Danielle Marie Bergan -- "It's Always Okay To Be Me: A jouney to recovering lost hope

As early as Danielle Bergan could remember whenever she tried to talk with her mother about her gender, the response was always the same, “God does not make mistakes”.

But Danielle knew differently.

So from the first time she asked those questions as an innocent little boy named Daniel, her usual reply was, “No, Mommy, God is tying to fool you and me. I’m really a little girl. You’ll see. I’m going to grow up as a little girl”.

And so she did.

In her recently released memoir titled “It’s Always Okay to be Me: A journey to recovering lost hope”, Danielle writes candidly about what it was like growing up as a male while living on the inside as a female. Her compelling story shares deeply the difficult struggles she had with drug and alcohol abuse, her numerous near-death experiences, her explicit sexual confusion, and her renewed hopes for the future as she now lives openly as a transsexual woman in West Maui.

Her saga begins when she is on a gurney waiting to be hooked up to an IV that after she is, takes the reader deep into the tumultuous veins of her troubled life. Her narrative pumps with emotion and over the course of time, Danielle as Daniel spins out of control trying to solve the conundrum that he felt he was. At its heart, is the age-old struggle of self-acceptance over self-hatred; something that had defined her life for most of her life until she miraculously turned it all around.

But how could she change who she wasn’t supposed to be when every day after she looked in the mirror, it only got worse and worse? How could she stop obsessing about herself, abusing drugs and alcohol or even her own body before finally committing suicide and taking Daniel with her? And, how could she come to embrace that she was perfect just as she was even though the God who created her “doesn’t make mistakes”?

She didn’t know. She just did not know but somehow that change had already begun and it came after a cocaine-infused night of puking on the bathroom floor from alcohol poisoning that left her appealing to last person she felt she could.

“God,” she pleaded sadly, “I cannot do this anymore. You have to help me.”

In the years that followed that disastrous night, Danielle continues to write with equal candor about her rise to finding the sweet solace of self-acceptance through the 12 steps of her recovery program and eventually having surgical reconstructive surgery. Her impetus? The inscription on the back of her 12-step coins that read, “To thine own self be true”. Friends of Danielle’s can attest to the after affects.

“Danielle became softer and more comfortable in her body,” says Mimi. “It was as though her shoulders relaxed and her smile was more bright; her laugh more spontaneous and reactions more genuine.”

Robin agrees adding that Danielle’s happiness now spills over into all aspects of her life and feels her condition wasn’t so much “God’s error” but rather a birth defect that needed corrective surgery.

Sonjia, too, adds that Danielle has gained new freedom and her soul is at peace.

Danielle now says she now feels loved and accepted and through it all has even made peace with Daniel. She had to.

“I virtually had a conversation between Daniel and Danielle thanking him for the great survivor he was to help me get to where I am,” she says. “But I told him that Danielle will be leading the way now and he said, ‘Thank God. I’m ready to rest.’”

As a self ascribed “thriver”, Danielle has become an advocate for transsexual and transgender people by forming a support group that meets monthly to help others suffering with Gender Identity Disorder (GID). Here she has created a safe haven to discuss their unique challenges, the biggest being families who often have mixed emotions over the loss of the person they knew and the love for the person they now see. Others might share their own experience of sensations they’ve never felt before, both physically and emotionally. The process is so difficult, she says, that it affects friends, associates, and often their jobs.

Fearlessly through her support group and her book, Danielle demystifies what society does not readily understand. Likewise through YouTube, Facebook and at speaking engagements, she is spreading her amazing message of recovering lost hope to others.

For more information, you can reach Danielle Bergan and purchase her memoir through her website at www.ItsAlwaysOkayToBeMe.com. You can also buy it locally at the Maui Friends of The Library bookstore and on Amazon.com.

Written by Elaine Gallant, April 2013
West Maui Book Club