Monday, November 11, 2013

Time line ...

By the time this 8th grade photo was taken
I was planning on running away to transition.

It occurred to me the other day that I have really not given any true updates on any issues in a while.  I have actually been writing a lot, but have not completed or posted anything significant in a few weeks.

As I write this I am filled with a mixed bag of emotions.  So much has happened in the past few weeks or so I'm not sure where to begin or even if I can explain everything.  After posting my last entry I have felt a bit emotionally drained ... but there is a lot to feel drained about.

Early transition

Not necessarily in this order, nor in this order of importance:

- Multiple big wig visits to our bus yard and our sister yard.  Likely some shakeups at the other yard.
- Pam Sedona and I took a road trip and visited my eldest sister ... fun trip, got my tragus pierced (so did Pam), but traveling is always tiring
- My mom had surgery
- My sisters and brothers are stressed and worried ... not to mention Pam and me.
- Due to a sudden driver shortage I started a new class ... but my training time is limited as I am driving morning and afternoon.  This is a good thing in a way ... I am Tiffanie all day long.  Nothing but female references from kids, parents and school staff.
- I believe my entire family now know of my transition ... not exactly how or when I planned, but it is a weight off my shoulders.

Virtual makeover
So, yeah ... the last few weeks have my head spinning.

I guess the good news out of all this is I am technically living full time ... that thought also did not dawn on me until the staff at one of the schools I go to basically gathered around me during their girl talk session ... Maybe I've shifted farther on the gender spectrum than I realized..

The excitement of being so close to my dream is tainted with extra stress and disappointment.

My mom had a setback during her recovery.  She is back in the hospital being treated for an infection.  It is just added stress to an already overloaded platter of worrisome things.

My brain is wired so differently than so many others I know ... no, not the female brain in a male body thing.  That's been pretty well discussed and if you understand that concept you understand why I am transitioning my body.  But also, I am not a girly girl ... although some girly things seem far more alluring since starting hormones.  I consider myself to be a sort of tomboy hybrid.
August 2012
Wearing Pam's top

I believe the fact that I was introduced to chess at a very young age, 4 or 5 I think ... and the fact that I truly grasped the game and its intricacies very quickly molded the way I think and plan things.  My typical strategy was very defensive ... minimal moves ... moving pieces in patterns so they would wind up where they started .. making pieces seem vulnerable to see what my opponent's intentions were ... but always leery the opponent would discover my tactics.

Somehow I manage to see the dozens of responses a move may cause, and the dozens of reactions those in turn will cause.  This is not an infallible science as you never know what script your foe is following ... and in my case the foe was me.

In many ways my transition has been a well played game of chess ... my opponent ... my fears and anxieties ... the unknown.  The problem is in order to win this game I must risk putting myself in check ... be willing to lose a few pieces ... even then, the game doesn't end ... but without the risk there'd be no reward.

January 2013 - {laying with makeup
The heaviest I have ever weighed
Many small manipulations ... different styles of pants ... different color shirts, even women's polo shirts ... then working my way back to "normal" ... well, never quite back where I started.  Earrings in both ears ... two piercings in each ear ... wearing studs ... small hoops ... dangling earrings ... always moving toward feminine then backing off a bit to see what reactions were.  Having a beard ... going clean shaven ... backing off and wearing a mustache ... back to clean shaven ... to laser hair removal.  Each step a little more permanent ... each step a little more obvious ...

The one step I had no strategy for ... telling people ... anyone.  Regardless of how, when or where I told people I was risking being put in check ... the chess strategy was useless at this point ... I had to risk everything.


April 2013
I felt I was risking my marriage ... my friends ... my family ... my sanity ...  ...  The only thing I knew wasn't immediately at risk was my job.  I am protected by company policy and state law ... but what if ... the drivers or other coworkers don't accept me ... the customer doesn't accept me ... my regional or corporate supervisors don't accept me.

Every fiber of my being was screaming to return the pieces ... protect my half of the board ... don't let anyone know anything, that way I cannot get hurt.

But I made the move ... I put myself in a position of vulnerability.  Unlike my chess game it is not merely one opponent who can damage me ... it is many ... all different ... all dangerous in my eyes.

*** ***

On a different note ... despite the fact that I have received no overt or direct acts of contempt directed toward me, many have expressed curiosity and concerns toward my choices.

May 2013
Many have stated things like, "This is rather sudden."

Ummm ... no, not really.  Before my depression meltdown in 2010 I was already beginning to alter my appearance.  And truth be told, I was wearing some form of women's clothing even before that.  So really, the only thing that is rather sudden is learning why I've been making these changes.

I've also heard things like, "You have a huge head start over us in understanding this."

Again, that is not entirely true.  I have known about my gender issue since I was 3, but I have spent the majority of the past 40+ years denying it ... fighting it ... resisting it ... hiding it as if it was some disgusting secret ... trying so hard to be what others expected to be an usually failing miserably ... burying it so deep in the magma at the core of my being that it would never be unearthed ...

But it would erupt.
June 2013
Early HRT

Pressure like this never stays contained.  It builds ... ever stronger and stronger until it finally escapes ... either slowly, over time in a constant flow ... or suddenly with destructive force.

 I have only been in counseling for about 17 months.  When you consider the time missed due to my surgery and the time missed when Catharine was recovering from a car accident ... and the times our schedules just didn't mesh ...  The point is, there really hasn't been 17 months worth of therapy.

I started on hormones in very late May ... about 5 months ago.  Yes, finding out that I am taking hormones may be a surprise, but the experience is still new to me.  The changes they create are slow ... sometimes taking more than 2 years to fully take effect.

I came out at work and have asked to be called Tiffanie less than 2 months ago.  I'm not used to hearing my own name, and I have only used it a few times in work memos ... but because my legal name is different than my desired name I will not be able to sign the name Tiffanie Faith Chezum to anything ... unless I change my name.
Early June
New hair color

I do have a head start, but not as much as you might think.

Some have questioned, "Have you considered the consequences?"

Ummm ... yes ... remember, I'm a chess player.  Not only have I seen the consequences, but I've seen the consequences of the consequences ... but unlike my game of chess, in real life more than one of the consequences may actually happen.

Have you considered the consequences of me not choosing to transition?

And truly ... why do you think I would put myself through this?  I'll give you a hint ... it's not some desperate plea for help ... I'm not wanting to be the center of attention ... it's not a phase.  Face it ... nobody in their right mind would choose to subject themselves to the scrutiny ... to the questions and already drawn conclusions of the public, or friends, or the judgment that many make regarding my rationale, or my consideration about the feelings of others.
June 2013

Have you considered my feelings?

Do I understand consequences?  I've been dealing with the consequences for a while ... and the consequences the first consequences spawned.  Many have been exactly as I predicted, but many I have been off the mark ... so, like with chess, I adjust and move on.

Probably the closest thing to hurtful I've heard are the comments like, "I accept you, but I just can't consider you female." Or, "I want you to be happy, I just can't use your new name."

I don't think these people realize the contradiction spilling out of their mouth.

Seriously, if you accept me then you will eventually consider me female ... if you cannot ever consider me female then you do not truly accept me.

Catching my eyes in a green moment
And as far as the name thing goes ... if you truly want me to be happy you will learn to use my new name as I am learning to use it and hear it.  I have known too many ladies who have been married or divorced  ... I've adapted to at least several dozen name changes.  You know what?  Sometimes, even after many years, I will accidentally use the wrong name ... it happens.  Does that mean I do not at least try and show a bit of respect and attempt to get used to the new name?

The worst ... and luckily I have not heard it said in this blunt of a manner, "Why (or when) did you decide to be transgender?

October 2013
I will not even address this.  This is ridiculous ... I've known since I was three ... I didn't want this ... I didn't choose this ... but I cannot change this any more than a person can choose to change the color of the iris of their eyes ... or choose to change what they may be allergic to ...

I am very aware that none of these are truly black and white issues ... it is truly more of a spectrum of emotions.  In many ways it is like seeing the shopping mall where the vacant lot used to be.  You will still remember the fun time you had on the lot, but you can't say, "I don't accept this mall being here." and try to play kick the can like you used to.  You can choose to not go to the mall, but that does not mean the mall is not there.  Anyone who is new to the area will never know the vacant lot ... and actually, many will not care.  They like the mall ... they wonder why a city would leave a lot empty for so long in the first place.

As I have said to my friends ... as I have said to my family and coworkers, this is the adjustment period.  I am not in a position to demand anything ... I know I can never open a locked mind ... I realize that some will never accept me ... I know that most, perhaps all do not truly understand my situation.

My Moose being silly
Actually, I do not completely understand everything ... I am still learning about me ... I am still learning to cope with my issues.  Even if I could explain what is going through my brain, I do not know if it would be logical or if it would just seem like gibberish.

If you truly accept me ... if you truly want what is best for me, it is not that difficult.  We can learn and grow together  If you cannot, I respect you just the same.  Please know that I accept you for who you are.  That doesn't mean a life of rainbows and butterflies ... there will always be rough patches, but I will support your decision regardless of where I stand in your picture.

There are still many things I have not ironed out in my own head ... there are many things that are very clear as well ...

For Pam ... I am her husband - she is my wife - always.  This is what I promised to be on our wedding day and I never plan to change it.
Driving at night
Highway hypnosis

For Timmy ... I am his father.  Biologically there is no changing the fact that I fathered 2 sons.  If he feels uncomfortable calling me Dad, then we will figure out something else ... but there is no amount of estrogen in the world that gives me the right to be called his mom.  I did not give birth to him.

For my siblings ... I understand it is difficult to start considering me a sister, but it is relatively obvious that I do not look like the brother that you are remembering.  Perhaps something innocuous like "sibling" or even "Tiffanie" ... again, we can work on that.

Random photo
August 2013
For my nieces and nephews ... this one is very tough for me.  A big part of me would love to be called Aunt Tiffanie (Tiff or Tiffie also work).  A different part of me does not feel like I should accept the title of "Aunt" for the same reason I will not let myself be called Mom.  You can add estrogen to me, but mostly what will change is my body.  Again, I am not the uncle they remember from years back, but I am not truly their aunt ... but I do like the sound of it. I realize that all my nephews and nieces are adults, or very near adults and will be able to make up their mind as to what is appropriate.

My mom ... I am her son.  She is one of the very few who I will give a lot of leeway to in regards to name and gender references.  She is nearly 88, and I have been her son longer than I can remember.  I have not even mentioned changing my name and my gender legally at this time.  She is happy for me and accepts me.  I am blessed that she is as wonderful as she is.

A lighthearted expression
of facing depression
I feel happy and blessed for my entire family and all my friends.  I am willing to give them time to adapt to have them in my life ... but not at the expense of my sanity.  The fog of depression looms too near on the horizon for me to spend much energy trying to prove my worth.

I would never wish depression on anyone ... I watched helplessly as it swallowed Pam.  It didn't seem to matter how close I held her she seemed an eternity away.

Worse than that was watching the pain in her eyes as I sank into the mire.  I so understood her feelings ... the helplessness ... the confusion.  In a strange way hitting the depths of depression was a blessing in disguise.

As much as I hated every second of my time buried alive, it forced me to truly look at myself ... not just the gender dysphoria ... many things.
Enjoying a walk behind the house

My first counselor was a very nice man.  He worked with me a lot on my attitude and how I perceive things.  I liked the fact that he wanted to listen to my issue of the week rather than direct the sessions.  I didn't like the fact that he never seemed to understand that just because something frustrated me does not mean I am dwelling on something or having a horrible attitude.

"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade."

Problem - Life rarely hands you lemons ... it throws them at you and hits you in the back of the head.  I can make all the lemonade I want, but those fucking lemons still hurt when they hit.

Down the I-5
"Recite the serenity prayer.  Learn not to let the things you cannot change bother you."

Well DUH! - That IS why they're irritating ... I CANNOT change them, but I still have to deal with them.  Just because I show frustration does not mean that I am not trying to handle the situation the best I can.

"A Zen philosophy.  Water is flowing down a hill.  It runs into a rock.  It tries to move the rock, but the rock will not budge.  Eventually the water flows around the rock and continues down the hill."
Abandoned lunchbox

True - But regardless of how slow the water is flowing and how small the rock is, it still creates a disturbance.  When there are many large rocks and the water is flowing swiftly it creates rapids which can be deadly.

"When you are stressed or upset imagine yourself in a happy place."

Beautiful sunrise

The biggest issue with this is it is not always practical.  I cannot imagine myself in a happy place when I am dealing with a bus accident at work ... or during an anxiety attack.  My happy place is being alone with my thoughts ... with my music ... with my camera or while writing.  There is not a physical location that I can think of that holds truly, completely happy thoughts.

Eventually I gave up.  We were able to talk about many things, and I did learn new insights from him, but I was never able to truly open up with him.  It was a reminder to me about how different people really are.  It does not make me right because I choose to vent my frustrations ... it does not make him wrong because he chooses to "find something positive" in everything.
Depressive moments
The beast that hides within

I listen to music to escape ... to capture the essence of the moment ... to voice emotions I have no words for.  What my mind sees in the music cannot be explained, but sometimes takes me to the solitude I so desire and desperately need to maintain any level of balance in my life.

I take photos to express everything beautiful I see in life ... everything I cannot put into words ... everything dark and sinister that haunts my soul and pushes me ever closer to the cliff overlooking the jagged rocks below.

November 2013

I write to save my sanity.  Stories ... blogs ... poems ... random thoughts ... when emotions are building and I need a release I'll likely write.  I don't edit my blogs, my random thoughts ... I ensure they are readable, but I don't go back and review everything.  What is the point of simple stream of consciousness writing if it is going to be altered?

This blog has morphed a lot from my initial intentions.  It is no longer simply about transitioning ... or maybe it never was.  It is about everything ... everything from my frustrations with the church and religion to my attempting to lose weight and get back in shape to train (which right now is difficult as I am nursing a tender left achilles tendon), to learning to deal with my emotions and how badly some situations have affected me, or how poorly I have reacted to simple frustrations.

I have not had a horrible life ... I have enjoyed and been blessed by so much.  Maybe it is just the depression ... or the stress of transitioning that makes it seem as if I'm upset about so many things.
November 2013
New hair color

I'm not.

The past year was nerve wracking, but wonderful.  In many ways it restored my faith in humanity.  I've learned much about love and acceptance.  I have begun to be comfortable being me.  The past 5 months on estrogen has made a huge difference in my outlook on life ... much of the aggression and anger I have always bottled up is gone.

This does not mean I do not get upset.  In fact the roller coaster of estrogen induced mood swings is one of the issues I am having a hard time adjusting to.  I am human ... I have good days and bad.  Letting down my shield and allowing others to see my emotions is not a negative thing.

November 2013
Another difficult issue is my voice.  I can alter my voice to a degree ... I can hit androgynous or close to female, but I am very self conscious about using this voice.  It is not what people are used to ... I don't have the vocal strength to project or to hold the voice for extended periods.  This is not an easy task to accomplish, but I am working at it.

I will continue to learn and grow as my transition moves forward.  That is all anyone can expect from life ... to learn and to move forward.