Monday, May 21, 2012

Coming Out...the begininning



Secrets can destroy people.  Coming out can be liberating.  Great things can happen when there are no more secrets and you don't have to hide from yourself and the world anymore.



In late 2007 I ended a long and dangerous addiction and began the process of healing and putting my life back together.  I was still employed in my career job that I managed to hang onto through the dark times and in Spring of 2008 was able to move out of a rental trailer and into a decent home of my own for the first time since I was on my own.  I had started dressing in my mom's clothes and playing with her makeup etc. at about the age of 5 and though I did not understand it, I had always felt like an alien and was never happy or comfortable with myself.  Hiding inside was what I thought was a dark secret I did not dare let come out, not even to myself.  Even though I had this part of me buried deeply and expressed it in little ways when I could, it was in 2004-2005 at the age of 40 before I ever bought a full wardrobe and tried to put together a full female look.  A couple of years before that I had given myself a female name (Tammy Michelle Valentine) and began to study online how to fulfill my lifelong fascination with "looking like a woman" and to try to meet people that could help.  I credit my coming out to myself with being able to stop using hard drugs and quite possibly saving my life.  This is what had been wrong with my entire life and I had not (or had not allowed myself to) realize it.  The femininity I tried so hard to hide from the world was really the real me and I was female inside.  In early 2008, in my new home, for the first time I began to view myself as a female although I had no idea how to accomplish going any farther with it and did not think I could do it. 



I was still living with my wife in a non romantic relationship and had very few friends and was in a fairly isolated situation socially.  I began to make friends outside of my home life (cd,tg,ts) and ventured out to meet them when I could.  My wife knew nothing of this other side of me.  At the end of 2008 the company I was working for fell on hard times and my job was cut to part time then eliminated totally.  I had obtained a professional licence the prior year (real estate) and in 2009 began to work as an independent contractor in this field right about the time the real estate market was falling apart in my area.  I had (and still have) enough money from inheritance etc. to get by on and for the first few months I worked very hard in my new career and made very little money.  Then I scaled back my work somewhat and still made the same amount of money (very little) and thus had more freedom and time to express myself and grow my female side.  In the summer of 2009 I knew I had to move forward somehow with my growing female life and saw telling my wife about me as the great obstacle I needed to overcome.



I decided to come out to her on Halloween  2009 by showing her myself "as a female" and if she didn't like it I could always write it off as a Halloween costume, right?  I got a lot of advise from people for and against this but ultimately was not able to do it and in my mind the opportunity was missed.  I agonized about my dilemma night and day and was relatively unproductive with work but I looked around me and saw that most of the people working so hard in my field were not doing any better so I just laid low and worked on my look during the limited opportunities I had and longed for a way out.  In the Spring of 2010 I knew I had to come out to my wife but again decided Halloween was the right time to do it.  I talked to hundreds of people (mostly online) that had been in a similar situation and finally decided not to just come out to her as a Halloween costume and knew I had to have a serious talk with her.  Again I agonized and waited and waited, trying to find the perfect things to say.  I was very depressed and unproductive but not completely shut down in the other aspects of my life.



One day we took a long drive in the country, dogs in the back seat and visited the grave sites of her family in my wife's small rural home town.  On the way home I took the long way and my wife was in a very good mood and was talking about old memories.  I was nervous and glanced over to her as I was driving and said the words "There is something I have to tell you about myself....".  I know I started by telling her things about my childhood that stand out as vivid memories and pretty much leading up to where I was at that time.  She took it well and asked a lot of questions, but she was obviously not happy or comfortable with the revelation.  She said she did not suspect I was crossdressing but did suspect I was bisexual.  How could she not suspect with all the clues she had found I do not know.  I had been shaving my body for a couple of years and she never even noticed, if that tells you anything.  I did not admit that I was bisexual and did not tell her I wanted to be a woman, these were things that my research had told me not to tell her at least at first.  All I told her I wanted was the freedom to dress in my own home and to be able to go out without having to wait for her to leave  to do it.



This was early October and I agreed not to dress at the house when she was home through the Holidays and she told me after the first of the year she was leaving for good and I could do what I wanted to.  This had been a common statement by her throughout our marriage and even before.  You see, she is 10 years older than me and I first met and started dating her when I was 23.  We got married when I was 34 and her mother was put in a nursing home.  She has never lived alone and never worked a steady job.  I honored her wishes and when Halloween came instead of showing her my true self I met a cd friend in Raleigh and dressed at her house and went with her to the mall.  this was my first trip out in such a public environment and we met another ts friend there and had a fun day out.  I was very nervous but was bolstered by the fact that it was Halloween day and anything goes, but at the end of the day I felt more alive than I ever remember feeling.



The new year came in and sure enough I began to finally experience the freedom in my home to be myself and express myself as a woman.  We are fortunate to have 2 separate houses on the same property.  We have a modest sized ranch home and in the back yard a fairly good sized "guest house" which I began to use as a home for Tammy.  My wife stayed away from me when I was "dressed" and I also began to make outings to various places during the day and sometimes at night, either alone or with friends.  The year before that I had started going to parties and socializing but going out and doing normal activities was new to me and very fulfilling.  In March of 2011 tornadoes raked across eastern North Carolina in the early evening and I was in my little house getting dressed and made up as usual.  There was knock at my door and my wife was there wanting to come in.  At this point she had seen me with makeup but never seen the full me with wig etc. though i had shown her some pictures she acted like she had rather not see.  There was a tornado watch that had turned into a warning in my area and a nasty storm was going on outside and she was scared.  I opened the door and let her in.  Jo Anne (name changed to protect the innocent) meet Tammy....We hung out for awhile until the storm passed and it was not as awkward as either of us had anticipated I don't think.  When the storm was over (we were spared here but the tornadoes were deadly not too far way) she went back to the "big house" and left me alone.  I didn't go out because of the weather.



Over the next couple of months we began to hang out together more, she was getting comfortable with being around either side of me.  I didn't push it too far at first and we agreed that a couple of times a week was ok as far as me expressing myself fully around her.  My life as a male began to become almost unbearable about this time and I was shutting down at work instead of just scaling back.  I am a hard worker but it was getting to the point I could not stand to work as a male anymore and it was ebcoming more painful to be called sir etc.  I stopped associated with a couple of friends I knew would not be understanding and was down to just one friend that would come visit.  I was uncomfortable around him but had known him for 30 years and didn't want to end the friendship at that time.  He knew something about my female self from things he had seen on my computer but we never discussed it and by his general attitude I didn't think I wanted to come out to him.  A year later he knew something was going on with me and told me he would support me through anything but he is a obnoxious drunk and would make references to "fags" he would see on tv, call transsexuals he shes and generally be degrading to women around me and my wife.  Even after I told him to quit it and he had gotten better he would always get drunk and be disgusting verbally so I stopped hanging out with him leaving me with no friends from my old life.



Back to Spring/Summer 2011 and hanging out with Jo Anne in my little guest House where we watch tv every night.  She began to get comfortable with being around me presenting female and at some point proclaimed that I was transsexual and should live full time as a woman.  This surprised me as I still did not see a way I could do that myself although I desperately wanted to and had whittled my male life down to next to nothing.  Of course she prefaced this by saying I should just be happy and pursue living full time but that she would leave me when I did.  I began to see that this evolution of mine was inevitable even though she had always said she was going to leave and never did.  Our relationship is platonic and had been for years even though in the past (Before we married) we were involved romantically.  I guess we were and are fulfilling each other's needs on whatever level.  I was dating men when I could could though sneaking to do so and in September 2011 met a man and the next month we started dating exclusively.  This really filled an empty hole in my life and we are still together.



When I first came out to my wife we agreed that I would see a therapist about my situation.  I had been contemplating doing so for a good while since before I decided to tell her.  I was deathly afraid of therapists though and had some negative experiences with them as a teenager so I never did it.  I was happy in 2010 that she was supportive of my entering therapy, but there was a big catch.  I wanted to see a psychologist versed in gender issues and she wanted me to see someone that would "help me to stop".  Sometime that summer (2011) she had come around and we decided I could talk to whatever kind of therapist I wanted to.  We both realized I needed some kind of help as I was still very, very unhappy even though parts of me were happier because I could express myself more.  It was the going back and forth between "male and female mode" that was killing me, as well as just having to be male at all.  I was still terrified of therapy however and was convinced I would be committed to a mental hospital after being analysed and I told my new therapist this when I finally went in December.



2012 came in came in and I had dedicated this as the year to begin my transition from male to female.  I started using my given last name instead of the one I chose for myself.  Therapy was helping and I was no longer scared to open up and soon I went against the advice of my therapist and came out to my wife about me having a boyfriend.  She had suspected this for a few months and I had never denied it but I finally came out and told her.  My life has been a life of secrets and I felt really liberated telling my wife almost everything about my relationship with my boyfriend.  She surprised me yet again by being mostly supportive and we seem to be closer than ever as friends.  I live full time at my house and almost all of the time I am sort of sort of fem mode even if I use my own hair and a little makeup.  I feel she finally accepts me as a woman and we are getting along pretty good as girlfriends.  On May 15, 2012 I started HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and am fully committed to a full transition to female.  I am happier than I have been in my entire life and had never been truly happy since childhood.  My wife supports me on this (even though she still hints of leaving at some vague point) and on that day I told her last remaining secret, that I have my boyfriend over when she goes out of town.  She is less happy with this than other aspects of what I have revealed to her and for now I have agreed to just go out and meet him.  Things change fast with us these days so I don't know how she will feel will going forward but I am So relieved to finally have everything out in the open with her.  I will be leaving my minimal career by the end of the year and before I transition and will start a new career as myself next year.  So the Only remaining obstacle as far as coming out is revealing myself to my elderly parents.  Stay tuned to see how that works out. To those of you who have written me (based on my Flickr postings) about coming out to their wives or their desire to do so, regardless of where you are on the gender spectrum.  I hope you find some inspiration in this true story.  Much more on all this later and welcome to Tammy World!