My family is always my first priority. When money was sparse, the first thing I would purchase each paycheck was all the groceries and diapers that Ailani needed till next payday. Then it was gas for commuting to work, rent, bills, and last of all would be food for me. Most of my meals were cabbage or lunchmeat, but the last week of every month all I could eat was ramen noodles. The only way I could afford to see my therapist was to starve myself. I still felt terrible because that was money and time I could use for Ailani to have new clothes, or I could catch up a bill. The turmoil of having to prioritize my mental health over the good of the household kept me awake a lot of nights.
“The sense of progressing in my transition was euphoric at times, but mostly I felt selfish.”
Two years later when I started hormones, my therapy had to come to an end. There was hardly any room for therapist visits to begin with, but now the hormones cost more. I felt relieved and happy to finally feel balanced. The sense of progressing in my transition was euphoric at times, but mostly I felt selfish. Just months before I didn’t have money to buy any Christmas presents for Ailani. Mandy was the hero of that year. We were still just friends and she gave me a Toys R Us gift card to buy gifts.
I grew up in a very low-income household. You didn’t go on field trips because it cost money. You didn’t ask for things because they cost money. Going to McDonald’s was a big treat in our house that we had once every couple of months. We slept by the fireplace in winter because we didn’t have a heater that worked. Now I was the sole income for the household and I definitely was not used to the idea of taking care of my needs. It was not until later that I realized that it was in the best interest of the household for me to prioritize myself from time to time.
“Like everyone else in life she will be faced with judgment and closed-minded people.”
Recently we have been attending a lot of birthday parties that Ailani has been invited to. Most involve Mandy and I catching stares from other parents as our kids play. One parent refuses to allow her daughter to play with Ailani even though they are good friends in school. I often have nightmares about Ailani being confronted by the bigotry surrounding who I am. I try to appease my worry by acknowledging kids and parents will judge her no matter what. Like everyone else in life she will be faced with judgment and closed-minded people.
I have come to realize that most of my guilt stems from having a low self worth. There is a fine line between guilt and being conscious of household needs. By being happy and healthy, we allow ourselves to provide for our family better than we did in the past.