Sarahjanus's Blog

February 28, 2011

Cross-dressed is simply “dressed”

I am reminded this morning of what a heavy heart feels like. It is a monstrous weight that seems to float high in my chest. It amplifies the beat of my heart reminding me that I am still alive but it presses on my lungs forcing me to breath deep to stay conscious. It is not a heart attack, it is simply a burden.

This morning I went on the treadmill for the first time in months. The winter snow has curtailed my daily walk outside, and although the walk wouldn’t cure my problems, it does keep the blood flowing. It always seems to lift my spirits. I have been waiting since Friday afternoon to write this blog. I left the R.V. show (in Toronto) a different person than I was when I entered. By the time I finished the drive home, I realized how deeply troubled I was.

What normally happens to me is that I encounter an emotional crisis, I block it and I carry on with my stunted life. Cross-dressing has given life to an emotional spirit or soul in me that is not so easily denied. It is probably a resurrection rather than new life. I have written before of the therapist who believes that my emotions are blocked by some trauma from my youth. We struggled for a short time to try and unblock the emotions and/or re-call the trauma. We weren’t successful. I don’t know how much I contributed to the effort. My S.O. says that I only ever pay lip service to these efforts. She may be right.

I have a personal philosophy that not all truth needs to be told, and not all things need to be known. The obvious debate there is one of cause and effect. Is the philosophy a result of my having memories that I am blocking, triggering a philosophy that rationalizes that, or does the philosophy allow me to block memories that I just don’t want to recall. The philosophy sometimes (often) seems to be self-serving. While I may be blocking things that are traumatic and painful, I am also disposing of memories of things that I have done wrong (hurtful to others, inconsiderate, etc.).

Coming back to my point, this crisis didn’t fade out over the course of the weekend. It stayed with me. I have been on a journey, exploring cross-dressing. Late in my life I have unbound this urge and let it out of the recesses of my mind. The urge has exploded, splattering itself across my entire life. I have found Crossdressers.com which has become a haven of like-minded individuals. Although even in that community, I find myself in a niche within the larger group.

On Friday past, I went to the R. V. show that was running in Toronto. I went alone. I went sort-of-cross-dressed. I was wearing women’s clothing inside and out but without makeup, a wig or my breast forms/bra. My face is clearly masculine, with the beard shadow even when clean shaven. My hair has just a touch of length but not enough to be gender neutral or feminized. I don’t think the clothes need to be described precisely. It should suffice to say that there should have been little confusion about them. The point of the exercise was to extend my personal boundaries, my comfort zone, to give voice to inner need.
I didn’t want to be stared at. I didn’t want to be noticed. I wanted to wear the clothes that give me inner peace and the sense of completeness. I wanted to wear them outside of the house rather than inside as I always do. I guess this was a variation of my winter excursion out except that then I was fully dressed but it was at night. This was semi-dressed but during the day and in a very busy environment.

From the moment I arrived, I was getting second glances. I’m guessing the second glance was to confirm what the first look took in. In a building full of salespeople, trying to sell recreational vehicles, not a single salesperson spoke to me for the two hours I was in the building. The man selling the tickets at the door suppressed a smirk when I approached but he didn’t say anything or stare. Lots of people nudged their companions as they walked towards me or passed by me. There were whispered words, and there were frowns. There was a lot of avoided eye contact.

I never once felt particularly self-conscious. I never felt embarrassed. I often wondered what they were thinking, what was behind the surreptitious smile or behind the frown but I remained comfortable within myself. Here’s the point, I liked who I was that day. I liked the way I felt in the clothes I was wearing. I had the same comfort and inner peace upon me outside the home, as I had inside the home. And that is the crux of the crisis, the reason for the heavy heart. When I finally left the show, got back in my car, and headed home, I realized that I am truly more comfortable in women’s clothing than I am in male attire.

I went to another show on the weekend, in male attire. My clothes simply hung on me. They didn’t “fit” me. I didn’t feel good in them. I simply existed. There are a million permutations for this epiphany. Novelty is prime among them. Escape is another. No one wants to read a thousand pages of “if A, then B” or “if A, with B, does that equate to C”. Those are my internal ruminations. For today it is simply a statement; I walked out in public, a man dressed in women’s clothing and I was comfortable with who I was. I want to be able to dress that way every day. I want to be able to do my nails. I want to keep my legs shaved. I love the feel of smooth hair-free skin under my hands. I can tuck my genitals tightly up and out of sight for a pair of snug jeans and be comfortable for the day. I am increasingly comfortable with feminine mannerisms through my body and my hands. My S.O. criticizes them but the mannerisms express me. I cried through The King’s Speech and had to stifle sobs near the end. I won’t watch The Black Swan because I fear it will strike to close to home.

There is an avalanche of change streaking down the mountain towards me. The force of it hidden in the swirling clouds of possibility stirred up by the movement. I am watching it in slow motion, knowing that it is coming, knowing that it is inevitable, knowing that in the moment after nothing will ever be the same, wanting to flee to the safety of blocked emotions, lies and half-truths and not wanting to flee at the same time, welcoming the punishing effects as better than not feeling.
I wish, for everyone, a happy day. I have a heavy heart but it is not an unhappy one.

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February 17, 2011

Little things reveal big concerns

There is a long list of little things in everyday life that can become annoyances and frustrations very quickly if your mood is not positive. My mood is not positive. Little things have been plaguing me for days now. My productivity which is easily derailed at the best of times has sunk to almost nil. I am distracted. I can’t maintain my focus.

A few months ago I decided to take a different approach to this blog. Instead of using it to vent all my negative moaning and groaning, I was going to try to write something positive. At the very least, I was going to present my thoughts in a neutral way. I came to realize that there was no value or success in crying about my situation. I could only accept it for what it was and deal with it.

Much to my surprise, I was able to do that, express myself positively or at the very least not sound despondent. The last few blogs have actually been happy, from my point of view, as happy as I can be.

I wrote about the unexpected comfort of under-dressing, an act forced upon me by the loss of my daytime privacy. Now, panties and camisoles, and often nylons are the practice rather than the exception. I do have to learn to be careful about adjusting the shoulder straps when they slide. I get some very odd looks when I do it in public. I try to monitor myself but occasionally when distracted, I will adjust without thought, only realizing what I’ve done when I catch sight of the turned heads or raised eyebrows. Men’s undershirts don’t come with spaghetti straps that slip.

I will write here that I’m confident that given the chance, I would under-dress every day for the rest of my life. I can take note of all the posts in the various forums, which say that cross-dressing is not something that is going to go away. It is a personality trait that may have an ebb and a flow. It may be suppressed but it always returns. So, I don’t expect this will leave me.

This is the foundation of my dilemma. To set it out as a hypothesis; I will remain a cross-dresser for the rest of my life. Therefore I should make my life decisions conscious of that fact. I should consider carefully whether or not I can continue to be satisfied with the very limited opportunities that I have to dress or is this predilection going to consume greater and greater parts of my day and my life.

What brought on this thinking are the two issues that I thought had been resolved. The first is my loss of privacy and opportunity. This has proven to be a greater burden than I first realized. I thought that under-dressing would fill the gap but it hasn’t. Now I under-dress consistently and remain frustrated by not being able to over-dress.

The second is under-dressing. This has proven to have a much greater impact than I thought it would. I visited one of my grown children this week. I wore a plain camisole under a t-shirt. I wore a very pretty pair of panties and I wore a pair of women’s jeans. There are no words to describe the level of comfort and the sense of “fit”, of completeness that I enjoyed. The next day I had to go out, so I wore panties and a camisole but men’s pants. The difference in feeling was huge. I wasn’t as comfortable by any measure that I could think of. I also came to realize that if I could, I would coordinate my panties and camisoles. They weren’t coordinated earlier this week and I realized that it was important to me that they should be.

So the new realizations are these; I get a great amount of emotional comfort from dressing. I become tense, irritable and troubled when I can’t dress. Second, I am far more comfortable in women’s clothing when I am out in public than I ever imagined I would be. I can easily envision myself out in public in muted women’s jeans and tops. My conclusion, I could be a semi-public cross-dresser for the rest of my life and probably be a happier person.

The counter-arguments are very basic. Anyone familiar with my life knows I’ve bounced through a variety of hobbies, pastimes and activities. I have had troubled personal relationships. I am estranged from my parents and siblings and my children struggle to maintain a relationship with me. To paraphrase, my only consistency is my inconsistency. My fear is that if I make public my desire to dress so that I can more fully indulge myself, I will do irreparable damage to every person that I hold dear, and I may find in a year or so that I no longer want to cross-dress.

Even if I was told that I would cross-dress forever, I’m not sure that I have the right to inflict that kind of upset on my family.

Here’s where the dilemma becomes a true Gordian knot. Perhaps my troubled relationships and my not settling on a pastime or a hobby are actually all symptoms of my repressed drive to cross-dress. Perhaps if I gave in to this need to present as a woman, everything-else would fall into place, and the peace that I feel when dressed would extend to the rest of my life.

Every dilemma needs a bit of irony. Here it is for this one. My S.O. is telling everyone how much happier I am, how much more considerate and attentive I am. She asked me yesterday if I was going to pull the rug out from under her in the near future by making a fool of her after she has so publicly told everyone how good things are. I said no, which means that in order to be truthful I have to stay in the closet. I am happier, more considerate and more attentive because that’s how I become when I’m dressed.

My internet connection is down. I have to allow the ISP to reboot the whole thing, little things, endless little things.

February 14, 2011

Found dress, need money!

Without a doubt, the first order of business is to wish everyone a –  Happy Valentine’s Day.

There’s a Grrrrrr, that goes in here and an apology. The Happy Valentine’s Day is supposed to be in WordArt, colorful and flowing. The four pictures are supposed to be in the body of the blog, but both tasks are beyond my technical capability for the moment. I’ll work on this later. Sorry…

It is a Monday, so it is a joyful day for me. My S.O. has gone off to work and the L.C.S. is still sleeping. I could rush upstairs, shower and dress knowing I have at least a few hours to enjoy being the same on the outside as I am on the inside.

On the other hand, I am happy just in the knowledge that I can do that. The Canadian winter has taken one of its rare breaks for Southern Ontario. The temperature this morning is above the freezing mark. The dogs are enjoying the yard. I was able to sweep the buildup of bird seed from the deck (as compared to it being part of the ice and snow). My spirit is light and bright this morning. Sarah is upon me even without the clothes.

I was shopping through E-bay last week, looking at the dresses. While I do peruse the mainstream stores’ online catalogues, the online catalogues are always more complete than any single store, I also like to sift through the billions of listings in E-bay to see the true variety that is available. Once the mainstream stores adopt a style for the season, you, as the shopper, are screwed if the colours are wrong for your complexion, or the styles are wrong for your age or body. At least with E-bay, if you know what works on your body, you can find the dress.

My indulgence is to dress in the house. I’m not (yet, and maybe never) an intrepid explorer who is going out on the town “en femme”. So, while a few of my dresses are a touch dressy for the daytime, most everything falls in the business-casual category. I could wear most of it to an office job. I also have the casual skirts for summer, and jeans and leggings for other moments.

I’ve always maintained that my style was conservative and age appropriate. I can’t and shouldn’t emulate Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, and although age appropriate, I shouldn’t copy Madonna either. I’ve wrestled with what I should look like if I wanted to make an entrance. If I ever had the opportunity and/or summonsed up the courage to attend a cross-dresser’s event, like Xpressions in Toronto, or one of the multi-day events in the States, what would I wear? Would I dress ultra-conservatively and try to fit in with all the other mature women? Or would I break out and make an entrance?

After Friday’s excursion through E-bay, I know what I would do. I would wear a “Betty Paige” dress. In my mind these are the epitome of the inner me. Setting aside that three of the four dresses displayed are black, I’m still wrestling with that past habit, the style of these dresses truly “speaks to me”. This is what I want to look like, (sans the tattoos, I’m not a fan of tattoos for either gender). If I were going to dress for dinner, this is what I would want to wear. If I were on a cruise, like the one out of New Orleans, that is cross-dresser friendly, and wanted to walk the decks in the moon-light after drinks in the bar, these are what would be in my closet.

As I write, I’m chuckling with the irony of reality vs. fantasy. Yesterday, I sat through the movie, Sex and the City 2. It was a rental chosen by the L.C.S. No one is yet clear why. He wasn’t asked to get a movie when he went out, but he returned with SATC2. It became Sunday night’s viewing.

I was invited to join my S.O. as she watched it. It was a bit of a Godfather style invitation, “make him an offer he can’t refuse”, so I got my drawing materials and settled in. I never watched the original series, probably because I was still in my testosterone stage, reluctant to watch anything that didn’t include guns, ships or aircraft. My S.O. describes it differently. According to her, unless it crashed, blew up, burned or sank with mass casualties, I wouldn’t watch it.

I didn’t enjoy the movie. I will admit that from what I know of the program, Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) is my favorite character. She is probably closest to the ideal that I would aspire to, if I were to transition to a woman. I qualify the choice, because if I were a genetic girl, I may have a different opinion. I found the movie loud and contrived, but I did identify with Charlotte and her sense of style. Although I didn’t watch the series, I was exposed to television reviews and clips of the program, as well as some of the thousands of tabloid articles, and Charlotte has always been my favorite. As you can see from the dresses on this page, her style is a big part of that choice.

When you look at the Betty Paige and Tatyana dresses, you’ll see that the models are all wearing (fairly) clunky shoes. The shoes look big and heavy. They’re probably not a good choice for a cross-dresser whose feet are already at the wrong end of the scale. I’d have to pair the dresses up with something much lighter-looking in style and material, something that I thought would make my foot look smaller.

Funny thing, this is something I’ve done all my life. Here’s another realization brought on by writing. I have always shopped for shoes that could be described as gender-neutral. My S.O. has commented on more than one occasion that, even though I choose men’s shoes, I regularly choose shoes that she thinks are effeminate. She will say so when I buy them and she will say so when I select them to wear out. I have been told (asked) to change my shoes because she thinks the ones chosen are not manly. Her favorites are the big heavy man shoes; mine are the light, small, less gender-specific ones. So, again, although my journey into cross-dressing is relatively recent, it appears that the preferences have been there forever.

Once upon a time, while I was working, and on the occasions that I had the opportunity to wear jeans to work, I remember one particular testosterone-fueled little rooster in the office who could never let me pass without commenting that I must be wearing women’s jeans because mine were “way too tight” to be men’s. Again, at the time, I didn’t think anything of it, other than I didn’t think my jeans were too tight and I wore them as I liked them. They weren’t women’s jeans but they were tight. I ignored him about the jeans because most of his time was spent judging others and pointing out their deficiencies.

Now, I have two pair of women’s jeans, one pair stretchy and tight enough to nearly be leggings (or jeggings, to be accurate). I know what he meant now. I also know I prefer women’s jeans over men’s, and I like them tight. Tight is comfortable for me as long as the material isn’t stiff and heavy. Again, obviously my preferences were finding ways to reach the surface even when I wasn’t aware of them.

I just wanted to write a short note to say that I had found a source of clothing for the style that existed in my head and my fantasies. I’ve rambled on and on. I apologize to anyone who has struggled through all of this in the hopes of finding something meaningful. This is just me; Sarah. I can ramble on at length about inconsequential things. This last dress is my favorite. I can live without the flower but I love the dress. Did I ever actually get to the irony of watching and disliking SATC2? I dislike the characters with the one exception. I’m not wowed by the storylines. But, in my own way, I am (or would be) as much of a fashionista as any one of them, if I had the chance and the money. I would be a shopaholic. I would need a walk-in closet for the clothes and the shoes. I could end up being a high-maintenance effort.

Happy Valentine’s Day from a happy Sarah..,

February 9, 2011

Under-dressing blurs the boundaries

Today is the day before my trip was to begin but my tour operator has canceled because of civil unrest. I have rescheduled for later in this season. So here I am, sitting before my desk with files piled in front of me. I really focused on work in January to be sure that everything was done before I walked away from it all. The trip became iffy and the motivation to push every day faded. The overwhelming majority of the work is done. I’m putting finishing touches on what remains before turning it in. New work is arriving, as people discover that I’m not going to be away. Life carries on as it always does.

I wrote last of losing my privacy and my opportunity to dress during the day without fear of discovery. I have been adapting to that these past days. I guess it is another milestone on my path, that I have begun under-dressing to a greater degree and with greater frequency. It actually helps, more than I thought it would. I’m going to say, for the moment, that it contributes to a further blurring of the boundaries.

In the past I have described myself as Sarah and the host. There aren’t really two distinct personalities, although there probably is a measure of schizoid personality in the mix. First I submitted to the urges to wear women’s clothes and that progressed until I acquired a wardrobe that allowed me to cater to a variety of moods. As I dressed more comprehensively, I noticed a difference in my personality, my oft-mentioned inner peace and calm. In my clothes I did not want to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I wanted to be a sheep, so Sarah became. Having a name gave substance to the effect. From the moment I stepped out of the shower in the morning, I was Sarah in how I completed my morning rituals and in how I chose my clothes, whether or not I did my make-up, and in how I did my chores around the house. I was/am Sarah in how I walk and how I sit. I am Sarah in how I answer the telephone when people call, or I am the host.

My host is the tense, depressed, and often irritable individual that existed before Sarah and comes to the fore-front when she wasn’t or couldn’t be present. I have come to believe that Sarah is who I would like to be, if I had the choice and the strength. In what is analogous to the chicken and the egg question; I’m left wondering if I would cross-dress in a perfect world, still trying to emulate a woman, or if I would simply become an effeminate male. I believe that I would, at the very least, cross-dress. I do love the clothes.

In the past year, I have not missed an opportunity (of any significance) to dress. Losing my privacy in the house has had an impact, ergo; under-dressing. I have begun to wear panties rather than underwear. I usually have pantyhose on under either my “jammie pants” or jeans. I went out and bought a section of lace trimmed camisoles in various colors that I can wear under shirts and pull-overs. Now, braving the Canadian winter and the treacherous driving, which increase the risk of accident and discovery, I’m usually under-dressed when I go out, even on business calls. I may go as far as wearing my women’s jeans if I’m out and not expecting to run into anyone I know. I’ve yet to acquire a decent pair of winter boots to top off the ensembles, but something (under-dressed) is definitely better than nothing.

This brings me full circle to my earlier point. The façade that the world sees is still the host that everyone knows, but an under-dressed host is more Sarah than host. The lines blur as I get more comfortable with dressing, under-dressing, feminizing and “emasculating”. “Word” did not like “demasculize”, my made-up word, as a descriptor. It suggested emasculate which isn’t a perfect fit but works. I’m thinking of losing the aggressiveness of the male, losing the testosterone influenced behaviours, unblocking my emotions. Losing my testicles, as emasculate requires, would probably accomplish the same ends.

So I sit here, calm, at peace, happy. I’m dressed this morning as I work because the Last Child Standing doesn’t get up much before noon. I’m counting on hearing him before he sees me so that I can disappear and change.

I wish happy moments for all of you.

February 3, 2011

I am happy, that says it all.

This morning is the first morning in a couple of weeks that I have been able to follow the pattern I prefer. The Last Child Standing (L.C.S.) left yesterday to spend the day and overnight with friends in the city. This morning was an early start for my S.O. The house became mine early. I had a chance to set out my clothes and dress in a slow easy way that felt natural, rather than the rushed stolen opportunities that have been my only escape lately. I dressed, then checked the look in a mirror and headed downstairs. I made my coffee and settled in to the keyboard.

I was surprised to discover that I hadn’t posted here since January 18th. It seems so long ago. The L.C.S. is finished school, high school that is. He had a part-time schedule for the first semester because he was (more or less) doing a victory lap as they call it these days. He had the credits he needed to graduate but had no plans for college so he went back to high school to add and upgrade his college/university credits while working to save money for next year’s school.

That’s a long explanation to get to the point that I once had my mornings free, clear, private and relatively secure. That exclusive opportunity ended last week. It was already being impacted by the piece work that I do. I have a vacation planned for later this month so I have been hustling to; a] get my work done before I go, and b] do as much work as possible so that the trip can be paid for promptly. Work has taken me out of the house for day trips and denied me many of my dress-days.

I’ve written before about the hysteria that builds in me when I expect an opportunity to dress and it is denied to me. Those kinds of schedule changes are the worst for me. The past few weeks have been self-inflicted, ordained, and expected, so the mental response has been completely different. I think this is as it should be. If it were any different, it would be a far more serious problem than I actually have. Today I have recovered the inner peace that eludes me when I am not dressed.

I looked through my clothes this morning to figure out how much laundry I have, and when I’m going to do it. If I thought it was hard to find a decent opportunity to dress, it is exponentially more difficult to find a clear period of time to hand launder my bras and underwear, nylons and tops. Before anyone sneezes at me that I should be doing these things in a machine, there are few of them (on average), the colours are vastly different, and they are not exceptionally soiled so a quick hand wash usually is enough. The problem lies in drying time. I can’t lay them out on the drying rack my S.O. uses because there isn’t ever enough time. So I have to hang them in a side closet and hope no one goes in there for the one night they are there.

I sorted through the nylons to find the ones with runs and get rid of them. I’m a slob in drab, mostly because I don’t have to be anything-else, but partly because I don’t know how to dress myself. I have no sense of style, fashion or colour for men’s clothes. My closet is full of blue, black and khaki. My clothes are worn because I have no interest in shopping for replacements.

“En femme” dressing on the other hand, is a joy. I love the brighter colours. I love the variety of styles. I love the feel of close-fitting clothes. I now understand the need for dieting because certain things no longer fit the way they should. I love to shop for jewelry and accessories. I take much better care of my clothes and how I dress.

I am a shoe fanatic. I still throw the occasional barb at my S.O. for the stacks of shoe boxes in her closet, and the endless defenses she presents when I suggest she throw something out, but I do so with a greater understanding of what she is feeling. Those open-toe, open-back, silver high heels that she hasn’t worn in probably a year are the only thing that goes with that black skirt and the what-ever top if she is wearing silver jewelry and we are going somewhere more formal. Otherwise, those shoes may never be worn again. It’s kind of like a silver bullet for a vampire. You may not run into a vampire very often but it’s always nice to have a silver bullet when you do.

Isn’t this a load of blather? It’s so nice to be back. I can’t (often) get into the mood to write this blog unless I dress and adopt the state of mind that goes with it. I’ve written before about being treated for clinical depression, about my S.O. (and the doctors) not knowing what the cause is. The doctor put me on a prescription that brought me back to a “head-above-water” place. This past year, as I have dressed, and allowed the dressing to influence my state of mind, I have known an inner peace, a self-generated happiness, an acceptance of who I am even if the true me is not a public person. Last week, my doctor began to taper me off the last of the prescriptions. He sees no need for them anymore.

I’m happy. I’m still a cantankerous old(er) man. I’m still moody. I’m still emotionally volatile and overly sensitive to criticism. I’m still reclusive because I don’t ever feel like I fit in. But I am happy. I know how to find happiness in a day. I am amazed at the change. When asked why I’m not a happier person, personality, I have long argued that not all of us are programmed or destined (fate or choice, take your pick) to be happy. I argued that perhaps I was one who was not. I have to add a codicil to that belief. Perhaps, of those who are not happy, there is a number who are not happy because their triggers are not on the “A” list of things that make us happy. Success, the joy of children, the refuge that comes with a strong and positive marriage/relationship, friends, and hobbies are among the things on the “A” list. I have all of those things, so I am challenged as to why I am not happy. Nobody ever suggested to me that I might be happier if I dressed and presented as a woman for a portion of each day. I wonder why not.

I am happy. I hope that a measure of happiness finds each of you in every day. My apologies to my friends who also blog. I haven’t taken the time recently to read your writings. Today I will.

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