Leaving My Refuge


I am taking a break from packing up my Bronx apartment, to write down my thoughts. And to cry.

The need to vent my emotions is overpowering.  I do that, as easily as I open the windows, to let in some fresh air, and (hopefully) carry out on the breeze my pain and my sorrow.


This small space was my refuge.

My first home alone in a new name, at the tail end of an old life.

IMG_0334In May, I moved here with such dreams that I might just one more time rise like the phoenix from the ashes… that’s what I always did back when people called me Don… but it was not to be, not this time.


This is where I crashed: apartment 806 here in Kingsbridge.

This is the site of a disaster that even the NTSB would walk away from, heads down, saying: it was bound to happen and nothing could have prevented it.

I call that time: my downfall.

Six months…. it’s been six months since I moved here in hopes that moving to New York City might save my job, my career, my reputation, my life of risk and gambles.

Most people won’t tell you that gender dysphoria screws with you in ways that are hard to detect. It tears you out from the inside. Maybe not everybody goes through this; I didn’t last year. I guess it wasn’t my time, because everything about my original transition went so well! And then it ended, involuntarily, abruptly, frighteningly.

When I awoke from my delusion, I found myself trapped. So I made an escape plan, and I gambled one last time, resuming my transition in private and in the company of close friends and roommates, until I was ready to do so — quietly — at work.

But the gamble didn’t pay off.

A year of losses mounted: close friends died… I wound up in emergency rooms every month of this year, from January through June… I crashed a car (or two), and another one vanished… the lease on my room on the beach was terminated and before I could pack-up and leave, a flood struck the condo… the tabloids and gossip pages knocked me down another notch of disgrace… “friendships” ended… job opportunities turned into closed doors, unanswered calls and deleted emails.

Oh, right, and I tried to end my life. Twice. I was a failure at that, too.

And I am so glad I was! It is because of friends and God’s mercy and grace that I did survive.

This is where I survived all of that. This is where I spent the summer of my downfall.

I thought. I prayed. I cried — every night, for months. I wrote. I was plagued by nightmares. I prayed harder. I wrote more. And I begged, and help did come.

Four months into my downfall, right to the day it began… somebody hired me. Then I found a second job a few weeks later. FINALLY: something I accomplished, as me!

But when I did the math — which you all know I hate (because I’m bad at it) — I realized, an apartment like this is for someone who has the kind of job I can’t get.

Moving back home was what I wanted, but without drama, and without forcing a no-win scenario. I had learned from my downfall, that was not a risk worth taking.

I became something over the summer I had never been: pragmatic. Oh, sure, from time to time, I’ll still leap and expect a net to appear, and go where angels (and devils) fear to tread. But hey, I’m Irish, and we do that. Usually after a pint. Or two.

It was without even a sip of wine I realized I had to find a new refuge. And as God works Her or His miracles, I found one outside Atlanta. Thank you, Lord, for sending me my dear friend, Stacey, and for making it possible that I can help her, just as she helps me. By becoming roommates, we are helping each other.

A new life is underway; it is not a rebuilding. I am not bringing that old life with me to Marietta. A lot of it is going in the trash, and the rest is being given away or sold. I have never in my life moved anywhere without a job waiting… except once, when I was a year old and my parents moved from an apartment around the corner to my first house in Bellerose, Queens. Yes, I have been working since I was four years old (see my earlier blog entry HERE for that part of the story), and except for a few months here and there, I’ve never stopped. Even when we moved to Stewart Manor, Long Island, it was because my sister and I were earning enough to make that happen.


My friend and longtime mentor Steve Majors asked me earlier this summer: have I considered that maybe instead of trying to be the breadwinner I have always been, that perhaps this is the time that I need to heal, to regroup and recover from all that’s happened in the past year? I confessed to him that with a confirmed diagnosis of PTSD, yes: I should. I so desperately wanted to. But I couldn’t. Three children and a spouse depended on me for support. And so, I kept knocking on those doors, in vain.

Now, here it is a few months later, and I see that God has once again provided the way for me to do just what Steve suggested. My part-time jobs will move along with me, and I pray I find peace in my new home.

II fly south November 1st. Me and all the birds.

As the song goes, the devil went down to Georgia… but my friends, they ain’t seen nothing like Dawn Ennis.

Keep in touch, and as Rick always said: “Be Good!”


3 thoughts on “Leaving My Refuge

  1. Dawn,
    I’m so happy to hear that you’re emerging from such a hard time in your life! Good luck with your move to Atlanta! Good things are in store for you!
    Mae West


  2. As I keep saying to our Haven clients, look what you’ve come through already, and you’re still standing. You are amazing. Strong. Resilient. You honor me with your story and with your presence here in my world. You take my breath away, but when it comes back, it will be so I can say, “Thank you.” ❤


    • ❤ you Karen. You have stood by me so long, I treasure your friendship and how you've been a witness to my life. Someday, you and I must cross the distance between us… And laugh out loud together.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s