Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson?

That is the sound of – inevitability…

For some thirty-five years I have lived conscious of the fact that I am not that which I have been told I am. With the never-ending ‘noise in my head’, I have lived in opposition to what I can only describe as an ‘instinctual knowledge’ of what I should be – of what I am.

To have to fight the instincts — that is the definition of decadence: as long as life is ascending, happiness equals instinct.

A while back, I was out with two girlfriends from work for drinks. We chatted about this and that when the topic of conversation turned to me (yes, they know ‘my story’.) One of them asked me if I was happy. I paused and thought for a few seconds before telling her that I was in a better place than I had been in the past – but happy?

Can one be happy fighting who they are everyday?

I have discussed this so many times with so many analogies that all amount to the same conclusion: I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting my instincts – tired of fighting my wife – tired of fighting the world at large. I’m tired of looking backwards at ‘the time I missed’ and of looking forwards to the ‘time I will miss’. I have been my parents’ son – my wife’s husband – my daughters’ father.  I have been who I am ‘supposed to be’ for the benefit of everyone else and have largely put my feelings and needs second to those of others for thirty-five years now.

I emphasize the thirty-five years because it a long time to fight against oneself. It’s a long time to wake up every day and ready yourself to face a world who will never see you as you see yourself. It’s a long time to wait and hope that maybe perhaps some day you might possibly have your chance – all the while knowing that said ‘chance’ shan’t ever be ‘offered’ to you.

It’s a long f’ing time is what it is.

I want the noise to go away. I have paid my dues by now and I’ve earned the right to ‘my turn’ – to finally do what I know is right for me. I want to do it before there is no longer an opportunity or a point to doing it. I want, for what in the grand scheme of things will be but a brief moment, to feel right in the world. I want to be able to look at myself and know that I have been true to myself. I don’t want to die regretting never having ‘been’ me.

I have been told that I have ‘transitioned’. I accept that in some respects I have, but the path I am on has ultimately served to exacerbate rather than mitigate my the feelings of disconnect. I have a few friends who seem to ‘get it’ and accept me for who I am – for more than that, I ought not want. It is the unending feeling of being something ‘other’ that has taken its toll. There are days when I look in the mirror and I am defeated by the caricature staring back at me. I know how I want to look and how I want to feel – and rare are the days where I have that feeling. I understand that I am where I am because of the choices I made. I made them because it was what I needed to do at the time and for the most part, I don’t regret making them. It gave me some breathing room – a chance to further sort out who I am. But as genderqueer as may be my identity, it is not how I want to be seen and treated. At least not as ‘the rule’.

I’m tired of being seen as the freak – or ‘that odd guy’ – or whatever the hell it is people see when they look at me. What I want is to be seen as and treated as a woman: as much as is possible at this point in my life. I don’t need to be ‘beautiful’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘pretty’: I’ll be happy with ‘unremarkable’.

:: takes a deep breath and lets out a long, slow sigh… ::

Being trans has never been ‘our issue’, wherein we, as a couple (or family,) have striven to figure out how to make it work. Being trans has always been ‘my problem’ – one for which I alone have been responsible to find a solution. That solution has needed to be such that it impacts my wife as little as possible. To her credit, she has been more ‘flexible’ than many other might have been and I am grateful for that, but when push comes to shove, it is usually I who acquiesce to her ‘needs’. It’s my responsibility to not upset the delicate balance of the cosmos with the ‘silliness’ (her words) that is my transness.

The cosmos (and most other people I meet) seem rather indifferent to the fact that I am trans.

Forget about how being told that I need to hide might make me feel. Whatever discomfort or anxiety I may have pales in comparison to what someone else might think. Whatever ‘discomfort’ my wife may feel trumps mine, because it’s not like being trans is actually something real, right? While she will acknowledge that it must be difficult for me, it doesn’t stop her from dictating when, how and to what extent I get to ‘express myself’.

I do not tell her how to be ‘her’ – I never have.

The whole notion that I am ‘expressing myself’ gnaws at me. It trivializes who I am, how I feel and what it means for me to exist in the world the way that I do (I discussed this a bit back in 2007.) I am tired of being second or third or f’ing dead last to everything else. I am tired of having to negotiate for the right to be me.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

If for some reason it’s not clear about what it is that I am speaking, then let me make it so. I need to transition – ‘for real’ as it were. Not some half-assed in-the-middle-of-nowhere version there of, but the real deal. I am tired waiting. I am tired being patient. I am tired trying to put the world ‘at ease’. I am tired of being called ‘sir’ or ‘dude’ or whatever – regardless of how well-intentioned it may be. I am tired of looking in the mirror and feeling the life get sucked out of me. I am tired of ‘sucking it up’. I’m tired of crying in private.

I am tired of pretending everything is alright… It’s far from alright. It’s never been alright.

Realize that I am under no illusions that a world of sunshine and rainbows awaits me ‘on the other side’. But I know that neither being trans nor transitioning are a terminus in life. I feel that thirty-five years of grappling with this has to have offered me some preparation for this part of the journey. And if not, then I’ll figure it out. It’s what I do and I like to think that I’ve gotten good at that over the years.

:: looks in the mirror and checks her make-up – taking another deep breath… ::

People who know me will recognize that this is nothing new: I have been whingeing for years about all of this. But the last four years or so… it’s been tougher. I had planned to ‘do’ this in 2008, but the firm for which I worked went belly up that fall, so I had to put this ‘on hold’ as I didn’t know what my situation would be work-wise. In 2011 I found myself a victim of layoffs and in need of a new job – ‘on hold’ again. Now, my eldest daughter is going off to college, my mother-in-law is ill, and the firm at which I am currently employed is being bought… When will it be the ‘right time’? Is there ever a ‘right time’?

I cannot keep waiting, hoping for the ‘perfect conditions’ because there will never be such a thing. I need to start this sooner rather than later because I am running out of later. I’ll wait until after my daughter is off to school (maybe until after our anniversary next month,) then ‘man up’ as it were and discuss this with my wife – discuss what will be the start of my transitioning – the start of a new beginning perhaps…

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…

My wife has made it clear many times that she has no interest in being married to a ‘woman’ or to a man who looks like a woman. It’s not what she wants and she has no problem making it clear to me all the time. It’s clear every time I have gone ‘too far’ for her. It’s clear every morning when I leave for work – dressed as I do – and she winces as I barely get a kiss goodbye. And while I do not know exactly how she will react to this, I do have a reasonably good idea.

The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with me.

There will likely be a protracted discussion wherein I am cast as the villain. This will be me being selfish – me putting my needs before my family. I doubt there will be recognition of just how difficult this has been for all this time. All the time I have invested in ‘doing the right thing’ – all the concessions I have made – all the occasions where I have ‘sucked it up’ will not count for much of anything. I’ll hear how I have nothing to offer her as a husband and a host of other esteem-sucking comments – all of which I have heard before.

Still, it needs to be done – regardless of the degree to which it will suck.

:: Donna smiles softly … thinking that Suzy may have been right all along … as she feels herself succumb to the pull of gravity ::

Who knows? Perhaps I’m wrong and it will go better than I anticipate…

:: checks the sky for airborne mammals of porcine origin ::

I suppose I won’t know until it happens.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted August 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on tambrosia.

  2. Posted August 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Hello Donna,

    If not now, then when. I so get that. When does catering to everyone else turn into taking care of yourself. When are the needs of the few, or the one, greater than the needs of the many?

    When does the noise stop? When do you get to live instead of the person you’ve created to hide behind. When is enough, really truly enough?

    Only you can in the end decide that. But maybe, just maybe I can show you another perspective?

    I had a bazillion reasons not to deal with my issues and live my own life. I’d heard all the horror stories, how you can and should plan to lose everything and anyone in your life. How it can be a fate worse than death.

    In my experience?

    It doesn’t make that much a difference. As Spock once said, a difference that makes no difference, is no difference.

    In spite of my pain I’d build a great career, I was turning away business and money, had friends, family, and so forth. I was living … somewhere. I thought I passed. I was certain I passed. Until a woman I was engaged to broke up with me because she wasn’t ready to be outted. Her parents did know she was a lesbian you see, and she wasn’t ready for them to find out. She said, look, you’re amazing, and you should be living your life, not the one some idiot decided when you were born. Get treatment, resolve your issues, live your life as you and stop trying to convince the world you’re a guy. You can be the amazing, beautiful woman you’re trying to hide behind the act. But it’s an act. If I took you home, before I’d even have a change to say anything, my mother would take one look at you and KNOW I was a Lesbian.

    I was floored to say the least. I tried harder.

    Next woman I dated was “straight” and we were together for a year and a half. I’d met her friends, family, her parents. We had an amazing, if twisted relationship, because I dove deeper into my self imposed exile. I adopted a very Vulcan exterior. About six months into our relationship she said that dating a machine was problematic, she couldn’t tell what I was thinking or feeling. I gave her what she wanted, I adopted what I thought were more male mannerisms and expressions. It went on from there, but I was simulating based on my heart and soul. Again, really bad disguise. One night after dinner she said “You know, one day you are going to make someone an amazing wife. And I love you, but I’m not ready to be married, let alone have a wife. I never thought I could get so seriously involved with a woman. I want to date men. More than one. I don’t want to lose you, but I need some men in my life, and I need more than one.”

    I couldn’t do that. I was crushed, again.

    I floated through life, not getting involved with anyone.

    Finally I started dating someone, we both thought the other was amazing. We got serious. One night things went really sideways. HE came out to me. I’d already figured it out. I came out to him. His friends thought we were the perfect couple because He’d finally found someone that was perfect for him. It was a joke for the longest time, we were the backwards couple. We got married, agreeing to a compromise that we thought would work.

    It didn’t. In retrospect it couldn’t. The pressure on him, especially given my career and everything else was destroying him, and he was destroying our marriage. Fast forward to the utter end of everything. My life as I knew it was gone. You see he was abusive, worse than even my father had been. He’d controlled me, my career, everything so tightly that when I started insisting on counseling and therapy, he went home to Mommy. He was a text book momma’s boy. He cleaned out all the accounts, got me evicted from the house we were living in and had the power, money (thanks to his parents and cleaning out our accounts) to wage war and stalk me to prevent the divorce from happening.

    I’d tried so hard, for so long to make everything work, to be everything to everyone, to be what everyone wnated me to be except who I was.

    So there I was homeless, no money, and a story so screwed up that well it was a mess, and he and his parents were actively stalking me and violating the retraining orders.

    I broke. I’d lost everything and I’d not even actually done anything about my own issues.

    I started transition in earnest. I did this all while trying to stay safe, and fight things out in course and with the law to get protection from them. A year into the divorce my name change was finally done. The divorce waged on. I had to have my SSN changed so they couldn’t stalk me. My career was long since over, because after years of abuse and trying to make everyone happy, AND keep Earl healthy (he had serious medical problems) I was no good to really anyone. Two years into the divorce from hell, I managed to get my SSN changed (because of the stalking) wound up on disability, had surgery and Earl died.

    Transition for that short period of time was really the only thing keeping me alive. The lump sum disability payment after it took years to get it paid for surgery.

    The biggest lesson I learned from all this? I should have done something about it years ago.

    But I had excuses, oh did I ever. Perfectly good reasons doing something about it wasn’t possible, that I had to live with the noise.

    During the period of transition I connected with friends that I’d not been ALLOWED to talk to for years. First thing I did was let them know they were right, Earl was no good for me and I was trying to get a divorce and protection. I also let them know that for the first time in my life I was going to be taking care of me, living my life, they could come along, or they could pretend I’d never got back in touch with them.

    I kept my friends, my family, got protection from Earl and his parents and finally started living my life. One by one all the excuses I’d had for so long started falling away. Friends and family to a person all had basically this to say when I came out “I know. It’s about time you started living your life.”

    One sister initially had a problem. She’d lost a really good friend to transition, thought I was going to turn into someone else, was going to be a gender and pronoun nazi and try to erase our history. There was no way I was going to do that to her or me. Our relationship is closer than it ever was. Another friend, one I’d known since before those horrible break ups, the one who’d sat with me eating chocolate and crying after the second one not only said she knew, but mailed me a box of articles and information she’d started collecting before Earl and I had married. She’d figured it out too, and since a friend’s daughter had already walked the path at a young age, she put it together in her head and knew one day my day might come. When it did she mailed me the box. Details about the best treatments, surgical options, everything she’d been collecting for years.

    That was more than eight years ago.

    Now, I’m just the girl next door that became a widow at an early age and am moving on with my life. There are now as many people in my life that don’t know all the horrible details of my past as there are who do. Even the people who knew me then have trouble believing I was ever anyone but me. I have one sister-in-law on my brother’s side that like to periodically remind friends that I was the best man at her wedding. It’s our in joke. Especially given the way folks react. “What, your brother didn’t have any guy friends so he had a female best man?”

    The noise is gone. The only time I’m really reminded of, or aware of that mixed up past is when I talk about it online like now. Even then, it doesn’t quite seem real even to me. I mean I know I pretended to be a guy, but it was never quite real to me. Especially since “he” was a role I played, I never bought into character. Which is why no-one was surprised. As many people have said, oh it’s obvious you were a girl pretending to be a guy, we just never could figure out why.

    It’s the day to day living as me that’s priceless and that I should have done decades before I did.

    I’m living for a change. Would it have been better sooner? Of course. But now I’m not waiting, not worrying, don’t have the noise, and there’s no confusion or pain due to my issues.

    You can do it to. And while I’m not going to lie and say it’s all going to be easy or seemless, I am going to say it can happen, and the results are so worth it.

  3. Posted August 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read more of your blog, two things.

    1) Please don’t think I’m saying you must do anything you don’t want too. No two people, or their lives are the same. If you’ve found a place that works for you, then I’d say you’re doing something right. I’m not saying you have to do anything but find your own point of balance and happiness.

    2) Given other details on your blog, there’s a statistically good chance we may have known each other or worked on a project as part of a team in years passed. I used to live in the city, on the island and in Jersey over a number of years. Rode the E and haunted the halls of many of the same companies you did.

    It’s surprisingly, even stunningly small world.

    Be good to you, because as I learned the hard way, in the end, you’re all you really have.

  4. Posted August 15, 2012 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Hi Samantha,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s funny, there is so much in there that I have told other people. I am great at dispensing advise and suck at following it. I know what I have wanted since I was a teen. It’s never changed – never gone away – and it never will.

    I completely get *not* having to do anything, but we both know that we cannot ‘wish’ this away. At some point we need to confront it which is what I did fourteen years ago. I found a place that worked and I have managed to own that pretty well over the years. I thought it might ‘be enough’ but the net net is that it’s not. While still better than before, I am left feeling empty at times. Maybe I am being selfish, but it’s not like anyone else is going to come and tell me ‘Ok – you can do this now, you have my permission’. It is never ever going to happen.

    This may sound overly dramatic, but I really don’t know what ‘happiness’ is in terms of my gender and such. All I know is varying degrees discontent, with some more tolerable than others. I have no idea what it’s like to wake up and just feel right. Every day, when I get ‘ready’ for work I look at the end result – this androgynous kinda soft butch wannabe woman thing.

    Some days I can muster a feeling that I look good – only to have that feeling snatched away by the look on my wife’s face. I never get a ‘you look nice’ from her when I dress for work. I get a half turned away kiss and a look of disgust almost. It’s other people – women at work and such – from whom I get some support with respect to how I look. It sounds superficial, but I know you get what I mean. 🙂

    I have no illusions that I will get any real (if any) support for transitioning. I have long since accepted that. It’s the inevitable conflict which I dread. I don’t do conflict well – funny that.

    I am at a place right now where I feel I don’t really have a choice anymore. Of course one always has a choice, but I feel it’s down to a Hobson’s choice now. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ – is a matter of *when*. And ‘when’ is not far off now. 🙂

    I really do appreciate your comments. It always feels good to read something positive from others.

    Perhaps we’ll run into one another… 😉

    Be well,
    D


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