Sunday, April 7, 2013

One year ago ...

*** April 2012 ***

I had traveled this road before ... many times before.  

I had stood at the same fork in the road and had to decide which way to go far too often.  I had never traveled one of the paths, but I knew the other path would simply loop around and bring me back to the same spot.

I had traveled that loop many times.  Sometimes it took a long time to return to the fork ... other times I was back far too quickly.  The last time I chose that path it nearly cost me my sanity ... I hit bottom.  I fell into such a deep depression and couldn't find my way out.

Here I was again ... the same for in the road ... the same choices.  I knew what I had to do, but I was so afraid.  I had to travel the unknown path ... I had to truly face the fact that I am female.

I had been wearing women's panties and other women's clothing for a few years, and that did ease some of my longings for a short time, but that is akin to wanting to restore a vintage car by simply giving it a new paint job.  If you don't repair the engine, replace the tires or put fuel in the car it will never truly be restored.

As I started down the path everything I sought seemed so far away ... out of reach, but I took the first steps.  

Slow, clumsy ... like a foal trying to gain balance for the first time, but I started.  The only question was whether the love of my life, my soul mate, my wife would want to walk with me.

I found support on Facebook ... too many friends to name and not enough time to tell them how deeply indebted I am to them for their support and comfort.

I vented my frustration and fears. 

They listened, calmed me and nudged me forward ... even when I resisted.

I inched my way down the path ... every step wary and filled with anxiety ... every milestone so seemingly far away, yet I crossed them.  I knew what the destination was, yet I was so unsure of how to get there.  Walking, stumbling, falling along the path ... wanting so much to return to that fork in the road I knew so well ... I felt I was going nowhere ... making no progress.

I started counseling in May.  I can remember sitting on Catharine's couch, numb, frightened, shaking ... but trying to act so calm because that's what a man is supposed ... but that was the issue.  By the end of the appointment I felt like I had reached out from the dark hole where I was buried for the only hand I saw extended.

When I told Pam we were coming back from a nearby town.  I didn't actually intend on breaking the news while she was driving, I did not know how distraught she would become ... but the opportunity was there, and I had already missed out on other chances to talk to her.  Consumed by fear ... every word a struggle I managed to utter a sentence or two ... silence ...  then the moment of realization on her face.  I was ready to jump from the moving car ... I couldn't cause her this sort of pain and grief ... and I couldn't bear the thought of losing her ... ... "I'll stay ... Even if you want the surgery ... I want you happy," she said in a shaky voice.

I wondered why I was pursuing this ... 47 is not the typical time of life for transgender women to pursue transition.  I looked over my shoulder ... the fork in the road was so close behind me ,,, it would not take much to just step backwards ... but I stepped forward, but just one step.

In June I told my manager.  She had always suspected something, but was never sure.

"I'm back in counseling," I said while twisting in my chair.  "For issues that are a bit more personal."  A brief redirect of the conversation ensued before I pushed myself back on point.  "Do you know what I'm talking about?"

"If I were to guess I'd I'd say either you don't want to want to be married anymore," she said.  "Or, that you're gay."

Oh my god ... she didn't know!!

Many times we had talked, joked, politically incorrect bantering ... and many times over the years I had made references (often accidentally) to my issue ... to being transgender.

"Actually ... no.  I want to stay married."  I took a deep breath and stared off to the distance.  "It's more gender related."

Silence ... Likely a mere moment, but it seemed like an eternity.

It was obvious the truth caught her off guard, but I respected her ... it would not be right to not tell her.  I trusted her and knew she would not tell anyone ... and I would need her support at work to see this through.

"No ... I wouldn't have guessed.  But now certain things make sense."  She was very calm, caring and accepting.  "You've got a tough path ahead of you ... but if anyone I know can handle it, it's you.  You know I'm here for you."

Despite the the hurdles I had cleared ... despite the truth being out in the open and some of my fears eased, the journey seemed so long and arduous.

This endeavor is not like finishing the half marathon ... it's not like the 100 mile bike ride I completed.  In those events the course was clearly was clearly marked and you knew how far you had to go ... and just as important, how far you had gone.  No ... this is entirely different.

Over the years I have met in person and online many transsexual women.  So many seem so very feminine ... so truly female.  Others have seemed so uncomfortable or awkward in their own skin ... as if they were trying to convince themselves that they were female rather than just being themselves.  It was obvious ... it was distracting, or more accurate, it drew attention to the fact that they were not comfortable ... and that made it hard to accept or recognize the gender they were portraying.  It was almost as if they were rushing their transition ... maybe to prove something ... maybe to make up for lost time ... I don't know.

I did not want to be that girl.  I wanted to ensure my transition was slow, stealth and I was comfortable every step along the way.

Slow and steady wins the race ... but it's not a race.

In July I had a consultation with a laser hair removal facility.  "I want my beard removed ... beard and mustache ... everything."

"You are a very good candidate for laser."  The tech smiled while she twisted my head one way and another under the magnifying light.  "You have very dark facial hair and fair skin.  It will work good for you.  Why do you want to remove it?"

My heart stopped for a moment.  Do I tell the truth or do I sidestep ... ... "I just want it gone."

Sidestep.  Damn.

In August I started my laser treatments.  I started with my neck, under the chin ... slow, comfortable and not horribly obvious.  During the session the tech asked, Are you transitioning?"

"I'm sorry?"  I cannot even describe the terror I felt at that moment.

She sort of stammered through the question again, but I didn't let her finish.

"Yes."  I felt numb.  "Just barely starting."

"Good for you."  She seemed relieved.  "We have many transgender women who come here."

The relief I felt was incredible.  Another big step down the path taken, but yet the ultimate goal still seemed out of reach.

My interaction with my Facebook friends ... my family ... my sisters allowed me to live vicariously as Tiffanie, but that was no longer enough.

By the end of August my clothing choices had changed drastically.  Even though I was wearing primarily women's clothes for a while, I had stayed with mostly unisex, androgynous choices.  I started wearing more colors, more lacey, more feminine tops and bought a couple pair of women's shoes.

I began to feel happy, but still something was missing.

In my last posts I mentioned telling my son and talking to my doctor.  Now everyone who matters is on board and supporting me.  I cannot describe how lucky I feel.

Now it is the eve before the day I call an endocrinologist ... and I will make the call.  Pam offered to call for me because I am busy at work, but this is another step I must take.  I am nervous, yet excited.

I just looked over my shoulder ... that fork in the road seems so far away.

How did I come so far and not even realize it?

I still have many hurdles to cross, but the biggest will be gone and far behind me.