I’ve talked before about how much I used to hate myself and how, looking back, it’s easy to see I used to be a crappy person. I’ve grown immensely and I’m not that same awful person. I don’t hate myself at all anymore. While I’ve been able to take ownership of my past and admit to the things I did and said, I’m learning I some of those things still have lasting effects I can’t easily undo or run from.
Over this past weekend, I was dealt a very painful reminder of the fact that, transition all you want, you can’t erase your past. I was having dinner and drinks with a very close friend of mine whom I’ve known for twelve years. We were having a great time just hanging out and talking until we got into an argument about my name and how to reference my past when talking to others. The argument itself isn’t important, it was resolved and the friendship is totally fine. What is important, though, is what came out of the argument.
I learned that I consistently made her feel inadequate over the last twelve years. I made her feel as though she wasn’t smart enough, didn’t like good enough music, and didn’t have a good enough sense of fashion. I’m sure there were many other ways in which I made her feel as though I thought I was better than her, but these are a just a few that came up. The honest truth is I never meant for her to feel any of this and I never felt like she wasn’t good enough in any way, but intentions only matter so much.
Unfortunately, the person I used to present myself as came across as very judgmental—in the interest of full disclosure, I did often judge people on their taste in music—and thinking I was way better than everyone else in just about every possible way. It mostly came from hating myself and acting this way kind of worked as a band-aid to make me feel better about myself. I wish I could take all of this back, but I can’t. All I can do now is acknowledge it, be better going forward, and offer sincere apologies to those I’ve hurt.
The thing is, this person I used to be has had a lasting effect on those who are or were close to me. When my friend revealed she felt this way, it wasn’t just a passing comment, it was very clear this was something that had truly upset her for a long time and negatively impacted her life.
Aside from the specific things I did to people, there are all the stupid attention-seeking things I used to do. Many of them are extremely embarrassing and, to be honest, should have gotten me arrested and in a fair amount of legal trouble. These are things I’m not at all proud of, I wish I could take them back. I used to believe in not having regrets in life, but I _do_ regret these things. Not only was there nothing gained from them except for a few laughs and feeling like people liked me, but there was also nothing that _could_ have be gained. Yes, I was young and stupid and all of that, but the ways in which I tried to make up for my internal feelings and “man up” to hide being transgender were sometimes awful.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m not that person anymore. Not even close. But these things are still in my past. There are people whom I’m still friends with who remember these things and still see them as having been a part of me. Even worse than that, I think, are the people who are no longer in my life. This is the lasting impression I’ve made on them and I’ll never have the opportunity to fix it and share the real person I am with them. I have to live with that. However, with my friends, I hoped maybe my past could be left there, in the past, but this may never be possible. People still remember these things I said and did and people remember how I treated them and made them feel. I’m going to have to learn to live with that too.
After the argument with my friend was resolved and I finally got in my car to head home, I spent the rest of my night just thinking about how much I want to move somewhere new and make all new friends who don’t know a thing about my past except for what I tell them. It’s the best I can do to leave my past behind me, but I still can’t erase it. It will always catch up to me. There will still be my close friends whom I talk to every day and see when I come back home to visit. They will always remember the person I used to be. I will always remember the person I used to be.
My past exists and it always will exist. It can’t be outrun. I have to live with that and, sometimes, that’s not easy.