Sarahjanus's Blog

January 3, 2012

Happy New Year & Stereotypes

Happy New Year, these are hollow words that haunt me every year. I don’t expect it to be a happy year. There will be inter-personal conflicts that I cannot resolve without causing greater upset to some in a way that they never asked for, and aren’t prepared for. On the other hand perhaps I am being pessimistic. Perhaps, if I am able to dress in the manner that my inner being wishes, and if in doing so, I am able to grow, even a little bit as a person, it may be a happy year. Perhaps I am confusing happy with joyful. Perhaps I need to tailor my expectations to my reality.

Last night a fight broke out between my wife and me. It happened late in the evening and as she pointed out, my anger was out of proportion to the situation. She quizzed me as to the true cause of the anger and I gave her nothing. I had a cause in mind. I wanted the anger to be the result of the behaviour of the Last Child Standing. I didn’t offer that up as a possibility for a host of reasons. The fight carried over to this morning and she went off to work just as hostile as I was, remaining at home.

My morning processes brought me to the computer, through my e-mail and Facebook, to the blog. I had dressed very simply in a galabeya, catering to the need to dress without really dressing. However, the need was not met and I had to re-dress. The anger, it seems, was based in the frustration of not being able to dress for a couple of weeks through the holidays.

Clareflourish (clareflourish.wordpress.com) responded to one of my blogs, pointing out that many TG people have very narrow stereotyped ideals for the genders. Her point was that (in this case) I need to relax a bit and be more accepting of myself. I accept her point but I also think I need to expand a little on what I was thinking when I originally wrote the blog. My transvestism has been a journey, and it has been a long and slow journey because I don’t really know myself and as an individual I still lack the courage to be myself. A big part of that journey has been finding my own style and manner of dress. I came to this place very late in life so I lost the opportunity to be young and match my outer self to the inner self. I regret that. Part of the regret is for the opportunity lost and part of the regret is for the clothes I can no longer wear. I have skirts and dresses that are not “age-appropriate” simply because they are beautiful pieces of clothing, which when on me, make me feel beautiful. I have said before; if I lived in a house without mirrors I would be a beautiful woman.

So, the irrationality of my thinking begins to appear. I can be a man dressed in women’s clothing, and I can accept myself thusly. But I worry about whether or not the outfits I wear are age-appropriate, appropriate for the circumstances that I imagine myself in, and appropriate for the body that I am putting into them. As a being, I am conservative, quiet, unassuming, generally wishing to not be noticed. That “being” is genderless, so my clothes must match my personality if I am to be comfortable on the outside as well as the inside.

If I were to present to the world as a woman, I would wish to present as a slim (height to weight) middle-aged being with the resources to dress well and the taste and style to choose the right clothes and accessories. For example, I bought a new dress at Le Chateau after Christmas and today is the first day I’ve had the chance to wear it and accessorize it. It is snug through the waist so it emphasizes that I have regained a few of the pounds lost, and I need to lose them again. It is further above the knee than I am comfortable with, but I can imagine it with my boots, so I can live with the (lack of) length. It is snug through the bosom, so that zipped; it gives me an obvious cleavage which I am absolutely thrilled with. Given the right weather or place, would I wear it in public? I probably would not, because it would attract more attention than I would be comfortable with. My dressing is not about “look at me”. It is about; if you look at me you should see a well-dressed person who is comfortable in themselves and in their environment.

Do I have a narrow stereotype of what a woman should look like? I don’t believe so. I have a narrower range of what is acceptable for me to look like dressed as a woman. My standards for being dressed in public as a woman are different than the standards I have for being dressed as a man because when dressed as a man, I was simply meeting the social conventions for being dressed in public. Being well-dressed as a man didn’t make me feel better about myself, so I dressed to a lower more common standard. Being dressed as a woman does make me feel better about myself, so I do aspire to dress to a higher standard. This is not to meet a stereotype but more, to be the best I can be with what I have to work with.

It will be a happy new year, if, through these blogs and the comments they generate, and the forums and support groups, I learn more about myself and grow as a person. For years of my life, I never looked inwardly because the darkness of the unknown made me fearful. I have overcome the fear and begun to turn on the lights. I have caused myself no small measure of distress with what I have discovered about myself, but my acceptance of self is growing. The last huge step is to share my awareness of self with others close to me. Unfortunately I have not yet figured out whether or not the end justifies the means.

Happy New Year to all.

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December 21, 2011

New boots and “on being me”

Filed under: crossdresser, shopping — Tags: , , , , — Sarah Michelle @ 5:37 pm

Finally, after what feels like months of searching, I finally found a pair of season appropriate boots. The boots don’t really qualify as “winter” boots for a Canadian winter. They are not lined and they do have a significant heel. The lack of lining means the boots will be worn from the car to the mall and not much further, although I will be able to wear them in the city as long as it isn’t too cold. The heel means they will be treacherous in slippery conditions, especially if the ground is “broken” or uneven. However, the boots fit, and they fit properly. I have been in and out of dozens of shoe stores looking for just the right boot, tall, tight to the leg, and a wide size which is unfortunately rare. Going up a size to get the width has proven to be the wrong choice too many times in the past. The shoes often fail to stay on my feet when I’m actually walking, as compared to just moving about the house.

I’ve written previously about being out during the day. It was a recent milestone and one that can only be described as “casting off a burden”. My spirit was lighter, brighter and consistently happier since that experience. Today I had to do my Christmas shopping and I had a bona fide reason to travel a distance from my home. A specialty item was only available in one store, and once there I remained in the area to do the rest of my shopping. I was making some returns, before the gifts were even given. The items were discovered to be wrong for one reason or another. I also had to do the “liquor run”. We don’t drink much in our house, so when we play host to a couple of dozen people, there is always a healthy list of staples, and curiosities that need to be acquired. All of the guests like to be able to make their “drink of the moment” for the gathering.

Back to the theme; being away from my hometown allowed me an opportunity to blur the lines again. I dressed in women’s jeans, and a top that wasn’t outrageously feminine but wasn’t male attire either. I took a man purse (shoulder bag) and wore a pair of shoes with flat square toes and blatantly obvious heels. What were absent were the breast forms, the wig and the make-up.

My first stop was a Winners/HomeSense megastore, where I had to return and replace an item with one of the proper size. It being just before Christmas, the parking lot was full and chaotic. I had to park far further from the store than I would have preferred. Doing so was a double edged event. It meant that I had an opportunity to adjust to the shoes and heels before I entered the store. I have learned not to assume that all heels are the same when walking. On the other hand, it meant I was clearly visible to cars and pedestrians coming and going, which is somewhat intimidating.

The feeling of being observed turned out to be an irrelevant issue. I’ve written before about the sense of “completeness” that I feel when dressed in a feminine manner. I wrestle with the proper terms to use and I struggle to find a better description than “completeness” so bear with me. I don’t want to say that I feel like a woman when I’m dressed as such because I don’t truly know what a woman feels. But I do feel very different when dressed “en femme” or in clearly female clothing. I feel natural and complete.

Once I was out of the car and had straightened my jeans, shouldered my purse, and taken the first few steps, I was not concerned about the stares of others. I felt “right” and because of that, I was able to disregard the stares. I went into the shop, accomplished my goals, walked the aisles, stood in the impossibly long check-out line and knew that I was the subject of looks and whispered comments. I am so much stronger now, more confident. The looks didn’t make me nervous. I didn’t cringe. I didn’t flush or blush. I simply was and wished that I could continue to be.

I went from that store to a liquor outlet and a major mall and from there to Costco and Wal-Mart. I loved my being for the entire time. It felt so good to be completely natural in my presentation and behaviour. I started this blog on Monday, added to it Tuesday, and here we are on Wednesday and I have no opportunity to complete it properly. So, it will be posted as is. Merry Christmas to those who are Christian, Happy Hanukah to those of the Jewish faith, Happy Holidays to everyone-else.

December 16, 2011

Is cross-dressing a sin?

One of the appeals of the Internet and blogs is that one never knows who may read what you write, as well as the opportunity to read the writings of people far beyond one’s normal reach. A blogger by the name of Lulu Simawati read and commented on one of my posts, so I went to his site and read his material.

I write to give form to my feelings and my thoughts. I access the forums to explore the range of possibilities. The forums reassure me because I can place myself on that range and know that there are other like-minded people around me. They also reassure me because I am within the extremes of the ranges. As a statistician may comment, I am not an outlier.

I have wrestled with my secrets, knowing that because I lied to myself from a very early age, I am now stuck with the visage I have created and maintained for so many years. To dramatically alter that visage now would cause hurt and suffering to my children, my grand-children, and my loving and ever-suffering wife. I describe her as ever-suffering because although my cross-dressing is a secret from her, she has lived through the destructive behaviours that have scarred my life and by extension hers. It has always been a theme of my life that I would like to walk away from this existence and begin again, (or carry on) anew, in a more honest and accurate life-style.

I have also wrestled with my faith and my belief in the existence of God. I have, at times, preferred to deny His existence. I can argue credibly that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of morality tales that are common in one variation or another, to every civilization known to anthropologists. I can argue that the Bible is incomplete because Constantine directed that the Christian elders of the day choose which of the numerous Gospels were most effective and consistent with the central themes, and compile them into a single book. The discarded Gospels may have been insightful if they had been saved and stored. History is usually written by the victors, sometimes at the expense of objectivity, completeness and balance. The Bible suffers from the same effects.

I have watched the Stephen Hawking’s documentaries about the creation of the universe and his very cogent arguments against the existence of God. I prefer the television documentaries because they “dumb them down” to a level I can manage. Even then, I can’t allow anyone to interrupt them because one lost example can cause me to not grasp an entire segment. I am following the news reports of the progress towards finding the Higgs boson, a particle that the scientists are irreverently calling the God particle.

I have returned to a belief in God, faith being a belief in the absence of evidence. I still wrestle with the validity of the Bible and its application in a direct fashion to everyday life. In the course of a recent trip to North Africa, I acquired a local version of an English translation of the Qur’an which I have begun reading. It has been very insightful.

The sum total of this is that I believe I am open-minded. I am developing a self-awareness that I was lacking in my earlier life. I am less an actor now, in my own life and more a participant. However, I have never considered myself a sinner because of my cross-dressing. Of all the acts that I believe I will be judged for, my homosexual youth and my cross-dressing are not on the list, which brings me back to Lulu Simawati, and his blogs. There is a deep and abiding angst in his writing because he sees his cross-dressing as a sin before God. He also mentions a friend who is even more deeply tormented by an undeniable drive to cross-dress and the belief that every time he does, he offends against his God. In my mind, that is a terrible burden to go through life with.

There is a verse in Deuteronomy that says, “the woman shall not wear that which pertainth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God”. It is fitted in between, being responsible for your brother’s oxen if they get out, and finding a bird’s nest, and is followed by an admonition to not mix fabrics, or wear fringes on your clothes. It is this verse that, I am sure, is causing Lulu and his friend so much anxiety. Just for clarification, I’m not a dedicated student of the Bible. I googled some phrases and was led to the reference and some associated hardline right-wing Christian fundamentalist writings, which were far more hardline than they were Christian, (IMHO).

I’m not as troubled as Lulu by the admonition in Deuteronomy. I have a great deal of trouble accepting much of the Old Testament, and in my own mind, I am more concerned about my transgressions that have caused pain and hurt to others, than I am by this. Is this a rationalization on my part, that I can live by some of the laws of the Bible and ignore others? Or is this something that is an absolute like “you shall not lie with a man, as with a woman”?

If I’m wrong, I’m going to know a lot of people in Hell, but I can’t see God punishing people for a genetic outcome (homosexuality) or a psychological condition (cross-dressing) that is beyond their means and abilities to alter or control. I don’t “feel” that that is God. I have felt like an oddity since puberty. I never quite fit in with my obvious gender and I lived in an environment that was not accepting of variation. I didn’t fight back. In fact I acquiesced. The result is that mine has not been a completely happy life. I feel a bit like a deep cover spy or agent, living the life that was assigned rather than the one chosen. Now, the façade is beginning to crumble, but my God isn’t going to judge me on my sexuality or my gender dysphoria. I believe He is going to judge me on how I conduct my life, how I treat others, how I help when I should, on the acts of goodness or kindness done unknown to others. I wonder if my later life will be sufficient to offset my earlier transgressions, (setting aside accepting Him into your heart and the whole forgiveness and going forward thing). But I do not fear being judged for cross-dressing. Allowing myself to cross-dress, and accepting that part of me is what has put drugs, alcohol and a host of other self-destructive behaviours behind me.

 

December 11, 2011

Walking in the Sunshine

 

Milestones are what bring me back to this blog. If there are no milestones, there are no entries. Sad, but true. I have the same problem with Facebook. Although I check the site regularly and I avidly read the posts of others, I only rarely initiate a post myself. My thought is that what I have to say will not be remotely interesting to those who have chosen to be my friends. So, I choose not to waste their time.

My cross-dressing has settled into a niche amongst my activities. The Last Child Left (LCL), although still at home is now working regularly, so the house is mine all day, Monday to Friday. I can dress in the morning with confidence that no one will interrupt my day. I took advantage of a recent trip to the city to drop in a Wildside, the only store I know in Toronto that caters to cross-dressers and T.Gs.

I left with a new wig, and some double-sided tape, which is what I went in there for, and a plaid skirt. I would say “kilt” but I did see the thread about kilts and plaid skirts on Crossdressers.com, so skirt it is. The skirt became the basis for an outfit that resulted in a new Facebook picture. I still haven’t remembered how to smile so the pictures leave a bit to be desired yet.

The new wig is different from its predecessor in two ways. First, it’s gray rather than the auburn, and second, it is shorter and straight, versus long and curly. I didn’t feel completely comfortable in the first wig. The second is more age appropriate. I got some instructions on how to manage the longer wig, and I bought a foundation recommended for covering beard shadow. I left there a happy shopper only to get back to my car and find a $60 parking tag. I didn’t notice that my car intruded into a No Standing Zone when I positioned it. I paid at the meter but to no avail.

Enough of the preamble. I love the gray wig. It feels so me. I am happy with the foundation. It does a great job of covering a cleanly shaved face. Strangely, when I returned to the auburn wig, I was far more comfortable with it. I don’t understand it really. Thursday evening past, I took the time to sort through all my clothes and put together “an outfit”. I also put on a set of French manicure nails. I wore the outfit all day Friday and I was in heaven. I wanted the day to last forever. It didn’t.

Saturday I had no opportunity to dress, but as you may have assumed, my wife is away, so my opportunities have expanded tremendously for a short time. Sunday was another opportunity. Although it was a cold and somewhat windy day, the sun was shining brightly. Dressing and staying in the house was going to be exceptionally frustrating, so I didn’t. The idea wasn’t completely hatched on Sunday. I had shopped Friday and Saturday for a winter coat, and I found one that was sufficient although certainly not my first choice. I’m learning that I have expensive taste in clothes.

Sunday afternoon, I chose my clothes, put on my make-up and wig, “borrowed” a purse and went out the door. I drove to the city, far enough from home that I was unlikely to meet anyone I knew. For the first time, I walked in the streets in daylight en femme. It felt like it was meant to be. I thought to myself, that this is the way I should always be.

There is a less positive line of thought that goes with the experience. It has to do with how I believe others see me, which is as an imposter, not as the genuine article, but I need to work on convincing myself that I am the genuine article albeit that article is a man in women’s clothing. But that is another subject for another day. Every step along the way affirms that I could live as a woman and be very happy doing so except for the huge hurt that it would cause those who love me and support me.

 

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.

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.

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..,

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