Sunday, April 14, 2013


This past week has been a time of rejuvenation for me.  I had not spent the night outside my small city since last fall and that was my fateful trip to Danville, Virginia on December 16, 2012.  As you may recall, when I arrived home the next evening I found out that my spouse had left home for good.  The next 5 days were a whirlwind of activity in which I conquered Mt. Everest (came out to my parents), received my new middle name from my mom and began my Real Life Experience living full time as Tammy Ann Matthews.  Since that week I have certainly been more content with myself than ever because I no longer had to hide anything from anyone or live a double life, but I have been in sort of an emotional rut much of the time and needed a change of scenery, if only for a brief time.

Last Saturday my boyfriend and I spent the night in Raleigh in a very nice hotel suite.  Sleeping in another bed and waking up in another city on Sunday morning (in my boyfriend's arms) provided a kick start to a week that has been a rejuvenation for my emotions and psyche.  After a romantic night and morning in the hotel, I took him to the airport to return a car he had rented the previous week.  Then we enjoyed a nice, late lunch at O'Charley's before I took him to his hometown to pick his car up from the shop.  On the way home I went out of my way to find a new shopping center in the Raleigh area that had a Dress Barn and TJ Maxx.  Being out of town, romance and shopping set the tone for what would be a busy but rewarding week.

Monday I took my dad to his regular doctor's appointment in town and I dressed nice because Mom and I went to the mall afterwards to shop for my estranged spouse's birthday presents.  It was the first time I had been to the mall as myself with her and we had a nice time on this short shopping trip, even though we weren't really looking for anything for ourselves.  We were treated like the ladies we are everywhere we went, I got compliments on my top and a man held the door open for us when we picked up dinner after leaving the mall.  I have become very used to this treatment but it is still exhilarating to receive it when out with my mom.  Besides, getting called ma'am never gets old, but it is reassuring in a new way when it happens in front of and with my mother.

I arise this morning very early,
Healing from physical and emotional scars, I venture forth,
Lifted by a subtle, emotional energy that will carry me through the day.

Tuesday I took Mom to her doctor's appointment at 9 am.  This was a pre op visit with her eye doctor before her cataract surgery Thursday.  This was a pretty quick trip, then I came home and left for Raleigh to meet up with Donna Simms for our trip to Greensboro for our Transgender Communication class.  Donna wanted to pick up a light sweater on the way so we stopped in at Burlington Coat Factory for a little shopping and she found just what she needed.  We had a joint session with the first semester class this week even though only one (of two) students from the beginning group showed up.  After class we went to dinner at a quaint brew pub with Angela Stewart, the other student and a Facebook friend I had met at last year's Transgender Day of Remembrance.  I had a home brewed beer and an excellent Ahi Tuna sandwich.  After dinner we walked down the block to a coffee shop and sat outside on a pleasant spring evening drinking coffee and chatting.  It was 9:00 pm when we left Greensboro and close to midnight when I got home.

Dining out in downtown Greensboro with Donna (left) and Angela (center) who are both in the transgender communication program at UNCG.  We are at Natty Green's which is cool brew pub downtown and I even had a beer they make right there as well as an awesome Ahi tuna sandwich.

Wednesday I took my dad to Raleigh for his biannual appointment with his cardiologist.  This doctor knew me by name and he is very thorough and personal, perhaps my dad's best doctor.  The previous week I had taken Dad to see another doctor at the VA and did not introduce myself or mention anything about myself to that doctor.  He had remarked that he thought someone else had brought dad in last year, but if he suspected that was different version of me he did not let on.  This day at the cardiologist, after the doctor walked in the room and shook my dad's hand, he turned to me.  I told him that I was going by Tammy now, that I was transgender and going through transition.  He looked me over briefly, smiled and remarked that it must be a big change.  I agreed with him then we got down to business, going over my dad's medication and how he has been doing.  I was a little more talkative than usual and actually smiled quite a bit during the visit.  The unease that I had always felt with myself has evaporated and I was comfortable being in that room and dealing with the doctor.  Even though my dad's memory continues to deteriorate, physically he is doing ok for his age and condition, so he got a good report from the heart doctor.  As he was walking out the doctor asked me one more time what my name was and remarked he was not good with names.  Actually he is good with names once he gets them straight and he called me Tammy a couple more times, when he came back in the room and in the hallway as we were walking out.  I am sure he will remember to refer to me as Tammy from now on.

Thursday morning the alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 3:40 am.  We had to be at the Day Hospital at 5:45 for Mom's cataract surgery and I wanted time to shower and do my make up and hair.  The cataract procedure went well and were out of there in about three and a half hours.  Funny thing is, I had seen this doctor  myself a couple years ago but I did look different then.  I don't really think that anyone else in the hospital that morning had clocked me but I did get the feeling that this doctor knew something.  He was very professional and not a big talker, although some of the nurses were.  When we left the hospital we went over to the small, locally owned pharmacy to pick up a couple of prescriptions.  Mom wanted to get me a necklace from the gift shop there to go with the orange ear rings and bracelet she had recently purchased in that store for me.  I picked out a necklace and she also got me a really cool, fashionable blue purse. 

I can't tell you how good it is to be out shopping with my mom.  Not only does she have a credit card, she has great taste and sense of fashion.  Oh how I wish I had been raised as her daughter, I learn so much from her!  I do think we are making up for lost time now though and I savor every minute that I am with her.  I also appreciate time with my dad more now, even though his faculties are not what they once were.  Feeling like a genuine person and not feeling like a fraud, uncomfortable in my own skin and always hiding something, makes being with him so much better than it ever was.  It is like that with everyone I encounter now, so I think I am slowly getting to find out how the average person feels when relating to others.  There was always at least a subtle unease in the air when I was around people, even family and friends, and this seems to be clearing up.

There was a group of ladies in the little shop; they came in as we were paying for everything.  We stood there for awhile because the clerk had to wrap the present for my spouse.  Mom had on sunglasses from the eye surgery and was not as talkative to strangers as she usually is, but she has always been so comfortable around people.  I have always admired her enthusiasm and ability to engage anyone she encounters.  I am the quiet observer but I did make a point of talking to the clerk and speaking to the ladies.  Women tend to engage in conversation with each other so easily and I am learning how to blend in in that way.  It's one of the few things that does not come as naturally to me, but as I do it more and more it does feel as if its becoming natural.  I posted the following little story on Facebook about that day and that group of three ladies...:)

I was in the gift shop of a small, locally owned pharmacy with my mom one day this week. There were some ladies in there who are a little older than me, gabbing and looking around. One had on a tshirt that said:

"I'm out of estrogen and I have a gun."

She made a point of showing it to the clerk and I got a kick out of it. Mom didn't notice but I told her about it when we got in the car, although I don't think she got it as much as I did. Thank goodness I have plenty of estrogen and I keep it a drawer, right next to my gun...:)

Friday was a more relaxing day and I didn't have any appointments or have to go out of town.  I did find out there was a problem with some money orders I had sent to a friend as prepayment for an upcoming electrolysis session.  I had to make three phone calls to address that problem and was called ma'am on the phone by all three people I talked to.  Being recognized as female on the telephone is something I have gotten better at lately.  I then had to go back to the store where I bought the money orders and sign some papers to stop payment on them and get a reimbursement check sent to me.  I realized that I had to sign my legal name on those papers in order for me to cash the checks and I almost did not do it.  Dealing with still having my male name on my identification is sort of the final frontier for me and this incident (and every time I go to the bank) reinforces the fact that I need to go ahead and change it.  The only issue that is standing in my way of changing my name is something I will discuss in the next paragraph.  The clerk did not say anything but she did give me a little look, then everything was taken care of.  The problem originated from me sending the money orders to the wrong address and that was completely my fault.

Saturday I drove to the halfway point to meet my estranged spouse, have lunch and celebrate her birthday, which occurred on Wednesday.  I brought the dogs and we walked them at the park there in the little shopping center and then had lunch at Pizza Hut.  She was in a really good mood, maybe because she got cards and birthday presents, and we had a great lunch and visit.  As usual, we went shopping at the Rose's store there before walking the dogs again and heading to the gas station for me to fill her truck up.  At the store I mentioned to her that I was going ahead and filing the papers for my name change and we had a little discussion about that issue.

Now she tells me she doesn't like the name Tammy and asked me if I could come up with another name.  ???  This is sort of ridiculous to me because when I came out to her 2.5 years ago I asked her repeatedly to let me know if she didn't like the name Tammy and I would consider changing it.  I didn't know at the time when or if I could make that my permanent name, but it was important to me and I wanted her input.  When I told her, I was somewhat established with the name Tammy but now I am very established with my name (except for the legal change) and my mother has even given me a middle name to go with it.  So now she asks me if I can come up with another name.  I certainly didn't want to argue with her that day because we were getting along so good and I am happy that she has Finally gotten to the point of taking me seriously enough to consider that I will be changing my name for real.  I asked her if she thought she could call me Ann or Tam or something but I really did not get an answer.

I knew in the beginning that she might have some problem with the name Tammy because of an old friend with that name that she had a falling out with, but I have given her ample opportunities to give her input on it.  Something else she said disturbed me as much as her dislike of the name Tammy.  She said she did want me to change my name legally until we are legally divorced. She asked me if I could wait on it.  When I asked her if she had a problem with me going through with the name change she said yes.  Well, honestly, I have let her control me far too much for far too long and I just do not think she is now in a position to call the shots on what I do in my life anymore.  Every time she gets a bill, who does she come for to pay it, yet she wants to still control me from afar?  I have to recognize the fault in my own personality that seems to Need her approval and acceptance and just get on with my life.  This was the only potentially negative thing that happened to me all week, after escaping disaster with the address foul up on the money orders, and I will not let it detract from the rejuvenation I feel inside me right now. 

North Carolina is one of the toughest states that I am aware of to get your name changed.  You have to get fingerprinted at the police station, submit federal and state background checks, then sign more papers and pay a fee to get a court date in Superior Court.  You have to show up in court with two character witnesses who are not related and live in the same county and then go before the judge.  When you make it to the judge with the witnesses it is pretty much a done deal, from what I understand.  My plan is to get fingerprinted in the next week or so, submit the FBI and SBI background checks, and in the month or more it takes to get them back continue to talk to her and try to get her to come around.  If she does not, then she will just have to accept my new name anyway. 

As rejuvenating as this past week has been, the upcoming week should prove to be even better.  Monday I will spend some time around my house doing some cleaning, then go visit with my parents for dinner.  Tuesday I will be going to my weekly class with Donna, and we only have 2 classes remaining, and then coming home and packing for my next trip that begins on Wednesday.  

I have mentioned my friend from Oklahoma, Pam, in this blog before and I will be driving to the beach to meet her on Wednesday.  She works for the government and her job brings her here to make presentations at a conference on Tuesday and Wednesday.  So she will keep the room until Friday and I am going down to stay 2 nights at the beach with her, then bring her back to my house Friday night and take her to the airport in Raleigh on Saturday to fly back home.  Mitchell will be coming over Saturday night, so that should top off a great week.  Some more time out of town, meeting a good friend from online that I have never met in person and getting to the coast for the first time in a year and half.  Yes!  The rejuvenation will continue.

Today, Monday April 15,2013, I begin my 12th month of HRT....another reason for rejuvenation!

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Living in Dreams: Flying

Many of us report having dreams in which we are flying.  I had such a dream the other night and this is how it went.....

As soon as I went to sleep I began to dream.  I dreamed that I was at some sort of building with one or more other (unidentified) people.  I had to climb a few stairs, but less than a full story, to get to the door of the building.  It looked like a loading dock and there were two arrows on some sort of sign or something like a weather vane, although it also appeared that the sign was in a fixed or permanent position so that the arrows were possibly not mobile.  The door to the building was closed so I turned to my left and proceeded down what seemed to be several layers of stairs, separated by landings.  Initially the stairs did not seem to go down that far, and I could see to the bottom, but as I ventured down the flights of stairs they seemed to go on and on.  I was outside and the sun was shining.

The dream became somewhat lucid at this point and I made the decision to run down the stairs.  I ran and ran and then I began to lift off the ground.  I must have liked this feeling because I decided to lift up into the air at this point and I basically started to fly upward while still moving in the general direction I was originally heading.  The stairs were not there anymore and the scenery changed.  I seemed to veer off my original path and was flying freely.  Beneath me was something that could have been an amusement park or possibly an industrial area, I am not sure.  There were no other people in my sight and the sun was still shining. 

Aware that I was dreaming and seemingly being in control of the dream I made a conscious effort to say a prayer to Jesus.  I may have prayed for me to be able to see more, have more understanding of my dream or for the dream to continue, I cannot recall.  I do remember a feeling that something was going on or that I was viewing or about to view something that interested me and I wanted to see more or know more about it.  So I made the prayer to Jesus.

I will interject at this point to clarify my personal belief system and say that I hold a somewhat untraditional view of Jesus.  While I do believe in the Jesus of the bible, I believe in a deeper interpretation than what is presented there.  What I mean is that I am a firm believer in a higher power and I have faith that this power is the guiding force in the world as well as a directional power in my own life.  I do not necessarily subscribe to any specific biblical views although I do value the Old Testament as a great historical work and the New Testament to be a valuable teaching instrument of the words of Jesus.  I do not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and my concept of Jesus is much bigger than even that which is described in the Bible.  If anything, I believe in an ancient and magnificent power from which All the worlds great religions derive.  It is a power that no one can understand but I feel it is the driving force behind all life and the human psyche. I refer to this power as Jesus.

The feeling of flight I experienced was amazing.  I know others have experienced flight in dreams and if you have, you know the feeling I am referring to.  The freedom of movement, the weightlessness, the exhilaration; all felt very real to me.  I also had the feeling, as I was looking down on the machinery or what appeared to be immobile carnival rides on an uninhabited landscape, that something was about to happen or that I was about to see some activity.  That is when I made the prayer to Jesus and then things went dark.  I still had the feeling of flying but I could not see anything.  I was floating/flying through darkness for a moment.

I woke up after this short but eventful dream and there was light inside my mask as if there was bright light on in the room.  I wear a sleeping mask at night and it blocks out what little light there is in the room at night.  When I awakened (either fully or partially) there was a light inside my mask and over the next few moments it began to fade.  When it became dark again I knew I was fully awake.  Because the dream was lucid, I am not sure at what point I actually woke up.  I have quite a few dreams where I see flashes of light or a solid light inside my mask when first waking up that then fade to darkness.  Invariably, these are dreams in which I feel I have experienced some sort of spiritual phenomenon or connection and they usually occur right after I first go to sleep with me waking up very soon after falling asleep.

A few weeks back I had another dream in which I saw a late, great aunt of mine that I had not thought of in a long time.  This was a short dream I also experienced right after going to bed and initially going to sleep.  Although I cannot remember all the details, I do remember feeling joy over seeing her and also had the sensation of flight for just a moment as though I was flying with her.  It was something similar to her taking my hand and moving through a meadow, floating at first, then flying.  The next moment I woke up and there were flashing lights inside my mask that faded after a few seconds.  I had a peaceful feeling upon waking up and my mind was filled with happy memories of my late aunt.

I also had a dream not long ago about my old friend that passed away last year and that dream ended with my waking up to flashing lights inside my mask.  The lights in my mask are a recurring phenomenon of late, although it does not happen often.  I have experienced dreams of flight before but I cannot recall how they went.  I have no idea what they mean, if anything, but my dreams are often very interesting and sometimes I feel they connect me more to the spiritual world. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Progress ?

You can't stop progress.  This post was to be written a couple weeks ago, immediately following my Exile post, as a more positive note to follow a mostly negative one.  As I have stated, this blog is about my transition and life and I do let it all out here; good, bad and ugly.  Well, my transition seems to be going very good whereas my life at the moment is having its ups and downs.  This is a time of great change for me and the upheaval of these times is a marked contrast to the static blah that was my life for so, so many years.  Change does not come easy, but still, there is progress.

4/4/2013: Progress in motion...

The progress I originally wanted to write about was that my spouse had gone to visit my parents for the first time since she left us in mid December.  It wasn't a long visit but apparently it was a productive one.  I don't think I was the main topic of conversation (at least I hope not), but my Mom reported that on several occasions my spouse referred to me as Tammy.  She seemed, to them, to be fairly accepting of my transition (for once) and overall the visit went well from all reports.  The main topic of the visit was Jumper, who was sort of on her last leg at that point.  With all I was going through taking care of that dog in her last days/weeks and some degree of depression surrounding that, I delayed writing this post on progress until now. 

Another great point of progress that same week was the monumental event of my spouse calling me by my name, Tammy, while we were grocery shopping one afternoon.  This was a first and of course it made my day.   I had met her at the halfway point again so that she could see Jumper and we stopped in Food Lion so that I could buy us both a few groceries.  She told me when we left the store that it was hard for her to change after so many years of calling me another name and I understood that.  At least she was making an effort even though progress comes slowly at times.

Two days before Jumper passed away, my spouse came to visit her for the last time.  Her sister from Colorado was in Raleigh visiting the rest of the family along with her husband, the ex minister.  This man is the only person in my spouse's family who I am sure does not like or accept me right now.  I have never been able to find out just how her sister feels about me but I assume her views are at least somewhat in line with those of her husband.  When she walked into my house, following my spouse, she had a scowl on her face and I greeted her by name as she looked at me.  She mumbled "hi" and looked down, really not looking at or making eye contact with me during most of the visit.  I was dressed in just a sweater, jeans and tennis shoes with no makeup but I had fixed my hair kind of nice.  I was dressed just like these two sisters and they were not wearing makeup either, so I was hoping to fit in.  Maybe she was expecting me to have the stereo type look of high heels, short skirt and lots of makeup or maybe she thought I would be a monster but I hope what she saw was just a normal person. 

We all sat down around Jumper and at one point I carried her outside.  As the visit wore on she began to look at me more and for the last few minutes I gave my spouse a little time alone to say goodbye to her dog.  I stood there in the foyer talking with my sister in law for a bit and it was a normal conversation; we were speaking to each other and making eye contact.  She talked mostly of her husband giving dog memorials in the past and about how my spouse was dealing with the coming loss, but we had a normal conversation.  For someone who who was known not to be accepting of me, I view this as progress.

Now I must mention that it is my understanding that the sister and brother in law in Colorado had a hand in my wife's hiring of an attorney to file for divorce and I believe that they are the primary contacts for this attorney even to this day.  I am not sure that is ethical behavior on the part of the attorney but at this time I don't see fit to intervene in the situation.  Another point of potential progress is that, days after the aforementioned visit, my spouse suggested that perhaps we can settle the divorce without attorneys.  Honestly it is a little late to do that now, as we have both hired lawyers, but I do take this as a positive sign that we can settle the matter rather easily.  I just have to wonder if the sister's visit to my house influence this sudden drawdown of tensions with regard to the divorce and the need for attorneys.  Maybe she saw that I am not so bad after all.  Wherever this ends up, I will take this turn of events as progress.

Progress was also being made within myself in my acceptance of the change at home; getting used to living alone.  I was taking care of all three dogs, and with Jumper becoming increasing feeble, that was taking a lot of energy.  I'm still slowly progressing with wrapping my mind around the idea of living alone and this experience has become something like climbing a mountain, but not nearly on the scale of Mt. Everest.  With Jumper gone, the three of us (Buddy, Nightingale and myself) have settled into a pretty comfortable routine.  I'm still very lonely but at least I get to see my boyfriend most weekends and I go to see my parents almost every day. 

"The greatest enemy of progress is not stagnation, but false progress"     Sydney J. Harris

"Sometimes progress takes a step back and sometimes it was false progress all along."         
Tammy Matthews

A phone conversation with my spouse yesterday revealed that she is not really accepting me at all, or that she has taken a step back in her own progress.  She said that she will only refer to me by my old name as that's what she always known me as, so she isn't going to change.  They say that people in your life transition along with you but this is yet another example of how my spouse has missed that boat.  Maybe I said it best in another post when I stated that "she encouraged me along on my journey, but chose not to join me on it."  So, the  jury is still out on whether or not she is progressing in her acceptance of me or not, only time will tell.  I still believe that she is making progress, albeit slowly, but that progress is manifesting itself in one step forward and sometimes one step back. 

My problem is that for some reason I seem to take a step back along with her with regard to my accepting the separation/divorce.  It really took me about three months to fully accept that divorce is the only logical solution for us but for some reason I feel compelled to see that she fully accepts me as my true self.  She has shown signs of coming around and, as I have stated here, she has shown signs of having made no progress at all.  My moods seem to rise and fall with my perception of how accepting she is at any given moment.  I don't know why that is, but in order for me to progress in my life as I am in my transition, I think I need to break free of that dependence.  She says she wants to be friends and in fact we still do see each other, talk often and maintain a friendship.  But why do I want to be friends with someone who does not even accept me as myself?  I am beginning to become a little bit angry at her for continuing to string me along for money etc., claiming to be my friend and yet not progressing towards the acceptance she has hinted she is working towards.  My feeling at the moment is just to get my lawyer to draw up papers that give her only what she has a legal right to and no more, and pull back on the friendship and any other assistance until such time that she does accept me.  That will be very hard for me to do but maybe that is the progress that I need right now.

Happiness:  In my backyard with flowers from Mitch on Easter weekend
Progress is looking on the bright side and enjoying the positives in my life.

I have to put the negatives aside, as hard as that can be at times.

You can't stop progress