Dillan Digiovanni

One Year Later: Overcoming My Fear of Reaching Out to My Family

LGBTQ, InspirationDillan DiGiovanniComment
nelson
nelson

Last week I celebrated the one year anniversary of "going under the knife" to change my physical form as part of my transition to male.

I promised to post a video showing footage from my "unveiling" as well as results one year later and you can see that below. But rather than lead with that, instead I want to share a bigger transformation with you.

You may have noticed (or not) that over the past four years, I've barely mentioned my family. I've hardly spoken of them because I was estranged from them. I know this happens for all sorts of reasons in many families, and this began before my transition but you can guess that it wasn't exactly something that would bring a family together, even in the best of circumstances. It can happen, but didn't for me.

I went through this entire process without contact from everyone except my mother. She and I had minimal, strained interactions prior to surgery and after, it got even more difficult. One reason for this, I can see after the fact, was my focus on myself and my process. Summoning courage to make this leap meant I had to be a little selfish for a while, especially when it was clear my family wasn't in a space to support me. And I am 100% totally ok with that, because it's what happened.

A few weeks ago, I shared on facebook that I emailed my father for the first time in four years. It got tons of likes and quite a long list of comments, most of them from my loyal and incredible cisgender* following. It was clear to me that everyone can relate to family estrangement and the courage and fear inherent in trying to bridge those distances.

The reconnection is slow-going. Such is the nature of change.

Communication with my mother, however, is moving along more swiftly. I'm sharing this now because I want to inspire from a place of real self-awareness. I haven't shared much about my family in the past because I was still seeing myself as the abandoned, the forgotten, the deserted.

That wasn't . I was simply not able to hold space for their process of losing the person I had formerly been. I was terrified of what they would say, and hurt by things that had already been said--before transition and once I mentioned it--so I made the decision to take time away until I felt stronger.

I knew it wasn't easy for them, but it wasn't easy for me, either.

It was easier for my friends, though I can guess it hasn't been a walk in the park.

It was easier for my partner, who has known me for 9 years and we both sort of always knew this transition was inevitable.

It was easier for strangers, most of whom have no idea I am even transgender.

It wasn't so easy for people who had known me since birth. And a certain kind of guilt prevented me from being able to listen to their experience. Silenced grief goes unprocessed, in my experience, and prevents true healing.

One year after my surgery, I am celebrating a tremendous transformation, both inside and out. I took steps to do what was needed for my own health and happiness and now I am able to overcome my fears and extend compassion and a listening ear to how it has affected my family, namely my mother. Bearing witness to her grief is only possible because I first did it for myself. Extending compassion and understanding to her process is only possible now because I showed that love for myself, first. As a result, we have plans to reunite next week--for the first time in almost 4 or 5 years. It pains me that it's been so long that I forget exactly how long.

This video shows before and after images of my physical body, but the true transformation that I'm celebrating one year later is that of becoming the person I really want to be: kinder, honest, compassionate and able to listen with love to bring about true healing and acceptance.

Have you broken a mold of some sort or lived outside the lines in some way?

What was the impact of that on those around you?

How can you accept and affirm your decisions and still make space to help others heal?

Please share your stories below.

If you want to join me on this fearless journey I'm on, you probably want to join my pay-what-you-can Fearless Living virtual program. Check it out: http://dillandigi.com/fearless-living-the-remix/