I wanted to play baseball…and so I ended up in softball. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I dealt with it because I wanted to play. My father helped out, he helped coach a lot of my teams. It isn’t surprising that I ended up loving the position that is the most well, boyish. I loved being a catcher and I started doing that in my very first season. It was the one time I could be rough and tumble…and it was even encouraged. It was the closest I was ever going to get to playing football. Father dearest had very strong convictions that because I was in a female body that I was not allowed to play football, because girls didn’t do that.
Inside myself, I thought that there must be something wrong with me. I felt like a boy and I saw my male cousins playing the way I wanted to. So I didn’t understand why I wasn’t supposed to play like that. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to act the way I was feeling. I realized pretty quickly though, that I was supposed to be acting a certain way. I was supposed to be the ‘good little girl’ that they were all expecting me to be. I was supposed to be quiet and smart. Which, I was quiet and smart for the most part… but half of that was just because I was an introvert who hated people from a young age. They used to joke that I was five going on thirty. I didn’t understand why they thought it was so funny. On one hand they were thrilled that I would rather read, but on the other they wanted me to be socializing with other children, mainly girls. They wanted me to see how I was supposed to be behaving. Yea, that backfired.
It didn’t work how they wanted. I still wasn’t acting how most girls were acting. Mind you, I knew why, but still was not explaining it to anyone. That ship had sailed and I knew it wasn’t okay. What did happen with this, was now I was being policed by peers and my family. It’s awful to be made well aware that you do not fit in and you do not belong. I knew I was smart, that was already setting me to the side. School didn’t help that, because in elementary I was in enrichment classes for the “smart” kids a couple times a week. When I got into high school, I wasn’t given a choice and I was put directly onto the Academic track. I knew that I was never going to always fit in with everyone. I was a nerd and I was in band, both in junior high and then senior high marching band. I was okay with this. What wasn’t fun was the bullying that goes along with being a not-skinny, academic, closeted-queer in a rural high school. Again, I have been a dot of blue in a red sea for a very long time.
I never really talked about it with anyone. I just… I accepted it. I had shit self-esteem, still do actually. So I took this as they could all see what was wrong with me and I deserved it. Obviously there had to be something wrong, right? If it wasn’t wrong, I would have been able to be open and honest about it years ago when I realized what I felt inside. I had known for years how I felt, but I also had known for most of those years that I wasn’t able to talk about it. When you can’t talk about something because people will react badly, that means it’s not something you should have. Very childish way of thinking about things, but it had cemented very well into my developing mind.
So I tried to assimilate into what I should be in the groups I was in. I was a band geek, that was fine. Hilariously, I didn’t get teased much about that at all because most of us could flit between the different groups. So, I had very good friends there and I tried to fit more into the molds they were in. I really perfected putting my mask on every morning while I was in school. I was never really honest with anyone. Again, I had learned early on that being honest could be very, very dangerous. I didn’t want to mess around with that and have it blow up in my face. I played it safe. People still called me things that, while they did have some ounces of truth in them, were not something that I was even accepting of myself at that time. So I tried harder. I tried to just, drop all the things I knew to be true about myself and fit into whatever I was supposed to be fitting into. It was exhausting… and is probably part of why I should have been in therapy since about 14 at the latest. Between school and family life, I certainly picked up quite a few bad coping skills.