Monday, December 17, 2012

Hello World Part 3: Summer 2011

This photo was taken on August 13,2011. Finally, towards the end of the summer of 2011, my look was coming together. I think this photo, better than any other before it, represents how I felt inside. I do not think there was anything male left of me on the inside at this point and finally I could make a decent representation of myself in my outer appearance as well. This is the photo that I submitted this summer to the Vanity Club as part of my application to that prestigious organization.  Ten months after this picture was taken it was still good enough, along with my long application/questionnaire, to get me voted into the Vanity Club in summer 2012 as member VC 573.   I am proud to be an active member of this organization and plan to stay with them even through my transition and I have to thank my big sister Karen McCarthy for nominating me.

Summer 2011

Our story left off at the end of April, 2011 with the weekends of April 16th, when the tornado came through my area and my spouse was "forced" to actually see me as Tammy for the first time; April 23rd when she sat and watched tv with me dressed in full make up but no wig (I had short hair then) and April 30th, when she was away and I drove to Raleigh and went to the large Crabtree mall by myself for the first time.  The new wig that I had bought in Greensboro on a shopping trip with friends had impressed her and she had seen it and said that she liked it.  I was really anxious to hang around her as myself, fully, and the next week I would finally get that chance....

This photo and caption is from my Flickr page and relates to the events of May 5,2011...

I have arrived!!

Just a snapshot and not a great one, but this was a GREAT night. I took this while my wife was in the ladies room, and this was the first night I was able to sit and watch tv and talk with her while fully en femme!!! I tried to tone down my look and makeup for her and even toned down my fem voice somewhat for her (though by the end of the night I don't think that mattered).
She had to cancel a two day trip this week and I was planning to dress those nights. When I told her yesterday I was gonna dress anyway last night she seemed ok with it, but wanted me to "change back" by 9:30 to sit with her. I was not even fully dressed yet (at 6:30) when she came and knocked on the door to the little house. She wanted to smoke a cigarette and I told her to give me 5 more minutes, that I wasn't dressed yet. I did not know if she expected me to be dressed or not when she came back, but I was and she smoked and we talked a bit. It was great and I felt really natural around her. She sensed how much calmer and happier I was and maybe that's why when she came back later to watch tv she didn't ask me to take my hair/makeup etc. off.
I didn't have time to take a full length shot, but I dressed really casual/conservative for her. I just had on some jeans, flats and this top and sweater. She asked if I ever wore necklaces and I said yes but I don't have one to go with this outfit. She also seemed a little jealous that I did not take her to old Navy when I bought the top and sweater (even though I shopped in drab that day). I now have a new shopping girlfriend and am so glad that my wife has finally accepted me en femme. Now if she would just call me Tammy instead of my male name.....

That night was the beginning of a new phase in our relationship.  I have evolved and changed a whole lot since then and the next few months were characterized by evolution and change in my relationship with my spouse as well.  From my point of view now in December, 2012, I can look back and see that this period of my life was key to my understanding of myself and most of all what was possible for me.  To some degree I can thank my spouse for that and our relationship did grow and (in some ways) prosper during this period.  I can also look back with regret that she has never moved much farther to purely accepting me as who I really am, as far as calling me my correct name, using female pronouns etc.  It's like during this time in our lives she really helped me along in my journey, but chose not to join me on it....

Over the next three months we spent a lot of time in my little house (where we always hang out and watch tv etc.) and she got comfortable being around me dressed as Tammy.  I was also going out a lot, mostly during the day, on shopping excursions and just doing anything I wanted to do as myself.  I would do our grocery shopping (something she usually did and enjoyed) and went out to a lot of places in surrounding towns, even going to the mall here in my city for the first time.  After that first time here in town, I did not fear going anywhere dressed as myself, no matter where I was.  I would not go to places like the bank etc., where I had to show my ID, or out with my parents (obviously), but I was going just about everywhere else.  There was also the exception of places my spouse and I would go together as she did not want to be in public with me en femme. 



At the house things were going well with us, I thought.  We had an agreement then that with her around I would only dress 2 nights a week at the house.  My day times when I could get free of work were mine to do as I wished for the most part.  She also was not comfortable seeing me in a dress or skirt for some reason.  I had grown accustomed to wearing ladies jeans and slacks, I liked them and they also helped me to blend in and not draw attention to myself when out in public.  But I hated to be limited to what my wardrobe would be and when I could and could not be myself and how I could dress in my own house.  Considering we existed as friends it is amazing to me now how much control I allowed her to have over my life.  This was not limited to this time in my life but had gone back many years to when we first met, especially after we got married and moved in together.  Why did I seem drawn to the kind of relationship where someone has some degree of control over my life with there seemingly being no benefit to me?  There is a somewhat submissive side to me in a very female way and at the time I was also exploring my submissive side to an extent but I never had that kind of relationship with my spouse, at least not overtly.  Eventually I would figure out that I was definitely not "a sub" but I have had to come to grips with the fact that I have a very passive personality and while I have always have a strong individualistic streak, I have a history of letting others exert control over my decisions and life.  At a meeting with my therapist this very week that I am writing this, she told me that trans people often have a relationship with their parents that is like that of a teenager.  Her telling me this lit a light bulb in my head and gives me more insight into the complex relationship I have always had with my parents and really helps explain to me why I have never totally "grown up" in my relationship with them.  I do, however, think that is getting ready to change in a big way here at the end of 2012.  Finding this out can also possibly explain some of the reasons I have traditionally deferred so much to my spouse for control of some aspects of my life.  There has been a lot of change in the last year and half with us. I have asserted myself over time with her and do not allow her that much control over me now.  How that has come to pass will be shown in the review of the new few stages of my life but for now let's go back and look at some of the "baby steps" I was making toward independence in the summer of 2011 with these next three pictures and captions.

Mad World

July 9, 2011
The title is inspired by Adam Lambert's version of the song Mad World. This was taken at 3 am and I was sorta stuck on that song.
So I finally got to wear a dress around my wife and things are going better than expected. My last post was 2 weeks ago so here is a new update along with this new pic...
Last Saturday night I did wear a dress and hung out here in the little house with my wife watching Melrose Place DVDs. In fact it was this same one with different accessories and she seemed to be fine with it although she is still trying to understand why I want to wear a dress. I wish I could give her a better answer than I feel its a need and it feels natural for me but.. I think one of the reasons she does not understand it is because she abhors wearing a dress or skirt herself, but that is her "issue" to deal with...... So a couple of my friends were going to the club that night and I talked to her about going but we decided it was best not to because it was the July 4th weekend and I hadn't planned on it. To my pleasant surprise she did sign off on me going the following weekend (which was last night) and that's when this picture was taken Very late at night after I got home.
I had planned on taking some good pics before I went to the club but I ran out of time. My wife came over to talk a minute and have a smoke before I left and I asked her to take one of me but she declined. The club was great, 5 other girls from our meet up group went also which is not bad for an impromptu outing in these parts. The only bad part was I had to leave at midnight, just when the club starts popping, to drive the hour home and get in at a reasonable hour. I certainly didn't want to stay out past "curfew" on my first free night to go to the club with my wife being home and her approval. But I will be going back.....
Oh, here's a link for the song if you wanna listen...

Good times at home

August 6,2011
Good news on the home front. I am getting to dress three at home times this week, feeling blessed for small things. Tomorrow I am also going out shopping en femme and hope something interesting (but good) happens so that I can report back here, maybe even with a new pic or two.
How this happened is I was supposed to get dressed and go shopping Monday, but something came up and I could not, so she agreed that I could dress up here Tuesday night and I made an alternate plan to go shopping Thursday. Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) she realized that if I dress Saturday also that would be three times and she said she couldn't handle it. I offered to take her out to eat first and it worked! Sometimes its a win win and we can all get (most) of what we want.

Mystery Hill

August 6, 2011
Mystery Hill is a house/tourist attraction in the mountains where everything seems to flow uphill. It is built on an incline and the floor isn't level. I guess my camera was crooked last night because the little house looks like its leaning! :)
A lot of you have asked me about my home situation so I thought it was time for an update. After going to parties the last two weekends I stayed in last night and enjoyed some DVD's with my wife. She didn't even make me take off the short skirt I had on,even though I had jeans ready to replace it. She did like this dress and another I tried on her for better though. Things are going pretty smoothly as far as my dressing at home goes. She seems comfortable with 2 times a week now, not so much three so I am not pushing the issue. Last night we talked about a lot of things. One thing she is Very positive and supportive about is me piercing my ears! In fact, ear piercing would be lower on my priority list if it wasn't for her encouragement there. She wants to do it for me, the way she did herself when she was a teenager, and that involves putting in ear rings that tighten over several days until they pierce through. That will not be practical for me as I have short hair and do have a male job. My main concern has been the 6 weeks you have to leave something in after the initial piercing. From talking to some of my friends, it seems like there are little flesh colored plastic studs that can be inserted and are supposedly not noticeable. My idea is to use some concealer on top of that also, so we will see. I may take the plunge and do it before too long.
A couple more things we talked about are laser hair removal or electrolysis ( I am seriously considering doing this soon) and my decision to start taking (herbal) hormones. She is not crazy about either one of these but seems ok with it. Especially when I am en femme around her I get the question "why don't you go full time?" I am not ready to do that for other reasons but I am glad to know the idea is not crazy to her if I ever am able to transition.
I do want to make one more point. For those of you that are interested, I am trying to show that crossdressing is not something you necessarily have to hide from your wife. I did for many years and when it got to the point I had to progress farther than simply dressing, I just had to tell her. That in itself has gone very well, however I do want to clear up any misconceptions/delusions out there about this being a happy marriage. My wife is bipolar and although I do love her/care for her we have not slept together in years and sleep in separate rooms. Life with her is an up and down yo yo and she has been threatening to leave since almost the day we got married. My standing offer is to help her pack but at the end of the day we end up needing each other and we do have some good times as well as bad. For instance, she was at my throat much of the day yesterday but it was about one of my dogs, not my dressing so I should be thankful for that. I just do not want to paint such a rosy picture to you other married girls out there. Things have gone great with her acceptance of Tammy, but when I told her I felt I had nothing to lose and I had to progress. Those of you with a really happy or close marriage or with kids at home have other considerations and have to weigh those in as well. If there is hope though that your partner will accept at least to some degree your female side then I think I have learned that sharing is much better than hiding.

A couple of comments on the captions of these pictures...  I have recently began to refer to my partner in marriage as my spouse instead of the term wife that I used in these posts.  Actually I have used the term wife to describe her until recently, although I have even more recently called her my ex.  Neither of these is accurate, as we are not yet divorced but do not exist as a married couple either and honestly we never have.  This past week, in reading the book The Gendered Self , by Ann Vitale, I discovered the term spouse is really a better descriptive word and is more accurate.  Also in the above post, the reference to "other reasons" as being why I said I was not ready to transition although I really wanted to, is actually a reference to my parents.  I will discuss this more later but readers of my blog already understand the reference to "Mt. Everest" and know how big an issue that is for me going back as far as I can remember.  That was also the big reason for my fear/concern in getting my ears pierced. 

Facial hair removal was also something I had been wanting to do since first looking into it in 2010.  I was looking toward transition at some point and everyone says get the facial hair removed as soon as possible.  Many of us know this and still wait too long to get started, but it is a long, expensive and painful process.  At this point in 2011, I was seriously ready to get started but had already been delaying it at least a year.  It would still take me a few more months to get going with it.  Initially I was intending to try laser and had some friends who had good results with it.  The more I researched it the more I began to believe electrolysis was the way for me to go. With the sensitive skin I have I was concerned that laser could cause me some problems.  That was very intuitive on my part and looking back on my experiences since then I probably should have followed my own instincts more.  In future posts I will describe my early experiences with hair removal in more detail. 

During this time I felt that crossdressing more and more was the answer to my gender dysphoria.  Actually that was working in reverse.  The more I would "dress" the harder it was to live the other parts of my life.  I was miserable as a male in life anyway but now that I had an active alternative life that felt right for me, it was getting harder and harder to function on any level as a male in the world. I had wanted to get into therapy for a long time, at least the part for me that did not fear it wanted to go.  A little over 4 months later I would actually enter therapy and only then did I fully begin to understand what was going on in my mind.  It has been said that of those that want to undergo a gender transition, no one really does it until they have to.  If there is any other way to deal with the stress and pain of dysphoria that is definitely the way to go, especially for adults that have established or somewhat established lives.  It has to be a need and not simply a desire in order for transition to happen or have any chance of success.

The song Mad World from the first picture title strikes some real meaning with me and looking back I am glad that some of those feelings I experienced then and for years and years before are distant memories now.  I felt like it was the anthem of my life at that time and it is still an emotional song for me to listen to, almost all the words ring so true to what I have experienced in my life.  Two themes from that song that used to haunt me are the feeling that I was dying and the feeling of being a complete stranger, an alien on planet earth.  It is hard to describe those feelings now but I remember them well.  As a young teenager I began to be obsessed by dying and death.  Writing dark poetry about those subjects got me in big trouble at school even though I never meant anyone any harm, myself including.  I never meant to or knowingly hurt anyone in my life, I have never even been in a physical fight.  Also I never intended to hurt myself but I always did and during those early teen years I began to have the feeling that I was dying and would not live very long.  Those feelings lasted all the way through my initial therapy and I did tell the therapist my feelings.  Somehow, female hormones seem to have cured these feeling and I have to believe now that I was suffering a chemical imbalance that only HRT was able to solve.  The feeling of being isolated, being a "stranger" or alien is something that has improved dramatically.  It did not seem to just evaporate like the dying feeling, but it is much better now that I feel better inside about myself.  By adding a song like this under the picture I posted last summer, I think I was trying to convey some of my feelings to the world.  From today's point of view I am so glad I did continue on my journey and get some help/relief from the problems that had haunted me for so, so long.
Another thing my spouse was urging me to do was to grow my own hair out.  The reason I resisted doing it, no it was not my job, not really. You guessed it, it was fear of my parerents' reaction.  She sort of liked my newest wig but I know she never really liked seeing me in a wig.  I thought that was one reason she would not go anywhere with me presenting female and I was probably right.  However I did get the impression that if I was able to use my own hair in a female presentation she would go anywhere with me.   When I did grow out my hair this year I found out that was not the case and she still will not go anywhere with me but that is a story to be addressed later.  The really big, big thing that she was encouraging me to do was to tell my parents about myself.  I had a couple of female friends who had also told me the same thing but they didn't know me that well and definitely did not know my parents.  I know my spouse well enough to know she was serious, that she was not joking with me or telling me this lightly. 

She honestly thought that I should tell my parents and her reason was that they should know the real me.  This really got me to thinking because this is something I had only dreamed about but knew would never work and I knew it was something I could not or would not do in this lifetime.  I began to consider that when my dad passed away I could tell my mom, but that is as far as I could go with that line of thinking.  I have had to do a lot of work on myself between last summer and now to even believe that I can accomplish this now or that it has any hope of a happy ending.  I will not let uncertainty creep in at this crucial point in my life by revisiting how I felt about the subject in the past, but I will say that when we would have these talks it was the first time I actually considered that I could talk to them about what was inside me in any serious fashion.  I really think that just spending some time with me over those last few months she realized this is what I needed in my life, even though I am not sure she realized what a strong barrier I thought coming out to my parents was.  Looking back now at the peace and comfort treatment has brought me this year, I really have to thank her for beginning to unlock the strength and confidence I needed to move forward in my journey.

What she would tell me is that I should tell my parents and then live full time as myself, Tammy.  She would always add that of course her and I would not be together anymore, but that should come as no surprise because as I stated earlier she has been talking of/threatening to leave since before we were even legally married.  I had also told her that I was going to start taking herbal hormones.  That is something I had planned to do since finding out about them in the summer of 2010.  I thought that would be a good way to make some changes and feminize myself in such a way that my parents might not notice, sort of transition light.  Real hormones I was not allowing myself to consider until such a time that I could actually transition.  I knew my parents would notice the changes and I would only want to embark on an HRT regimen if I could do it as part of a full transition.  During 2011, this was becoming more and more of a need and not just a want.

Again, this could not be done with my parents in the picture.  She said she would be ok with the herbal hormones and I am sure she would said the same of HRT then, as she did when I finally talked with her about that this year.  I did always expect that when I went to a gender therapist hormones would be recommended or considered as part of my therapy.  I didn't have the answers then but again the only real question was how to get around my parents knowing.  I thought that maybe when I went to a therapist they would have an answer fro me.  Actually, she did but it was not the answer I wanted to hear.  If I wanted to treat the condition that I have and have any hopes of any quality of life I would have to fully come out to my parents. 

It has taken me a long time to deal with this and it is still a huge issue with me.  No one had any magic answers.  Assuming I can follow through and talk with my parents before the end of this year perhaps I can put this issue to bed or move beyond it to the next phase of my life.  If the worst case scenario I had always imagined happens, I will have to rely on my newly acquired sense of self assertion to get me through a point in my life I never was able to see beyond.  If I thought there was another way for me to go on living as a sane person without transition I would probably turn back now because of this reason. 
About halfway though 2011 I started looking to the future in a way I perhaps had never done before.  I began to look to the year 2012 as some sort of magical time in which great change could occur.  I allowed myself to believe that if this was such a time of global spiritual change and cosmic awareness perhaps I could apply some of that to make the changes I wanted in my own life.  Actually these were changes that I needed and not just wanted but I am not sure if I was fully aware of that yet. 

In July, 2011 I attended a party with the Carolina Meeting Place group I have mentioned in other posts.  I went to this party with the intention of getting drunk and I did just that.  This was to be my first time getting drunk out in public en femme and although I drank very often I seldom actually get drunk.  Along with my usual fairly heavy party intake of light beer, I allowed myself to indulge in many shots of vodka and mixed drinks of vodka and tonic.  I found myself walking home alone from a bar in Raleigh very late at night, alone and drunk, barefoot and carrying my high heels in my hands.  My friend Jessica and I had walked to a club after the party and I had stayed at the bar drinking while she walked around the club.  After last call I just started walking back to the hotel room I shared with some other friends to get some more drinks before passing out.  In the picture below I am having a good time at the party with Jessica (blond hair) and another girl I met at the party, Komal.

I woke up the morning after after the party with a terrible headache/hangover.  This feeling lasted for days literally and I knew I had been very drunk the night before by how bad I felt for a long time after.  Also, I had to deal with the reality that I had put myself in a potentially dangerous situation the night before, at least one time, and there had to be some changes made.  I wanted to live more and more of my life as a female, all of it if I could, and I simply could not allow this type of drunken behavior.  It was not attractive, classy or safe.  I made a vow to swear off liquor and to this day I do not drink hard liquor anymore.  I did try it a couple of more times in 2011, a little bit at another party and I bought one last pint of moonshine that Christmas, but after that it was no more hard drinks.  In 2012 light beer has been the only alcohol I have imbibed and it is all I want going forward.  The hard drugs I Had quit a few years ago and the marijuana I would quit later into 2012, but for all practical purposes the party on the night of July 23, 2011 was my last time ever drunk on liquor.

Something else positive came out of this party besides quitting liquor, meeting more people and getting even more comfortable in social situations.  The man with the glasses I had briefly met last Christmas was there with another girl as his date.  I spoke with him a little bit and things did not work out with him and this other date.  Soon after that we began talking some, mostly chatting on yahoo at first, then speaking a few times on the phone.  He was in a failing marriage like me and struck me as a real gentleman.  He was not like most of the men that approached me during that time in that he seemed to have a real interest in taking me out and treating me like a lady.  He was interested in far more than the "one thing" so many guys obsess over and he also said he would take me shopping.  He had me at shopping, lol.  It was probably well into August before we actually started talking and he had started dating someone else also, but not exclusively.  I did wonder if I was getting involved with another "player" but I myself was dating almost any halfway decent man that would ask me out at that point so it wasn't like I was a prude either.  I think we were both looking for something we had not found yet but we had no idea where it would lead when I agreed to go out with him. 

He talked of meeting me in Raleigh after his work and taking me out to dinner and shopping etc.  One thing was for sure he talked a good game and these were things I was very interested in hearing and doing in my life.  It was September 10, 2011 before we actually had our first date and ironically it was here at my house instead of us going out like we had talked about.  He brought me flowers and showed up in a white suit.  Needless to say I was very impressed.  Over the next few weeks we would meet a few times for dinner and yes, shopping, and he brought me flowers the first 9 times he went out with me.  It did not take me long to fall in love and I will let that be the ending to this story. 

Summer of 2011 had ended and I had indeed said Hello to the World in a big way.  I was ready for more in my life in more ways than one.  This will conclude my Hello World series but there were still three seasons between the end of summer and the beginning of summer 2012 when I launched this blog.  I am going to continue these retro posts and keep giving a detailed report of the events leading up to the start of my blog in June 2012.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story, the road to transition.  I will leave you with a picture of me with the first flowers I received from the man I would eventually fall in love with and who, to my great fortune, also fell in love with me.....

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