Monday, December 26, 2011

Wishing for a "do-over"

DJ's childhood friend came by yesterday.  They've know each other since they were six years old, attended first grade together, and hung out at each other's houses for years.  When DJ came out, this young man was quite taken aback but stated to his mom, a longtime friend of ours, that he had known DJ since they were little and would stand by her.  Which he has in many ways.  So, when he came by yesterday, I was surprised to see DJ's mood just sink.

No one else noticed her decline in spirits because they were busy visiting and DJ chose to hang out with me in the kitchen, which overlooks the family room, but affords some separation from that room.  As soon as this young man left, DJ shut herself in her room.

I gave her a few minutes and then followed her into her room.  She sat on her bed looking lost.  I had heard this nice young man inadvertently say, "How's it goin' man?" to DJ when he first came in and I saw her face fall so I knew what had upset her.  Or so I thought.  But it was more than that.  She explained her feelings to me and ended with, "I just wish we could move and leave this stupid small town and start all over somewhere new."

An appealing idea, but not possible for us.

I started to explain to Bill that DJ was upset and he was puzzled.  He expressed that the young man had been cordial, accepted DJ, and everything else I already knew as well.  I told him what DJ shared with me:

Yes, he was "nice" to her but he was one of the most flirtatious guys in school who ordinarily greeted girls by picking them up and hugging them.  The fact that he may consider her too much of a friend or sister figure didn't matter to DJ.  The fact of the matter was that DJ just wants to be treated like any other girl at school and that simply is not the way it is most of the time.  This young man's actions that were so unlike his common behaviors just signaled to DJ that she was different, again, even if he didn't intend that.

To many people at school, she is the "girl who used to be a guy" and she is SICK of it.  I can only sigh in empathy because I can only imagine what it must be like for her.  She has put up a brave front for quite awhile but she is tired now.  Most people just aren't capable of responding to the person in front of them and their awkwardness manifests itself on some molecular level that DJ can pick up and now she's so sensitized, that even if there is no awkwardness in a situation, I suspect she looks for it and finds it even when it's not there.  And who can blame her?  Not me, that's for sure.

Romeo expressed that he went through a rough time in junior high experiencing kids alternately mocking him and avoiding him and it started a process of social anxiety that he still has to work to control, on occasion.  I can sympathize, as can most of us, and we don't have the same "stigma" attached to who we are.

I  had a conversation with a young lady in a bank last week.  She made a remark, albeit innocently, about JD, having no idea how much pain she was causing me when she said it.  Our town is so small that we always run into people we know, or who recognize our last name because we've had multiple kids go through the school system here.  No wonder DJ wants to get away-there's no getting away from the stigma.

She's becoming more withdrawn when she has to go to school.  Bulldog and I are weighing the options about school.  Homeschooling is looking mighty attractive but we worry about DJ being socially isolated. Is it better to be socially isolated at home or in a school full of peers?  It's hard to say.

We are entertaining options-perhaps dual enrollment at high school and at community college.  She'll cross paths with her true friends at high school, have minimum interaction with the folks who don't matter because she'll only spend part of her day there; she can then spend a good portion of her day in a place where she can truly start over and just be DJ-the sweet, wonderful, happy go lucky girl with none of that other "she used to be" crap.  All I know is we have to do something.  I'm dreading the end of Christmas break as much as DJ is.