Friday, April 25, 2014

Support Group

I've never been active in support groups.  It was not required by my therapist and there are no TG support groups that are very local to me, although it is common for people to drive many miles to attend those meetings.  I guess I could have and maybe should have been in support groups for many different things over the years but the idea of a "group therapy" setting never appealed to me, although I do realize support groups can offer much more than just therapy.

My first therapist used to run a support group and I did attend once although it was more of a get together than an actual group meeting.  She stopped having her group not too long after that.  Donna and I drove up to Greensboro once to attend a meeting there and I did enjoy it.  This was right before I came out to my parents and I really needed all the support I could get.  She left the group over personal disagreements and I didn't want to drive over 2 hours alone for a group meeting so I never went back.  It seems the disagreements are a part of group dynamics, though my personal feeling is that almost any disagreement can be dealt with by talking things out.  Talking things out would seem perfect for a support group, don't you think?

There is another group over in Durham, a little over an hour away, that I have wanted to attend but just never have.  One of my main problems with attending these meeting is that they always occur on weekends and only meet once a month, at least the ones around here have those schedules.  Of course the weekends are the one time I usually have a social life and dates with Mitchell, so my opportunities to attend most of these meetings has been limited.

Mitchell and I will not be seeing each other this weekend as we were just together from Saturday night through Tuesday morning, so I think I will finally check out the meeting up in Durham this Saturday.  My friend Beverly has been going to this group and am planning to ride up there with another friend who lives close by, Christy.  It's been 2 years since I've seen Christy, although recently we have reconnected on Facebook.  Having a friend here in the same county is really nice so I hope we can rekindle our friendship and going to this meeting will be good for both of us.

Speaking of Facebook, that site has functioned as a support group for me the four years I've been on there, as it does for countless others.  I've made a Lot of friends through Facebook, some of which I've been lucky enough to meet in person. The group I started, Trans Beauty Network, is sort of a support group in itself although our main focus is helping trans women fit into society and not be marginalized.  Approaching 2000 members now, that group gives me hope that I've been able to give back some to the community that has helped me so much.  Writing this blog is also a way for me to give back, as well as being therapeutic for me, and hearing that it has touched so many people also gives me hope that I've been able to give back at least a little bit.

When Support Goes Wrong

Facebook is a mixed blessing when I really take a step back and look at it.  Yes, it consumes way too much of my time and energy and may even be bad for my physical health.  Mitchell pointed out yesterday, yet again, that being on Facebook costs me sleep and when I am trying to do so many other things for my health losing sleep is counterproductive.  It's also very unhealthy, potentially, to check the site on my phone while I am driving.  That is a problem, I know, and I have to stop doing that.  Sometimes too much readily available technology is not good for us although self control can and should be the answer on it.  I'm working on that, really I am.

Another problem with my use of Facebook is that sometimes, usually when trying to help others, I will say the wrong thing and offend someone or hurt someone's feelings.  This might be the case even if my support actually helps or comforts the intended party.  There can be peripheral damage to someone else.  This eats me up because if someone chooses not to discuss a problem, blocks you or ignores you, there is seemingly no way to resolve the conflict.  And I cannot stand conflict. 

This may be another issue for me to deal with, but having conflict with someone (anyone) is one thing that I avoid at almost all costs.  I've never been in a physical fight, at least not a real or serious one, and very rarely argue with anyone.  It can be said that I have a very passive personalty.  That did not serve me well in business or in trying to live as a male, but then again nothing worked for me when trying to live the wrong life. 

Having a passive personally may not serve me well now, I don't know, but I am not 100% passive.  Actually I think I stand up for myself now and am more assertive than ever now that I can be myself all of the time.  Still this is a part of my personality and it will not go away and I do not want to change that.  Being an aggressive person is not something that I want to be or could be.  Soft spoken, quiet, often shy; these all describe me but I am not always those things and not only those things.  The self confidence I lacked throughout most of life seems to be coming to me now and I know that is what I really need.  I feel good about myself so I now feel good about living and going on with my life in a positive manner.  But yet, I hurt people.

All of my life, my lies have hurt people.  I've destroyed at least one life besides my own.  Now that I am putting my own life back together and am honest with myself and others, it's apparent that I still hurt people to some degree on occasion.  It was  pointed out to me that it is not always my fault and often the other person or persons is in the wrong too, but still I always feel responsible for my part in any disagreement.  Maybe it is impossible to interact with people, especially groups of people, and not hurt someone from time to time.  Maybe that's why I avoided most human interaction most of my life.  Maybe I just need to keep my mouth, and keyboard, shut and just go about my business as quietly as possible.

My entire ethic in life is to:  (1)  Never hurt anyone, and (2)  Help people wherever I can.  I came up with this years ago and believe in this ethic from the bottom of my tiny, bleeding heart.  My bruised, damaged, lonely, desperate, diseased, good intentioned heart (that is healing now that I found love) only wants to help people.  And yet I hurt people.  My words hurt them anyway, sometimes and unintentionally.  I do not think I could ever hurt someone physically unless it was in self defense, and even then I am not sure how it would go.

All I can ask of anyone is to communicate with me, give me a chance and accept my apologies.  I've forgiven everyone that has ever hurt me, and that has been a lot, over the years.  I am only here to help, not hurt.  If what I say bothers, offends or rubs someone the wrong way I am sorry.  Please don't shut me out.  I have a message that I think is worth hearing, at least for someone, or I wouldn't be pouring my heart out day after day and night after night.  If a tree falls in the wilderness no one hears it?  If it falls in a crowded place, people get hurt.  Let me help you up, please?

Support Groups

Earlier this week, a conversation with my estranged spouse Joan got me thinking about support groups.  She told me she wants to find a support group for people going through divorce.  Hearing her utter those words cut me to the bone.  We were driving and when I heard those words I rolled down my widow, jumped out of the car and ran into oncoming traffic.  I disappeared behind a truck and no one ever saw or heard from me again.  Fortunately, those events only occurred within a split second in my mind.  In reality I kept my composure and drove us safely to our destination.  What those words, that reality, did was remind me how much this divorce has hurt the person I made a life long commitment to.

Hearing that she needs a support group to deal with the pain of our divorce drove home the fact that she is hurting and I cannot undo it.  I didn't have to do what I did.  Yes, I had to transition in order to survive but I did not have to find love.  We could have carried on in the same cold, loveless unhappy marriage lacking any sort of physical affection.  Writing these words provides the therapy I need to realize that no, we shouldn't have done that.  I needed love and I found it.  I can only hope that she finds whatever it is that she needs but what I am truly sorry about is that this separation, soon divorce, causes her so much pain.  My experience with it has not been painless either. 

The guilt over making a life long commitment, a vow before God and State, and then breaking it, sometimes breaks my spirit.  Still I know it was the right thing to do.  Even if by some measure it was not the right thing to do, it was the only thing to do.  I'm going out on a limb and saying that I needed love to survive.  No, I know I could have gone on without love, as long as I could be myself, but I wouldn't be truly happy from the heart the way I am now.  My shriveled heart would have no chance to heal without love.  Yes, I needed it.  I need it.  I hope she finds it too.

So I am going to a support group to see if I can support someone, help them out.  Maybe I am the one that needs the support, needs the help.  Either way, that's what the support groups are for.  I am not going to stop doing what I am doing.  It's all I know how to do now.  I only hope that if there is conflict or if I hurt someone they will let me talk to them about it.  Maybe we can work it out.  After all, I'm still learning here.

I just want to thank everyone for their tremendous support, it's greatly appreciated.  Inside, I am healing as a person and maturing, finally.   Mistakes I have made, but I am here to support you.  I will not go quietly into the night. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Keystone State

I recently returned from Pennsylvania, my second trip there this year.  Yes, these trips resulted in two more full facial clearings with electrolysis, bringing me to a current total of 5.  Besides the electrolysis, one interesting thing these two trips have in common is that it snowed both times I was in the Keystone State.  That was not so surprising in January but it was a little more surprising the last time, at the end of March, although we barely got a dusting.  This most recent trip was also very interesting and enlightening, as much a vacation as it was a business trip for hair removal, but I always manage to have fun every time I get out of town.
The state of Pennsylvania saw more than its share of snow this year.  On my first trip of the year to York, Pa. I awoke to an inch of snow on my third morning there.  It had actually snowed a little bit on the first day, but everything had melted by the time I got up.  So, on that last day I woke up early and sure enough, my car was covered with the lovey white stuff. 

I try not to talk to people up north about how much I love snow because they see so much of it that they hate it.  In fact, most people down here don't care much for it so I guess my love of snow should be be kept as my little secret, but I just can't hold it in.  I'm no good at keeping secrets anymore, or maybe I just hate having secrets now more than most people hate waking up to a snow covered world.

I must have brought the snow home to eastern North Carolina that first time because we ended up having three decent snow events this year, totaling about 10", plus a few more dustings and near misses.  My blog entry, Snow World, dealt with our first good snow of the year.  Here in the south, of course, everything shuts down and the governor calls a state of emergency when the first flakes start to fall.  Being in the Keystone State I knew that life goes on, so even though I woke up to snow that last morning I knew I knew it would be okay to hit the road. 
Early morning snow at my hotel in York, Pennsylvania.
The night before, James Walker finished my electrolysis for this trip after working on my face for a total of 8 hours over two days.  I had hoped to finish much earlier that day and drive to the Philadelphia area to visit my friend and fellow Blogger Sophie Lynne, but it was after 8pm when James finished my face and took another hour or so to clear what hair is left on my chest. 

I awoke very early that morning, January 18th, because I had a long drive home to North Carolina and a big day planned.  I made it to the King of Prussia Mall in time to meet Sophie Lynne and Linda Lewis for lunch.  They had big plans that day themselves, with a support group meeting and party later so we didn't have much time to visit, but it was fun seeing Sophie again and meeting Linda for the first time.  It was the last time I would see the other side of Sophie, as she was going full time very soon, and she documented her own busy day in this blog entry.

After a great lunch my friends hit the road and I was left to myself in one of the largest malls in the country.  Oh, I wish had more time to explore but I had a very long drive ahead of me and one more friend to meet along the way.  Yes this is more evidence that I am Not a shopaholic, having the ability to leave such a fabulous mall without doing Any shopping.
Having a cheese steak sandwich with Sophie Lynne and Linda Lewis in King of Prussia Mall.
On the road after having 8 hours of facial electrolysis the day before.  Slightly bruised but not letting it slow me down...
My next stop was Baltimore, Maryland where I met my friend Faith Davis for coffee at a Starbuck's not far off Interstate 95.  We had a snack and a great chat and once again I was in am awesome shopping center, fighting off the urge to do some serious shopping.  This was not a mall but a huge, open air shopping area so walking between stores was a little uncomfortable on this cold, windy, January day.  I did go to a pet store with Faith and picked my dogs up some homemade treats, which they devoured when I got home.

I finally made it home about 9:30 that night after 12 hours on the road, with those two wonderful visits giving me a couple of nice breaks.  Three days later, we got our first nice snow here in Rocky Mount.  Amongst the complaints of most everyone else I know, I was relishing the "real winter" we experienced here in January and February.  Towards the end of March, spring had sprung here and it was time to hit the road to the Keystone State yet again for more electrolysis and more fun.
Night snow in January, Rocky Mount, NC.

A second big snow and a frozen City Lake in Rocky Mount on January 28th.


On Monday March 24th, I hit the road again with electrolysis planned for the next 2 days.  My friends from coastal North Carolina, Lisa and Teri, were arriving on Tuesday and Lisa was going to try a half day of electrolysis before they headed down the road to the Keystone Conference in nearby Harrisburg.  They were trying to coax me into going to the transgender conference with them and I told them I might, but in my typical fashion I wouldn't commit to it.  I was going to wait and see how I looked/felt after my electrolysis but I did leave the door open for them to drag me along, kicking and screaming.

This whole trip was kind of amazing and the first eye opening experience was the electrolysis itself.  As I lay on the table Tuesday afternoon getting the hairs removed from my neck (one of the most sensitive areas) I was awaken by Suzanne, who owns the house where the electrolysis is performed.  She was coming to get James to help her with something.  Yes, she woke me up from a nap!  Apparently I'd drifted off to sleep while listening to a presentation on the benefits of a raw food diet and getting my face zapped. 

The fact that I went to sleep seemed to be a source of fascination to Suzanne and pride to James, although he's had people go to sleep on him before.  Many complain about the unbearable pain of electrolysis but my experience with James, after the always tough initial clearing, is that the pain isn't so bad and is less with each clearing as the hairs get thinner and thinner.  It wasn't that I was bored with the raw food video, I love that stuff and it's inspiring to me.  I was just a little tired, as usual, and comfortable.  Obviously I was not in any real pain. 

Another thing Suzanne remarked about was the fact that before we started the electrolysis she was not able to see any any hair on my face, even though we stood next to each other and talked a few minutes.  This was after not shaving for three days, 4 days on my upper lip, so this is more evidence of the success of my treatments so far.

A little later, Lisa and Teri arrived at the house so that we could all go to dinner.  The amazing this here is that James was finishing me up, after only 3.5 hours of electrolysis.  I'd gone from 8 hours on my last clearing to only 3.5 hours this time!  I know it gets better the more you get cleared, but I was pleasantly surprised at the progress that's been made recently.  Getting the full facial clearings is really paying off for me.
Shortly after getting my entire face cleared with electrolysis (in only 3.5 hours).  I had some irritated areas on my neck that looked like mosquito bites but they were easily covered with concealer, no bruising this time.  This picture also shows off my Samsung S4 phone with the pink Morphie Pack...:)
We all went out and had a nice dinner and, since it was still fairly early, Lisa decided to get on the table and get started early with her facial clearing.  James was able to finish her face above the jaw, Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, in about 6 hours.  Lisa's had several laser hair removal sessions before but this was her first round of electrolysis.  It was a wake up call for sure (no naps for Lisa this time), but she made it and Wednesday afternoon I found myself following them down the highway to Harrisburg, Pa.
Lisa having her first electrolysis session.

We arrived mid afternoon and checked into our hotel rooms.  Yes I had made reservations to stay two nights in York and two in Harrisburg, so I had tentatively planned on going to the Keystone Conference for at least one day.  It's hard to describe to people why I have avoided gatherings like this.  I think much of it is rooted in my historical phobia for being around large groups of people.  I've obviously gotten over much of that in the last few years, with transition, but in the past the only way I could get along in a crowd was to somehow make myself invisible.  To actually have to go to an event, talk and relate to a lot of people, has always been quite intimidating to me.

I'm finding now that I can be myself, communicating and being around a lot of people is not intimidating at all.  I want to thank Lisa and Teri for dragging me along to the conference so that I could learn that about myself.  This is different than say, the State Fair, where you just walk around and do your own thing.  I saw a lot of people I knew from the online world, met some new people and seemingly got along great.  I had a really awesome time and am now looking forward to going back next year for the entire conference and possibly even going to different events of this type.

The only unfortunate thing about this conference was that I had to leave after only one day.  That had been my initial plan, although I had given myself the out of possibly going home and skipping Keystone altogether.  Once I got there, I relaxed and had such a good time I really wanted to stay one more day, but my father's sitter, Nedrick, got sick and I was needed back home. 

I am so thankful that my parents' hired Nedrick to help with Daddy Monday through Friday so that I can get out and travel again, but with him being out sick I had to leave after just one day in Harrisburg. Daddy seems to be doing a lot better recently and having someone there with him 40 hours a week who is experienced working with elderly patients is a real plus.  It's making a big difference. 

It's also making a big difference in my life.  Not only was I able to make this trip to Pennsylvania and another recent trip to Lynchburg to visit Mitchell, but I plan to make a few more trip this spring, including the Big one to Montreal in June to make my dreams come true.  So, what happened at that conference up in Harrisburg you ask?  Stay tuned to Tammy World to find out.......

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Countdown (2 Months)

Two months from today, if everything goes as planned, I will be in Montreal, Quebec, Canada having GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery).  Today I sent in my initial deposit, about 25% of the total payment due.  So if I pass the pre-surgery physical and nothing happens here at home to delay my trip, my dreams will come true on June 16, 2014.

The plans have been made and stay tuned for further details as things get finalized (hopefully) in the coming weeks.  I guess I still have some anxiety over the physical because I still believe deep down maybe something is wrong with my heart of something else.  I had this same fear about going to the doctor to start hormones but everything checked out ok, so I have to believe it will this time too.  If someone gets sick or there is some tragedy at home, it will only delay my surgery not put and end to my plans.

My plan is to blog about the whole experience from now through the potentially long recovery process.  One of my good friends had her GRS in February, also with Dr. Brassard, and she complained to me today that too many others gloss over the painful details of recovery in their conversations, videos or blogs.  She asked me to be brutally honest in writing about my experience.  That is what I intend to do but I also want to thank her for being honest with me throughout her surgical journey.  it's not always easy but she's been very active almost since the day she got home, so I will take that as a good sign.

Some people I talk to say they had little pain in their recovery, some only taking Advil when they get home and only complaining about having to be inactive for awhile.  Some have a very hard time for awhile or end up with painful complications.  A lot of it is based on individual experience, so honestly I do not know at this point what to expect.  This is one of those things where you have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  That's the attitude I am going to take going in, but I will tell you this.  I'm going in with a positive attitude and a knowledge that, in the end, I am going to be ok.  I feel confident that I chose the right surgeon. 

Am I scared of surgery, considering I've never had any type of surgery before?  Yes, but I know this is something I need to do to be whole, be complete, to be me.  And therefore I am not going to let fear or anything else hold me back.

Mitchell and I went over the extensive package of information the other day and made our tentative plans for the trip to Montreal.  I am so fortunate to have him in my life, have his unconditional support and especially lucky to have his undying love.  When we went out to dinner that night I just had this feeling come over me.  It was both joy and excitement, but mainly joy.  I told him I was feeling so good at that moment, like everything was finally coming together for me.  These are feelings I've never really had before and even though all through my transition I have had these joyous feelings, this one is somehow a little different.  Things do keep getting better.

When I first started therapy and began to see a clear path to fully transitioning, I would get a grin on my face every time I would think about GRS.  That hasn't changed.  Believe me, the grin was not about lying on an operating table getting surgery.  It was able my life after, the part that I've always dreamed of.  The actual surgery part is the part that sort of wipes the grin off my face because it is a scary thought, I'll be honest with you.  Knowing I will be asleep and it will be over in a couple of hours doesn't completely erase the anxiety.  The recovery will be hard even if it's a best case scenario.  I know that, but still there will be the other side once I get there.  No pain no gain, as they say.  I am just hoping for as little pain as possible and I know I will be ok.

So the journey begins here on my blog.  The road to GRS in Tammy World 2014 begins today I will proclaim, because I sent in my fist payment today.  As someone said, it's now getting real.  Two months from today it will be real.  Stay tuned is all I can say.  I know I use the words "stay tuned" a lot but for this one we are all going to have to stay tuned.  To quote Bette Davis, "Put your seat belt on, it's going to be a wild ride." 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Red Dog

The only time I am truly alone at night is when I am in a hotel, staying somewhere out of town.  It is true that most nights I am alone, as far as not being with people, but at home I always have my dogs staying in the house with me.  Buddy usually sleeps in my bedroom, on his pad at the foot of my bed.  Nightingale moves around the house, guarding, but she is always inside with me and often sleeps on her pad in my closet.

Having problems sleeping is common for me but its worse when I am in a hotel room, totally alone.  I don't really toss and tun, laying in bed not sleeping, but my problem is just finding sleep at all.  If I don't go to sleep right away I will turn the light on and read something or get on the internet on my phone.  The nights that are the hardest are when I keep waking up, shortly after falling asleep, with a feeling of dread or (at worst but rarely these days) panic.

There was such a night not long ago.  I'd stayed up very late, until I was physically exhausted, so when my hit hit the pillow I went right to sleep.  Still, my mind fought sleep and I woke up every few minutes and had to get up and move around before going back to bed and trying again.  I couldn't even get a good dream going.

Finally I relaxed and had just settled into a pleasant dream of home and my dogs when I woke up again and had to cut the light on.  What I saw there on the foot of my bed made me sit up and take pause to remember what I had been doing before going to sleep.  Then it moved, and I froze in fear.  It then turned its little head, looked up at me and said, "Hey Tammy!"

Physically I was frozen but mentally I was freaking out.  Why is this long, red, stuffed dog on my bed and how in the Hell is it talking to me?  Then it dawned on me.  I'm dreaming.  Yes, that's it.  That's the ticket.  This is one of those lucid dreams where I get to control everything.  So I leaned forward to pick up the cuddly toy but it eluded me, jumped off and ran under the bed.  That was all, I thought, so I went into the bathroom and splashed some cold water on my face to wake up.

After some cold water and a few palm slaps to the face I was convinced that I was awake.  What an odd little dream that had been.  Still feeling really tired, I walked back into the room and got back in bed.  I was about to cut the light off when I felt something nudge my feet through the covers and when I looked down I saw that little stuffed dog again, moving around.  A cold chill ran up my spine and I began shaking a little bit.  Frozen still, I just looked at the little animal when a strange feeling came over me.  I remembered something.

"Tammy, how have you been?" the thing asked as it nestled against my leg.  "You do remember me don't you?"

I was staring at what appeared to be a stuffed Dachshund, about a foot long.  It's face was lit up like an innocent, loving, puppy....animated.   I knew I had seen this toy before, though I couldn't place it.  My dream was strange but I was going to play along with it, although I still had an odd feeling that somehow this was not a dream at all.

"Red Dog"  The words came out of my mouth before I fully comprehend the memory that had just come over me.  "I Do remember you!"

"Girl, you better remember me, even if its been a long, long time.  We used to have the most fun together!  I watched you grow up, and then.." 

"And then what?" I asked.  "I remember playing with you all the time.  I carried you around everywhere!  I cried so much when they tried to take you away for awhile that they let me hold you all the time.  What happened to you?  I haven't seen you since, since I was a little kid.  Mama didn't hang onto you like she did my other toys.  Did I break you?  What happened?  You look perfect now, just like the first time I saw you."

"Ahh kid, well you ain't a kid no more.  I'm a toy you know, a baby's toy.  Youse guys couldn't keep me forever." 

Among all the other thoughts and feelings dancing around in my mind, I was trying to put a finger on the accent this thing was speaking in.  It definitely had a northern accent, like maybe New Jersey or Long Island.  To me, this "Red Dog" sounded like Fran Dresher from the television show The Nanny.  Very nasal.

"I mean, you remembered my name right?  Red Dog.  That's what your mutha named me anyway.  You couldn't even talk when they brought me to you.  Well, at least you couldn't talk to them.  You and me, we were always talkin'.  Don't you remember now" 

The "dog" was wagging it's tail now and obviously smiling at me.  "How can I remember you if I was a baby" I said.  "Remember you?  Yeah I sort of remember you but I don't remember getting you.  It's like you, you were always there."

"This is true" the dog muttered, making cute faces at me.  "I Was always there and I've always been here with you., you wouldn't understand."

"What do you mean you were always there and you've always been with me?  I got you for Christmas or something didn't I?  And when I got older my parents probably gave you to some other little kid or gave me a new, better toy to play with."  A feeling of ease had settled over me and I was smiling as we went back and forth.  Red Dog came up closer to me and laid dawn.  I didn't feel sleepy anymore and was not aware of the time.

"You were just a few months old when your dad brought me to you" the animal said, tilting its head to the side as it talked.  "You were in a hotel, just like this one.  You know, it was some kind of business trip for your fatha." 

"I don't remember any of that" I remarked.  " I don't even know how I remember you at all.  I was just a baby when I got you, but yet right now I am having memories of being a baby,"  I shrugged.  "I know I had you when I was walking and talking, I do remember that.  I think I remember trying to take you to school?"

"Tammy, that was kindergarten.  You had to go without me.  And when you came home I was gone.  Well, what you see now was gone.  I've really been here all along.  I could never leave you, kid."  The soft, toy dog was now laying in my lap as I sat up in the bed.  I was rubbing its back as more and more memories came flushing into my brain, out of nowhere. 

"I'm from New Yoark Tammy.  Manhattan.  You're dad picked me up when he was on that business trip, to the City"  the dog continued.  "Youse guys were over in Jersey at that hotel, waiting.  You were like 4 months old."

"Wait a minute!  I can't remember all of that.  But somehow, I do remember all of that.  And more, now.  How can I remember this stuff I did when I was a baby?  And how can I be talking to a stuffed dog?  And how in the heck did you get here?"  Now I had stopped rubbing the little stuffed dog and just sort of stared at it, as the disbelief started sinking in.  " I must be dreaming.."

Red Dog sat up, cocked her head again and looked straight at me.  "No, Tammy, this is no dream and you know it.  Yeah they took me away, but the fact is I had to go anyway.  We had such awesome times!  We communicated so well, all the time, and they were none the wiser.  Then they taught you to talk to them.  They put you in those clothes.  They were changing you.  I couldn't stand to see what they were doing to you."

"What do you mean what they were doing to me?" I said.  "I was a little kid.  What was I supposed to do?  Nothing  changed between us just because I learned to walk and talk, because I was going off to school or kindergarten, whatever."

"Yes, Tammy, but they were changing you.  They made you be a boy.  Something wasn't right.  Tammy, you were... you are, a girl."

I just sat there in silence.  Memories were really flooding into my head now.  It was like a movie on fast forward.  I saw the days, months and years go back, even long after I lost Red Dog.  Tears started flowing, but I kept my eyes focused on the little stuffed dog on my lap.

"Tammy, like I said, I've always been here, just out of sight.  I've been watching you, waiting for you to come back.  I've thought about talking to you before now, but I've been waiting for just the right moment.  It has to be the perfect moment.  I didn't want to freak you out, you know?"

"What do you mean?  You are freaking me out!  I want to wake up right now, this is stupid."  Agitation and confusion are mild words for what I was feeling as I uttered those words out loud.  Thoughts even came into my mind of why I was speaking out loud to this stuffed animal.  Then came thoughts of could people in the hall or next room hear me?  Would they think I was crazy?  Could they hear this thing talking back to me.

"Tammy.  Tammy.  Tammy!"  The dog was loud now.  It barked at me, before coming up and licking me on my face.  Instinctively I held it in my arms and rolled over on my side.  I scratched it's belly as she looked over to me to speak again.

"I knew you were going to be in for a world of hurt, girlfriend" the little plush puppy proclaimed.  "Your problems were starting already.  There was nothing I could do.  When you started growing up and started going through, you know, those changes.  I had to leave for awhile.  Stopped checking up on you.  For a couple of years even.  I didn't think you were going to make it.  But then I came back.  Then I realized how strong you were, in your heart.  I figured if you could make it through that you could make it through anything.  I knew you'd be back, you're special."

I just looked at her, gently nodding my head.  I felt like I was talking to an old friend now, a very wise old friend at that.  I also felt the sense of communication I get with my "real" dogs, except this communication was being verbalized in English.  This was no toy I was talking to, or at least that was the feeling I was getting.

"Tammy, there's something else.  I infused you with something when you were a little girl.  I gave you the power to communicate with dogs and put a special love in your heart for them.  When you got Spark, when you were 6 years old, I hadn't been gone long.  A part of me came back into a part of him.  And then when he died you had a long dark period.  That was your darkest period.  A little piece of me came back in Jumper, but she was Joan's dog primarily.  Now when Buddy came to you, out of the wild and riddled with ticks, that's when I came back to you for good."

"You, you mean Buddy is you" I asked?

"No, Buddy is Buddy but he has a part of me in him.  He's got a piece of my spirit.  You know, he came to you about the same time the feelings you always had inside were starting to come to the surface.  You started to get serious about putting yourself back together on the outside in the way you felt inside, when Buddy came to you.  That was me bringing you yourself, as a gift."

"Now when Nightingale came to you, out of the woods, that was a different story," Red Dog continued.  "You always felt that with her, didn't you?  She brought your female spirit back, and her arrival signified that change was coming in your life.  Big change!"

"Yes, Red Dog, I always have felt that Night was bringing change with her when she came.  And I used to hold her and tell her to give me her strong, female spirit so that I could change.  You know, sometimes I still do that.  That's one of the things I don't share with many people because they might think I'm crazy, but everything I felt and predicted when she came to me has come true, is coming true."

"Tammy, I've always loved you and when you love your dogs you show your love for me too.  That never went away."  Dogs don't cry, but I swear I saw a tear in red Dog's eyes as she continued on.  "Remember I used to tell you stories?  And you would tell me stories?  You remember what those stories were don't you?"

Yet again on this night/morning I was filled with amazement, taken to another level.  Another chill came over me but this one brought a very good feeling with it, comforting.  Suddenly I knew things, remembered things, about the past and about the future too.  It was like I was remembering the future.  My mind was moving ultra fast and I had a lot more I wanted to say to Red Dog.  What's more, I was filled with a lot more questions.

"Tammy, I have to go now.  Honey, I gotta go.  You know now that I won't leave you but I can't stay right now, not like this," Red Dog whispered, kind of hanging her head.

"Wait a minute, you can't leave now!"  I realized I had yelled that out but did not care if anyone heard me or not.

"Tammy, I will be here for you, with you, inside.  And I'll be back to talk again, I promise.  You will keep moving forward and I want you to keep telling your story.  Love me through your loyal Buddy.  And Nightingale.  She has the power you always believed she has.  Don't be afraid to use it, don't be afraid."  With that she let out a bark and ran across the room towards the door, wagging her tail. 

I got up and chased after her, but I could not find her.  Red Dog was gone.  I felt a great calm come over me that I hadn't felt in...I don't think I had ever felt this way.  It was still dark outside but how could I sleep after this.  I wanted to relive what had just happened in my mind, analyze it and let it all sink in.  But I was so sleepy, so sleepy.  I laid down to think about it and the next thing I knew the sun was beaming in through the window. 

I had slept like a baby for the first time, well, for the first time since I was a baby.  Had I slept all night?  That was it!  I had the most satisfying sleep and the most fascinating dream ever!  I woke up feeling refreshed, my mind still reeling from the most incredible, enlightening dream I ever had.  And I am quite the prolific dreamer. 

It was getting close to check out time, so I got myself ready and started packing up my stuff.  I laid my clothes on the green bedspread as I got ready and when I was putting them on I noticed something.  Some red, fuzzy stuff was on my floral top.  Then I looked on the bed and there was more.  I looked under the bed again and then I stood up and paused for a second.  A little chill came over me but I was filled with an feeling of energy long forgotten but now remembered.  I looked in the mirror and what I saw both startled and amazed me.  On my lips was a smile and in my eyes, the innocent wonder of a child.....

This story is a little bit out of the box for me, but it is an "assignment" given to me by my friend, writer and fellow Blogger Sophie Lynne.  I'm trying to branch out in my writing skills and this post also gave me a chance to tell a little piece of my story from a different perspective.  Special thanks also go out to my Mom who reminded me what my very favorite toy was when I was a kid, and told me where it came from.  None of us remember what happened to Red Dog.....

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Taking Away

Do old feelings ever go away?  Do the connections ever fade?  Can you ever forget?

Joan came to the house today.  She buzzed in to spend a whopping two hours and fifteen minutes with the dogs and I, the first twenty minutes or so at my parents' house.  We left their house, walked the dogs around the City Lake, then picked up some lunch and came back to our house to eat.  I still say our house because her name is still on the deed.  The divorce is not final yet but it's close, very close.  We have actually agreed to everything and now it's just a matter of lawyers completing paperwork, which will be graced by our signatures.

It's makes for a funny thing to tell people now, but (this month and before the divorce will likely be final) Joan has a birthday.  The funny thing is that I will have a 60 year old wife and a 40 year old boyfriend.  I call her my spouse (although ex spouse is more fitting) but this story sounds funnier this way.  And I am almost 50 myself, although by the time I hit that mark this summer I will most likely have gone through a major change.

I wonder why it is that I always liked older women (for the few years I dated women before meeting Joan) but when I finally allowed myself to start dating men (as I had always wanted to do), I preferred younger men.  My own little theory is that I was looking for more of a friend, big sister, possibly mother figure, in women and in men I wanted someone that would take me back a bit, as if I could have lived as myself at a younger age.  Anyway, with men I hit the jackpot.   Regardless of age, meeting Mitchell was the luckiest event of my life. and I so look forward to our future together.

So why is it that when I spend time with Joan here at the house I still want her to come back and stay here, if only in the little house?  Is it me or is it the house that wants her back?  Will these feelings ever go away?  There is something unresolved here and I am told only time will heal the wounds but apparently it's going to take a lot of time.  It's much better but it is still not easy.

The truth is that I am terribly lonely here, especially at night.  Loneliness notwithstanding, there is just a feeling I get when she comes back, even for a quick visit like today.   At lunch she talked about how strange it feels when she comes back here.  She never stays long.  I have gotten to the point that I do not always cry when she comes here, but today was not one of those days.

While we ate, she noticed I had moved some of her paintings around.  Her artwork still graces almost every room of the house.  I don't have a lot of other pictures or other decorations on the walls, so her paintings liven up the house and keep some memories alive.  They belong here.

She saw a painting she wanted to take with her today and, as hard as I fought them, the tears came back.  They were not many in number but they were just as wet and stung my eyes just as badly as any of the countless other tears I've shed in the last 16 months, since she left.

Today I told her no.  She could not take another painting away.  The tears came because this was a reminder that she had taken herself away, and all her things, in the night while I was out of town.  She leaves some dusty paintings behind and now she wants to return and take those away too?  No way!  I am going to draw the line there. 

As soon as finished lunch she went to the restroom before leaving for her doctor's appointment, the real reason she was in town today.  The dogs laid on the floor next to where she had been sitting, their long faces belying their knowledge that she short visit was coming to an end.  More tears came as the thought crossed my head that they were expecting her to move back in, and bring Jumper with her.  Even more of the nasty, bitter tears are being shed now as the reality sinks in, yet again, that she is never coming back and Jumper is no longer with us.  Yes, change can be a very, very good thing but don't ever let anyone tell you that it's easy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I just got back from a midday walk with Buddy and Nightingale and this walk was a little bit more interesting than usual.  Today, we were questioned by the police!

The streets were quiet today on our little stroll and we didn't pass by any other walkers.  We did encounter two women, one pushing a baby stroller, who walked by us on a cross street but not closely enough to wave or speak.  There is usually very little vehicular traffic on most of the streets we walk on, no matter the time of day.  One street that dissects the neighborhood has a fair amount of traffic and cars move swiftly around the curve where the curb and gutter stops and the street narrows.  Two men were cutting grass in a yard on the that narrow section of road as we walked by, on the other side, 
quickly before any traffic forced us into someone's yard.

Right after we turned onto one of the quiet streets, 3 blocks and one turn from home, a little car turned onto the road facing us.  Around
 here they will usually give you a wide berth but as this car approached it came closer to us and stopped. About the same color and size of my car, this was a little older vehicle and as it pulled up to me I saw the man sitting in the passenger seat had on a tie.

My first thought was that it was someone wanting directions but when I saw the young, clean cut white man in a tie I thought it was someone hawking religious material.  He immediately identified himself as Rocky Mount Police and when the car stopped, he got out.  He did have some kind of badge and, I think, a gun so I didn't question whether or not they were really police.

The man that got out was fairly nice and told me they were investigating some break ins in the area.  This is no surprise to me because Rocky Mount has become a city know for its high crime rate.  There was a string of break ins on my street when we first moved here 6 years ago and I think we have another rash of them going on now.  Recent statistics show our cities' crime safety index as 3, with 100 being the safest.  Another recent study paces us fourth among America's 10 most dangerous small cities.

So anyway, there was nothing surprising or unusual to me about undercover cops asking some questions about break ins in the area.  I've never been a criminal as far as stealing things and now that my drug use is well behind me, I'm not nervous when I see cops like I was in the past.  What did happen today was that I felt uncomfortable for a couple of reasons.

The car had pulled to a stop slightly ahead of where I stood holding the dogs, so the driver had to turn his head a bit to talk to me as the two of them proceeded to ask me a series of questions.   H
ad I seen anyone walking today?  Did I ever see anyone walking in the neighborhood?  What time time did they walk by?  What kind of people are they? etc. etc. The thing is they seemed to be pulling sort of a good cop-bad cop routine on me.  The man standing outside the car was nice and cordial.  He would ask me a question and the cop sitting behind the wheel would look back at me and ask another question.  The driver seemed more curt and asked questions beyond the scope of what a resident of the neighborhood would be expected to answer.  He even asked me why I thought people would be walking through down this street.  ?

What I thought was just a routine, ask a local citizen for information, had almost turned into an interrogation in my opinion.  The cop sitting in the car asked me if I knew who was doing the break ins, and in another question he asked me why I thought people were breaking into these homes.  I should have given him a philosophical diatribe about the ravaged local economy, heroin epidemic etc., but I just kept my composure and answered the questions as succinctly as I could .

I did tell them where I lived in the beginning at at the end they asked if they could take my name to show they had talked to me.  I gave them my real name and they seemed to have to look for a pad to write it down.  
At the end they asked me to call the police anytime I saw anyone walking through the neighborhood.  I told them I would be on the phone all the time in that case, then they finally pulled away and we walked home.  just got the feeling that these guys were not very friendly or not treating me with the courtesy I deserve as a citizen, but it was not quite out of line.   

The other thing that bothered me was that talking to these men brought out my dsyphoria in a way that I haven't felt in public lately.  Here I am out for a walk with my dogs close to home, had not showered yet, so I was not as well put together as I usually am in while out.  This isn't usually a concern.  I see people walking by me on the streets, I say hey and we keep going.  I was dressed for exercise after all and not trying to impress anybody.

Because they are police officers and they were in an "investigation" mode, I had the feeling they were really looking at me hard, and I know that they were.  I didn't have on any makeup and have not shaved in a few days, which is normal as I just had electrolysis last week and there is little or nothing to shave.  So I am worried if they see a stray hair on my face.  I am wearing athletic pants instead of jeans so I am worried if they see anything there that they shouldn't.  I am concerned if my voice is ok.  etc.  

All these little things combined, and being interrogated for a minute or two, made me wonder if they clocked me as being trans.  I am not a criminal, so I have nothing to hide there, but an incident like this reminds me that I am always hiding something.  Will that ever get better?  I don't know but I think it will.  After all, it seems like I have been living as me forever but it really has not been that long. And I am still pre op, so before long some of my concern should be relieved.

I know that being me, out in the world, has gotten easier and easier but today I got a reminder that I still have a ways to go to be completely comfortable.  I know I can never be totally stealth (no one ever knows you are trans) in this town, but unless someone already knows or has to know I prefer that they not know.  I don't know if I could ever pull off being 100% stealth but I think if I did that would just create another closet.  I would always be hiding something.  But the truth is that I am me, simply me, and anything beyond that is nobody's business.

These cops never said a thing today or gave any indication they knew anything different about me, whether they did or not.  Someone should give them a lesson in courtesy while interviewing neighbors but I guess they are just doing their jobs.  I do hope that they catch the person or persons that are breaking into these homes and I learned a learned a lesson today to keep my doors locked while I am out walking.  I also relearned a lesson to just relax and not worry so much about how people perceive me.

Don't worry be happy