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.
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!