Dear Friend,

You were my very first friend in the Tourette’s community. After J was diagnosed, I had nowhere to turn. I didn’t know how to handle the official diagnosis and finding the camp just before the deadline to sign up was exactly what we needed. Camp was exactly what he and I both needed. He found your child to be his BFF and I found you. You were bold and spoke your mind and I needed someone like that in my life. Someone to show my how to advocate for my child.

Our families blended so well. J and Z, BFFs, E and T, slowly grew to talk at least, D and D and M and M, all BFFs now and they were just small fries when we met. Our families have been linked since that first summer of camp. They just get each other, all of them. They know the chaos of a large family, the struggles of TS and all the comorbids. How loud a house with TS can get. You and I bonded over the messiness and the gross things boys do when left to their own devices for even 5 seconds.

I have this secret and I wonder how it will impact our friendship. You are so understanding and supportive of all the things and your own children and the things that make them unique. You accept everyone unconditionally. I am sure you will accept me and be ok with this. But does it change things? Are there things we can’t talk about anymore? Will we have to be distanced because of your religion the way men and women are separated? Does it matter that I am not part of your religion and the outside world still sees me as you know me?

I have thought about telling you so many times. Since most of our friendship has been on messenger and you told me about Z on messenger, is that an ok way to handle this? Do you know how many times I have clicked on your name and started to write to you about my secret? At least 10-15 times. I keep thinking it will be easy to tell you until I actually start typing and then I just can’t find the words to write it. I have this message I wrote awhile back that was supposed to be something I could copy and paste but it feels too impersonal for you and many of the other people I feel myself wanting to tell. I know I don’t owe anyone any explanation and I could just change everything when I feel like it and be as public or not as I feel like. I know you would support that. But I want to tell you. I want you to know who I really am because I like being friends with you. I like the honesty we have always shared with each other. All those times you wrote on facebook that you didn’t want to talk about things, but I would write you a message of support and you would tell me right away. We have so much openness between us and I feel like I am not honoring that. I also realize that I don’t have to “honor” anything in a real friendship. But I want you to know who I really am. I want you to see the person I really am on the inside. But maybe none of that matters to you. Maybe you see exactly how I am, and gender was never a huge part of that. I don’t know.

But soon I will tell you, and we will both know where things stand in our friendship. My hunch is that not much will change and you will be great about using my preferred name and not misgendering me unless I ask you to in front of people I don’t want to know.

We will be ok, I know it.

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