Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflecting on a friend

    


I am not an early riser and lately I have not had much to rise early for.  Still I have tried to get back in the habit of going to bed about 12 and getting up about 8 am.  I am usually awake by 7 or 730.  I woke up about 4 last night, something was bothering me.  I had dreams but not bad ones, I just couldn't sleep and I was restless so I got up at 5.



Welcome back to Tammy World.  It is my intention to post a blog entry a week and sometimes I may do more or add just random thoughts or reflections.  I have three ideas for posts in my head and am working on a couple of them but right now I want to share some news I received today and reflect on an old friend.  In my last post I reported having no friends left from my old life but actually I do have 2 friends left.  They just are not a part of my regular life and these two I correspond with, if infrequently, but seldom if ever see.  Now I am down to one.  I received a call this morning (actually my wife took the call) to report to me that one of my oldest friends and someone I used to refer to as my best friend, died in his sleep last night.


Not having many friends and still being at an age when people are not supposed to die, I have never experienced the death of a close friend.  I have cried 3 times in the 16 days I have been on hormones and this was the first time when I really had a good reason.  I want to tell you a little bit about my late friend Mack and what happened to him.  We spoke on the phone only once this year and it had been at least 6 or 7 years since I last saw him.  I thought about calling him often in the last few months, at some point I was going to come out to him and tell him about my transition but I will never have that chance.  My other remaining friend I mentioned in the first paragraph I speak to once or twice a year and he will usually come see me over the Holidays.  I am sort of planning to not be available to see him this year but at some point I will tell him about me.  I really wanted to tell Mack and he had a female friend that had contacted me a few months back to get mack's current phone number and I did come out to her and sent her pictures of me on the phone.  She may have told Mack but I don't know, they were both fairly crazy so I may never know.


Mack died in his sleep in a nursing home a couple of hours from me and his hometown where we used to hang out.  He had been in nursing homes, group homes and mental facilities since his early 30's and he would have been 49 years old next month.  Almost all my friends have been sort of "crazy"  and Mack was an extreme example of that.  It has actually taken me quite awhile in therapy to be convinced I am not insane too (although I am crazy lol, I am not insane).  What I have is Gender Identity Disorder and depression which is to a large degree related to the GID (Gender Dsyphoria)All of that is getting better with treatment and I now feel as if I will have some semblance of a normal life one day.  Maybe the reason I have surrounded myself with people who are "different" (many with mental disorders) is because that is how I have always looked at myself.  My therapist says that is actually common in trans people.


Yes Mack was my best friend from my wildest days, late teens and twenties.  He was an abuser of drugs and alcohol, mostly alcohol and he was a severe alcoholic by the time he was institutionalized in his 30's.  I think he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he never admitted it to me but he was definitely taking anti psychotic medications since his first visit to the mental hospital.  He may have been taking Antabuse also and I wonder if he was drinking again on that medicine and that had something to do with his death.  I hope to find out, but his health had been declining in recent years.  He had some mini strokes and stroke like symptoms and had been hospitalized for it a few times but to my knowledge they couldn't find out what was wrong.  Mack was a good person and never hurt anyone.  That was one thing we had in common no matter how bad our actions were back in those days.  He did often surround himself with a lot of bad people (sometimes the worst types) but to my knowledge he never stole or started fights etc.  He was quite a drunk though and his mouth got him in trouble more than once.  I remember one time he had been in a bar and said something to the wrong person and ended up with his jaw broken and wired shut.  Yes he had gotten so bad in the last few years before he was institutionalized that even I would not hang out with him when he would start getting out of hand.  He was famous for going on three days drunks in which he would not eat and only sleep when he passed out (usually on the floor) and then wake up and go get another drink.  The last time I "partied" with him he came to my trailer (via bus from one of the nursing homes) and brought a big bag of clothes and toothbrush etc.  He stayed 3 nights I think and he never touched the contents of the bag, we sent him home in the same clothes he came in with and I think it was last day of the visit  before he would eat anything.  My wife had been out the first couple of nights and when she returned she poured out his last liquor bottle and made sure I sent him home when I returned from work.   He was a mess but a very funny person, a funny drunk that would always make you laugh, though I think most people laughed at him and not with him. 


I have not known whether to thank Mack or curse him but he was the one that introduced me to my wife many years ago.   He was always making friends with girls but  hardly ever dating them (we had that in common) and he had met her at a bar and we all went out one night to another bar.  When I met my wife she had been sort of a bar fly and drinker but she was at the end of her run with that, they were putting her on Lithium when we started seeing each other and I only saw her drink once.  She was a mean drunk and we never would have stayed together if she had continued.  I guess I will thank him because I think her and I were meant to be together, at least for this time we have been together, to sort of look after each other.  Although I know the marriage will not last and I don't want it to, I know I will always look out for her.  The way she has come around to support me in the last year, particularly the last 6 months, has been very special to me and she has again become my great friend.  But Mack was my best friend at the time he introduced us and although it has been years since I saw him and we seldom spoke anymore, I will miss him and in a way I hate that he never knew the real me.  He just knew the person that was hurting and hiding behind a bottle and I think he was too.  He had his own demons whatever they were. 


Of late when I would speak to him Mack would either be too groggy from the meds to really talk about anything, or he would be in a good mood and talk about some of the wild times we had when we were younger.  There were some wild stories but it is the distant past and I will not rehash them here.  I don't miss that part of my life at all but I always said I would write a book about our exploits and maybe someday I will, or at least post some blog posts about it.  It would amuse the readers I am sure.  I do remember when we were both about 20 years old and Mack was just a tad taller than me but we both weighed 165 pounds.  In the last few years he had ballooned to over 280 and I had weighed around 200 pounds for quite some time but I am now back at that weight from years ago, 165 pounds.  I actually feel better than I did then. The last time I saw him he looked more bloated than fat, he was unhealthy looking like he was swollen in the face and gut and I think that had gotten worse.  No telling what kind of medicines they had him on in those facilities but it was some strong stuff and I think it contributed to his physical decline as for the most part he had gotten away from drinking and that lifestyle that had almost killed him before he went in.

 I am going to end this post by relating a couple of things from Mack's last years of freedom, before being institutionalized.  He was good at holding a job unless the employers got fed up with him and let him go.  He would always go to work at least and toward the end he was living in motels (cheap ones) because he couldn't handle making regular bill payments or manage his money.  I had come home one day when I was working out of town and went to see him at his room.  He was drinking, had been all day and possibly days, and I may and may not have had one drink but it was the afternoon so I wasn't "partying."  We hung out awhile and I wanted to use the motel pay phone to call my girlfriend (now wife).  Mack wanted to go with me and listen to his music (he loved his music and his favorite band was Rush) and so he drove me across the parking lot.  After I got off the phone he was driving back to the room and for some reason he veered off and headed out the driveway toward the highway.  I was telling him to go back and when he got to the edge of the highway he ran one wheel off into the ditch and got stuck.  I got out to look and he was spinning his tires like crazy and I could tell he was not going anywhere.  A state trooper happened along and pulled in behind Mack's car and hit the blue lights.  Soon Mack was being arrested for DWI and being sober I walked over and tried to talk to the officer to explain what had happened and tell him Mack had not been on the state highway.  The trooper wanted to hear nothing of it and threatened to arrest me if I didn't leave so I left.  A few months later he had moved to another motel nearby and this time managed to get a DWI while sitting in his car with the motor running and listening to his music.  This would be funny if it wasn't so tragic but he eventually ended up going to prison for a time for DWI's and he later told me that prison was not as bad as the state mental hospitals.  He had been to them all and he had lived a wild life, burned out by 30 and sent away.  Mack I love you and I will always miss you my Friend.