I think some of you might have noticed that I all but disappeared about a year and a half ago. I went ahead and blogged about our trip to Europe, which was fun. But that was where it ended. You may have followed me over to the new blog or you may have been relieved I stopped filling up your inbox :-). Either way, its about time I put my big girl panties on and explain.
There was a pretty huge reason or ninety that I stopped writing here. Its kind of funny because this format, the way I’m sharing what kept me away, reminds me of those essays that teachers assign at the beginning of the school year: Class, please write me an essay on what you did this summer. Ha ha. So yeah, here’s what I did last summer. And the entire year before that. :-)
In a nut shell, my excuses embody erotica, of all things, and my children.
Erotica made me do it: I started writing women’s fiction many years ago, and was surprised that when I finally figured out the formula for writing sex scenes, they just poured out. I was able to write manuscripts with very sexy scenes. This disturbed me in some ways. I actually went and deleted a ton of those scenes, they were so, um, detailed? One of which I was lucky enough to have published in an anthology. Go figure. It was clear to me that I didn’t want my children sidled with embarrassment and guilt because of what their mamma wrote. So I created Audrey Valiant and off went my stories in that direction. I decided it was time to keep my writing journey separate from this blog.
Or maybe it was the kids: A few months before the creation of Audrey Valiant, my then sixteen-year-old shared that he is transgender, and very depressed. I don’t know about you but when my child is in distress I totally shut down. He’s still living in that head space, but we have him in therapy and we’re a happy tight little family so its going to be okay.
So what’s different now? What is making it okay for me to tell you that Audrey Valiant and Jennifer Douwes are different brands of the same person? The kids are older now. They’ve known all along about my achievements. Before, hiding behind a different name was more because I didn’t want their friend’s parents knowing what I sometimes write. They’d have to work hard to figure out it was me all along behind the pen name. I’ve come to accept that we are, at our core, sexual beings. If the parents can’t deal with that, then I guess good riddance.
What’s different is that in all of that healing my kid is going through, he’s learning who he is. I find myself saying, “Be who you are. Embrace your amazing self. Fuck societal norms. You don’t have to conform to gender stereotypes.* We love you for who you are and that will never change.” So who am I to not do the same when I’m representing myself? What kind of role model is that?
Why am I back? There are a few reasons.
I really want to help others going through the same things I am. When I started this journey as a trans parent a year and a half ago, it was very surreal. Still is at some turns in the road. One of my best buds is quite educated on raising trans teens and guided me through it for a bit. After that I didn’t really feel like I needed any help. Turns out I was dead wrong. So I enrolled the help of my friends and family, and we’re slowly getting through this. The thing is, I know there are more people out there like myself.
Social Media is killing me. I’ll admit it, I look at Facebook and Twitter. There are so many ill-informed, fear mongering people out there that its driving me a bit crazy. I’ve held my tongue long enough. Okay, well, I did delete a few people off of Facebook for their ignorance after spewing information that probably made no sense to them. If there is any chance I can help these same people who make me want to scream understand some issues that I had to take the long way around to make sense of, that would be pretty great.
Especially when we live in a society that embraces hyper femininity, rape culture, and let’s face it, the over sexualization of women. I kind of figure that if it’s so difficult for me to wrap my brain around, I probably can help others who are battling the same issues. Kind of like a math teacher with dyscalculia. They are probably going to teach it better than a math teacher who it made sense to from the get go.
So beware, along with the normal stuff I talk about: wine, happy hour and the merit of wearing slippers to the grocery store, I’ll be lamenting about life with my trans teen and my daring diva – who really is a tomboy in a tiara, if there ever was one. ‘Cause this shit is hard. I vow to *try* and stop editing what I want to say to you guys. It might be controversial. It might make you want to plug your ears (or cover your eyes.) Or maybe even flat out not like me. But its time, I guess, to just be who I am. If I’ve learned anything from having kids its that.
For the record, my other blog is still active, as I’m having new stories published now and again. But the rest of my writing will be under my real name. Because I’m not hiding anymore.
It might be a slow start as I get used to being transparent about the crazy life we lead. But haven’t you ever sat back and watched the kids screaming and rolling around on the floor while the dog barks madly, with the TV blaring ’cause grandma can’t hear it over their laughter while she waters the green carpet with her oxygen on, cigarette hanging from her free hand, and the only thing you can do is sit back and laugh?** Cause life is never neat and perfect. It’s messy. It’s beautiful. And kind of fucked up sometimes.
Its time to embrace my terrible beautiful fucked up self and get on with it.
See you around!
* Conformity is a touchy subject. Though I am a rule follower and conformist by heart, there is a very large part of me that can see all sides. If all sides don’t agree, then its time for some new rules. If no one is going to make new rules that make sense, then conformity is no longer advantageous and must be abandoned for better pursuits. If you can be a non-conformist with respect, then you’ve nailed what I’m talking about.
** Taking some creative license here, all of these things happened to someone I love, but not at the same time. But you get the picture.