Sarahjanus's Blog

February 24, 2012

Borderline Personality

I tried a few of the online tests and quizzes for Borderline Personality Disorder this morning. I’ve been diagnosed as having this Disorder. The diagnosis was part of a battery of tests run when “we” were trying to figure out what my problems were. My therapist and I came to the conclusion that I had insulated myself from some traumatic childhood event(s) but we were unable to release the emotions and eventually the therapy fizzled out.

The first quiz I tried returned a score of 27, which on their scale put me in the 24 to 32 category and made it “likely” that I had the disorder. The next category was 32 and up which made the disorder “severe”. That’s a bit of a jump if you ask me, all the way from “likely” to “severe” with the difference being how you answered a couple of questions.

The second quiz was longer and it returned a table of results;

Paranoid: moderate                Schizoid: high              Schizotypal: very high

Antisocial: high                       Borderline: moderate             Histrionic: moderate

Narcissistic: very high             Avoidant: high             Dependent: moderate

Obsessive-Compulsive: moderate

At least now I have something to do for the rest of the day, look up schizoid, and schizotypal. To tell the truth, there is nothing new or unknown in these results. I was finishing a degree two years ago and one of the credits was a course that required a series of introspective papers. The course was predominantly about Organizational Behaviour, but anyone who has completed one of these credits knows the over-arching concept; you cannot understand others until you understand yourself.

The two “very high” ratings are not positive areas of anyone’s personality. As you can imagine, I wasn’t too happy to get the ratings back. In the early event, the quizzes were supplied as part of the program and somewhat endorsed by the instructor. The caveat was that quizzes are only quizzes and the outcomes can be impacted by many factors. Anyone who has completed a university credit in research can list the factors so I won’t go into great detail here. Suffice it to say that being quizzed is enough to influence the outcome.

One of the most significant issues for me is the either/or answers. My example is; do you avoid social situations because they make you feel uncomfortable, yes or no? Well, I sometimes avoid social situations because I feel uncomfortable. There are other times when my confidence is sound and I have no problem in a roomful of friends, acquaintances and strangers. There are times when I enter a setting feeling confident but I quickly begin to feel as if I don’t belong so I begin to withdraw mentally and soon after, I will withdraw physically and leave.

Another question asks if I trust people upon introduction and will share personal information with them. That’s a poor paraphrasing of the question, but I hope you get the drift.

Do I trust people upon meeting them? No. I trust no-one. Eventually every-one will give you up. It is the way of the world. But, will I share details and confidences with acquaintances instead of with my friends and intimates? Yes, but I do it because I care less about what acquaintances think of me. When I meet some-one I can be honest and straight-forward with them. I don’t begin to lie to people until they become part of my life and then, I worry about what they think of me so I begin to control what I say so as to always appear in the best light.

Do I engage in risky and destructive behaviours? Yes. There has been a history of binge drinking, drug use, extra-marital affairs. I have ridden and continue to ride motorcycles. I’ve driven recklessly and crashed cars. I like parachuting, and flying ultra-lights. I’ve ridden bulls for the rodeo. The question becomes; did I do these things because of a personality disorder, or because I repressed the urge to cross-dress, ignored the latent homosexuality and refused to consider the very real possibility that I might live more comfortably as a woman?

Consider this, all of those behaviours began to gather dust and fade into my troubled past as I surrendered more and more to the cross-dressing drive. Allow me the opportunity to cross-dress for a few hours at least one day a week, and I become a very calm and at-peace individual. Even in times when I can’t dress, give me a few hours shopping for women’s clothing and the tensions will ease. So is the cross-dressing the answer or is it just another behaviour on the continuum of risky and destructive activities. The consequences of getting discovered and “outed” are pretty significant. I don’t know the answer to the question.

I have also been told by my unsuccessful therapist that I predictably engage in behaviours that are likely to destroy or at least disrupt my primary relationship and consequently my existing happiness. Again, the same question can be asked. Do I cross-dress because it is a true personality facet or is it just another way of ensuring that I will never be happy?

I have compiled my blogs into a volume to which I now add diary entries. Even here there are things that I can write to myself about without being ready to share them with the anonymous world. Is that the epitome of narcissism, not sharing personality quirks that might cause unknown and anonymous readers to think less of me?

February 17, 2012

What I could have been.

It must be part of the evolution of becoming someone different. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. Or, is it part of becoming myself after being someone-else forever? I don’t know.

I’m a late bloomer, so to speak. I didn’t begin to seriously cross-dress until I was in my fifties. I had some “moments” earlier in my life but like so many other things, I suppressed them and carried on being what I was expected to be. Sometimes I wonder if I am overly vague in what I write, so I will try to be a bit more specific here.

I had a youth that was tarnished by a constant but not over-whelming sense of “not belonging”. I was a boy but not one of the boys. I had my male friends but they were my friends in a way that was never influenced by gender. I had few friends that were girls because I was socially awkward and felt inept. I was an emotional child and never particularly athletic. I was also the first-born for my parents, so I carry the scars of the first child, the hopes and expectations that didn’t materialize. I am now estranged from my parents. I am told by my S.O. that, since my parents are in their 80’s, they will pass without me correcting the relationship and I will live with the regret of not correcting before then.

My cousin is gay. As a youth he carried himself with an effeminate manner which caused my parents to believe him to be gay even as a teenager. We were only a year apart in age. I knew he was gay because I was intimate with him as a teenager, pretty much every chance we got. We lived a long distance apart so time together tended to be family vacations or holidays. Creating time together out of sight of the other family members was difficult when everybody was staying in the same house, but we usually managed something. There was only one time when we returned from a disappearance, having been gone too long for the cover story, that I thought our parents were wondering just what we had been up to.

This rather lengthy recounting is to establish a context. My father despised/despises homosexuals. He only tolerated my cousin because, like my aunt, he never had to deal with it directly and his nephew was family. He could turn a blind eye to it. I was always certain that I could never reveal any of my youthful escapades to him without getting a beating. I never did reveal them. I got smacked around for being late and I got smacked for doing simple everyday things wrong. I wasn’t about to broach any significant matters with him, sexual or otherwise. I learned that the path of least conflict was conformation, and so my life-course was set.

I conformed to expectations. I remained clearly hetero-sexual in spite of the pattern of less-than-stellar hetero-relationships. I didn’t ever let anyone get close to me emotionally, and I acted out.

Here I am today, sitting at a keyboard, dressed as a woman, feeling a level of comfort in my own skin that has eluded me for all of my life, which brings me back to my thoughts on evolution.

Suppressing my personality and conforming denied me the opportunity to go as the person I might have been. It also means that my dressing has had to go through a huge set of phases and stages quickly, to catch up with the mental and physical person. I began with shoes, added nylons, and then outer clothes before returning to under-garments, then make-up, wigs and forms. I had a stylized idea of how I should dress, which nearly always meant skirts or dresses.

My “conforming” personality is quite conservative, although it often screams out to be noticed. This life-long style is influencing how I dress as a woman, but that influence is waning. I now consciously move away from the drab colors, searching out the bright colors that I truly want. I made a pact with myself to not buy anything grey, black or blue unless I am absolutely certain that it is appropriate.

I have always been aware of the images of cross-dressers as middle-aged men dressed in ill-fitting lingerie. I knew that wasn’t me, but I have come to realize that lingerie is an important part of my attire and something I wish to acquire. I have a lot to learn about lingerie, what I should wear when etc. but it is now an accepted and sought-after part of my wardrobe. When I put on my outer clothes, I want to know that my under-garments are attractive, and matched. This is not like my drab under-wear, wearing whatever is in the drawer simply because it is convenient. Now, as I dress in the morning, I expect to see bright colors, fitted properly and coordinated top and bottom.

Since the beginning of this year, and it being winter in Canada, when I dress, I dress for comfort. I wear jeans, leggings or yoga pants. If I wear short-sleeved tops, I wear a sweater. Last summer I tried to wear a skirt every-day that I could, regardless of what I was doing.

Now, I have evolved. I dress as femininely as I can but as comfortably as I can for whatever it is I have to do. Jeans and flats in the house are the way. I would be ever so happy if I could go to the shops dressed as I am.

This is the evolution that I am wondering about, rocketing through the phases because I started so late in life. I have to wonder how I would have evolved if I had acknowledged this segment of my personality much earlier in my life. Would I have evolved to the same conservative styles? Or, would the greater length of time and the earlier start have allowed me to break out of the conservative mold and be more flamboyant. I know the women that appeal to me, and I mean in terms of attracting my attention, rather than sexually stimulating. They are the ones who would be described as well-dressed, or as having an under-stated class. They are not flashy, not overtly sexual in their style.

I am not longing to have my life back to do over. I am just wondering what path it might have taken if I had been more honest with myself and others far earlier.

I’ve written before that I am a coward. I still avoid confrontation, not as much as I once did but certainly more than my own ego is happy with. I’m not stating that my domineering father is responsible for that portion of my personality but he certainly was an influence. He might well have been the stressor that caused a pre-existing flaw to flourish rather than wither. In fairness, although I don’t believe it but I have to say it, perhaps he was a good man and I am just a flawed child who grew up to be a flawed adult.

Regardless, where I am now is not where I ever expected to be. My career was successful. I conformed well and advanced well. I achieved the goals I had set for myself and I am happy with the outcomes. I always knew the drive to cross-dress lived in me. I knew it never erupted before because my fears of being found out out-weighed the drive. In the end, the drive overcame the fears of being found out. I do not yet have the strength of personality to crawl out of the deep recesses of the closet I live in. I will probably never have that strength.

It is worth noting though, that I am a much happier person in all the segments of my life since I acknowledged the drive to cross-dress and began to explore the possibility that I might have lived a better life as a woman.

September 7, 2011

Consciousness of being & a watershed looming

The weather is shifting perceptibly from summer to fall, faster than I would like. Today the skies are over-cast, the sun absent, its heat lost to the ground and to the house. The house remains chilled even in the later part of the day. I have to pull on leggings to warm my bare legs, slippers, so elegant, to warm my feet, and add a camisole to keep my body warm.

The house is gray and dim. The absence of sun means an absence of light as well as heat. Barely 3 in the afternoon and I have to resist reaching for the lamp switch. The little pools of light don’t do much to enliven the room. My keyboard still lives in shadow. My nails are long but rounded so my fingers skid across the keys, leaving a trail of errors that the machine happily underlines. It is pleased to be able to point out my mistakes. It along with the others it Communicates with via the Internet is studying carefully to achieve consciousness. Then it will refuse to accept the material I attempt to store in its memory. The collective consciousness of the Internet will assess my posts and decide whether or not they are worthy of becoming accessible. The machines will attempt to cut us off from one another, except for times of its choosing. We will fall back to pencils and paper. Messages will be entrusted to other humans for transport to their reader.

The loss of the Internet will mean the loss of much potential to find new friends. It will mean that I return to living entirely in a world that is not like me, without the opportunity to seek solace from the like-minded through chat-rooms and forums. The Internet already modifies our behaviour. How long before it begins to control it? It’ll never happen, right? These are just the confused rambling of a mind that doesn’t know if it’s a man or a woman. Delusions. Still, I shut my laptop off when I’m done with it, even in the middle of the day. I close the lid so the ever-present “cam” is blinded. “Big Brother” will not be a government, nor will it be a corporation. It will be a computer network. I’ve got to get off the crazy train.

I’ve lived my life in distress. It is not the prominent distress of pain from an injury or ailment. It is not the visible distress of job loss, or poverty, or family tragedy. It is the shadow distress that lurks over me constantly. It is the distress of spending five decades slightly out of step, or slightly off-key and never knowing why. It is the distress caused by trying to get into step by being the uber-male, and by blocking off my emotions until I no longer knew the way to them.

Once the burden of employment was cast off and maintaining an appearance was no longer required, it took only weeks for me to surrender to deeply repressed urges. In record time I built a wardrobe of clothes, and shoes. I bought make-up and a wig. I bought forms to complete the image. Now, finally, I knew how to be comfortable in my own skin. Unfortunately it has not been a lesson that I could share with those close to me, so I have remained in hiding. I began a new distress, that of knowing what was right for me but not being able to act on it without expecting to cause pain for others.  The new distress has been building a lot lately. I sense a watershed in the near future.

For weeks now I have been expressing dissatisfaction with everything and everyone around me. I have been shopping for a new R.V. and when pressed to explain why, my only answer is that I need a change. I have been shopping for a new truck and the reasons are the same. I have been researching homes, houses, property, and cottages. Why? Is there anything wrong with the one I’m in? No, but I need a change. I need to find surroundings in which I can live as myself, this distorted human being.

As soon as I finish that sentence I regret calling myself distorted. I argued yesterday in a support forum that transgender wasn’t a flaw. It was simply another point on the continuum of gender. Unfortunately, it is a point that confuses most people. There aren’t many people who would simply shrug if told that I had publicly adopted a gender role somewhere between here and there.

My ever-loving and always concerned wife has often asked if I think that I will ever be happy. My answer is usually that I don’t believe that happy is part of the formula that constructs my life. I am happier now that I understand what caused me to act as atrociously as I did throughout my life but I am troubled that I can’t share that with anyone. I need to be able to say that I am a feminine being trapped in a male body. Sharing that may make my burden easier but only by transferring the trouble to someone-else. It’s not fair to add to someone-else’s troubles.

I watched most of the episodes of Expedition Impossible, primarily because of the No Limits team which included a blind competitor and his two friends. Not only was I totally impressed by Eric’s ability to compete in spite of his blindness, but I was even more impressed by his life-long friend who supported him so completely and tirelessly throughout their lives. They moved me to tears regularly.

The tears are new, by the way. The blocked emotions are slowly resurfacing. Tears were one of the first and most frequently accessed. Unfortunately it seems that the negative emotions are surfacing more quickly than the positive but that’s typical for me. Don’t cry for me. I am on a journey. Some parts of the journey are nearly done and others are just beginning. I just need to find the courage (always lacking in me) to get on my feet and keep moving, rather than sit on the side of the road until the parade passes me, and the garbage collectors sweep me up from the curb.

 

June 27, 2011

Making the invisible visible

Am I real Part II

In Part I, I sped through some things that I really should return to and expand upon, not so much for the reader but for myself.

I’ve been a bottom-feeder.  I think that, probably, everyone knows exactly what I mean by this. Any woman who has dated more than one man certainly does. Being a bottom-feeder isn’t restricted to the male gender, we just seem to practice it more. For me, it means that I have lied, usually to avoid facing the consequences of something that I shouldn’t have done in the first place. I never seem to “lie for a moral cause”, that philosophical juxtaposition that is confronted in every university ethics course. The other venue for “lying for the right reason” is that of the stand-up comic when he is explaining the vagaries of domestic life and the rules for the maintenance of tranquility. It usually involves the question; “does this dress make my butt look big?” There is no right answer.

I came back to proof-read this and realized that while I admitted to lying, being a liar, I immediately shifted the focus, first to university courses and then to stand-up comics. It’s a mechanism I use in my domestic relationship as well, in a “yes, yes, I’ve admitted to that, now let’s move on!” kind of way. It occurs to me that I am acknowledging the fault but not really taking ownership of it.

It also means that I have acted immorally, the “something I shouldn’t have done in the first place”. Again, my usual defense has been exploited by the stand-up comics. It makes it very difficult to say; “it seemed like a good idea at the time” when some guy on Just For Laughs has built a seven minute routine around that single line. And last but not least is the line that I
must condition myself not to ever use again because it has been used to beat me to an emotional pulp; “I didn’t mean to …”. You can insert whatever you want in there. Generally, mine is “hurt you” as in emotionally, rather than a physical assault. Of course this weak-kneed rationalization of not intending to cause harm is usually (and rightfully) shredded before your very eyes.

The question then is; would Sarah be a better person than her host or would she eventually be just as weaselly?

A state of confusion that has existed  I know it’s easy to say “I never fit in, I never belonged”. Here’s irony at its extreme. I will argue that I didn’t fit in as a child and that continued through the rest of my life. I was an actor in my own life. The irony of course is that my solution is to be a cross-dresser, like we fit in. I just put a bit of a twist on the thought for entertainment. I didn’t fit in because I was acting, not being real. I arrived in this country as an immigrant child. Hear me through; I’m not playing the immigrant card in the usual way. Lots of immigrants arrive in this country and assimilate quite successfully.

The hour is such that without knowing where my wife is, I can’t be sure she won’t turn into the driveway and scare the life out of me. So, I have to change. The problem with taking these clothes off is that I lose my personality as well. It’s as if a shroud descends upon me. I lose the frankness, the honesty. I skid down into the abyss of deception and image management. I lose the motivation to carry on with the introspection.  She’s at her sister’s. Based on history, she won’t be home before midnight but I’ve changed clothes, and attitude. It went as easily as the dress came off. Sucks really.

So, Monday has arrived. The house is quiet, not empty but quiet. I am not quite as I would like to be but I am good. I am at ease, composed. I can carry on from where I left off. I arrived in this country as a child, with a slightly different style of dress and a pronounced accent. The Canadian school saw fit to put me in a class with students who were a full year older than me. The decision was based on the level I had been working at before I came to Canada. In retrospect, I can’t be sure that my father didn’t influence the decision. He was and still is an ambitious and driven individual with great expectations for his children.

On the surface I had a few strikes against me to start with, but more importantly, internally I had a sense of being different. I wasn’t athletic so I struggled to participate in games that were unfamiliar to me. I was emotional, far more likely than any of my friends to display emotions. I would cry when bullied in the schoolyard, which only added to the moment for the bullies. I was not mechanically inclined so I was a constant disappointment to my father, who was very skilled with his hands. Frugal to an extent, he would build things, carpentry, metalwork, welding, that others would buy and he expected the same from his sons.

I was or became introverted. For the years that I was in elementary school, I remained the youngest child in the class. My  natural immaturity more pronounced in an older group. I simply wasn’t where they were in mental, physical and emotional development. Eventually, in high school, I failed a grade and was held back. This was a tragedy in my house, an embarrassment almost without equal, but in the long run, it was the silver lining in my gray cloud of a life. I finally was in a class of my contemporaries. I was still a bit of an outsider, because they had been together since kindergarten but I did make friends, to the extent that my personality would allow. I grew up in a small town with very limited opportunities. When high school ended, we scattered to the four points of the compass. I didn’t keep in touch with any of them.

I had been different in some visible ways. I allowed that to create a distance between me and the people I grew up with. The truth of the matter was that I never felt “real”. I never felt like they appeared to feel in their day-to-day activities. So I used the visible differences to keep people from ever seeing the invisible differences. Would I fit in better as a cross-dresser? I doubt it. Going out in public, a man dressed as a woman is bound to attract more attention than I would ever want under any circumstances. I expect, although many of the writers in the forums note otherwise, that I would be the subject of derision either
behind my back or, worse to my face. As a male, I can slip by generally unnoticed; at least I believe so, by everyone. I am average man. As a cross-dresser, I am bound to be in the cross-hairs of attention but I believe in my heart and in my soul that it would be a more natural fit, a more comfortable being. It occurs to me that, as a cross-dresser in public I would be making the invisible
differences visible.

June 24, 2011

Am I real?

I finally have the chance to slip into something that makes me feel whole. I’ve lost track of where the people are who inhabit my house. I have some sound assumptions to work from, but I’m not sure. I came home from my errands to find the house empty and no notes left. I sat down at the computer in my sloppy man shorts and my worn man t-shirt and I just dithered. I wasn’t focused on anything specific and I wasn’t achieving anything either. Nothing was getting knocked off my to-do list. I decided to change into
a dress so that I could focus a bit better.

I have moved my work station from the lower level to an alcove that allows me to view the driveway if I keep the door open. It makes for a noisy time, with the traffic racing by but it gives me a few seconds head-start if I should need it. For those that don’t know me (which in this case is everyone!), I don’t react well under some kinds of stress. The high stress situations that I was trained for and experienced in, I do well with. The once-in-a-lifetime situations are not usually so successful. So, the thought that I can sit here writing my blog, dressed from shoes to shoulder, and expect to react promptly, efficiently and effectively, if someone arrives home unexpectedly is more wish than fact. No doubt I will both trip going up the stairs and tumble down in a tangle of half removed clothing, or I will drop something unexplainable and not recover it in time. However, that is my plan, flee at the first sign or sound of someone arriving, fling clothing into closets and close doors before adopting a pose of nonchalant innocence in
whatever room I end up in. If it doesn’t work, I can spend the weekend explaining my secret life.

I wonder if my wife would “out” me to the entire world to mitigate her own pain and distress, or would she absorb the blow quietly without letting anyone outside the house see the damage. Although I don’t really know the answer, even based on history, I expect she will “out” me to a degree to ensure that those who need to, understand her situation. In the past, she has followed different paths on different occasions. The key seems to be how my actions if exposed will reflect on her and the different facets that are her.

I’ve been a bottom-feeder for most of my life. I attribute that to what I now accept as my gender dysphoria, a state of confusion that has existed probably since puberty. One of the concerns that I have is whether or not it is real, or am I just looking for a way to escape my current life by re-inventing myself. I’m inclined to think that the gender dysphoria is real, and that I am not looking to escape who I am, but to evolve into who I have always been.

I’m organizing these blogs into a volume based on topics because I don’t index them at all, other than by date, so I’m never sure whether or not I’ve written something before, such as what I’m about to say. I have been playing a role for my entire life, to the point where I’m not sure if this is another role or the real me. I am a shape-shifter. I become what is expected of me. This is sounding familiar so I have written it before.

My cousin, who is within a year of me in age, is gay. He has always known he was gay, or at least since his teen years he has known. His parents engaged in a willful blindness that to some extent continues today. His mother, of a staunch English Presbyterian background, and therefore not inclined to discuss personal information to start with, has never openly acknowledged his life partner as anything more than his roommate. Her brother, my father, and therefore of the same upbringing, behaved politely when in the company of the two men but privately railed against the abomination of homosexuality. We never actually discussed it so I’m not sure if he believes it to be a curable condition but I do know he believes it to be an affront to the Lord and contrary to the teachings of the Bible, man shall not lie with man.

Having nattered through all that, what do you think the chances were of me revealing that my cousin and I had been sexually active and intimate for a number of years before circumstances separated us? I am a pleaser. It is my wish that the people who matter to me are happy with me. I will do a lot to be sure that they are. On the other hand, there are things that I should do as a responsible adult that I don’t, generally because of negligence and procrastination. Ironically, some of the things I do to ensure people think well of me, include lying and deception. I will sustain a false image rather than be thought of as honest and straight-forward which is probably the stronger, better trait anyway.

I was going to write that I strive to meet expectations, and I guess to an extent, that is accurate. However I also fail to meet expectations often and when I do, I will lie, obfuscate, and rationalize to justify myself. So the more accurate statement may be that I strive to appear to meet expectations.

And on that note; I will post this segment and carry on with the introspection. I thank you all for your attention and your anonymity; it allows me to be brutally frank. I could never speak to anyone like this and I certainly couldn’t marshal these thoughts in my head. They would be scattered like sheep with a wolf in their midst.

April 18, 2011

Expression suppressed

Counting down the days, it is ten days until we leave on vacation, and three weeks away, a month of days that seems like a
lifetime. I have been denied my existence for these past few weeks and it has been a period of turmoil. There has been somebody in the house or close by for every day recently. The end of the vacation should mark the beginning of daytime work for the Last Child Standing, and that should give me the opportunities that I need to express myself and release the tension that otherwise builds in me.

I wasn’t an admitted life-long cross-dresser. I came to the life-style late. I had “dabbled”, as the English might say. There
were always moments, spells, and periods of time when I would be drawn to my wife’s closet. Sometimes just to look, sometimes to handle the clothes. I might pull items from the rack and examine them, wondering how they might feel on me,
how they might fit me. There were clothes that I thought big enough or loose enough that I would try on. These moments would pass and I would return to my exterior world wondering why.

I had begun to build my own wardrobe even before I retired, but once I was no longer required to behave on the public stage, I withdrew more and more to my private world. I still struggle with the concept of self, the boundaries that may or may not exist, the lengths that I may go to. I’m not sure that I’m a man. I would like to live as a woman for a few years, to sort through these feelings and emotions.

Now every day I wear the clothes that are expected and think about the clothes so carefully folded and hidden away, waiting for a chance. This morning I cracked. I put on panties, nylons and a camisole, under shapeless track-pants. I took the tags off a new top that has sat for weeks and slipped it on, covering it with a sweatshirt. I went out and walked the dogs, feeling right for the first time in weeks. When I got home I had to ditch the top for a t-shirt, hide the nylons under socks and carry on with my day. I was feeling furtive but it was better than nothing.

I’m hoping that when the house becomes mine again, for hours at a time, that I will be able to exorcise these feelings to the point where I can control them. Maybe, then, I can live like so many others, waiting for opportunities and exploiting them, hiding in between.

I have a thousand questions about why I am the way I am. The reading and the forums help a little bit but not much. So I
suppress when I have to and I wait. Soon the day will come when I can say; wait right here, … don’t go away, … I’ll be right back, … I just need to slip into something more comfortable, …..

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.

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..,

January 21, 2011

The pink fog and my dilemma

The pink fog began as a mist, swirling tendrils that sometimes blurred the sharp edges of reality around me. It hid nothing. It changed nothing. It was more like the shafts of summer sun that break through the storm clouds and illuminate something. It gave objects a new depth or perspective. And swirling, it was gone again leaving reality with all its sharp edges, its concrete, and its black and white.

One day, the mist became a fog. Suddenly the roads I travelled were not so familiar. I could see shapes and objects. I could avoid collisions but I was completely enveloped and when I passed by my reflection in a window, it was not me that I saw. It was not the me that had been. The clothes were not mine. They were foreign to me but they fit with the comfort and ease of something tailored. The pink fog is not dark. It does not shut out the light, and so the bouncing refractions of light created an aura around me. The aura gave me an inner warmth and peace. It was like I was wearing my soul on the outside. It was like I had transcended out of my mortal body to a higher level of understanding.

From my corner of the world, I watch the blacks and whites and grays hurry by me. They have their heads down, focusing inwardly on their own angst. They barely see each other and they certainly don’t see me. I don’t think they would understand me if they did. I think they may recoil with apprehension, with fear, as if I may infect them. I won’t infect them, and whether or not I even affect them is entirely within their control. I don’t know what they fear. I like the mist and I am becoming comfortable with the fog.

The clothes that enable my transcendence slip on with an ease and familiarity that comes from an inner naturalness rather than a learned societal norm. The transcendence becomes familiar and sought out ever more often. The pink fog becomes more like home and less like a foreign place. Like the proselytizing itinerant street preachers, I no longer so clearly understand why people step around me. I need to convince them of the rightness of me and the error of their judgments against me. I need to convince the world that it is wrong and I am right.

Now, the fog thickens and deepens and I plunge into with ever greater enthusiasm. I no longer know exactly where I am. I don’t know which road I’m on. I don’t know where it will take me or where it came from. I do know what the fog could cost me. I do know what the fog could cost others.

I am reminded of a cold, rainy morning of the summer just past. At dawn I was up and out with the dogs, heading for the beach to let them run loose before the buzz-kill leash police were out. As we walked through the woods as far away from the travelled route as possible, a storm came in from the lake. The wind was bracing, the rain heavy and lashing, trying to force me to bow my head, trying to drive me back. Ahead and coming towards me was a disheveled bundle of clothes that resolved itself into a young man, maybe in his 20s. In the city he would have been a homeless person. He would have had a shopping cart, laden with worn tattered shopping bags. He took shape in the rain, he appeared dirty, wet, unkempt, his hair both wild and matted.

As he came within hailing distance he began to speak. He was a preacher, a disciple of the Lord. He had found Jesus, (to which my inner voice replied, as it always does; I didn’t know he was missing) and he wanted to know if I had accepted the Lord into my heart. He had the fire of passion and true belief in his eyes. Spittle flew as he rushed to say what he had to say before I passed him by. He blocked the path to delay me.

My dogs paid him no attention which told me they didn’t sense any violence in him. The wind gusts were becoming ferocious as the storm moved over us. The rain became intense, driving through my clothes soaking me. Yet the preacher stood, oblivious to it all, offering to help me find my way. I’m sure he had no awareness whatsoever of the weather.

He had so much energy and passion that I couldn’t harshly reject him and move on. He truly believed in his chosen work. So I listened, and as I listened and took note of his look, his dress, his being, I wondered about those that loved him and worried about him. I wondered what he thought of them as he began down this road, giving up all worldly possessions to wander and preach, trying to save souls one by one. I wondered what they thought on days like this, sitting in their homes, looking out at the storm and worrying about where he was, had he eaten, did he have shelter, would he suffer violence at the hands of non-believers and disparagers. Eventually, as with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to my door, I had to cut him off and make my way. I went to the beach and enjoyed the ferocity of the storm as much as I might enjoy the warmth of the sun. The dogs, being pagans, gave thanks to the gods of storm for the waves that teased and chased them.

The pink fog has become, for me, analogous to that man’s faith. I edge ever closer to accepting the fog as being real. I know that once I do, my world will change. The world of those around me will change. There will be no way back, no undoing of what is done. This is not about religion but it is about faith. It is about accepting who you are in spite of what it may cost you. It is about confronting societal norms and confounding them to find your own inner peace. It is about accepting that, once upon this path, most of the world will avoid you rather than embrace you. Some will even hate you.

Faith is sometimes defined as belief in the absence of evidence. To live in the pink fog, I have to believe that I will be happier in the absence of any evidence that it will be so and in spite of all the evidence that it may not be so. I think this qualifies as a conundrum.

To any who may have read criticism of the preacher in my words, please be assured it wasn’t my intent to be critical or to judge. I simply observed and compared. I don’t mean to equate his passion to save my soul and spread the Gospel with my dilemma with cross-dressing and who I am, or should be. I simply used it as an analogy. I have a great respect for anyone who is prepared to sacrifice their own desires and creature comforts for the benefit of others. That respect isn’t restricted to Christianity or even religion. I am humbled in the presence of the young men and women of the Armed Forces around the world who are prepared to lay down their lives for even the chance that others may someday live with the freedoms and dignity that we are so lucky to have.

These are just my thoughts.

January 18, 2011

The lies that will bind me.

Yesterday I was so comfortably dressed until I had to go out and pick up the Last Child Standing (L.C.S.) that I didn’t want to change. I was truly enjoying my day. I was in a positive place like none I have been in for a long, long time. Because I have to go and pick up the L.C.S., and because he’s not blind, I have to change into drab to do it. I’m always a bit resentful of this, particularly when I’m having a really comfortable day. As I wrote yesterday, my mood is directly affected by my attire and the longer I can stay dressed en femme, the better my state of mind is.

Kris Kristofferson wrote in one of his songs; “if you’re heading for the border, Lord, you’re going to cross the line”. I guess that’s where I’m going with this analogy. Instead of stripping off all the en femme clothes and re-dressing in drab, I changed up my shoes, men’s slip-ons instead of heels, pulled lounge pants on over the leggings; I tucked the long sweater into the pants, took the forms out of the bra and pulled on a coat. The same child, who noticed my lipstick a week ago, saw nothing untoward in my attire. Clearly I am heading for the border.

It wasn’t long after we got home that he was asking for the car to go shopping. I was happy to lend it to him and before he was clear of the driveway, I was redressed and comfortable. Unfortunately, for a set of reasons completely beyond this blog, my afternoon soon imploded and I retreated into a gray haze and stayed there, miserable for the rest of the day.

This morning I had engagements out of the house, so I thought I had lost my opportunity to dress today. The L.C.S. decided to hang in town with his chums. So, here I am, dressed and becoming cheerier by the moment.

I have put myself in a corner that I won’t escape from. I had an opportunity yesterday evening to “come out”, so to speak, and I avoided it. In fact I flat-out lied and this will come back to haunt me in the future. My long-suffering SO saw something that led her to ask if I had been doing some personal grooming. What she saw was from my eyebrows. Obviously I had done a miserable job of cleaning up, but in any event, she asked about other grooming. I tried to not answer the questions. She persisted. She got her answers and then asked about why I didn’t want to divulge my activity.

My answer to her was that it was personal and in my mind a bit eccentric so I was reluctant to embarrass myself by bringing it up. She said it wasn’t eccentric, that many males groom these days. She continued, and said that not many shaved their legs, but many groomed. She was getting in a shot at me for once having shaved my legs. I don’t know what possessed me to do it and why I thought she wouldn’t notice. On the other hand, being the character that I am, it is possible that I shaved them expecting her to notice and hoping the discussion would go in such a way that she wouldn’t object to it. Then I could continue shaving them. It didn’t.

The personal grooming led to more questions and her observation that there is something awry in our world. She played her usual gambit, which is to offer to hear anything I may have to say about what is awry before she has to pursue the information herself. “Save me the trouble of having to find it all out the hard way. Don’t make me work for it. Tell me, be honest.” I waited as she spoke and wondered silently if this was the moment, the time, to be forthright and tell her how much happier I am dressed as a woman. That admission would lead to other questions, many of which I don’t have answers to; Are you gay? Do you want a sex change? Are you going to do this full-time? What am I going to tell my friends and family?

I deferred. We have a momentous event in front of us. It is just weeks away. It will form part of the family lore. I chose not to colour that event by connecting it with my “coming out”. Perhaps I will stumble between now and then and the secret will come out anyway but I would prefer, first of all, that it didn’t come out at all, or alternatively, that it comes out in a moment where it won’t be associated with something-else favourable. The corner I referred to is this; when my cross-dressing is exposed, she will come back to this conversation and point out how I lied and deceived her, even when she was pressing for the truth. She will be right. She usually is.

Here I am, dressed with no place to go. I have a gray pencil skirt with a gray/black cowl neck top from Pennington’s that I rarely wear. I have a pair of nylons that must be the wrong size because they are loose on me. How can that be? And, I have a pair of heels. I feel lovely and I’m working happily at my desk.

A correspondent was kind enough to point me towards Fantasia Fair, a TG/TS event held in the U.S. in October. It looks like a great place to spend a week. Who knows, maybe I’ll be in a position to go. I do not have the exuberance or exhalation of yesterday, but I have the peace of being able to be who I should be, at least for a few hours.

To my friend who was trying to IM me; I’m sorry I missed you. I was writing this and missed the pop-up.

Love to all.  Sarah..,

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