Sunday, June 23, 2013

Time for Change: Fall 2011


My 3 part coming out series, Hello World, concluded with the end of summer in September 2011. Hello World Part 1 ended with my coming out to my spouse in October 2010 and telling her I wanted to enter therapy to help me deal with my gender issues.  I could not continue to keep myself bottled up or hold myself back any longer, so I had to do what I had previously thought I could never do, come out to her. Part 2 dealt with the aftermath of coming out, going through a period where I was taking it slow with her, making compromises and ended with her finally spending some time with me as Tammy. Hello World Part 3 documents my continuing progress in my female gender role both in the outside world and at home. Getting to know the real me was an eye opener for my spouse, Joan, and while she did not yet fully accept me or want to be seen in public with me as Tammy, she did the incredible thing of encouraging me to come out to my parents. It would take me more time to accept that I could come out to them so that I could fully live my life freely as myself, but she helped to realize it was a possibility and even a necessity.  2012 was approaching and it was time for change.


September 24, 2011

Autumn 2011

When my last entry in this series, Hello World Part 3, ended I had just experienced my first date with my eventual boyfriend, Mitchell. He came to my house and we spent several hours together before I asked him to leave. He was prepared to spend the night but I was not nearly ready for that yet but we did enjoy a very romantic evening. Even though it was our first date, I felt very close to him and knew we shared a lot of interests and goals. We had talked on the phone often for several weeks, exchanged messages online and met in person (though briefly) at a couple of parties, so I felt like I knew him very well right from the beginning.

The following Saturday I had plans to visit some friends near Wilson, which is about 20 miles from where I live, then pick up something to eat and go shopping. I was always considerate of my spouse here at home, who has a lot of insecurities, and tried not to leave her home alone for too long. Mitchell was determined to see me one way or another although I sort of went out my way not to make a date with him. Whatever was happening, I wanted to take things slow with us and I was afraid I had given him the wrong impression inviting him over on our first date. I didn't feel I was in a good position (being married) to actually have a boyfriend nor did I want it to be that easy. He was persistent and wanted to meet me in Wilson for dinner only if that's all I would agree to, and it was. He made the 1.5 hour drive and showed up bearing flowers again. We had a nice dinner and talked for a bit then he drove back home to spend time with his kids and I went home and watched television with Joan. 


We had a similar date the following weekend and the weekend after that I had the house to myself again and invited him over. I still didn't let him stay overnight but as he was leaving (about 4 am) I sort of let the words "I love you" slip out. That may have caught both us by surprise but this was a feeling that had developed in me rather quickly over the past few weeks. I did not want to be in love with anyone and if I was I did not want him to know. It seems like I had found someone very special but it just wasn't the right time in our lives for a loving relationship as both of us were married, although he was in the process of separating. I just played it down and tried to control my feelings, telling him from the beginning that we both had to take it slow.
Spending as much time as possible out in public getting comfortable in a variety of different situations: here on October 1 doing my favorite activity, shopping.


There was a party coming up for our Yahoo group on the 7th and 8th of October. Mitchell already had a date to this party with another girl, new to our group, that he had dated some in the months prior to meeting me. They obviously didn't have an exclusive relationship and he had not seen her since our first date. Anyway, he did have this date set for her at the two night party although he actually told me he would cancel it and go with me if I wanted him to. This really put me on the spot, because I did want to go with him but I did not want to be reason he cancelled the date with this new girl to the area and our Yahoo group.  That is just not my style and I did not want to be known as that type of person. I told him to go with her even though I knew they would be staying in the hotel together for 2 nights. He urged me to come to the party anyway and I planned on possibly driving up Saturday night for a few hours and then making the one hour drive back home.

Every morning since our first date Mitchell would send me a text saying something like "Good morning beautiful, smooches."  He almost always gets up earlier than me so I had come to expect those texts to be on my phone when I woke up.  That Saturday morning I checked my phone and there was nothing.  All I could think about was him  at the hotel with that other girl and I began to cry.  I was not on hormones yet but still the tears really flowed.  I was blue for a couple of hours and finally, about noon, he called me.  We spoke for a few minutes, which made me feel better, but still I could not get over the fact that Mitchell was going to spend the day and evening with someone else.  Was he playing me?  I am the one that told him to keep his date he made before we met and go with her so I only had myself to blame, right?  Still, something seemed very wrong.

I got dressed for the party Saturday night but I ended up staying home and hanging out with Joan.  I had my usual buzz with beer and pot and I tried not to think about what was going on at that party.  Sunday morning I woke up and there was no text message from Mitchell and I started crying again.  This time it was even worse and I stayed in the bathroom for a long time, hiding my emotional state from Joan.  Soon it was checkout time at the hotel and Mitch called me when he hit the road.  I think I was still in the bathroom when I took his call and when I told him I had been crying over the disastrous weekend, he began to cry too.  We cried together on the phone and I could tell he had the same feeling of wrongness that I had been experiencing.  That afternoon, on the telephone, we decided to date exclusively from that day on.  I was still sort of numb from the emotional weekend and I didn't feel any real victory that Mitchell had decided to date only me, it just felt right.  That day was was October 10, 2011.


NC State Fair 2011
The North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh started the following week and we had been talking about going together so we made a date to meet in Raleigh and drive together to the fair.  By now I had been all over the place as Tammy; with Mitchell, with friends and mostly by myself. Still, this would be a big test for me because even though we chose to go on a Tuesday when it would not be jam packed with weekend crowds, there would still be thousands and thousands of people there. The weather was sunny and hot which made for an even more crowded day at the huge fair.  Mitchell had bought me two pair of tennis shoes and that day was the first time I wore female tennis shoes.  I wore a comfortable grey and pink pair to the fair and the other pair was white and could barely be distinguished from my "other" tennis shoes.  After the fair date I started wearing the white pair when in "male mode" and I would never wear male tennis shoes again.
 
In the State Fair parking lot with the flowers Mitchell brought me.





We had a blast at the State Fair and if it was a test I passed with flying colors.  I only had one little nervous "moment" when we were in a crowded exhibit building and people were walking around and into us from all directions, and even then Mitchell quickly calmed me down.  He was becoming an anchor for me in more ways than one and at the end of the long day we sat in the parking lot and had a long and fairly deep conversation. If I was having a dream I did not want to wake up.  I was feeling so blessed to have someone to share all these experiences with as well as sharing more and more of my heart.
 
My boyfriend and I at the NC State Fair 2011


Mitchell and I exchanged texts every morning, talked on the phone at least once a day (we still do these things) and went out most weekends.  When Joan went out of town I would have him over but still not to spend the night.  One Saturday night in October he came all the way to Wilson, just 20 minutes from my house, got a hotel room and we went out to dinner then hung out in the room until around midnight.  He stayed in the room all night but I drove home and Joan was already in bed when I got here.  I sat up for awhile in the bar in my little house and I remember feeling like a teenage girl who came home to meet her curfew.  Joan did not like to be left alone at the house all night.  I had made progress over the last year even staying out until midnight or so without her with me but I always came home unless she was out of town.  This limitation was really starting to bother me but I tried not to push her too far too fast because of how far I had come in gaining more freedom and getting her to at least be tolerant of the changes I had made so far. She also knew that I was taking a variety of "herbal" hormones and that I was intending to follow through with medical hormones and transition at some point in the not too distant future.

I had to remember back to what she told me when I first came out to her over a year ago, that she would leave if I ever became a woman full time.  I also had to remember what she told me earlier in 2011 that I should in fact follow my heart and transition but that ultimately she would leave me.  It was really a testimony to how much I cared about Joan that I did not want to push her far enough that she would leave, not yet anyway.  I didn't know what would become of her without me and I wasn't yet ready to imagine my own life without her here.  Part of it was also my desire to keep the dogs together as a family because I knew she would take Jumper with her when she left.  

After feeling so foolish about coming home that night and leaving Mitchell in the hotel room all alone, and all the other nights I was coming home when I wanted to stay out all night, I began to tell Joan that after the first of the year I would be staying out overnight sometimes even when she was home.  Luckily she was going away to stay with her sister in Raleigh a couple of weekends a month but I was starting to want/need even more freedom.  I just wasn't ready to shake up my little family quite yet.

3 parties
 
Flowers from Michell for the Halloween party

At the end of October there was a Halloween party for the Carolina Meeting Place Yahoo group.  This was the group that held the parties where Mitchell and I met and this was to be our first party attending together as a couple.  I felt a little uneasy about going because Mitch had gone to the party earlier in the month with another date and she was to be at this Halloween function too.  I told him I felt some trepidation about that but once we actually got to the party I was relaxed and everything was fine.  It turns out this girl did not even show up, but it wasn't because of us. 
Cougar and Tamer

My costume was a cougar theme and Mitchell was an animal tamer.  There is some irony here in that I am older than him so in some ways I am the "cougar" and he is the first man to "tame" me in the sense of getting me into a steady relationship.  I was very happy in our budding relationship though and we had a great time at the party.  That night in the hotel was the first night we ever stayed overnight together and I began to discover how nice it is to have someone to cuddle with all night during sleep.  I had never really experienced this even in all my years of marriage and I would quickly grow to love it.


November party at Christy's
Mitchell, me and hostess Christy Michaels

In November my friend Christy had a party at her house which is only like 15 minutes from where I live.  It wasn't a big party like the ones we have in Raleigh but there were about 6 or 7 girls that came down from the Raleigh area so we had a good party in her nice home here.  This was to be the first night that Mitchell and I actually slept together overnight at my house, after getting home from the party.  Because I didn't want to have him over into the main house yet we slept here in my little guest house on the couch and later on a sleeping bag on the hard, cold tile floor because the couch was so small.  After that night I decided to get a futon for the little house and that ended up being my Christmas present from my parents that year.  Little did they know what it was to be primarily used for..:)


Sitting with my signature Bud Light and straw, at Christy's.
The third party of the season was on December 8th, an early Christmas party for the CMP group.  This time I didn't have any trepidation about going and I did get to meet the new girl in the group that Mitchell had gone out with.  We actually got along pretty good and sort of made friends but after that she flaked out and didn't go to any more parties and then dropped out of the whole scene.  After 2 months of going steady Mitchell and I were very comfortable together but we were still taking it slow overall while getting to know each other better.  We say that we took it slow, and we did in our relationship progression, but our hearts did not take anything slow.  We were very much in love by now and that just continued to grow and grow.


Mitchell and I at the 2011 Christmas party.
Carolina Meeting Place founding members Sabrina and Danielle on my right, group leader Candi on my far left in the Christmas dress and another friend, Julie, directly to my left.

Of course I was doing much more that fall than just going to parties.  I continued to get out more and more as myself, going any and everywhere.  I had lost any fear I had about being seen out in my hometown and the fact is I hardly knew anybody here or ever ran into the few people I did know anyway.  As well as developing my female life I was also deconstructing what male life I had left, outside of family, and this was a concerted effort.  I was down to one friend that would come visit once or twice a week and I began to cancel those visits more and more.  The more I was allowing myself to be myself the harder it was to attempt to present any other way.  I really had done nothing in my real estate business since Spring except some BPO's (Broker Price Opinions) for banks and foreclosure companies where I would just ride by a property, take some pictures and do some internet research.  This did not require interacting with anyone in person so I could easily do it as Tammy and usually did. 
 
At home, Joan was totally comfortable with me as myself but I had to present male when we went out and, of course, around my parents.  Things were tense when my friend came over and I was not comfortable with myself but I did not bother to come out to him because he projected himself as a very intolerant person.  He did, however, see many things on my computer like my Facebook page so I know he knew at least something about the real me.  He never brought it up and we never talked about it but then again we never really talked about anything serious or personal.  We just smoked, drank beer and watched movies or listened to rock music.

The partying was growing old very fast with me too.  I wasn't enjoying it much anymore and I think a big part of the reason is that I was finally feeling much more comfortable within myself (most of the time) and didn't need to blot the pain out by getting stoned.  Plus, I had real hope for the future and I knew the parts of my old life that I was holding onto would soon be discarded and I would finally get to have the life I always wanted but until fairly recently never thought I could have.  At least I was hopeful that this is what would happen.  The new year was almost here and I had great hope that 2012 would be my year for change.  I don't think there was anything magical about that year in history, even with all the folklore surrounding it, but in my own life I was dedicated to making big changes and that is all that mattered.

Therapy

On December 14, 2011 I timidly walked into a therapist's office in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Except for a brief, bad experience with psychologists when I was in junior high school, I had never been to any type of therapist and I was terrified to do it.  When I got there I was given some basic forms to fill out and also a sheet that listed all types of situations such as depression, drug and alcohol use, thoughts of suicide,  problems with school or work etc. etc.  I remember circling everything on the sheet except for a handful of things and after a brief interview when I gave it to the therapist she told me I was probably in the right place.  

In that first meeting I was honest with her and we went back into my childhood briefly, what I had been doing more recently, why I felt I was there etc.  I did tell her that I had always felt that upon getting evaluated by a psychologist I would be committed to a mental institution and also that I felt I was dying and had never felt I would live much longer.  I had these feeling all the way back to when I was in school, its one reason I never took really good care of myself.  When I was 20 I thought I would die before age 30.  When I was 30 I knew I wouldn't live to see 40.  When I turned 40 I had a big emotional and physical crash and something changed within me.  I still thought I was going to die soon but I no longer fought as hard to suppress what I felt inside.  

So, at age 40 after almost 35 years or fighting the desire to be female and only putting on other people's clothes, I started allowing myself to buy my own clothes and wig and began to cross dress whenever I could while trying to develop a look and presentation that I could eventually take out into the real world.  I had already been looking for help with that online for a few years but had no luck except finding people with ulterior motives so I waited and began to experiment on my own.  I came out of my shell, slowly at first, and my journey had finally led me to this therapist's office.  I had nothing left inside but Tammy and I was so ready to change the outside also.  Not the temporary transformations I had been doing, first on the weekends I could be alone, then eventually most of the time.  I wanted real change and permanent change.  Much of the the pain I had carried since my teenage years had subsided but not all of it and I really could not hold myself back anymore.

Still, I didn't ask the therapist for anything like hormones and I didn't try to tell her what I felt was wrong with me.  I was just honest with her from Day 1 and I let her evaluate me and diagnose me over time.  That's why I was not presenting as Tammy when I went to the appointment.  I went in just like I got out of bed in the morning but on each future appointment I did something else to overtly feminize my appearance.  For my first appointment I wore girls jeans and tennis shoes but had on a male sweater.  That was the last time I wore any male clothing to an appointment and I have never worn a wig to her office.  I walked out after that initial meeting feeling confident that I was not going to be committed to a mental institution, not immediately anyway.  That was enough for me to make a second appointment after Christmas and we were on our way. 


Christmas shopping at Crabtree Mall in Raleigh.
On Flickr I called this one Inside Out
Inside Out: This is a pretty good representation of me looking on the outside how I feel on the inside.  Nothing glamorous, just me.

The best part about Christmas 2011 was the shopping because I did all of it as myself.  We always had a big Christmas tree at my house and a big celebration with what little family I have, at my parent's house.  I always enjoy that time with family, even though I couldn't yet be myself with them, but I had a certain spark inside because I knew that day was coming.  Maybe it wasn't coming very soon but I did feel like it was coming and that gave me some peace.  

New Year's Eve was the first night I spent away from home while leaving Joan at the house alone.  I was in a hotel in Raleigh with Mitchell and we had a great night even though we were both experiencing some anxiety about our marriages and home situations.  Kissing him at midnight and cuddling with my man all night made all that anxiety go away for the moment and 2012 came in with great anticipation and promise.  I was determined to make 2012 a great year, the best year ever for me, and I knew it would be because it was My time for change.





December 30, 2011. Trying on my New Year's Eve outfit at home and exited about the arrival of 2012. 
Time for Change