Tuesday, January 29, 2013

1/29/2013 Update

Hey everyone, I thought I would pop in for a quick update on how things are going. I really don't like to post here when I am down, which has made blogging hard lately because I have been feeling down a whole lot since my spouse left before Christmas.  Those feelings probably are apparent in my last few posts but I have always said that this blog would follow my whole life here in Tammy World, good and the bad.  The good news is that I seem to be coming out of my depression and have had 5 whole days in a row without having crying spells, or "moments" as Mitchell likes to call them.  Today is actually day 6 without a moment and I have slept good the last 5 nights too.  I had been having real trouble with sleep since my separation.  My spouse came by the house yesterday to visit her dog and we walked the dogs together and generally got along well.  I think my memories now are more realistic as far as how life was with her and my mind is accepting that is best for us to live apart and still be friends.  My mind had been going back to memories of times far earlier in our relationship when things were better and there was at least some hope of the two of us being happy.  On my own, I have figured out that some of my sadness was my realization that I would never have the "normal" happy marriage with her that I had always envisioned. 

We have layer upon layer of our own issues and they go beyond me being transsexual, although that alone would have been enough to destroy the marriage.  She has her own issues also that I do hope she comes to understand and deal with so that she can have some degree of happiness in her life going forward.  In transition, they say that you go through a period of mourning your old self passing away.  I never have felt that mourning as I did not like my old self or being that person.  I have been so happy just to find myself and live a life that is more appropriate for me.  In my own analysis though, I have come to believe that part of my recent depression has been a form of this very type of mourning.  I am not mourning or missing anything that I actually had in life but I think I have been mourning the loss of the dream that I would ever have any sense of normalcy and be able to be happy and comfortable with myself as I was born (male).  As hard as I tried, and for so long, it just was not going to happen.  It has always been like fitting the square peg into the round hole.  They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results and that could be an analogy of my life.  When I finally woke up from the high that I had been on since I was a teenager, I realized how insane my life had been. 

So now I am going to focus on the positives and the things are right in my life.  I have the best dogs in the world, the best parents and the best boyfriend!  I am finally comfortable with myself and so far transition has been fairly easy for me.  I seem to have no problem assimilating and being accepted as female no matter where I go even in this small, sort of backward southern city that I live in.  Being so different and never wanting anyone to know my secret, I have never made many friends or connections here, but my socialite mother has been telling everyone she knows around town about me.  So far all the reactions have been positive, as least from what they tell her to her face.  People here think a lot of my parents and that goodwill has always seemed to carry itself over to me.  I am actually much more different now, living as a full time female, than I ever was before.  The difference is that I feel normal now and am happy with myself.  In the past I was miserable and felt completely abnormal, even though I was able to appear normal to the outside world.

Driving to see my therapist: January 2013


I had a bit of a set back last week.  I started seeing a dermatologist last eyar after my debacle with laser hair removal.  We have been treating some skin problems that were exacerbated by the laser but were mostly caused by years of sun exposure on my sensitive, fair skin.  On a follow up visit to him in November I showed him a small spot next to my right eye.  He took a biopsy and it came back positive for skin cancer.  He said it was not the "bad" kind of skin cancer that can kill you, but it turned out to be Basal Cell Carcinoma, and he wanted me to have a form of surgery with another doctor that would totally remove it.  Last week I had Mohs surgery to remove this place and all the cancer cells under and around it.  Because it was so close to my eye the doctor did a skin graft to close up the site, taking skin from behind my ear.  So for a week I have had a big bandage next to my right eye and this actually led to a lot of bruising and a "black eye." 

My mom went with me for the surgery on Wednesday and Friday we went back to have the bandage changed.  Sleet and freezing rain set in when we left the doctor's office and it took me 3.5 hours to drive the 78 miles home.  We saw many accidents around Raleigh, NC and the beltline there had stop and go traffic.  On the 4 lane road home we saw a lot of cars that had run off the road and the best speed I could make was 20-30mph because of the slick conditions.  Needless to say, I have not been very active in the last week and have stayed home most of the time because of this ugly bandage and bruising.  Tomorrow I go nack to have the bandage taken off and the stitches removed.  They tell me that when it heals it will be barely noticeable but I really dread seeing what it looks like.  I suppose if it does scar I can have it reduced with plastic surgery as I want to have a bit of FFS one day anyway.  One thing I have been happy about, besides having good hair, is my ability to pass as female without having any facial surgery.  I do have scars and so forth from acne and other things, even some from recent electrolysis I think.  Nobody else seems to see the tiny scars from electrolysis, but I can in the right light.  I have told people that I am not trying to be a beauty queen but just be read as female wherever I go.  My boyfriend thinks I am beautiful anyway, so I guess that is all that matters.

Freezing rain on US 64: January 25,2013.  Worse than it looks, the road was very slick.
Jumper, the dog, is doing a little bit better.  I took her to the vet today and she had lost a pound.  That's good because we are trying to reduce the fluid in her, but the doctor thinks we need to reduce it more so we upped one of her medications.  She is taking Furosemide and Spironolactone.  This is odd because my dad takes Furosemide to reduce fluid he has from his heart condition and I take Spironolcatone as part of my HRT.  That drug, Spiro, is primarily a diuretic but it is also used in MTF hormone therapy because it has the added benefit of blocking testosterone production.  I take about 4 times the amount that Jumper does daily and I can readily attest to the diuretic effect.  It seems like I am always having to work to stay hydrated but the drug does a great job for me, keeping my testosterone levels on the low end of female levels.

I feel like I am finally emerging from the cloud that set in over me following my separation.  This separation from my spouse was something that I had anticipated for a long time and actually looked forward to in many ways, so the fact that it affected me so hard emotionally caught me a little off guard.  Having made the initial adjustment of living alone here with the dogs, I feel I am again ready to move forward with my life and transition.  Its time to enjoy myself again and relish in the accomplishments of my journey so far. 

I know some of you are waiting for the next installment of my story continuing the Hello World series and the good news is I have started working on that post. I am also considering doing some posts on my dreams, which can be quite strange and a big departure from my reality based blog.  Big things are on the horizon here in Tammy World and it is time for me to finally live my life the way it is supposed to be.  Stay tuned my friends.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Electro Thundersnow

How do you take some snow, a little electrolysis and a road trip and turn it into an adventure?  Come on into Tammy World and find out.......

Electro Thundersnow Adventure

I have been dying to start back on electrolysis since suspending the process last fall.  I was not completely happy with the provider I was seeing for facial hair removal in Raleigh and I have decided to concentrate on getting my full face cleared at one time.  Once I get this done a few times I may be able to go back to shorter sessions and with luck that will clear all out all of facial hair.  Some people have to have many, many hours of electrolysis to fully clear the face permanently and the average is between 150-200 hours.  As of January 1, I had about 30 hours in.  Laser hair removal is much quicker and less expensive but certain skin and hair types work much better with that process.  Even then, it is not guaranteed to be permanent and many who go through laser treatments either have to do them again in the future or resort to electrolysis.  I have reported the problems I had with my one laser session, so the painfully slow (no pun intended) electrolysis is the way to go for me.

I am looking at going to places in either Dallas, Buffalo or Arizona to get full facial electrolysis and all of these places specialize in trans women.  I found someone in Charlotte, NC who also does multiple hour sessions although she is not set up like the out of state clinics with multiple technicians etc.  Seeing as it was only a 3.5 hour drive I thought it would be worth a visit to check her out and with my dog Jumper being sick right now, out of state travel is out of the question for the time being.  This technician in Charlotte  comes highly recommended from a friend and uses newer equipment that is supposed to damage the skin less and be less painful than what I have experienced thus far.  She told me she will do as much as 6 hours of electrolysis in one day and wanted me to come in for a 3 hour trial session.  We set it up for Thursday 1/17/13 from 2 to 5 pm.  Google maps said it would take 3 hours and 36 minutes to get there so I left last Thursday morning at 10 am.

It was a rainy day in North Carolina and the day before I was to leave I found out that the forecast called for the rain to possibly turn to snow on Thursday night.  Jumper, the dog, was not doing well but I thought she would be ok inside until I got home around 9:30 pm. The winter storm watch did not begin until 9 pm and it was primarily in the western part of the state.  I would be close to home and more than likely out of range of any possible snow accumulation by then.  It had been very warm in the last few days and I was sure than any snow would not be sticking, especially to the roads, until very late at night if at all.

On the way to Greensboro, about 2/3 of the way to Charlotte, it was not rainy badly but I was hit by another emotional storm of the sort I have been going through off and on since my separation.  The rock band name Drivin' 'N' Cryin' pretty much sums up what I was doing for the first 2 hours or so of my trip. By the time I got to Greensboro and made my first stop for the restroom and gas, I had collected myself and had almost 2 hours to make the last 90 miles of my drive.  I had plenty of time.  As I got back on the road the sky tuned darker and heavy rain replaced the sporadic and light rain I have been experiencing, but it really was not slowing me down too badly. 

About halfway to Charlotte traffic on I-85 came to a complete stop.  For the next few miles it was stop and go, mostly stop and creep, and I thought there must be an accident on the highway.  Once I got past the accident I thought I on schedule to barely make my appointment on time, but traffic was still not moving.  Several miles down the road at a pace of stop and creep, I came upon a road construction area where the interstate had been reduced to one lane.  It had taken me over an hour to go 10 miles and I was now drastically late.  I had called my electrologist and informed her I would be late but was I was on the way and she said she would wait for me.  Traffic started moving steadily after the road construction area but was still heavy all the way into the city.  I arrived in the city of Charlotte about 3 pm and it was raining steadily and appeared to be getting dark already.  I passed the famous Charlotte skyline but it was barely visible through the clouds, rain and fog.  I didn't have any trouble finding the business and when I got out and went in it was almost 3:30.  I was a little rattled from the hectic drive down and I noticed the temperature had dropped considerably.

The place was sort of like a doctor's office and the receptionist handed me a new patient questionnaire to fill out.  I will mention that I was not in a very comfortable mode that day.  Electrolysis requires you to grow out your facial hair before treatment so I had essentially 3 days worth of growth on my face.  I did not encounter a problem on my 2 stops to the ladies room on my way down (convenience store and rest area) but sitting in the waiting room with other ladies made me a little uncomfortable.  I went to the back, into the electrolysis room and my technician went over my intake forms with me.  She was very professional and quite nice and she made me feel at ease.  This establishment was very clean and being in that room sort of reminded me of a dentists' exam room.  Instead of a chair I laid down on a table as she covered my eyes, turned on the bright magnifying light and started poking my face with the needle that uses heat and electricity to kill the hair follicles.  They use a type of electrolysis there called thermolysis and sure enough this equipment was much less painful than what I had experienced in Raleigh.  I had used some numbing cream but most of it had worn off and she worked on some areas that had not been numbed.  I was surprised that I was able to tolerate the treatment without a numbing agent so my friend had been right about that.

The electrologist's name was Cindy and she and I are about the same age.  She treats a lot of trans patients so she is very understanding and knows her stuff as far as trans facial hair removal.  She is also going through a divorce like I am, although she mentioned that hers was a slow divorce.  She has been separated for 2 years, has been dating for one year and she just recently started talking again to her ex.  She thinks they will be friends and that is great as they do have kids together.  Sometimes getting some perceptive on what other people are going through makes my situation seem pretty easy, though mine is still very complicated.  Cindy was telling me that she could do 6 hour sessions for me, but working alone I could tell that would not come close to getting the full facial clearings I am looking for.  She seemed very thorough and said that my face treated easily but we really did not make much progress in the hour and a half of actual electrolysis time I had that day.  I left with the impression that this is a very good place but perhaps too far to be practical for me.  Cindy had come up with a plan for me to come in every 2 weeks and we could make very good progress on my facial hair.  She said if I lived in town she would have me in for weekly sessions but with the hard time I had just getting into Charlotte I don't think it will work out for me.  Once I get my dog stabilized here I am going to try to travel farther, probably Buffalo, NY, and get the full treatments I want. In the meantime I will look for someone much closer that uses the same type of equipment they have in Charlotte.

I left the office at 5 pm in heavy rain and heavy traffic, missing my first turn to get back to the interstate.  It took awhile to find a spot to turn around and even longer to make it back near the interstate in rush hour traffic.  I found a fast food restaurant that was not too crowded and I stopped.  I still had facial hair and now some swollen red areas on my face so I was not thrilled about being in public but I had to eat and use the rest room before heading back.  Mitchell was talking to me on the phone as I pulled into Arby's and he could tell I was anxious and rattled by the traffic and the whole scenario down there.  It had not been my day. I was a long way from home and I wanted to hurry back to beat any possible winter weather and see my dogs.  He told me to calm down, go in and eat and call him when I got back on the road.

There were very few people in Arby's and I made my order and sat down in a section of the restaurant to myself.  I knew I would be fine going to the restroom here so I sat and ate in peace.  I was in peace until an older man came up to my table and started talking to me about the weather.  I was looking at Facebook on my phone and eating and I only made eye contact with a couple of times.  He kept going on and on about snow coming in at 9 and making small talk.  In the best of situations I would have been annoyed but I didn't want to be clocked because of not shaving so I was really hoping he would go away, the sooner the better.  I think he just saw me as a casually dressed woman dining alone and I hoped his eyesight was not too good.  Finally he left me alone and I was able to get away and hit the road around 6:30.  As soon as I hit the interstate, traffic was stop and go again.  There were no wrecks this time, just rush hour traffic in Charlotte, which I could see was a complete nightmare.  When I got north of town again on I-85, I hit the construction zone and there were more delays.  I was So glad to make it out of the Charlotte area and all I could think about was how I was So not going to come back there for a long, long time hopefully.

As I drove north towards Greensboro the heavy rain fell steadily.  Even with the traffic now reasonable, it was slow going, less than 60 miles per hour at best.  I was talking to my friend Melissa on the phone when the rain turned to snow.  She told me to stop and get a hotel room but I said "no way", I had to make it home to my dogs and I did Not want to be stranded in a  hotel room alone all night.  Then I talked to Mitchell and he was telling me how far it was to I-40, the familiar stretch of road home toward Raleigh.  Of all the areas I drove through that day, the Triad around High Point and Greensboro is the farthest north and west and always get the most snow of anywhere along my route. I thought if I could make it out of that area I would be ok getting home.  The snow started getting very heavy again I saw a car in the left lane run off the road.  Then the left lane turned white and visibility got very low.  Mitchell told me to slow down even more and I was already in the right lane.  I was barely going 25 mph when the right lane turned white from sticking snow.  I saw a Days Inn sign on the upcoming exit.  I didn't want to, but I stopped and got a room for the night.  It looked like half the highway was pulling off behind me and that hotel quickly began to fill up.  

view from my hotel room

While I was checking in someone said they heard thunder and then I heard the roar.  Wow!!!  We were experiencing thundersnow, which is very rare and something I had never heard of.  It was very loud and the thunder seemed to linger longer than it does in a typical summer thunderstorm.  Here is a link to some very interesting video shot of the thundersnow.  This was taken very close to where I was when I experienced the thundersnow and at about the same time.


The snow flakes were very big and the snow was accumulating very fast, even on the roads.  I checked into my room around 8:15 pm with no change of clothes , no phone charger and my cell phone battery only half full.  I had to use my male name checking in because of my ID so I am sure I looked weird to everyone in the lobby.  I got a razor and toothbrush from the front desk and freshened up when I got into the room.  The I  talked to my mom back home and got her to go check on the dogs.  They were doing ok and even Jumper ate some food.  She had talked to the vet earlier and he was very concerned about her and wanted me to bring her in the next day. I was glad to know that they were ok at least and there was no snow back in my city.   

In my last post I wrote that I have always loved snow but on this day snow was the last thing I wanted to see.  I had made it as far as Archdale, NC, very near High Point and just the other side of Greensboro from where I live.  I talked to Mitchell after I talked to mom and he called me back on the hotel phone so I wouldn't use up my dwindling battery.  He could tell I was quite anxious about not being home and being stuck alone in that room.  After having been rattled by traffic, emotions and just a long hectic day, I had ended up in a place I did not want to be.  He calmed me down and made me feel better so I accepted my fate, although grudgingly.  What I really wanted was a Starbucks coffee.  I have been drinking very little alcohol lately but I have somehow gotten addicted to a bottled coffee in the evening.  After I cleaned up I walked outside and the only store at the interchange was on the other side of the highway which seemed like a very long walk in falling, wet snow.  I settled for a Frosty at the Wendy's next door and then I went back to the lobby later and had a Mountain Dew while trying to use the hotel computer. 

I had not been called sir or ma'am all day but after shaving the people in the lobby were calling ma'am.  That made me feel a little bit better even though I did not have any make up with me.  Right before 11 pm the office staff ladies were talking amongst themselves and one was about to get off work and inquired to one that had just came in about the roads.  She said that the major roads were fine but the secondary roads were not in good shape.  I started to wonder if I had made the right decision to stop if the interstate was fine.  About that time a young man came in to check in and he mentioned that the interstate was awful and he had seen three cars run off the road.  He wanted and room and to get off the road so I felt better about my decision.  The lobby closed at 11 pm and I went back to room and watched the news and saw that it was really a mess in this area.  Charlotte and Raleigh were fairly clear but this area of the state, halfway between those cities, had gotten what to us was a significant snowfall.

hotel parking lot: Archdale NC

I used up the entire battery charge on my smart phone and was bored with the tv so I went to bed about 12:40 and went right to sleep.  Two hours later I woke up and popped right out of bed.  The room was so dark I couldn't stand it so I cut all the lights on and realized I was having an anxiety attack.  It was not like the physical panic attacks I used to have so frequently when my heart would start racing and I thought I was having a heart attack.  I just felt the enclosure of the room and knew I couldn't leave the hotel because of the roads so I just felt trapped.  Michell has been a lifesaver

Sleep eluded me and for the most part I was too restless to even lie in bed.  I used up my phone battery again after getting a partial charge while sitting in the car.  At 6 am I turned on the local news and watched the coverage on the winter storm that had hid the Piedmont Triad.  Other than the mountains, I was in the worst hit area of North Carolina.  Greensboro had gotten over 3" and High Point had gotten 3.5" of now.  The little town of Archdale where I was staying had reported 5".  I later saw a map of snowfall totals across the state and the small area that I was in had circle around it indicating 5" of snow accumulation. The stretch of I-85 around Archdale had been littered by accidents including a very bad one that happened at 4:30 am when a tractor trailer skidded into a  stopped state trooper's car that was on the side of the road while the trooper investigated another accident.  It was a real mess out there and I know I made the right decision in stopping.  Finally the sun came up and at 7 am I cut the tv off and tried to sleep again.  The temperature had dropped right before sunrise and all the slushy snow had turned to black ice so I knew it was best not to leave for a couple of hours.  

Between 7 and 9 am I probably managed an hour's sleep and then got up and went to the lobby for some cereal and a donut.  I saw on the news that I-85 was still closed from the accident with the trooper but luckily it was only the southbound lanes.  I got on the road at 10 and made it home at 12:30.  Mitchell was coming to see me that (Friday) night even though he was exhausted from work, driving down from Virginia and talking to me on the phone half the night.  We actually had more snow where I stayed the night than they had in the Virginia Hills where he works.  A few places in the NC and Va mountains got 10-12" though and it had really been a big storm.  Folks from up north joke that everything down here shuts down with an inch of snow but where I had stopped the road was just awful.  Rain the day before had prevented DOT from getting salt on the roads so that made it even worse.  Driving home I saw less and less snow the further east I got and by the time I got to Raleigh it had been a dusting at best.  Below is a link to snowfall totals across the state.  I had gotten trapped in the centrally located area with the small blue green circle indicating 5".  If I had been on the road 30 minutes earlier or had made better time coming out of Charlotte, most likely I would have been able to make it home without getting a room.


I am so glad Mitchell was able to stay two nights with me at my house.  He had to leave at 5:30 this (Sunday) morning to head back to work.  This will be my first night alone since that long, cold, dark night in the hotel.  I hope I get used to being alone at night soon.  My marriage was not a good one and I wanted it to end for a long time.  She seemed to tolerate my transition at first but ultimately, like most wives regardless of how close the marriage is, she could not handle it.  We still talk and are friends but I know she doesn't accept me as a female yet.  I really hope that she does someday.  We had existed as friends and partners in life for a long time and I really miss that.  I consider her a close part of my very small family and I am still not taking her leaving very well emotionally.  This separation is the source of my anxiety and sleepless nights.  The separation is also the source of a lot of emotional distress that causes me to cry and feel desperate at times.  I also feel very lonely at home, especially at night, and I must get used to living alone.

Tomorrow I will be driving to the Triangle for therapy and she is coming here from the Triangle to sit with her sick dog.  I really hope Jumper gets better but she is old and we don't know how much longer she has.  It hurts me so much that my spouse isn't here during this very hard time.  I have to get over this and I do think its getting better.  I actually got mad with her this weekend for not coming to help with her dog.  Maybe that anger will help replace some of the sadness but I still want her to come back for awhile, even if I go stay down the street with my parents.  I just have to find hope in how my spouse ended the short letter she wrote to my mother after Christmas, the only correspondence she has had with her since leaving.  

"Everything will work out ok."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye
This is a picture about the end of the holiday season and saying goodbye to a Christmas tree, but it is much more than that.   It could be construed as symbolic of saying goodbye to a marriage and 25 year relationship, saying goodbye to my old self and life or perhaps saying goodbye to any hopes and dreams I may have had of having what some would call a "normal" life.  My heart tells me the sadness I feel is from saying goodbye to a person I care very much about. 

The Last Christmas Tree

This is probably the last Christmas tree that my spouse and I will ever have. It turns out this is a tree that was never meant to be and the previous year's tree could possibly be considered our last.  Seeing this tree every day was a reminder of how things were no longer right in my home.  Looking at this tree reminded me that something was missing and how my life that had felt so right recently, now had a part of it that was very wrong.  This is the story of the last Christmas tree.


My spouse loves Christmas trees!  She does not fancy artificial trees but prefers the "live" variety and to her the bigger the tree the better.  We have a ton of ornaments and every year after we put the tree up and get the lights  on it, she proceeds to decorate almost every square inch of the tree with the festive ornaments (some of which are family heirlooms or have great personal meaning to her).  The real fascination comes every day afterwards when she will spend time moving the ornaments around the tree and redecorating it.  She gets that childlike look in her eyes when rearranging the tree and this is something she does every year the whole time the tree is up.

Her family had a tradition of having a small celebration for "Old Christmas" on January 6th.  She told me in the past they would take their large Christmas tree down and put up a smaller one for Old Christmas but as the years went on they began to leave the Christmas tree up through the second holiday.  For this reason, we usually waited until after the first week of December to put up our tree and we left them up about a month, through Old Christmas. 

Our first Christmas together as a married couple we were living in the garage apartment of my parents' home and the small space would not allow for a really huge tree.  Our funds were a little limited that year too so I went to Wal Mart and bought a cedar tree and brought it upstairs to the apartment.  The are less expensive than the Frasier Firs and do not last or hold up as well but it was still a good sized tree.  I had just gotten a job in a rural area about 30 miles from town and in spring we moved into a nice mobile home with a quiet country setting on a pond, and very close to my workplace.

Our first Christmas in the trailer I wanted to do something big as far as a Christmas tree so I decided to go into the woods and cut a large Red Cedar and bring into our little living room.  I had never cut down a tree before and all I had was an hatchet I had gotten from my dad and a hand saw.  First I had to scout the surrounding forest for the Perfect tree and the day I had chosen to do that was a Sunday afternoon when on the ground we had a rare early December snow of a couple of inches.  I put our dog Jumper on a leash and we set off into the woods to find the tree.  Jumper was young then, less than 2 years old, and she had a tendency to run off so I did not dare walk her in the woods without a leash.  I found the Perfect tree not too far from the house and not too far from a logging path so I could drive my Jeep down to it.  I did have to get the tree back to the trailer after I cut it so I needed a plan.

I would go back the next afternoon after work, cut the tree down and bring it back home, but as long as we were out walking on this cold, snowy day I figured Jumper and I could have a good time exploring the woods for a bit.  Jumper is a mix of Chow and Alaskan Eskimo Spitz and she always loved the cold weather and relished being out in snow.  The kid in me loved to explore and also loved cold weather and especially snow.  We walked and walked, getting off of the paths and logging roads that crisscrossed the gently rolling forest.  This was mid afternoon during the time of year when it gets dark very early and even though I think the snow has stopped falling it was very cloudy and the sky had that blue/grey "snow day" haze.  Sensing the need to get back to the house, we turned around and walked back out of the woods the same way we came in. Or so I thought. 

Most of the woods in this part of the country are pine or pine/hardwood mix and they are logged fairly frequently so there is no "old growth" forest that is easy to walk around in.  There is a lot of undergrowth and debris on the ground and walking a dog through the woods on a 6 foot leash can be slow going.  At some point I realized that we were lost and seemingly going in circles.  Darkness was not setting in yet but it was immanent and a sense of urgency came about me so we tried running or walking as fast as we could.  It seemed like we just kept getting deeper and deeper into the woods and with no sense of direction or plan, we just kept moving forward hoping to find a road or a cleared field. This  part of North Carolina is not wilderness but is a mixture of forest, agricultural fields, homes and little communities along the roads.  Some of the woods are pretty big in that area though but they are sliced by logging roads, so I felt like we would run across something soon.

We just kept going and going and the undergrowth seemed to get thicker so movement was slow.  Darkness was now creeping in and I began to envision the possibility of being stuck overnight in the frozen forest or having to keep hiking in the dark with no visibility.  Finally, I saw a light.  Thank God, we were going to make it out before darkness, but just barely.  It turns out that a huge brier patch covering many acres lay before us and the ray of hope I saw off into the distance.  Walking a dog on a leash through a large brier patch is not something I would recommend for fun and we struggled to slowly move forward.  I kept having to weave the leash through the briers that would catch it, but I dared not let Jumper off and risk having her run off and get lost.  It was our dog but it was primarily my spouse's dog and she would kill me.

It had just gotten dark out when we made it to the light we had been walking towards.  It was a porch light on an old trailer surrounded by woods and sitting along a muddy path.  This was not a road but a country path and no more houses or trailers were in sight.  We were not having an emergency so I did not go to the residence but we started walking down the path.  I was not sure which way would lead us out but soon we got to another trailer and then a couple more.  It looked like the path got a little bit wider and better maintained and soon it turned into a dirt country road.  We passed a couple more houses and a few fields and then we made it to the paved road.  We had hit Highway 581, a two lane blacktop that I took to work every day.  I was a couple of miles from home and I knew the way so we kept walking.  I think I had a cell phone back then but I had not carried it with me and reception was very poor in that area so I do not know if I could have gotten through if I had called the house.  We finally made it home about an hour or more after dark and to my spouse's relief the dog was ok.  I think she was happy to see me too.

After the adventure of finding the tree, going back and cutting it was to be a piece of cake.  Actually, with the tools I had and my lack of experience it was a real challenge to cut it down.  It seemed to take forever but I was determined and finally brought the great Cedar down to the forest floor.  It was probably 9 feet tall,  a beautiful tree, but I do not think the ceiling in the trailer was much over 7 feet.  The next challenge was getting the tree into the house and not having it stick through the roof.  It was too hard to cut more off the bottom at that point so I cut the top of the tree until I could make it fit inside.  With the top off, the tree was thick and wide all the way from top to bottom.  It was huge and occupied maybe a fourth of the living room.  We got the lights and decorations on it and over the next few weeks it was fun watching her move the decorations around and adore the tree.  It was a really special tree but it was also the lastand only  tree I ever cut down myself.  The next year and every year after, we bought big Frasier Firs off the lot.

2011 Christmas tree: last Christmas


So we come to the story of this year's Christmas tree.  With our marriage failing and both of us agreeing that we would separate sometime after the holidays, I envisioned that this would be our last Christmas tree together.  When December got here I started talking about going to get the tree but she would put it off and not want to look at them or talk about it.  This was the first year that she was not excited about getting a tree.  As the time grew closer to needing to get a tree she started telling me we would not get a tree this year.  I didn't pay any attention to that, I knew we were going to get a tree, and I was possibly more excited about it than usual knowing it would be our last tree.  Usually it was grumpy old me that kept putting off the tree purchase until the last few trees were on our favorite lot, run by a local charity.  Sometimes I waited too late and we had to get one somewhere else at a higher price and from a lot that did not help children with the proceeds.  I was feeling happier and better than ever this year and wanted to relish this experience one more time, so I could not wait to get the tree up and watch her marvel at it.  This year she did not want one at all.

I knew the lot was running out of trees and I finally got her to agree to put the dogs in the truck and ride out and get one.  When we arrived there were only three trees left on the lot.  She always wanted the biggest one we could afford and was very particular about it, spending a lot of time (when there was good inventory) picking out the perfect tree.  This year she walked up to the man and said we wanted the smallest tree he had.  It was still a good sized tree and we had him cut the base and place it on our stand before I lashed it to the back of the truck.  This was Thursday afternoon and I got home, placed it in the living room and adorned it with all of our lights.  Friday evening we went out to eat with my parents and when they dropped us off at the house they rode by and admired the lights on the tree through the window.  I asked her when she was going to get around to decorating it and she put it off.  I so wanted to see her put those ornaments on that tree.

Saturday afternoon I left for an overnight trip to visit my boyfriend in Virginia, 2.5 hours away.  I was honest with her about it, as I had been for many months, and she told me she would decorate the tree while I was gone.  She also told me she was probably going to spend Sunday night with her sister and made a bigger deal than usual about where to leave the dogs and how she would lock the screen door and so forth.  I thought nothing of it.  I wrote about this in the last few blog posts, but Sunday afternoon while getting ready to check out of the hotel in Virginia I was overcome by a wave of emotion and had a major crying spell.  My mind was thinking back to good times I had on trips with my spouse and in my soul I felt her fading away from me right then, at that exact moment.  Sunday night I got home and she was not home as I expected.  Monday I found out that she had left us and had gone to live out of town with her sister.  She had placed a few ornaments on one section of the tree before she left, the rest of it lay bare.

At the exact moment I was hit by that emotional crash while in Virginia, she was packing her things and leaving our home for good.  I did not know it but I felt it.  That sinking feeling came rushing back Monday when I found out she had left us.  That feeling has gotten better at times but it has not gone away.  She has since told me that she had no intention of getting a tree this year.  Her plan was to leave on December 8th, when I would be out of town with my boyfriend at a Christmas party.  I got sick and stayed home that weekend so she postponed her plan to leave.  She went to the store and got me medicine and stayed until I got feeling better and left her home overnight again.  Then she made her move.

Yesterday I took Jumper to the veterinarian because she has been swelling up.  Her body is filling with fluid and the vet is now working on finding out what is wrong with her.  It is very serious.  Jumper is over 16 years old and I don't know that she will live much longer.  I had always envisioned that my spouse and I would stay together through the end of Jumper's life.  That dog has been the glue to really held us together for a long time and she had been integral in bringing my dogs to us back when we were living at the trailer.  Buddy and Nightingale showed up at our trailer in different years as strays and picked our home as their new home.  They wanted to live with Jumper and we were a family.  Certainly we were non traditional in a lot of ways and dysfunctional in our own ways.  At times we were happy.  We needed each other. 
I am doing my best to take care of Jumper but she misses my spouse very much and it may have broken her heart when she left.  The doctor says that what is wrong with her is either her heart, cancer or a rare disease.  It would not surprise me if she is dying of a broken heart.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Will the Real Mount Everest Please Stand Up?


2012 ended with a bang, not a whimper, in Tammy World.  My spouse left, I came out to my parents and started living as myself full time within a 5 day span.  Talk about mountains and roller coasters, this was the real deal! The Mt. Everest I had anticipated and dreaded climbing for so long crumbled right before my feet and I was able to stroll easily into the valley to begin my life as my true self.  On the day the world was to end (according to the ancient Mayan Calendar) my life as Tammy Ann Matthews began.  Don't be so quick to celebrate, as now in 2013 I find myself on the cliffs of another mountain hanging on for dear life.  Will the real Mount Everest please stand up?

Christmas in Tammy World

Christmas with Jumper
I spent 2 nights and 3 days at my parents' home for Christmas.  It was great being around them and being fully accepted as Tammy.  They do a pretty good job for old folks remembering to call me Tammy and using the right pronouns etc.  The dogs stayed there with us and they sleep downstairs with me.  The picture above is me with my spouse's 16 year old chow.  Jumper loves me but Chows are basically one person dogs and her person left when she left me. 

Some of the highlights of my Christmas with my parents were learning to cook pies with mom and fixing the turkey dinner (although we just warmed a pre cooked meal this year), a Daddy/daughter dance with my father that was a little weird but really cool.  The smiles on their faces said a Lot, they are really happy to have me as their daughter.  I think they are just so happy because (at times) I was happy and they finally know what is wrong with me.  I am truly blessed to have parents that accept me and love me unconditionally like they have proven to.  If I did not believe in Christmas miracles before, I do now. 

Here are a few pictures from Christmas Day.  I am adding them as a tribute to the incredible love and support that has been shown to me by my parents in the last couple of weeks and also as an inspiration to others who do not believe they will be accepted.  Never underestimate the power of love!

Christmas 2012

Will the real Mount Everest please stand up?

I have been so blessed by my parents' instant and total acceptance, and even embrace, of my transition.  It is unreal.  For years and years I knew I could never change myself because of my family.  When I began to let the female inside me out a few years ago, bit by bit, I feared it was something I could not control.  What I found is myself, and in time I knew I had to transition in order to go on living.  I simply could not go back and could not stand to keep myself bottled up anymore.  Then the real fear set in, how could I ever tell my family?  My family at this point was down to just my parents and they are getting along in age.  My only hope was that maybe with my adulthood and their being elderly I would have a better chance of them accepting me.  Besides, my Dad was retired and many of his friends had passed on so we were not the well known family we once were.  Still, I was looking at a feat I compared to climbing Mt. Everest when it came to coming out to them.  I had gone from not thinking I could do it to knowing I had to but it took every ounce of strength I had to muster up the courage and strength to tell them (not ask them) that I was going to transition from their son to their daughter. 

I wanted to tell them right after Christmas and my spouse knew this.  She left me 10 days before Christmas and forced my hand early.  The pain and shock of her leaving took all the fear away and I was able to easily come out to my parents and the rest is history in the making.  In the days that followed I was indeed filled by joy and most of all relief for having gotten that mountain out of my way.  I knew everything was going to be ok with them and that there was absolutely nothing holding me back from accomplishing my goals now.  Four days after telling them I abandoned all pretense of my former life and began my real life experience, living full time as Tammy Ann Matthews.  My mother had given me my middle name 3 days prior.  When I came out to her I told her I would be honored if she would give me a middle name and to my surprise and overwhelming joy she did.  And it was perfect.

My spouse and I had had been speaking of splitting up for a long time.  Reading back on my blog you can see this was a theme throughout most of our marriage, especially since my coming out to her 26 months ago.  She knew I was going to come out to my parents right after Christmas and then I hoped to go full time soon after if all went well.  We had both expressed desires to split up after the first of the year.  What I did not expect for her to leave before Christmas and just pack her things one afternoon when I was away and file for divorce with an attorney.  What I really did not expect was for her leaving to throw me deep into an emotional well that I saw no way out of.  While coming out to my parents had been so easy and gone so well, my breakup from my spouse had left me feeling broken and alone.  I felt something was very wrong and all the emotions were completely tearing me down at a time I should have been reveling in the joy of my new life and acceptance.  Coming out was supposed to be the hardest thing ever and ending an unhappy marriage was to be a big relief for us both.  In this dawn of a new era at the end of 2012, things were reversed and I had the feeling I was on the mountain hanging on for dear life and running out of oxygen fast.  Will the real Mount Everest please stand up?


This has been the hardest subject to write about since starting this blog.  I simply have not been able to put into words the pain and emptiness I have experienced over the last 16 days and have not have the strength or will to attempt to describe it.  I have had some very happy moments over the Holidays this year but they have been punctuated or shared by fits of extreme sadness. Christmas with my parents was awesome and Mitchell has visited me several times, spending as much time as he possibly could with me during this difficult period.  He was here for 2 nights this week for New Year's Eve and having him here at least allowed me sleep.  Even some of the nights I spent at my parents home I have not been able to sleep or even lie still in the dark. I have shed more tears over these couple of weeks than I have in whole life it feels like.  The panic and loneliness have been overwhelming and I have been filled with a deep sense of dread as if there is something very, very wrong that will never be right.  My therapist had no answers other than give it time and go back to taking my mild tranquilizer in order to rest.  I had given up that pill when I started hormones.  The chronic dark feeling and panic I had for most of my life had roared back in a very acute and intense way.  Something was very wrong and it felt like there was a disturbance in the force.  Oddly, this feeling had set into me in Virginia on December 16th, the day she left.  I did not realize she had left me until the next day but I felt it inside me as it was happening.  Dealing with this crisis of emotions had become the Mt. Everest I had foreseen in my dreams.

After spending New Year's Eve and New Year's Day here, Mitchell left on the morning of the 2nd.  The night before I had again been crying when out with him and he had a talk with me in the rainy parking lot of a Japanese restaurant.  He assured me, as he had been doing the whole time, that I needed to focus on the positives and I had a Lot of positives in my life now to focus on.  That was almost 2 days ago and since then I have teared up a few times over this but not really cried.  The feeling of dread has lifted quite a bit and the intense feeling of wrong has been replaced with a feeling that everything is going to be ok.  I am still sort of melancholy but my sense of well being has come back and I know that things will work out alright.  I have realized from day 1 that this whole series of events leading up to my going full time would not have gone so smoothly if my spouse was still here.  She would have surely put a damper on things at the very least and in the greater sense of fate, the timing of her departure was perfect.  Just like everything about 2012 had seemingly been guided by the hand of fate leading me toward transition at a time of destiny, this too was meant to be. 

I think time has healed much of my pain as well as the fact that I have been communicating with her more and more in the last week or so.  At first it seemed like she had left without warning and we would never be friends again.  Now she is talking about moving back to town soon so she can still be active in our dogs life and we can have a friendship.  A great sign has been that in the last week I have brought her dog to see her twice and she actually went to lunch with me.  In the past she would not go anywhere with me presenting female and with me being full time now, that is how I am all the time.  I do miss her here very badly.  Though we didn't often get along, I miss the little things and her childlike smile she would exhibit from time to time.  We have been together in some form or another for 25 years and I do feel that she is a part of me.  Maybe we should have never gotten married and the time had definitely come to move on from this marriage.  I now think and hope that our relationship will survive to manifest itself in another form and that we will always be bonded together in a special way.  The path we have taken is best for us both, I believe, as I now have the freedom to pursue my dreams and the life I need and deserve.  Hopefully she can grow also, become more independent and maybe build a life of her own as well.  As long as I can be a part of it I will be very happy for her and I hope that she will be happy for me.

Tammy World 2013

New Year's Eve 2012: 10 days full time, 7.5 months hormones, one year of hair growth

2012 was off the charts incredible.  I entered the year intending to begin my transition and see how far it would take me.  At one point this summer in therapy, I set a range of going full time from December 31, 2012 to August 18, 2013.  I really thought that goal would be achieved closer to the later date but my therapist said why not shoot for December 31 as the goal.  You don't always hit your goal but you usually come closer to it by setting the bar higher.  A new year and new me was the idea. 

My dreams had been restless for months leading up to the end of December.  I had a deep sense of dread about climbing what I saw as Mt. Everest.  I now believe I am on the other side of the mountain even though the real mountain was not what I first believed it to be.  Like almost everything else in the phenomenal year of 2012, I beat my goal and started my new life at the dawn of a new era.  The Mayans had foreseen my destiny or either my fate had lined up with the prophesy of the ancients.  I began a new calendar in my life on December 21, 2012, that much is for sure.  What does 2013 have in store for me?  The sky is the limit so stay tuned to Tammy World 2013 and find out.