Saturday, September 29, 2012

I feel like a black bird

I have come to the realization that I am living as Tiffanie vicariously through facebook, this blog and and a couple other places ... I have also come to the realization that this is barely and decreasingly satisfying my need to be me.

It is really almost like I tried a drug ... and I'm hooked, so I need more every day ... only the drug is me.  I need to find more ways to be me, it's that simple.  I need to live as me, completely.  I feel so free when I'm here, which is horribly ironic because I'm trapped in cyberspace just waiting to explode into the real world.

Even if I were to "come out" to the world tomorrow, it will still be a slow and tedious process at best to achieve my goal of being female ... looking feminine ... it I ever reach that goal, that is.  I am not certain I will ever pass as female, but it does not mean I will not try.  I feel happier the farther away from masculine that I get, but I may have to settle for some freakish looking being that is neither male nor female.

I am really not being negative here.  I am just being realistic.

Every day on the way home from work I see a flock of white birds (probably doves, but not positive).  The fly in this wonderful formation making an elliptical orbit around a local farm ... and every day I see this one black bird flying with the white birds.  The white birds are not chasing it ... in fact it flies within the formation and does everything the white birds do, but it is painfully obvious that this bird is very different from the rest.  No matter how much it flies with the others it will never be a white bird and therefore will always stand out.

I feel like the a black bird.

So ... I go to the doctor yesterday.  I've been having pain in my left elbow (and my feet, ankles, knees and ...) but now the pain is radiating down my arm into my hand and the fingers are tingling.

I wear a pretty pair of dangly earrings, a woman's purple top (although relatively unisex looking), pants, nylons and walking shoes.  The area on my neck where I had laser hair removal is still relatively clean and looks obviously different than the rest of my beard.  I am wearing a powder scented deodorant and a little of my wife's body spray ... in other words, I am way different than the last time he saw me when I had a mustache, only wore stud earrings and so on.

My doctor is good, open minded, listens to me and likes to joke around.  He didn't make a comment ... he didn't blink, make a wise crack, act surprised or anything.  He treated me very well, no differently than any other visit ... but he seemed oblivious to the differences ...

In hindsight, and in fairness to him:

He warned me about a year before I started being treated for depression that I was heading in that direction, "Be careful.  Apathy is one of the signs of depression and can get out of control if you don't do something now."

He has commented on my changing appearance in the past.  Talking to my wife while I'm in the room, "You know why people change their appearance?  It is usually because they are unhappy with their environment and since they feel powerless to change the environment they change their appearance to help cope with the situations.  Although some people change because they are trying to change something about themselves."

When I was at the deepest point of my depression, "Have you considered counseling.  I think you may have issues ... issues I cannot help you with at this time.  You need to talk them over with somebody."

Are these (and other comments) hints that he knows?  I will never know until I talk to him ... but that is scary.  I have no logical reason to be scared, he will find out about me at some point along the line, I'm just scared to talk to him.






Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bipolar ...

No, not me (although I do wonder sometimes)

I began writing this on Thursday after my therapy appointment.

Thursday:

I had the most wonderful visit with my counselor today :-)

I decided to wear one of my wife's top ... A tank top that's a bit frilly with a design.  I figured it would be safe to wear to my session, because even though there are several therapists that use the office I am always in the waiting room alone.  There may be a passing glance between me and the person leaving, but otherwise there is minimum public exposure.

Well ... today a mother and daughter came into the room as I'm waiting.  I didn't know how to act, felt self conscious and uncomfortable ... until I realized they weren't staring at me.  They didn't even seem to care I was there or how I was dressed.  After I relaxed I thoroughly enjoyed watching the little girl play and how she interacted with her mom.

So I finally get called into the office ...

Because it had been so long since I saw my counselor I gave her a recap of the past several weeks, including my conversation with my wife.  The conversations are paraphrased and a bit abridged:

Me - "Pam and I finally had a more in depth talk ... After a bit she asked if I wanted to grow boobs.  I started to redirect the conversation because I was uncomfortable but then took advantage of the situation.  She asked if I would be happy just using fake boobs, but then said that she would stay with me no matter what."

Catherine - "I am so happy for you.  You are very blessed to have someone like that."

Me: - "Yes ... Very much so.  She says it's a lot to absorb so I'm not pushing it."  I gestured at the top I was wearing.  "By the way, this is outside my normal comfort zone."

Catherine - "Why?"

Me - "I wear these at home, but generally not in public.  It figures today there would be someone else in the waiting room."  I laughed.  "I just don't feel it fits the way I look, my beard is too obvious."

Catherine - "But you survived.  These are necessary steps.  I think you're doing fine."

The conversation wandered a bit, then we started talking about hormones ...

Catherine - "So when do you see yourself starting hormones?"

Me - "A big part of me wants to start tomorrow.  The realistic part of me knows it will be at least a few months before it would be feasible.  I need to get my blood pressure and weight under control."

Catherine - "What will hormones do for you.  I mean, I'm sure you've researched it, what do you expect from hormones."

Me - "Well, I likely go to an endocrinologist who will put me on a testosterone blocker and estrogen.  I'm sure the hormone levels will be monitored.  The skin starts to soften, the body hair grows fine or diminishes.  Some people see a fuller head of hair or lessening of thinning hair.  After several months the breasts start to develop."

Now I know these things, so I'm pretty sure this was just a check to ensure I have realistic expectations.

The conversation weaved around through many topics, politics, fashion, shoes and more importantly boots, hair and accessories, kids ... at one point it closely resembled "girl talk."

At one point I said, "You should see me running around in the morning trying to choose my earrings."

And she replied, "Well, you're a girl.  Hello."

That simple comment made my day.

Before I left I showed her my virtual makeover.  She looked at it for a moment and said, You're beautiful.  And the hair color really works for you."



Now she is my counselor, and part of her job is to encourage me so I didn't expect her to say much different than that.  She couldn't be completely honest and say, "Well, the beard shadow does show a little.  And your masculine features make it a bit hard to make you look completely female ..."

When I left I was very happy.

Unfortunately my good mood did not last long.  Shortly after I got home by my family planning a Thanksgiving family get together.


Friday

Nothing exciting ... Sloooow, but that is good.

I had a chance to talk to my manager.  Her partner is dying a slow painful death from liver failure.  She is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.

Anyway ... She and I had a chance to talk for the first time in a long time.  We had a couple laughs, brightened my day.

Saturday

My wife and volunteer to drive about 250 miles round trip through 100 degree heat to pick up my sister so she could save about $60 on a train ticket and take her daughter home.  The drive wasn't too bad, but my wife and I shelled out $50 to pay for fuel.  Now granted, we were using our niece's car, but it was our $50.

What did we get for out efforts?

Not money to repay us.  Not a thank you for coming to get her.  Not a thank you for all the effort that my wife has made to ensure our niece was taken care of ... in fact, we got nothing.

I will miss my niece.  She was fun to have around and very open minded about many things.  I hope in her time back home she gets well and finds her balance again.  She always has a room here if she needs it.

On the other hand another niece wants to go to a local beauty school and wants to stay here for a short period until she can find an apartment.  I truly do not see this happening, but it would be nice get free manicures and hair care for a while :-)












Monday, September 17, 2012

And it never stops


So where do I start??

I will warn you upfront that this is more of a rant and not actually a warm and fuzzy inspirational or even informational segment.

I know I've mentioned some of the following before, but I'm going to recap some of the issues over the past few months:

April - Worsening of depression symptoms, return of insomnia, mother-in-law in convalescent hospital, wife super stressed, state inspection at work, the realization that I must address my transgender issue or I will go insane, get screwed out of well deserved bonus by company, family visitors 3 of 4 weekends.

May - Start blog, start searching for therapist, mother-in-law needs to be moved to board and care facility, brother in law making life and choices difficult for my wife, terminate 2 long time employees & friends for doing stupid things, unload the first little bit of reality on my poor wife, company unloads new load of expectations, My great aunt dies, family visitors 2 of 4 weekends.

June - Start counseling, still dealing with mother in law & brother in law, brother commits suicide, even more company expectations flush through the pipes, niece moves in, wife's depression and anxiety worsening, family visitors 5 of 5 weekends.

July - Easy month.  My wife's uncle dies, big family gathering at house, brother in law rekindles issue of mother in law's finances, family visitors 4 of 4 weekends.

August - Very hectic work month, wife's great aunt dies, niece gets job and starts school, weather becomes very hot, family visitors 3 of 4 weekends.

September - So far ... 20% of workforce on LOA, increased workload due to driver shortage, discover niece is suffering from depression and anxiety, niece refuses to contact counselor, discover niece cuts herself to relieve stress and she caused a bad cut to herself, sister comes down angry at wife and doctor, my counselor has been ill and unavailable when I really need to talk, family visitors 4 of 4 weekends so far, but at least nobody has died yet.

I know that deciding to deal with my gender dysphoria is not the cause of all these events, but all these stupid things (and this is the very short list ... I have nit mentioned my online friends' issues or the fact that my manager is taking time off to watch her partner of many years die of liver failure) ... all these things make it so difficult to focus on myself ... my transition, or lack thereof.

My brain is so overloaded with crap I cannot function, and my poor wife is stuck dealing with everything from her asshole brother and incompetent mother to my niece's issues and my deciding now to deal with my issues.  All this is tearing her apart, and therefore ripping a hole in my soul.

Our finances are so bad that I'm not sure I can even afford my next counseling session, let alone a laser session and definitely not hormones.  I cannot even afford to see the doctor for my hurting knees and elbow ... but just as well, because he will do a blood test and want to discuss my low testosterone level.  If that happens I will have to explain that I don't want to raise that hormone level ... I don't want to have that discussion with him yet ... or ever ... whatever.

Am I somehow being selfish if I say that I wish everyone would just leave us the fuck alone?

Am I being selfish to want my wife's attention?

Is it too much to ask that visiting parties leave the fucking house by a reasonable hour? ... or if they have to stay that they do not have the television blaring so loud that I can hear it over the music in my headphones?

Am I selfish because I want more than 3 hours of sleep on a Sunday night?

I AM GOING TO EXPLODE!!

I want so bad to move on, to slowly transition.  I try so hard to be positive, to look for the beauty in the simple things, to find humor in the chaos ... but it is tough ... I feel like my spirit is breaking.

Maybe it would just be easier to stop this charade ... to stop pretending that I can ever be a woman and just go back into hiding ... live to be a miserable old man.

I am sorry if you read this far.  I am sure I'm just blowing things out of proportion, but like I said this is a short list.  I'm sorry for ruining your day.






Saturday, September 8, 2012

This is the week ...

 This is the week I would like to announce that I have made an appointment with my MD to discuss hormone therapy.

This is the week that I would like to say that I made a significant breakthrough with my therapist and after an emotional catharsis I have truly come to terms with my reality and am ready to face the consequences.

This is the week that I would like to say I have finally gone out completely and truly as Tiffanie, that I am ready to go full time as a female.

But I cannot.

I cannot say any of those things because I am scared.  Hell, I can't even decide to dye my hair without fearing the potential ramifications.

I am stopped on the side of the road waiting for somebody to tow me to my destination ... but there is no tow truck ... there is no good Samaritan who can do this for me.  Only those who can encourage me and show me the way.

The reality is there is nothing wrong with the car.  All I need to do is start the engine, take off the parking brake and go.

I never realized the level of self doubt I possess, the overwhelming insecurity that holds me back until I tried to begin this journey.  All I see ahead of me is fear, pain and anguish with no end in sight.

But there is a goal to be reached ... an uplifting, liberating feeling of finding myself for the first time ... but I must choose to travel the treacherous path of jagged rocks and thistles to find the peace I so desperately desire.

This is the week.

This is the week I face my fears and my shortcomings and choose to find a way to resolve the issues so I can proceed to my destiny.




  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Photography

Pretty much as long as I can remember I have loved writing stories, making poetry, drawing, photography, music and other art forms.

Throughout my life I've used these as an escape from my somber reality.  I a not patient enough to draw, paint or sculpt, but I can usually jot down a quick story or poem ... or at least work on some writing as I need a momentary mental vacation.  I can lose myself in my writing ... become whatever character I want ... be normal ... be accepted ... and not have to hide.  It is a form of catharsis.  But alas, I must always return to my world and myself.

In high school I was introduced to photography.  Real photography ... not Kodak Instamatic crappy snapshot picture taking, but real 35mm SLR, manual focus, manual settings classic 1970s Olympus camera style photography.

I fell in love.

My photography teacher, Mr. Wallace ... who in hindsight I believe was gay, but that means absolutely nothing, nor would it have had I figured it out back then ... Mr. Wallace took a keen interest in me.  He said I see things differently.  I learned a lot from that man and will always be thankful.  Photography gave me a different outlet ... a quick, spur of the moment outlet to be me and show the world as the beautiful place it could be ... or the darker more menacing side I often saw.

In the darkroom I wasn't judged or ridiculed because I didn't develop the pictures in a manly enough fashion ... I was picked on and ridiculed by the wanna-be jocks in the class for a lot of things, and one of the assholes stole my watch, but in the darkroom I was equal ... while pressing the shutter release I was better than most in my class.

I bought my own 35mm camera after college, a Minolta X-700.  I was in heaven.  I had a couple lenses, some filters and a decent supply of film.

The euphoria was short lived.  I had all the equipment, but could not afford to process the film.

Looking back, I do not think it's a coincidence that some of my toughest times in my life, some of my most miserable moments came at a time when I did not have photography as an outlet.  On top of that was stacked the reality of society that I was a father, and therefore a man and I was expected to act as such.

I was desperate and near suicidal.  Only the love for my wife and son kept me moving.

I am not touting photography as a cure-all for me or for anyone else, but it as much a part of me as the fact that I am mentally, emotionally and spiritually female.  Photography spans the generations and the genders.  It can show beauty in the midst of horror, and hope in the darkest hour.

I realize this entry is not focused on my journey or transition, but it is about me.

Here are a few more photos.