Amethysta and the Child of Destiny

When doing the right thing is still wrong

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
A child threatens the tottering machine of Ami - image by the author via Midjourney
And...there's a penis. I'm a baby boy!

The words rang in my ears. A boy?

That was wrong. Obviously wrong. One hundred percent erroneous, false, incorrect, inaccurate. A flat-out, pipe dream fabrication.

I came from a family with three girls (four, if you counted me). My father came from a family with four girls. I was supposed to have a girl child. Even my sister predicted I would have a girl.

The question of our child's Assigned Sex at Birth had hung in my mind like a dusty oil painting languishing in the attic. I had not even considered it worthy of asking. As a result, my second question was predictable:

What in the ever-loving fucking hell was I supposed to do?

I didn't know boy stuff. I didn't want to know boy stuff. My child - my daughter, that is - already had a name. She already had a fashion sense filled with black velvet ribbons, black lace, and shiny Mary Jane shoes.

My daughter also had a purpose for her life: to act as my tiny, living, gothic Pale and Tragic Barbie doll and redeem the old man rapidly losing his sense of style and purpose. She was to be my lifeline.

And my daughter was a boy?

Biological betrayal

I struggled for days with news of our child's Assigned Sex at Birth. Frankly, I didn't like it.

I felt hurt - betrayed by the same genetic Judas that spawned my inaccurate Assigned Sex at Birth. I wrote page after page in my journal, attempting clumsily to convince myself this turn of events would work out fine.

I succeeded - sort of. At the very least, I succeeded in recalling what my parents did to me. Because I was not only to be a parent. I was to be a father.

The word "father" stuck in my throat, but slowly, I began to accept our child would be a boy. This meant I had to find some way to be the parent a young boy needed. I had to break the karmic cycle of abuse inflicted on me.

In my mind, the logic was simple. Boys need fathers. Fathers are men. Fathers are not like I am.

I knew I must change. I must double down yet again. I had already forced myself to believe in The American Dream and I could force myself to be a...a father. To be a...a man. So help me...a man.

Dissociated drunkenness

When our son was born, he came hard into this world. My wife was hurt badly by the birth. She tells me I stepped up admirably to care both for her and our son when we arrived home.

I remember very little of that period. I was numb, dissociated, going through motions I knew I had to perform for our survival. But caring for my family was a clinical task, a test of organization as opposed to empathy.

I still hadn't completely come to terms with this small life that had already changed my life profoundly. As soon as possible, I got away from the family.

At first, it was just work. Now I had a family and it was my sworn duty - my moral imperative - to protect and provide. But I was still numb.

Since my undergraduate years, I was a heavy drinker. My tolerance was legendary.

The first time I was admitted to a hospital psych ward, I blew a Breathalyzer value of 0.28 BAC. I remember it vividly - the nurse asked me to repeat the test, then informed me most people would be unconscious in my state, not carrying on calm conversation about medical history.

The tipping point

I don't write about my alcohol tolerance to boast, but to illustrate the gravity of what happened within our son's first year. I drank even more heavily.

I needed to obscure myself, to obscure my Self. I needed to forget, to destroy the person sitting, holding a glass of expensive whiskey, little finger held straight, like the Lord of the Manor. I needed to unexist.

My tenuous mental health - tenuously propped up by self-medication and prescribed medications - leaned ever more tenuously on them.

That is, until the medications stopped working to silence the voices in my head.

It was August 2012. Our son was just over a year old. In six or eight weeks, I cycled through several anti-psychotic medications, entered and left the psych ward three times, and remembered extremely little of it.

To this day, my wife will mention events during that time I cannot recall. I was in a dissociated state, heavily medicated, and mostly sat in a chair when I emerged from bed at all.

I did not shower unless asked to. I did not brush my teeth unless asked to. I was nervous to shave - what would happen with a razor blade at my throat? This period of my life represents the very worst I ever experienced, even with my hazy recollection.

Reaching bottom

Despite my lack of cognizance during that time period, one event still stands out in stark colors. My wife needed to drive to a grocery store for boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner. Our son - at only a year old - still rode in a reverse-facing car seat that could be carried.

As I watched my wife strap our son into the car seat, I asked why she went to the bother when I was awake and marginally aware - especially given the grocery store was less than a mile away.

She responded tersely:

I don't trust you alone with our son. When I leave you alone, I never know what I'll come home to.

My wife's words felt overly harsh. Her words felt unjust and unfair. Her words stung my pride.

And as I considered my wife's words as she went to buy food to sustain my barely existing existence, I realized her words were not untrue.

I was far too unstable to be trusted with children. I knew it...and I hated it. I hated myself as strongly as I had ever hated myself. I asked myself why something like I am should continue trying when even my own family was against me.

A long climb begun

In my head, however, I understood if I did not make changes, I would not watch our son grow up. I would not see the struggles and the accomplishments our son would experience as a human. I would never experience the human I committed to supporting when we decided to have children.

This time, instead of running - instead of divorcing my bitch wife and drinking myself to death in a self-destructing vortex of Pity Party - I made a different decision. I accepted responsibility for my mental health and chose to do something about it.

Candidly, I surprised even myself. For very possibly the first time in my life, I believed the problem was me. But instead of believing I must be destroyed, I believed I had the power to change. I decided to fight for my family, for our son, for our life together.

Indirectly, I realized I would fight for my life, too, although that part wasn't important to me. If I could not summon the fortitude to fight for my own sake, I would at least fight for my family's sake.

I knew I had to become a man in order to fulfill my commitment to my family. It was time to throw away the idea I was a girl or could be a girl or would be a girl.

Boys need fathers, and fathers are men.

Appearing healthy

I had a plan - all it took was denying my identity completely. I viewed it as one more small step in a lifetime of denying my identity. How hard could it be?

So...I bought books about perfectionism. Those books led me to books about meditation. And during the week of 8 July 2013, I took my first step toward a new life. I meditated for the first time.

Within two weeks of beginning my practice, people asked if I had lost weight, claiming I looked younger. I could feel a calm I hadn't felt since...possibly ever.

I found meditation gave me the strength and faith necessary to commit to other major changes. I began to run again. I quit drinking after decades of its primacy in my life.

I decided I was going to live - initially only for my family's sake, but soon for my own, to see what I could do when firing on all cylinders. I told my psychiatrist I intended to discontinue my medications and manage my symptoms on my own. I would no longer be chained to chemical crutches.

My psychiatrist laughed gently.

It was a solid plan, flawlessly executed. I did get off my medications. I did clean up. I did make my life better. There was only one small detail I overlooked.

We cannot deny our identity indefinitely.


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.