Thursday, May 23, 2013

Really Big Update

A really big kiss for Mitchell for bringing me flowers again.

This is a "Really Big Update" because it updates an entire month in my life, it showcases another trip and big time at the beach where I also celebrated completing my first year of hormones, which is a really big milestone for me.  It has been over a month since my first beach trip in a year and a half, when I met my long time internet friend and sister Pam West.  Also, I haven't had a big cry in over a month and while that feels a little weird for me after that being such a regular occurrence in the first part of the year, I guess that it is a good thing even though I have had just a few "little" cries over small things.  I have finally adjusted to living alone, gotten over most of the grief of my spouse leaving and then our first dog, Jumper, passing away.   I am just in a lot better emotional state than I was just a little over a month ago.  Maybe it is because I am not depressed now, but I am getting out more often and doing everything from shopping to dinners with friends and even walking my two dogs a lot more. Going to the beach was a real refresher for me after a period of rejuvenation that kind of kick started me into a good mood this spring.
The week after I got back from the beach trip with Pam, Donna Simms and I had our last class with the Voice and Communication Group at UNC Greensboro. We got our graduation "Certificates of Excellence" and it was wonderful having the "diploma" in my (preferred and soon to be) real name. I have gained more confidence from this class and confidence is key in transition.   I also enjoyed making a great new friend, Donna Simms, and we are trying to continue getting together when we can.  She doesn't have too many chances to get out as herself and I don't have too many chances to get out of my town and do something interesting, so we should be in for some fun times ahead.  Hopefully, we can go to some museums that interest both of us, go shopping more and even find new areas to explore.

Donna and I got a chance to go to the Southern Women's Home Show in Raleigh one Saturday and fortunately Mitch didn't mind going with us, as he was at my house for that entire weekend.  He has been staying over more often on the weekends and sometimes not leaving to go out of town for work until Monday morning. I have appreciated more time with my boyfriend and he has even been fixing some of the broken things in my house, but I know he needs time with his kids too.  I am just glad to have a place for him to come and I have enjoyed cooking for him and all the times we have gone out.

At the Southern Women's Home Show
I went up to Raleigh one day to go shopping with Lisa Lesher, who lives near the coast, as she was in Raleigh for a doctor's (endo) appointment.  She doesn't get up this way much but we had a great time and she has invited me to come down and visit and/or stay with her sometime.  This is cool as she is a fun person and lives only 10 miles from the beach.  The following week Donna and I had our first weekday out together since class ended and we went to several places shopping, including an outlet mall.  She was in her own county and went by the county office to pay some bills, which I thought was very neat.  She even took me to a famous little hot dog stand there in Smithfield, where they serve Carolina Packers "red hot dogs" that are made right in town.  Hopefully we will get to have another day like that soon.

At Crabtree Mall with Lisa
In Smithfield with Donna.

At a cool little hot dog joint.
In my therapy sessions we have been discussing my continuing attachment to my spouse and my therapist, like so many other people I know, is having trouble understanding why Joan still seems to have so much control over me.  Actually, that is one of the questions I had for her as a therapist, and she brought up the idea that perhaps I view Joan as I would a child.  She said that is not uncommon for adopted people who have never had children of their own to take someone under their wing like this, but I don't know what I think of that theory.  I do want to explore that in more depth, as I think my relationship with Joan is more complex that even I had realized.  I have been writing a lot about my relationship with her and its ever changing dynamics and I have not been writing as much about my relationship with Mitchell, perhaps because it is more straightforward and also because it is going so well.  He is still the light in my life and the picture of us at the top of this blog sums up how we are getting along now.  

I still have a strong desire to take care of Joan in as many ways as I can but we have not figured out exactly how that is going to work yet.  I ran into somewhat of a problem when she did not want me to proceed with my name change while we are still legally married.  As I reported recently, she and I are getting along even better now and now she says she is finally ok with it, so I am proceeding to file the legal papers to change my name to Tammy Ann Matthews. :)

Mother's Day came the week after I spent a Sunday afternoon with my parents and spouse for our first time together since I came out and went full time.  Mitchell was in town again the next Sunday, on Mother's Day, and Mom invited him over to have lunch and spend the afternoon visiting.  Two weeks in a row with my parents and first my old and then new partners could be seen as a little odd but I consider them both family, just in different ways, so actually all this was another form of rejuvenation for me.  We had a great afternoon and I wouldn't trade either one of those Sundays for anything, as I think they were both important for my growth and mental well being.  If I could put a title on the following picture it would be "Family" and I hope that will be the case for a long time.  Right now I feel better about this picture than any I have ever taken.

Mother's Day with my boyfriend and parents.

My therapist also thinks I need more of a social life to help me take my mind off things that bother me, like my separation.  Well, I think I stay pretty busy and between taking care of my parents, spending time with Mitchell  and going out with friends in Raleigh, I think my social life is pretty full.  I have been making an effort to meet more friends lately and spend more time out with other people.  I don't have any friends here in my own town, so my weeknights are usually spent at home alone, but I am busy almost every day during the day.  Facebook have helped me connect with more people like myself and luckily I have been able to meet more of them in person lately.
After having that great (but too short) beach trip last month with Pam, I also wanted to make another 2 night trip to the coast with my dogs, so we went last week on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Nightingale had never been to the ocean and it had been about 3 years since Buddy went down to the coast.  In the past, Joan and I would always take Buddy and Jumper and Night would stay in the kennel.  We needed a family vacation after all we have been through with Joan leaving and Jumper becoming handicapped then passing away, so I decided to take them to the Outer Banks before the rates go up on Memorial Day and before it gets too hot and humid.  We rented a little 2 bedroom apartment at a motel for 2 nights in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

Walking on the beach with Nightingale and Buddy
Buddy (top) and Night and Buddy, in the apartment.

A friend I met on Facebook, Brenda Roberts, drove down to the beach from Virginia on Tuesday to spend some time with us and celebrate her birthday and also my one year anniversary on HRT, a birthday of sorts for me.  Both milestones were on Wednesday May 15th.  I had never met Brenda in person, but we hit it off right away so she stayed with us in the spare bedroom the first night.  We had a blast talking, walking on the beach, going to the pier and lighthouse, then going out to dinner and to a great local brewery that night.  She is a little bit older than me and had SRS back in 1977.  I am honored that she also wants to be my sister as well as friend and help guide me in any way possible during transition.  Everything about my transition seems to be blessed so far, and meeting Brenda and having this great trip for my one year anniversary line right up with that experience.  I can't wait to see what my second year has in store for me but I feel like its going to be even better than the first.

Brenda and I on Jennette's Pier in Nags Head.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Brenda and I at Outer Banks Brewing Station Tuesday night.

Nightingale and Buddy on the beach Wednesday.

Brenda went home Wednesday afternoon and I chilled with dogs a little while and then met my friend that lives close to the beach, Lisa, at her workplace and went out for dinner with her on her break.  She works until midnight and she also said that she had stopped by the bar the night before but missed Brenda and I by about 20 minutes.  We had a nice seafood dinner (I only ate seafood on this beach trip) and after dinner I went back to the room.  Wednesday night I spent some quality time with the dogs and some quiet time alone by the sea, writing this Facebook post when I got in.

After spending most of my beach trip with friends, I took tonight to quietly reflect back on my first year of transition and look ahead to the rest of the journey. It was a nice clear night on the Outer Banks and I enjoyed the rest of the IPA beer from Outer Banks Brewery while watching the stars and ocean on the motel's upstairs crow's nest and down by the surf.

Thursday morning I got up, walked the dogs on the beach and got ready to check out.  I got a call from Lisa saying that she was unexpectedly off for the entire day, so we made a plan to take my dogs back to her house over across the bridge, leave them in her fenced in back yard, and come back to the beach for some lunch and a round of miniature golf.  It had been years since I played any sort of golf, but after one last seafood lunch at a cool little take out place, we went to the big Lost Treasures Miniature Golf course and played 18 holes.  

Working on my short game

Inside one of the caves at Lost Treasures Mini Golf
Cooling off on a hot day
The trip had started off on a cool Tuesday, perhaps the last really cool day of spring.  Wednesday, a stiff southwest breeze blew all day and it warmed up and by Thursday it had gotten pretty hot, so I am glad the dogs had a shady place to spend the afternoon so that I could enjoy one more afternoon at the beach and spend more time with my friend Lisa.  Lost Treasures is a really cool putt putt course and after we finished we went to a gift shop then left the beach, heading back over the bridge one last time.  Lisa lives very near the Albermarle Sound so we stopped by a little beach there to look at the water and get a few pictures.  Here I am, in the picture below, showing ya'll the big body of water that I used to spend a lot of time on.   I worked on a boat sampling fish with various types of commercial gear when I lived in Elizabeth City and worked for Marine Fisheries as a Fisheries technician II.

The Albermarle Sound

We left Lisa's house about 4 pm and on the way home we stopped by Elizabeth City to view the pretty waterfront there, then drove out to see the trailer I used to live in on Hall's Creek.  The trailer and trailer park were in worse condition than when I lived there in the mid to late 1900's, but not much worse.  The one thing I really loved about that place had not changed, the water.  I used to enjoy some very good freshwater fishing right behind my trailer and great saltwater fishing was not far away.  My trailer had a canal out back that opened up into a widening creek that led to the wide Little River, which after a few miles flowed into the miles wide Albermarle Sound.  There is a lot of water in that part of northeastern North Carolina and in many ways it is still God's country up there.

Elizabeth City waterfront, Pasquotank River

Hall's Creek Trailer park and my old home

I lived here for almost 4 years.  During Hurricane Fran, in 1996, I spent the night in this trailer rocking around in the heavy winds and in the morning we were surrounded by flood waters.  By noon the canals were almost dry as the wind had shifted and blown the water to the other side of the sound.

It was a great trip and a its been great month to reflect back on with this update!  After the separation with my partner of 25 years I needed a vacation, so I took 2 short ones in the course of a month.  Getting out of the house, going out of town, spending more time with my boyfriend and more time with friends old and new has really made me feel wonderful again.  I am enjoying my life as Tammy now and I am honestly enjoying life more than ever.  Remembering back, I did enjoy all the time I spent travelling with my parents when I was a child, but when I was about age 12 my mind went black in a way and I was not able to fully enjoy life the way the way it should be.  Now that I am feeling more and more comfortable with myself and comfortable around other people, things are really cool.  I can't wait to see what my second year of transition has in store for me.  What is next in Tammy World?  It should keep getting better, so stay tuned!

Mr. Buddy at Hall's Creek

Mrs. Nightingale on the beach

On the pier
Standing on top of the Atlantic Ocean
The winds of change are blowing
Tammy World 2013

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