor’s issue. She began to say, “Mr. [neighbor] kicked out his [daughter], because she is gay. I want you both to know that no matter what you two do, even if you commit a crime, I would never kick you out or turn my back on you.” My heart began to race and I asked her quickly, “Even if we commit a murder?” She shook her head, “No. I will be there to hire you a lawyer and come to every court hearing. You will still be my baby.”

I couldn’t have felt more happy in that moment! I took a breath and got ready to say the words to her, “Mom, I think I’m gay too.”, but in an instant her face harden and she growled, “But don’t ever be gay! It’s horrible what Mr. [neighbor] had to go through. And [his daughter] completely humiliated her family.” “Oh.” I said and stuffed my words back deep within myself. So, it was okay if I was a murderer, but not gay.

By age sixteen, I decided that I was worse than evil and should rid the world of myself, because I am gay. I tried many attempts to do so, they failed – obviously, but many resulted in trips to the local ER and then confinement to local mental wards. It would be many years, before I was able to see myself as human, let alone stop hating myself.

I wouldn’t confess about my sexual orientation, until age twenty-one. And when I did… my mother didn’t handle it so nicely, not at all. I’ll spare those details, because it’s a bit too painful to share still, at this point.

For most of my life, I’ve been trying to get approval from my parents (especially my mother), but never received it. And the prejudices against the LGBT community in my old neighborhood in Philadelphia still remains. Just two years ago, a young gay man that I once knew there, was beaten viciously and verbally attacked for being gay. At the end of many punches, one of his attackers strangled him until he passed out, while shouting homophobic slurs. Neighbors watched, but no one called the police.

My mother did try to break it up, as it was happening on her front porch, but she did so alone. And she convinced the attacker to not strangle the young man to death by saying, “You can’t undo it, once it’s done. You’ll go to prison if you kill him.” She still felt that the fault of the situation rested on the gay victim, because he had tried to speak up for himself when the gay slurs were first uttered towards him… and his comebacks were better than the idiots who tried to harass him first. So, his attackers responded with violence.

The young man did not press legal charges against his attackers and pretty much decided to deny the incident ever happened at all. It’s not uncommon for victims of hate crimes to not report it, to hide it away inside of themselves for fear of retaliation or a community backlash, and to just accept the abuse.

Picture: anime girl freeing doves.Fortunately, for me, I moved to the state of Minnesota that is very progressive and such hate crimes are not common at all. The people I’ve shared this story to in Minnesota was beyond stunned and disguested that such crimes occured in Philadelphia. I am able to live out my life in peace here, without fear of physical or verbal attack for being myself. I am happy within my town, I am free. No one in my community cares if I’m straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, gender-queer, any more than they care if someone is heterosexual. And most of the people here are religious and attend church on Sundays. They’re only concerned if I’m a “rude” person or not. And I’m not rude… or try not to be! LOL! I have my rude moments, not with my neighbors, but I’m sure in general. =p

However, I sometimes hurt inside, when I notice how people interact with loving parents. Or when I read comments from wonderful parents on articles, in unconditional support of their children. I do not celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, because I don’t know what it’s like to have parents. I don’t find it practical to spend what little money I do have in buying gifts for people who don’t accept and love me for who I am, who are always judging me and people like me.

It’s a little sad… but I wonder if it’s time to drop this baggage and move onward with my new happy life in Minnesota. No, more accurately, I wonder how to drop this baggage. How do you stop needing and wanting the approval of a biological parent? Is it possible? I guess it’s something for me to work on with my therapist, but I wanted to share it on my blog, because it is on my mind right now. I just needed to vent a bit to someone.

For what it’s worth, I do know who I am. I am Danielle S. Williams. And I love and accept me, even if no one else does. And to the beautiful parents in the world, who truly love and accept their children, THANK YOU! Your children are very lucky to have you! ♥

Thanks for reading my rambles, as always. Please be kind to each other! ^_^

-D

My Life After Corneal Transplant

Picture: anime girl wearing glassesYes, I know… I had claimed that my last eye update was my LAST eye update. I may have spoken way too soon, as I had no idea that I was in for a whole different experience post-keratoplasty (corneal transplant). I’m in the mood to blog today and this topic is on my mind. Yes, this is a long one, so grab a snack and buckle up! ^o^/

I must be completely clear that my story and experience should in NO way be taken as a gospel for corneal transplant. The truth is, Keratoconus is a very tricky eye disease and every case of it is different. The results of keratoplasty may vary for each individual, which is why I suggest that every person suffering with Keratoconus should consult a professional expert in the field of this disease, to find the right treatment for your particular case!

And yes, I do suggest taking a visit to The Mayo Clinic, if there’s one near you or if you have the opportunity (insurance) to visit one. They have a lot of great experts devoted exclusively to Keratoconus and treatment options. It may be a biased endorsement on my part, but then again, it is my blog. Heehee! ^o^

I also want to be clear that although my procedure was a complete success within my case, my eye disease is not cured. There is no cure for Keratoconus currently, however I’m so very happy and grateful for the time I have bought for myself, as my vision improvements will last anywhere from 10-20 more years!

Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, this is my story…

To summarize for those who’ve missed it: I had surgery on February 2nd 2016, at The Mayo Clinic located in Rochester, Minnesota. The surgery went well, I was unconscious during it (under anesthesia), and when I woke up I was a lot loopy (more details about that here: My Last Eye Update!), but not in pain. Dr. Leo J. Maguire, a leading expert in Keratoconus and treatment, assured me that we would “pack the eye with a lot of pain-killers”, so I wouldn’t wake up in pain or have to experience it for at least two hours after the surgery.

However, after two hours, I did experience a lot of pain. I would wake from my sleep often in so much pain, in my nice hotel room that I shared with my sister and roommate, and I would desperately wake my sister who was located in the bed next to mine. I would beg her for another prescription pain tablet, as Dr. Maguire had prescribed codeine for me, weeks before the surgery. I had experienced such painful sensitivity to light, to the point that it was unbearable and I refused to use my hotel bathroom with the lights on. I learned to use the toilet with the lights off!

The following day, after my surgery, I was to visit with Dr. Maguire for a check up and to remove the bandages and eye shield. This is standard protocol, yet the lights of the clinic hurt so much and I held my face in sheer pain in the waiting room. Once the doctor and his assistant met with me and saw how much I was suffering, they turned out the lights in the exam room and gave me a pair of dark glasses.

Dr. Maguire was genuinely sympathetic of my situation, yet a lot confused, as this wasn’t the usual response he had experienced with patients after keratoplasty. However, he admitted, “It’s a rare occurrence that sometimes happen with a few cases, but from my examination of your eye, it seems like everything is fine with the surgery.”

The moment of truth arrived, when I was to read the eye chart. Before the surgery, I had trouble reading the big top letter of the chart, with either eye. For years, I had walked away from these tests feeling like a “failure” somehow, because I always read it wrong or couldn’t read it at all. I hated to admit, “I can’t see it… I’m sorry.” So, I wasn’t too happy about reading a chart that was my nemesis for so long, while experiencing such pain on top of it.

Picture: happy tears.However, I blinked a few times and began to read the first three lines perfectly. Dr. Maguire was completely taken aback by this and he eagerly asked “Want to read more?” “Yes!” I said, as I was eager too and wanted to see just how far it would go. I read the next slide and then another! My heart was racing so fast, I couldn’t believe it, I had just gotten surgery the day before! How was this happening?! I was so happy that, for a moment, I didn’t care about the pain!

That’s when Dr. Maguire had said something that I’ll forever remember, “Hooah!” (a US military expression of approval) and then he said, “I guess, you’re just one of those people of ‘no pain, no gain’. You’re doing better than usually expected of most patients. Good job.” His statement was so very profound, as I took a moment to think to myself, “Yes, that’s true. It’s rare that any triumphs in my life is gained without struggle. My life has always been that way, I’m not sure why, but it has. Why would this situation be any different?”

I returned back to the hotel for my last night, before my sister, roommate, and I would make the trip back home through an ongoing blizzard. The triumph of the day was quickly forgotten, as I felt pain and misery. I was so very tired and wishing to sleep, but only able to have two hours at the most, before I sat bolt upright in my nice hotel bed in serious pain. I felt so miserable and wanted to weep, but I was too afraid to do so, out of fear of causing complications to my new eye.

I would hold back tears and have a “stiff upper lip” for the next three weeks, until my next Mayo visit. I was asked to read the eye chart again, however my implant was more “settled in” and adjusting itself. I didn’t read the chart badly, but not as extraordinary as I had done before. When the doctor and his assistant left the room for the moment, I turned to my sister and warbled, “Maybe [my transplant] isn’t working anymore… Maybe it’s rejecting itself…”

Tears welled up in my eyes and I cried for a moment, my first cry in three weeks. I quickly wiped away my tears and gathered myself, when I heard my doctor and assistant traveling back to the exam room. I never want to make a scene and often hold a “brave face” in public. Dr. Maguire assured me that everything was fine and that I was still doing very well. I was a bit doubtful, because of the eye chart test. And then my life of returned sight began…

It started when I looked into my bathroom mirror, as I do every morning while brushing my teeth. I noticed that I have marks on my face (age lines), right under my eyes. It was startling and I wondered, “Had I always had those?” Next, I noticed that my hands seemed a bit “vein-y” and the tips of my fingers are bright red. I was confused and worried that my body was somehow sickly.

Picture: confused anime girl.I shared these concerns with my sister and she smirked, “Yeah, your fingers have always been really red and you’ve always had those lines under your eyes.” I then realized that the last time I was able to see myself clearly, not as a blur, was in my early twenties. After the surgery, I was observing myself as an older adult in my mid-thirties for the very first time. It was scary, sad, exciting, and disturbing all at the same time. I had aged and wasn’t able to see that before.

For three years, I was accustomed to having extra pain in my arms or elbows, from running into the door frame or doorknob of any room I entered or exited, because my depth perception was off by much. Suddenly, I didn’t have that pain anymore and can enter/exit doors just fine.

For two years, I would cling in great fear to banisters of staircases, as I had a habit of tumbling down stairs. This death-grip had saved me on a few occasions, when I did tumbled and was able to catch myself quickly, only facing the embarrassment of two small dogs (belonging to my sister and roommate) as they peered at me with surprise that I had fallen. During those moments, I was relieved that my sister and roommate was not home to witness it, but at the same time I felt horrified that I was home alone. Had I tumbled all the way down and was injured, I would have no one to call for emergency help.

Post surgery, I now dance and skip down the stairwells in a silly way, that I use to do in my teen years. I haven’t stumbled down the stairs not once yet, since February. ^_^

Within the first weeks of April, my sister bought home a Time Magazine special addition of “A Year In Space – Inside Scott Kelly’s Historic Mission – Is Travel to Mars Next?”. She hesitated to purchase it, as the price for this particular issue is $15.00 (USD), but then she thought to herself, “Dani could read this magazine too. I’ll share it with her.” I will admit that I completely hogged the magazine for a day and read the majority of it.

I then realized, with such satisfaction, “I’m READING!” Before my corneal transplant, this was not possible at all. I had trouble reading huge font and was relying heavily on a screen reader online, but now I am able to read standard magazine and book print, without glasses. I didn’t finish the last two articles of the magazine yet, as I stopped to shout about the fact that I was reading again, on Facebook. I enjoyed the “likes” that I had received from my small circle on that site.

On Saturday, this week in April, I visited my local eye care center to fill my new prescription for eyeglasses. On my last visit to Mayo (in March. I will return to Mayo in the summer, to get the stitches around my transplant removed.), Dr. Maguire gave me a script-to-go for new eyeglasses, as my status within my left eye has changed from “legally blind” to “nearsighted”. I’ve always been nearsighted and dealt with extreme astigmatism, since age seven or eight. Keratoconus is a separate and more devastating eye disease that occurred in my early twenties.

In other words, I’m use to wearing glasses in order to see 100% correctly, but I was NOT use to living as visually impaired as I had became over the last decade. My old glasses did not help my impairment in the last four years before surgery, not at all. However, I had continued to wear my old glasses out of habit, and when they fell apart from old age it didn’t make a difference within my vision to not wear them pre-surgery. It’s a very big deal to me, that I am able to have a new eyeglass prescription for my left eye, that my eye has been “reset” back to my familiar eye health of my youth. I am happy that my new glasses will not be just a sentimental accessory, like my old ones were.

Picture: Your Lie In April - Kaori

Every day, I see things that I’ve haven’t seen before or I’m re-experiencing the forgotten details of what something actually looked like before my years of blindness. Street curbs are no longer a threat to me, but is now a fun thing that I like to hop up or down from. I seem to smile more and feel a lot more brave, whenever I leave my house and travel around Minnesota. I have more confidence in myself, because I can now see. Suddenly, my entire world seems a lot more colorful…  at least in my left eye. ^_^

I have been asked before, plenty of times, “When will you have surgery for the right eye?” Well, technically, I could have a transplant in my right eye in about four months from now. The policy is that keratoplasty is preformed one eye at a time, with a six month waiting period in between each surgery. The problem is, my surgery for one eye had cost over twenty-thousand dollars, and my insurance will NOT pay for it twice! I was very fortunate that my insurance approved it for my left eye (ahem… actually my sister and I had to fight hard for that right, and forced them to approve it, but lets not split hairs now! Water under the bridge and all that! ^w^).

Unless I win the lottery or become a famous writer overnight, a second surgery is out of the question for now. This is all that I will get and I better make it count! I’m honestly so very grateful for what I do have, I’m over the moon about it. It’s such an extraordinary feeling, when I come across a task that requires sight and I can do that task. I can see it and I can read it. I wasn’t able to claim such things for years, but now I can!

I’m very glad that I didn’t give up, even though plenty of times I felt like I wanted to.

As always, thanks for reading! Here’s a fun song that I wish to share: PIXL – Sadbot. I don’t think this song is “sad” at all, it’s so very bouncy and makes me dance! What do you think? Have a great week, everyone! ^o^v

-D