I have a feeling that most of my readership (what little there is) must be feeling that I fell off the proverbial map, so here I am, writing the first real post in what must be four months. A lot has happened in that time.

I’m employed. I had to move. I thought about, and tried, killing myself at least two or three times (what else is new, right?). I’ve lost some friends. I’ve made some new ones. Some things have gone horribly wrong for me in the last few months. And some things have actually gone so far awry I think they actually crossed over and ended up working out for the best. I’ve been busy. Hopefully you’ll accept all of that as decent excuse for my absence.

I’m still sorting out what to tell you and maybe as I write I’ll be able make up my mind about those things.

I could explain, in gory details, how my latest BDSM relationship went atomic but that would involve violating the privacy of several people that have not given their permission for such a discussion. I think I can say the following without crossing any lines: I harmed someone, albeit unintentionally, but that harm occurred nevertheless. That it was not physical harm simply means that no one had to go to the ER. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t fuck up. In fact, emotional distress is probably more serious, at least in my mind, and I can do nothing more than offer my apology to the individuals involved.

The problem was trying to figure out how a trans woman who has issues with her own body (namely, me) can relate to the trans body of another woman, and in the end, I blew it– rather than risk alienating this woman from her own body, I ended up alienating her from myself. I was so afraid that I was going to do something wrong, that I was going to set off one of her triggers, or worse, one of my own, that I ended up hardly relating to and interacting with her at all.

The way around this, I’ve discovered, is to openly discuss how each of us relates to her body and how we ought to relate to one another’s bodies. It seems so simple, but I was already afraid myself, feeling so vulnerable and exposed, and I knew (or at least thought) that she must be feeling the same way and I was too scared to just talk through it for fear of setting one or the other of us off. Yet, all that was really needed was a bit of talking. This girl was a friend of mine but still, I was too afraid to relate to her as a friend, to find out what she needed from me, to tell her what I needed from her, and just like a smothered fire, we died.

I suppose the reason I’ve shared what I have of this that I feel like pointing out that I’m just as capable of making bad decisions, that I’m just as capable of doing stupid and hurtful things, that I’m just as capable of making a mess of things as anyone else. I am responsible for the harm I caused another person and there’s nothing I can do at this point to make it right.

I suppose that’s kind of the overarching theme in this post– relationships are– hell, life is– messy. We are never perfect moral agents, not even in our own stories. Even those whom we elevate on pedestals rarely live up to our expectations– the specter of abandonment looms large, even when we are told they’ll never leave.

Which brings me to my best friend. The Domme I met last year– the person I’ve been most reliant upon for stability since I tried to kill myself last July– has removed herself from my life. The rationale isn’t as important as the impact. There’s a huge hole in my heart that she filled and I miss her terribly every day.

I initially felt let down and hurt that someone’s connection to me could be so easily broken. As I’ve gained more distance from her though, I’ve realized that while she had a lot of positive influence on my life, being away from her has been a good thing for me, as well. I learned a lot from her, but being around her was to be in a very controlled environment. While she helped me feel more stable at a time when I was very emotionally not, the atmosphere was a lot like being in the hospital– everything with her was rigidly structured. In a sense, I needed that stability, but at the same time, I didn’t learn how to survive outside that controlled environment.

This may not sound like a bad thing on its face, and it really isn’t, but as I alluded to previously, I recently found a new job. I had to move across the country– I now live in Maryland, about 45 minutes away from Washington, DC and what might as well be light years away from all of my friends back in California, all the people I knew in the lifestyle. I felt like my Domme, like my best friend, was on the other end of the solar system.

So, as I was saying, once I moved, I was completely unprepared for life outside my Domme’s control. Now, I’m not saying that’s her fault and I’m certainly not blaming her for trying to help me when I needed it most last year. I wouldn’t have gotten through that troubled time were it not for her presence, her near constant availability when I needed her.

But once I was outside the sphere of her influence the foundation of everything in my world was shaken. I just didn’t know what to do without her. I would go in the bathroom at work and cry for 30 minutes at a time, feeling completely alone. I felt so disconnected from everyone, that nothing was going right and all I wanted was to go back home and feel the sun on my face again. Not two weeks after I moved out here I swallowed nearly every tablet in a huge bottle of tylenol.

No hospital for me this time, no ambulance rides. I didn’t even get through all the pills before my stomach had hit the proverbial eject button. Aside from being probably the grossest thing I’ve ever personally experienced, I felt miserable for the next three days, physically sick. I did recover and pills are now forever off the suicidal ideation methodology protocol.

My Domme knew all about the suicide attempt and in light of this latest demonstration of despair, decided that she wasn’t going to go down with me. I don’t even remember the last words she ever spoke to me– I tried calling and never got an answer after that. For weeks, I was nearly non-functional and all I felt was alone and abandoned, by myself at a time when I most needed a friend. I cried nearly every day.

But, time passes, and as fall became winter, I started to get settled in the new job and the new surroundings. That vast expanse at the edge of the world which started out as an unknowable and terrifying quantity became just another part of the scenery. I have, through all the negative experiences and ruined relationships that marked my first months here, realized several very important things, themes that seem to get repeated over and over in my life.

For one, this new place is not quite so terrible as I first imagined. To the contrary, I have the freedom and the anonymity to be myself, whoever that really is. There is no dichotomy of Jessica here– no one has ever known Josh. Only a few friends have even seen pictures of what I used to look like. I get the most amusing looks from people when I try to explain that I used to have a beard and mustache and that I shaved my head every few months. The experience is as odd for me as it must be for them, as though part of my past doesn’t equate with the woman in front of both of us.

Aside from feeling disorienting, this new found breathing room is also very liberating, as I’m sure you could guess– it allows me to be myself apart from the known history of being a trans woman to most people. I’m afforded the space to explore myself as a woman, just a woman and not necessarily as a woman who used to be a man. So much of my life has been organized around being trans, by beating it down and then embracing it, that sometimes it feels like all I know is myself as a trans person. Now though, I feel like I can figure out what the rest of me looks like. It’s the temp job from last summer writ large, expanding to encompass every aspect of my life, not just work.

Looking back on the wreckage of my friendships as I talk about finding myself, being more myself, I believe there is a fundamental disconnect that has brought me to this point. Up to now, I have failed to believe that those who love me also care to know what I need. It is a failure of communication, a failure to confront fears within that affect my relationships– specifically, fears of abandonment and fears of body dysphoria. On a larger scale, I think if we applied a simple correction to all of our relationships, if only we believed that our loved ones would want to know what we know about ourselves, then maybe some of our hurts and the hurts we cause others could be avoided.