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?

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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.

June 23, 2011

My summer of opportunity denied

Here’s my most consistent opening sentiment;  it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything for the blog.

I’ve spoken before of the mental state required before I can write for this blog. I have to be Sarah. I am my strongest when I am fully dressed as Sarah, that is when I feel the most complete. I can hear Sheldon (of the TV program The Big Bang Theory) pointing out in his nasal and punctilious tone, that “complete” is an absolute so I am either complete or incomplete, but I cannot be most complete. Penny would understand.

I am not dressed today. The summer has become a wasteland of opportunity denied with no hope for any change or improvement. I have pinned my hopes on the Fall, but they are faint hopes for some solid reasons. The Last Child Standing (LCS) has settled into a work schedule of afternoons. Most of his shifts begin at 4pm. My caring & attentive but unaware spouse leaves work shortly after 4pm, making my window of opportunity negligible. Those few opportunities that are presented are risky, riskier than I am prepared to accept. Social engagements that take one or the other out of the house for a few hours are not structured or predictable. Either one could and has returned prematurely from these events. As it is in most homes I’m
sure, there is no early warning system that would allow me to revert to my expected form in time to accommodate these early returns. I find myself idling away time, agitated that while I am alone, I cannot be dressed, or if I am dressed, I am edgy and wary for the first signal of danger.

In the fields and forests that I traverse with my dogs I often see deer in the distance. I know that they are hyper-vigilant for threats and danger, that they move away, usually quietly, long before the threat is aware of their presence. Occasionally we (the dogs & I) will approach from cover and down-wind so we do get close enough for the dogs to pick up on the deer, but even then, the deer are gone before the dogs can cover the distance between them. I understand the deer. I live like them when I try to dress under these circumstances.

In the past few months I have entertained the thought of “coming out” to my spouse but I am a coward at heart and nowhere
near ready to take on those challenges. At the same time, I have created issues of conflict and concern, issues that will, when looked at in retrospect make sense. I have kept my finger-nails longer than is appropriate for a man. They are usually longer than is common for most women. I know. I check their nails when I encounter women in my day-to-day business. If I look at my nails from the palm side of my hand, they extend well beyond the fingertip. The nails are squared, as if prepared for a French manicure but I don’t have that luxury.

I have kept my legs nearly barren of hair. Now that shorts are the expected clothing for the weather, my near-bare legs have been the source of some consternation. Of course I lie, like the snake I am. I don’t have the character to simply say that I much prefer to keep my legs smooth and hairless. Such a statement would require an explanation that I don’t believe I can provide.

Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, she would comment on these things, suggesting that, perhaps, I wanted to be a
woman. As true as her observation is, and as great an opportunity as the comment presents to open a truly meaningful conversation, I always denied it. In what is a message of its own, she no longer makes those suggestions when she
comments on my gender blurring behaviours.

What normally happens when I write is that I begin a topic, wander away from it, ramble to somewhere between 500 and 1000 words and pause. I lose the momentum, post what I’ve written and rarely return to the thread of thought. I’m prepared to do that here as well but instead, I’m going to post what I’ve written and continue on with the expression of thoughts and
feelings for another post.

Thanks for listening.

April 22, 2011

My new red dress, and nowhere to go!

I am reluctant to use an overly evangelical bit of prose to describe my feelings when I get dressed. I’m afraid someone from the religious right will happen upon the references and take great offence. I have visions of being hunted down because Joshua came across my blog while searching for Old Testament material on the commune’s sole link to the outside world. Even worse would be if Joshua couldn’t find me and turned his religious fervor on some unsuspecting victim closer to him.

I try to be reasonably accurate in writing about the transformation that occurs in me when I have the opportunity to dress. I try to describe how it feels almost like a metamorphosis as the clothes go on. I have a heart rate monitor that I use for exercise. It tells me that my heart races as I dress and even as I begin to move around the house, sorting through what I’m going to do with the time I have.

As you will know, I have been denied the opportunity to dress for weeks. Today, finally, the stars aligned and a moment was presented. I have a dress that I bought from the Le Chateau outlet, a red dress with white polka-dots. It is knee length, with a bit of stretch so it is very comfortable for me. That is what I chose to wear today. I topped it off with my pink sweater because the dress is sleeveless and I felt a bit chilly without the sweater.

In mere days, I am to embark on a vacation journey with my family. We are going to the Mediterranean for three weeks. The
trip has been in the works for months. On all issues around the house, I have been treading carefully so as not to upset the balance of the household before the trip. No nagging at the child for being lazy, thoughtless, irresponsible or
any of the other twenty or so descriptors that I could add here. I have extended the same exceptional consideration to my dearly beloved and she has done the same in return. I had thought that I may leave my clothes packed away until after the trip. The whole serendipity thing was too much to risk. If there was even the chance of someone coming home unexpectedly, more than usual I didn’t want to get caught. It would probably destroy the vacation, although I’m sure it would provide more than enough fodder for conversation to fill all of the time on the planes and in airports.

Today, in spite of my reservations, I judged the risk acceptable. My dear wife is at the hairdressers, after which she is going to her sister’s. The child has gone to work. So, I am dressed, and as always happens when I get dressed, I am able to write comfortably and with flow, about my feelings and this situation. I’ve tried to write when I’m not dressed. I’ve tried to get my mind into Sarah’s space but I can’t. I’m a locked and battened individual when I am not dressed. I am tense and irritable, short
with people, often down-right unpleasant. I’ve come to associate much of that irritability with not being able to dress. Usually once I get an opportunity, I am relieved of much of the pressure.

Others have written about fulfilling the need to dress and then being able to put everything away for a long time before the
anxiety begins to creep back in. For me, almost as soon as the clothes come off, I am looking ahead to the next chance or moment. I am curt with people when their schedules change and I lose a chance, a day or an evening. I struggle to be polite when people drop in unexpectedly and reduce an opportunity to nothing.

It’s like (the television portrayal of) heroin. I crave the clothes and the chance to wear them. I go into withdrawal the moment they are put away and I count the moments to the next fix. I struggle with the need to keep the habit a secret and wonder if just being open about it would make it easier. It’s an analogy, for what it’s worth.

Now that I’m dressed, especially since I’m dressed very nicely, I want to go out. That’s another dragon to be wrestled to
the ground and stomped, for now. Maybe in my next life, I’ll be able to.

I’ve reread what I’ve written, prior to posting it. So if there are any mistakes I’m going to look especially stupid, but the point of the statement is, in re-reading I can see where I was going with each paragraph and how many times I didn’t get there. Instead I write half-thoughts and segue in a different direction. I hope it makes sense to you. It does to me because I read it with the other half of the thought still in my head.

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 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.

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