Monday, August 26, 2013

A Day of Crying

Yesterday I cried.  A LOT.

There are many reasons for my falling to the floor wracked with sobs.  And here's the hard bit:

I'm not going to tell you all of them.

I'll get to why.

So The weekend started fairly calmly.  Wife (should I come up with a different pseudonym? I mean it as an affectionate one but I've been told that it may not be read that way) and I both had off work, and we both ran errands, usually apart but sometimes together.  Her mom (MIL) was gone all week, and we had a pleasant time.  Thursday was kindergarten orientation for our daughter, who was VERY excited.

Saturday I ran some errands then grilled steaks for us.  Our daughter ate earlier and watched Scooby Doo in the "living room" as we listened to Sinatra and ate by candlelight.  All in all, a very pleasant night. 


I slept in on Sunday, knowing that sleep would be at a premium for the next two weeks.  Sunday was beautiful and sunny.  I had no idea what the plans for the day would be, so I suggested house hunting.

Ok, now here's where I'm going to start getting purposefully vague.

She sat on the bed and looked down at me.  And told me she would not go house hunting.  She would not be moving out with me.  There is FAR more to the conversation to this, BUT...

She asked me not to post it here.  So I will not do so.

I will discuss the fallout and what I learned though.

The conversation ended when she and daughter left to go school shopping.  And I continued crying on the couch (where the conversation had moved.)  I texted my therapist and my "Big Sis" Mel.

What had I learned?  Many things.  That MIL knows all about me.  That Wife's two brothers (here designated Middle and Youngest) searched for this blog, and found it.  That said information was relayed back to MIL and to Wife. And that Wife has read at least some of the entries.

What does all this mean?  That her immediate family knows my Truth.  And HAS known for at least a week or so.  It also means that she has seen pictures of me.  "MANY pictures." 

So if Wife, Middle, or Youngest are reading this:  Hi!  I'm glad you are reading the blog.  Hopefully you will understand just a little what it means to be trans.  And you can always ask questions.


I posted a small update on Facialbook:

Wife told me that she and daughter are NOT moving out with me. That she has seen the blog, and seen pictures of me. That her 2 brothers have both seen the blog. And that MIL knows everything.

I've spent the last hour crying.

As I prepared to leave the house, I fell to my knees, then to floor, sobbing.  It was all too much.  Losing my Wife and daughter.  NOT being able to do right by them.  Everything.  I don't know how long I lay prone on the floor face in hands, crying.  But eventually, I did stand up.  Blew my nose.  Went out the door.

I then drove over to Mel's.  On the way, I called Lisa Empanada, who gave me some good advice and listened to me cry.  Lisa has good shoulders.  They have built in sponges.

Walking into Mel's place, I received an email.  I had been elected to Vanity Club.  I'll discuss that more in depth in another entry. 

Mel listened to me cry too.  But I eventually pulled myself together.  We ordered pizza and listened to music.  And we talked.  There are many reasons to have a "Big Sister."  And times like this, I am SO glad not only that I have one, but also that it is Mel.  Her wisdom is amazing.  Times like these, when I'm free-falling, she, and so many others are there to catch me.

Eventually, I washed my face and drove to work at the bookstore.  I managed to keep myself from crying for the whole shift.

I thought about all that happened.

So.  What happened to make me cry so much?  Was Wife vicious and cruel?  No.  Far from.  In fact, she was not only fair, but downright generous.  No, it was nothing she did.

She and I have been together for 22 years.  Married 20.  That's a LOT of time.  A lot of shared history.  We've had some amazing times, and some horrible times.  22 years of in-jokes and beloved movies.  "The subtle rhetoric of simple moments" as I wrote in a story long ago.

I love my wife.  I love my daughter.  The fact that I am causing them any pain hurts me almost beyond tolerance.  The idea that their lives will go on without me.  All the things I will miss.  My daughter is five.  All the milestones that will pass that I won't see...  And why?  For what?  Because I was born different- and that difference is driving us apart.  Because I can't live a lie.  I wish it were different.

I started crying again typing that last paragraph.

I absolutely do NOT blame my wife for her courses of action, save one.  I'll get back to that.  She is doing what she needs to do for herself.  No, this one is all me.

The only thing I disagree with her about is keeping Daughter in this house.  She feels that she can be more of a positive than MIL is a negative.  I disagree.  But I'm not in a position to press the case. 

So.  What's next?  Things have been quiet since then, almost as if nothing happened.  But it did. I went to therapy today, and Dr. Osborne made some recommendations.  It was a rough session, and I'm still thinking it through.

Soon, Wife and I will discuss the future.  Then I will go to SCC.

Maybe I'll be finished crying before then.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Same as It Ever Was

I wrote this during the past couple of days, before everything changed this morning.


I can hear your thoughts now:  "Another blog about going out?  Really, Sophie?"

Well, another third weekend of the month meant another night with Renaissance and Laptop Lounge.  My standard Me time.  However, as has been becoming more common, this time there was a guest star.  In this case, that was Jamie, my former co-worker.

The Poison Ivy rash peaked around Wednesday and began to fade, but not enough to wear a skirt.  So I wore my jeggings and a new top.  I did my own makeup. 

First item on the night's agenda was meeting Jamie at Shangrila.  This was her first time meeting me as Sophie- the real me.

Yes, I was nervous.  What if she hated me?  What if she laughed when she saw my crude attempt at femininity?

Well, it all went quite well.  She smiled and laughed the whole night.  With me, not at me.

We had a drink, then joined Katie at McKenzies for dinner.  Others were supposed to come but couldn't make it.  it was the three of us.  Katie was her usual delightful self.  We then sat at the bar for a drink before moving on to Winberies and Laptop lounge. 

Oh, and this time, no one at the bar pointed, snickered, or took pictures.  No one cared.  Which was nice.

I missed Renaissance for this dinner.  Which is rough because I love going to Renaissance.

In any case, we all went over to Winberies just a little early.  I introduced Jamie to many people, and, being Jamie, she fell right in to chatting with them as easily as if she knew them all her life.  She treated all of us with dignity.  Such a rare quality in cisgendered people, unfortunately.

The night was wonderful.  I saw many friends and caught up with them.  Of course, there were many pictures as well.  Funny that.

Near the end of the night, someone took me aside to discuss a problem, and to offer advice on my home "situation."  We spoke freely for maybe twenty minutes.  While the conversation was candid and supporting, I still ended up feeling VERY depressed by it.  I ended my night at the bar, doing my best not to cry.

Yes, the whole family situation is still raw.

After saying my goodbyes, I went back to the newly renovated Motel 6, and looked in the mirror.

So, putting on my makeup that night was quite a task, as the foundation, cover up, hell NOTHING would stick to the rash on my face.  After the third attempt I was seriously about to give up.  Then I started with this powder that makeup artists use to retard sweating, and went from there.  And it worked.  For a while.

When I returned to the room, I looked in the mirror.  I looked like Heath Ledger's Joker.  The makeup was sliding off my face, and the mascara had run a bit.  I looked alike a pathetic clown.  I stood and looked at myself for an eternity of maybe a minute.  I saw my bottom lip was projecting outward- the same look Hayden said I have when I'm in drab.  Essentially, I had my drab face with some bad makeup.  And my eyes were dull and dead.

I cleaned myself up, and went to the Wawa nearby for a sandwich.  I then went to Valley Forge park for a late night walk.  I was home at 4 AM.

My walk solved nothing in my head.  I spent the time beating myself up for all "the small humiliations that [my] memory piles up."  As the man said- Hell.

So I spent Sunday, recovering and then work.  Wife, daughter, and MIL all went to Virginia on Sunday.  They wouldn't return until Tuesday.

So, after working a double, I slapped on my makeup in record time (using the same powder method) to meet my friends Jen and Victoria for dinner at a nice Italian place.  Dinner was fun, but over too quickly.  I wore one of my new Penn State tops and my long white gypsy skirt, and I felt good.

Despite needing to be awake at 5 the next morning, I wanted to do something I'd never done as Sophie.  I narrowed it down to going to Bahama Breeze for a drink alone, or going to Wegmans.

Judging by the storm on Facebook after I posted my plan, I should've gone to Wegmans.

As it was, I went to Bahama Breeze, and had a glass of wine as I watched the Redskins beat the Steelers in pre-season football.  No one bothered me.  No one even spoke to me aside from the bartender.  But that was fine. 

I hit the pillow at 1 AM.  Slept through my alarm and ended up thirty minutes late to work.

That night, Wife and daughter came home.  I was a zombie, having worked another double.  I went to bed early.

The whole week, I waited for an opening to discuss the Option 1 plan with Wife, but the opportunity never came.  I posted a question about parental responsibility on Facebook, and received many wise replies covering many different opinions.

I also posted a cryptic sentence:  "Every Story Ends."  That came from a chat discussion I had with Hayden on Wednesday night.  And I'll write more about that in another entry.

As it stands, I'm sitting here and nothing has been resolved.  I've had dinner and some pints with my "Big Sis" Mel (two different occasions)and discussed strategies.  But as the new week begins, I'm exactly where I was a week ago.  Nothing has changed.  The days go bySame as it ever was.

I work a lot this coming week.  The week following is the Southern Comfort Conference, which I will be attending for the first time.  I look forward to meeting many of my online friends and several of my inspirations there. 

I hope I can pull up my mood.  I want to smile.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Option 1

Several weeks ago, I posted that my wife decided that she couldn't live with a woman.

That still holds true. 

I mentioned options. 

Option 1:

If we get the loan, we still get the house together. This removes my daughter from MIL's toxic influence and provides her security. Said house should be affordable by Wife without any monetary input from me. I stay in the house until the changes reach a point that she finds intolerable. Then I move out. Perhaps during that time, take in a boarder to assist with the mortgage. After moving out, divorce proceedings begin.

So.  As of this writing I'm still living with Wife and daughter in my Mother in Law's (MIL) house.  That is going to change.

I got the mortgage.

Happy Dance!

I'm getting Wife and daughter out of there.  We have our eyes on a few places Wife can afford easily on her own.

Several of my friends who are FAR wiser than I (like Lisa Empanada) have pointed out that Option 1 has many flaws.  And they are correct.  Chief among these flaws is that I could end up homeless and banned from a house for which I am paying the mortgage.  And that due to being Transgender, I may be barred legally from seeing my daughter, for whose benefit this entire plan is being executed.

All True.  All strong possibilities.  Very strong.

One friend pointed out that I shouldn't pursue this Option as SHE is leaving ME.  I disagree.  By transitioning, her husband is leaving HER.  I don't blame her one bit for her not wanting to live with Sophie.  It's my fault (even if its something that can't be helped) that the marriage is going to end- not hers.

So.  With so many good reasons NOT to do this- NOT to get a house with a woman who is going to toss me out eventually- why in the name of God am I doing it?

Why am I putting my entire financial future- yes, even my transition- at risk?

My Daughter.

It's that simple.

As many have commented here on my blog, on Facialbook, and privately, MIL is flat out poison.  She is a toxic influence.  And I want my daughter as isolated from that influence as much as it's in my power to do so.

I do this with no illusions.  No hopes that Wife will learn to accept Sophie (I have a better chance of winning Powerball or landing a role as a Bond Girl.) 

But I'm doing it for my daughter.  If by getting her out of that daily influence of that Harpy I can improve her life, then I will do whatever it takes to do so.

I'm a parent.  I'll never be "Father of the Year" but I AM her father.   She could still someday turn on me as so many children of TG parents do.  Thats a possibility.

But it should make her life better.  So what else can I do?

So.  It's Option 1.

I am buying a house with Wife.  And someday, I will no longer live in that house.  Perhaps some man will.  I have to be ready for that as well. 

I spoke to my dear friend Lisa yesterday.  I mentioned something she told me long ago.  She said (Paraphrasing) that the there's always that little part that is disapointed when you AREN'T outed (there was a possibility of it when she told me this) because for all the trauma and heartache- you'd be Free to be yourself.

And it's true.  All the things I noted above (and more) MAY come to pass.  I could lose it all.  But, for the sake of my daughter I have to roll those dice- I have to TRY.

I can do no less.

I am a Woman.  And a Parent.  And my child WILL grow up in a safe environment as long as I still have a say in it.

I can do no less for her.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer Sunday Cemetery Stroll

Ok, so it wasn't one of my best alliterations.

I haven't been out as me since Lisa's party.  I had a chance to do so last Saturday night.  After all, there was one of Jen Bryant's amazing parties at the Raven that night.  But I had to pass. 

Why?  Several reasons.

First was that the Poison Ivy I contracted a couple weeks before got worse.  FAR worse. It covered my entire lower left leg and entire left forearm.  I also had some on my face.  I ended up going to a clinic for a prescription.  But they couldn't give me an oral steroid as it would interact with the Wellbutrin (for depression) and cause seizures.  That might ruin my day.  So topical only.

Isn't it purty?

It is improving.

The other reason was that I was in Baltimore the weekend before, and next weekend is Renaissance and Laptop Lounge.  And my Mother in Law (MIL) was away for the weekend.  So I figured going out all day and night wasn't a good idea.  After all, maybe Wife and I could talk some things out.

BUT... Saturday wasn't the only event to write about.  No, there was Thursday first (as it usually is, calendar-wise.)

Thursday I went to dinner at Bahama Breeze with M and Jamie.  This was my first time seeing Jamie since revealing my truth to her.  We went to Bahama Breeze as it's M's favorite restaurant... and it was also where I first told M about Sophie.

I met Jamie outside and she gave me a huge hug.  I needed that after the day I had.  Her smile immediately lifted my mood.  She told me how happy she was that I told her, and how proud she was of me.

We were seated, and I pulled one of my Sophie business cards from my pocket, and slid it across the table to Jamie, face down... just like I had to Dave and R.  She laughed and said "Oh I get a Sophie card?!?!" and flipped it over.  She thanked me and put it in her purse.

Then M arrived and we all chatted.  Jamie had a few questions about being TG, but for the most part we discussed people we knew and plans for a party this fall at M's place.

The night was very nice and we all hugged as we left for our various homes.  I chose well by including her in the "Circle of knowledge."  I was going to tell my "best man" this month when he visits from Arizona, but he had to postpone his trip until November. 

Hmmm I wonder where I'll be by then?  And what will I look like?

He is a hard core libertarian.  We don't discuss politics.  And I've known him since first grade.  41 years.  We went to school together and Penn State as well.  And I have no idea how he'll react.

I told Wife that I wasn't going out Saturday night and why.  And I told her I'd received a dinner invitation from my "Big Sis" Mel and my friend Victoria.  They were going to a Mexican restaurant called El Sarape, which Victoria loves. 

Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) Tequila Bottles at El Sarape

To my surprise, Wife said I should go.  She knew I wouldn't be going as Sophie. 

Saturday arrived and the poison ivy was still worse, so I went to the clinic (as I said above.)  After all that, I went home and spent the afternoon with Wife and my daughter.  Then I put on a long sleeved shirt, and went to dinner. 

The food was amazing.  I was the only "guy" at the table. so I made sure to pull chairs out for the ladies, etc.  We had a wonderful dinner, and afterward we went to Shangri-La for a drink or two.  After all, it was still early.

While we sat at the bar, a man came out of the back "party room."  He was in his 50s or 60s, but he wore the badge of the Imperial Chinese Air force from WWII.  I asked him about it.  Turns out he was there with his grandfather- who was one of Chennault's American Volunteer Group from 1941-42:  the "Flying Tigers."  There were three of them there having a reunion.  And it was my honor to meet all three, shake their hands, and thank them for their service.  One was 106, the other two were in their 90s.  All were really nice.

After a couple of drinks, it was time to head home, which I did.  When I arrived, I sat with Wife and watched TV for a little while.  We didn't talk.

The next morning was absolutely beautiful.  I decided to go for a drive.  My friend Jane texted me that she was in Valley Forge park with her wife, and asked if I wished to join her.  I suggested we meet at the chapel, where I could show her a trail she hadn't been on.

We met there.  Jane had been to the Raven party the night before, and was enfemme.  I was in drab. I showed them one of my favorite places to walk:  The churchyard behind the chapel.

Odd?  Maybe.  I'm one of those weird people that loves cemeteries.  Ever since the first "modern" cemetery was opened outside of Paris in 1804, people have had a fascination.  Before then, the primary disposal for the non-noble dead were large pits usually on the edge of town.  Noble and rich dead were entombed inside or under places of worship.  Eventually, the decaying bodies affected local water supplies, so the idea of dedicated cemeteries outside of town began.

And they became landscaped as places to relax.  The Victorians especially had a fascination with cemeteries.  And I've been to many cemeteries on several continents.  Why?

I always find I think better in a graveyard, where I am reminded that life is Short. 

The three of us walked around for a bit.  I took a few pictures.  I showed them my favorite "hidden treasure:"  The abandoned keystone to the aborted National Cathedral in Valley Forge.

The Keystone, Fall 2012

It was a pleasant afternoon walk.  After I left, I went to a different part of the park and thought for a while.

After all, I have lots of changes coming.

I need to think it all through.

Life IS short, and I'm probably over halfway done my time on this planet.  I've wasted so much of my life as a Male.  As my cousin Anne has said, "it's Sophie's turn."

Next up is putting together a transition plan.  And writing a letter to my parents, telling them my truth.

I think of these things often.  And tonight I visited that graveyard again after work.  I walked among the graves as the late summer sun set behind the hills.  The breeze was cool- perhaps the first bare hint of the coming autumn.  As I walked among the bodies and memorials to those who have passed, I pondered my death... and the end of my male self.  What will I regret? 

Life is short.  Regret is eternal.

I will live my life as a woman- and end that regret.

Let my feminine smile be my epitaph.

And my ending be better than that last line!  :D


Monday, August 12, 2013

Reader mail: Answer to a Reader's Question

Occasionally I get questions about my life from readers or from people whom I know in real life.  The following questions come from Jamie, whom I introduced HERE.

I'm always open to answering questions.  As long as they aren't X rated. 

So, here we go.  I use the random letter "L" to designate my drab name.

I wonder if Sophie acknowledges L?  Or do you like to keep them separate? 

Consider both parts as compromising the whole of the person who is Sophie.

Is it painful for Sophie to think of L and the duality that exists?  Additionally, as you say, both parts comprise of the whole of the person who is Sophie. When the transition happens, will both parts stop being so divided?

The short answer is YES, very painful.

The longer answer is this: 

Once I acknowledged my feminine side (back in late 2008) my masculine self began to erode.  Slightly at first, but steadily.  Like the tide taking a beach, grain by grain, wave by wave.  Just making that acknowledgement meant opening up something I'd kept deeply suppressed 25 years at that point. 

Both consciously and unconsciously, I built my life to hide the shameful fact of who I was deep down.  I learned to fight.  I outdrank everyone.  I became hyper aggressive.  This had the side effect of making me angry or depressed most of the time.  It also meant that I had ZERO self esteem, as I felt everyone could see through my "front" and see the hideous thing that I was inside.

I saw myself as a "rotting shell without a soul."  Actual words from a short story I wrote back in 1990.

This colored all my relationships with everyone, including my first fiancée and then my wife.  Even after getting married and finding a job that paid a livable wage, I still saw myself as a worthless freak.  Then, in 2003, I lost that job, and moved back to Pennsylvania unemployed, overweight, and in deep depression. 
Fast forward five years, when the feminine floodgates reopened. 

Once I acknowledged that the feminine side existed, I began to feel better about myself.  Then I started seeing a gender specialist.  And I began to make friends among the trans- community.  I wasn't alone.  I wasn't a solitary freak.  I researched the transgender phenomenon.  I learned, and the more I learned, the better I felt.  I was DIFFERENT, yes, but I always knew I was.  As I made more friends in the T-community, I learned what amazing courageous people they are.  I drew strength from that I searched my soul for the answers I sought.  Answers to basic questions:  Who AM I?  What am I?  What does this mean?

Eventually, through the help of friends and therapy, I looked deep within myself one drunken night.  I looked into the mirror at the motel room I'd rented for the night to change, and I asked myself "is this it? Am I just a guy wearing fake breasts makeup and a wig?  Or am I more?"

I wanted to cry, but I couldn't.  I'd been lying to everyone- friends, family, and most of all my Wife.  I felt horrible.  Within two weeks of that night,  I told my Wife about being TG.  And a weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I then examined my soul, unencumbered by the guilt of Lies.  And I came to the inescapable conclusion... I was a Woman.  My soul is female.  I stopped lying to Myself. 

And another weight was lifted.  Since then I've moved forward as a woman... knowing that one fact gave me a purpose I previously lacked.  In December, I started Hormone Replacement Therapy, which opened new worlds.  I could finally cry.  And wow, have I ever!

The more female I become, the less male I am.  Now I again see L as a shell- a membrane to be breached to give birth to the true person waiting beneath.  And its KNOWING that it will take time that hurts so much.  Every moment I am male is torture.  All the good parts that were L is still there... as Sophie.  Minus the anger, the need to hide.  As a woman, I have self-confidence.  I KNOW I matter- that I can make a difference in other people's lives.  I no longer live haunted by my past.

My friend Hayden made an observation to me a couple weeks ago.  He's seen me as male and female.  He observed that as a male I'm always scowling; that my standard facial expression is a frown with my bottom lip sticking out just a little bit, while as Sophie, I am always smiling or close to it.  "Ready with your rapid fire smile" were his exact words.

That sums it up perfectly. 

So that's the long winded answer.  The duality is VERY painful.  Its the built up agony of 42 years of knowing I was born in the wrong body, and knowing that I can solve it... but I have to wait.

Someday all there will be is Sophie.  All the lessons I've learned through my life will inform the woman I am becoming.  And the pain of the process will serve as a reminder to treasure each day... as I will have earned it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Feelings from a Bittersweet Dream

This past weekend was Special.

I was me for over eighteen hours.  I wore a tank top.  Met people.

I attended a Private function this weekend.  It was a Birthday/ Affirmation party for my dear friend Lisa Empanada.  The party was held at her sister's home as it was her idea. 

Travelling Outfit

I woke up at 5 AM to prep myself.  I shaved my legs and chest in the shower.  The night before, Wife was kind enough to Nair my back.  I shaved my face very slowly.  By 8 AM, I was in Bethlehem, at True Colors Makeup for my appointment with Amanda Richards.  As it was a special day, I wanted to look special.  For the first time, I wore a tank top out.  I never wore one before, due to my hairiness, or my lack of real breasts or whatever.  But now, I could.  Small thing, but it felt like a triumph.


By 10 AM, I was on the second leg of my journey: Harrisburg.  I was going to pick up my friend Hayden and take him to Maryland with me, y'know- carpool.  On the way, I had to stop at a gas station to um powder my nose.  I pulled off route 22 in the middle of Pennsyltucky and found an Exxon Station.  I walked in and the two teenage girls behind the counter started smiling and giggling at me.  After, um, finishing in the ladies room, I picked up a diet coke and went to the counter.  Both watched my every step.  I remarked "Isn't it a beautiful day?"  (It was raining.)  Then I looked the one behind the register in the eye and said, in as light a tone as I could "So do you have any questions?"  Both of their jaws dropped.  The register girl handed me the change and I smiled at them, then left.

I picked up Hayden, then we took a slight detour- to the Sheraton where the Keystone Conference is held.  I wanted to go to the Fox and Hound for a quick "hi there!"  The bar manager wasn't there (dammit!) but the one bartender recognized me.  I had a drink and then we were back on the road.

At the Fox and Hound

A couple of rainy hours later, we pulled into the Avenue at White Marsh.  I wanted to go to Red Brick Station for some lunch.  Hayden and I sat in the bar.  Our server looked 14, and obviously clocked me, as she kept giving me strange looks.  In fact she brought out other servers to look, and sent other servers to the table to check on us.  The service was disappointing, but the food was good.  From there, we went to the Ramada Inn, where I was sharing a room with Hayden.  Platonically- get your minds out of the gutter.

At Red Brick.  I seem to cross my arms a lot.

Lisa was waiting for us there, and introduced us to a couple I'd never met.  Ally is a statuesque beauty from Richmond, and she was there with her partner Jay.  Both were an absolute delight.  Within minutes, I ran into Jessica, who was originally from Maryland, but is now in South Carolina.  We'd met before at the Keystone Conference.  My how SHE had changed!  She looked fantastic!  We had three rooms in a row on the ground floor.

So now we have the cast- we five would ride over to the party together in my car.  We still had a couple of hours until the event began, which was spent sorting out an outfit.  I also stood in front of our room watching a steady rain fall and thinking.

Party Outfit

At 5:15 we all piled into my Subaru and drove maybe ten minutes to the house where the party was being held.  It was in a rural neighborhood, and was quite nice.  The rain stopped, but everything was wet and muddy.  I remember putting on my shoes (I took them off to drive) and looking toward the yard and seeing all of the people.  I thought "I wonder what they're thinking- here come the freaks?"  I couldn't have been more wrong.

I started walking toward the back yard and I saw Lisa.  She was dressed in a white floral dress, and holding a bouquet of flowers.  Absolutely angelic.  She saw our group coming and smiled broadly.  I would find out later that she was feeling extremely nervous until we arrived, and we were like cavalry coming to her rescue!  I can't blame her- that had to be so incredibly stressful meeting so many relatives as a Woman for the first time.

Hugs all around.  Introductions.  So many people!

From here, in Ally's words, things got "surreal."

There were chairs arraigned like a classroom on the lawn, and for good reason.  Alexis Lake, Lisa's therapist, was giving a talk on TG 101, and followed that with a Q&A session.  There were many of the usual questions, and Lisa's answers were poignant.

There was a swirl of wine coolers, cheap beer, and so much food!  The hospitality was amazing!  Many people came to myself, Ally, and Alexis Lake with questions.  All but one person were so happy and supportive, especially the younger generations.  Maybe there is hope for the human race after all!

The cloudy day dissolved into a torchlit night as dance music played.  No one danced.  Everyone was busy talking, eating, drinking... celebrating. 

Me with Lisa and Ally

I had lots to drink.  That was ok, as Jessica was not drinking and was going to drive us back to
the hotel. 

The invitation said the party was ending at 10, and people started to leave.  Our group said our goodbyes to Lisa's family, then each of us hugged Lisa in turn.  She was glowing with happiness, brighter than any light. 

Her journey has truly begun.  She is now Alive. 

I shifted the gears for Jessica as she drove back to the hotel.  We stopped briefly at a 7-11 for water and yummies.  Then back to the Ramada.  The rain began to fall again, lightly misting the night.  Our group stood under the roof in front of our rooms and talked for a little bit, then Ally and Jay went off to their room.  Jessica invited Hayden and I to hang out in her room, which we did.

We talked about many things, but mostly of Jessica's transition.  It's like being a paramedic- get a couple of them together and they start telling "war stories" of past calls.  Get a couple of transgenders together and we discuss our stories.  We discussed Jessica's surgeries and Hayden's experiences as an FtoM.  Hayden soon became very tired and went back to the room.

I stayed and Jessica and I spoke deep into the night about many things.  It was obvious that neither of us wanted the night to end.  We'd been part of something VERY special, and we both knew it.  We ALL knew it.

We saw a unique flower blossoming for the first time. 

Yes, I know that's a cliché, but nothing else really fits.  She's blossomed and there's no going back.  Winter is over and her spring has arrived.

That night I had a very disturbing dream.  I discussed that in full in a previous blog entry.


How does this make me feel?

All of it? 

I am unspeakably happy for Lisa.  Seriously, words can't express my joy.  I am so happy that her family GETS it.  They will keep their loved one instead of casting her out for the sake of prejudice. 

I am extremely happy to have met some new people whom I think are so very nice.  Lisa's relatives are amazing!  But I also met Ally and Jay, and they are just so much fun!  Reconnecting with Jessica was fantastic as well, and our conversation helped put some things in perspective.

In fact the weekend was a huge resounding positive...

... so why did I cry for three days?

Well, I am a bit jealous of Lisa.  She's prettier than me, and her family embraces her.  She's earned all of this by being such an amazing person.

Family.  It comes down to that. 

My faithful readers know how I feel about my family.  How my parents treated me while I was growing up.  How I don't speak to my brother.  How some things just can't be forgiven.

My biological family in Scotland accepts me without question.  Here in America, I've always been an outcast.  How will they feel when they learn my Truth?

I'm crying because I need to build my family friend by friend, soul by soul, because the one God gave me just can't cope.  And like for so many of us, that loss is subconsciously crippling, no matter how we deal with it consciously.

I am building a family of strong souls.  I've said it many times and I'll say it again.  We TGs HAVE to be strong.  We ARE strong.  We are strong or we die.  It's that simple.  And this family of strong people will NOT fail me.  They will catch my fall.  Maybe not right away... but when it counts.

So many of us suffer.

So it does my soul good to see one of us... someone so beautiful and wise...

Succeed and Live.

So my tears of  self pity are mixed with tears of Joy.

Congratulations Lisa!  Welcome to the rest of your life!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lisa Empanada's "The Pain of Being Just Like You...What If I Had Died? (A True Story)"

Sometimes events conspire to become something more.

Last Saturday, August 3, 2013, I was in Baltimore for a party.  It was a combination birthday/ "affirmation" party.  Lisa Empanada was turning 25 (so her cake said) but was also going Full Time as a woman (except for work.) 

The party was for her family, most of whom hadn't met Lisa yet.  They KNEW about Lisa, but the reality of their kin becoming a woman?  They hadn't seen her.

I was invited as well, along with four others.  She wished she could invite more, but couldn't. 

I wrote in more detail about the party, and the storm of emotions it generated HERE.  In any case, that night, I went to sleep at the Ramada Inn, and I had a very vivid dream.  I awoke crying.  I went through the whole day in a bad mood (right, Hayden?) until I arrived home and started typing like a madwoman.  I typed something I called "The Blog Entry I'll Never Post," as it was for Lisa alone.  It was the dream- I needed to exorcise it from my soul.  Melodramatic?  Maybe.  But true nonetheless.

I sent the piece to Lisa.  She read it, and said she was moved.  (She said more than that, but it was a private communication.)  The next morning, she asked if she could share it with people.  I agreed.  I figured she'd share it with her family.

And she did... with her Extended family.  Her Facebook family.

I didn't expect that.  At all.  She'd never spoken of the events of that night.  I knew about them because I participated.  I am the one who called her therapist... repeatedly, earning her fury.  Lisa pulled out of the Darkness through strength of will and the Love of her family.  I kept my knowledge private, as it should have been. But I didn't know the whole story until I read what Lisa wrote today.

And I cried my eyes out... again.  I was on a break at work, and left the building to cry.  Her words were so amazingly powerful.  Lisa is a gifted writer, so gifted I'm jealous.

I commented on the facebook post about the power of Dreams, which is a subject I'll visit again soon.  The piece I sent to Lisa is embedded in her story exactly as I dreamed it.  I still see the dream in my minds eye, clear as a trauma just witnessed.  And I still cry when I think of it.  Is it possible that my sleeping mind contacted an alternate reality?  Or is my subconscious trying to teach me something?  Or perhaps God (if you believe in her)?

I DID write a vague blog about how I was feeling when the events you're about to read about took place, but I attached no names to it. However, Lisa's picture DID appear in that entry, which you can find HERE

Lisa and I at Keystone, March 2013

In any case, now you have the background to one of the most powerful pieces of writing I have EVER read.  I repost it here with Lisa's kind permission.  She asked me to do a light edit for spelling and grammar, which I did (especially to my bit, as it was typed in a storm of tears and sent unedited to her.)  You will see what I wrote, and how she framed it... I really think her part is a masterpiece.

And if it helps just one person, all the tears will be worth it.

The Pain of Being Just Like You...What If I Had Died? (A True Story)
by Lisa Emapanda
Posted on Facebook- Tuesday August 6, 2013

"I am just like you.

And I turned off my facebook account too exhausted to continue. Why bother?

I am just like you.

I felt myself falling over the cliff and tree branches jutted from the rocks. If I grabbed one, I could stop my fall, but I would surely lose my grip again and start to fall...again. So why bother?

I am just like you.

I wrote my goodbye note, trying to justify what seems so unjustifiable. Yet everyone was still going to be disappointed in me. Why bother?

I am just like you.

I stopped doing the things that mattered and wanted to close my eyes and feel what the absence of pain truly felt like. I could decide to go on but I would forever be in some kind of pain. Go on? Why bother.

I am just like you.

After turning my facebook account off in late March I set in motion a sense of isolation and purpose. I spent most days crying, if not on the outside, then certainly on the inside. Nothing made me smile. Nothing could make the pain go away. I tried reaching out to my friends but I did not want them to be burdened... besides I had a plan and I didn't want them to be a part of it. I would not be stopped.

I had contact with just a few people at the time and I am certain it was because they had thought to reach out to me and not the other way around. They saw the signs. One called my therapist and I was enraged, not for the caring effort that she made but because it might waylay my plans. I had to learn to be more careful lest someone fucks things up and I wind up having to survive...that would totally suck.

Sandy and I left the therapist's office on April 9th. I had asked my therapist if she had ever lost a patient. She said no. I thought to myself "That's about to change."  On the ride home I turned to my spouse and asked if she loved me. She told me she loved Tom and that she liked me. I was Tom...but not anymore. I was finished. My poor therapist: I was glad that I barely knew her. I tried to sleep that night but there was whispering on the porch. I had plans for that weekend and I reminded myself to write the check from my business account for its remaining balance. I went outside I was in a fog. My spouse said my eyes were expressionless. I just told her I was tired. After 1:00 am my daughter and ex-wife pulled up to our house. They live in Fredericksburg- two hours away. They were coming to take me away. They were coming to stop me. I was delusional. I had plans; I was exhausted...the free fall had begun.

My daughter said that I had a haunting look to me as it seemed that I looked right through her. I got up and went inside the house went out the back door and got in my truck. As my ex came towards me I put the truck in reverse...I had someplace I needed to be and no one was going to stop me. I just had to be there a few days sooner. That perfect plan was now being winged as I thought about how much time I had. I needed at least an hour (or so I thought.) I turned off my cell phone as I drove up the street. I made a right onto a street I had never in 10 years driven on, and parked. I calmly went to the back of the truck and opened it. The generator started on a single pull. This is working perfectly. I closed the door and returned to the driver seat. I slumped down and tried to get comfortable. This would all be over soon. I took really deep breaths mindful that I had shorter then expected time to get to where I was going. I never felt more at peace. I was so exhausted that I welcomed this day. I closed my eyes and thought to myself "Finally the pain stops...FINALLY!".

I tried not to think of those looking for me and I only hoped that they were getting further and further from my truck. As I tried to drift off to sleep I heard screaming and then a pounding on the truck. I hazily looked and my daughter was trying to break the window, first beating on it and then trying to kick it in. My first thought was how did she ever take that same turn, that turn onto a road I had never taken before. Then I realized today was not going to be my day. My left hand reached down for the door handle. My daughter and spouse gagged as the fumes left the truck through the opened door. The pain would go on, and the scars of what I had attempted to do would be etched into the hearts and minds of both of my daughters and my spouse.

OMG! I am just like you!

I thought I knew what would happen if I continued to live. I was wrong and I am certain that I am just like you.

My dear friend wrote the attached 'Blog' for me. She attended my Gender Affirmation Party this past Saturday. A day I did my best to never be alive for. Her story is poignant in that it is a reminder of what could have been if I were successful, if others did not see the signs and try to help me.

I am sharing these stories to tell you that all along I have been just like you, and the truth is that you are just like don't have to die. You cannot possibly know what tomorrow might bring.

You are just like me...

Letter sent me:

Dear Lisa,

Yes, I am writing to you again, even though you will never read it. I just need to get things out sometimes, and writing is my therapy. Even the morons here understand that, even if they don't allow me access to a computer.

So I dreamed about you again last night. It seemed so very real. As I've written before, I don't remember many of my dreams anymore. I guess it's the drugs they have me on. But this one, this one I remember every detail.

How many months has it been since that night? Since I got the call to come to Baltimore as you'd gone missing. That horrible night driving around Loch Raven Reservoir on a hunch. The call just after dawn that a policeman had found your truck, still running. That unbearable morning, and the drive back to Pennsylvania that night. I couldn't go back to Baltimore for the services. I want to remember you as you were.

Anyway, the dream. It was summer, and we were in someone's backyard. I'd never seen the place before. It was wet; I think it had been raining. There were so many people I'd never seen. Isn't it weird how dreams are populated by people you don't know? Like your brain has a random people generator or something. I was wearing my long brown skirt and a tank top, which is odd as I don't own one. I had driven the Subaru, which was also weird because I wrecked that right before coming here. I drove four other people to this place. Hayden from Harrisburg was one of them. The others looked familiar, but I can't place them.

Anyway, you were standing in the middle of the yard as the chaos swirled around you. You were wearing a white sundress with flowers on it. You were holding a bouquet of flowers someone had given you. You looked over at me and the others as we walked slowly through the wet grass and mud. And you smiled. You smiled as wide and happy as I had ever seen you.

You looked positively angelic.

Anyway, in the dream I circulated around, and I saw a sign hanging on a battered above-ground swimming pool. It said "Happy Affirmation Day Lisa!" It was your birthday, and you were going full time. Sandy was there, smiling as well. So were your daughters. It turns out all these people were your family, and they were there for you on this special day.

I know you didn't believe in God and an afterlife, but I do. And by now you know for sure one way or the other, I guess. I really think that this dream which has seared itself into my mind maybe has a message.

You are in Heaven.

And your Heaven is to be surrounded by accepting family and friends while being the beautiful woman that you always knew you were, but would never be. You left us before you gave yourself that chance. Before giving them a chance.

I remember hugging you in the dream. In fact it's the last think I remember before the alarm woke me. We were holding each other, it was night, and I was congratulating you.

Then I woke up back here. This fucking place. The doctors say I'm doing better, but what do they know? They keep telling me to let go of the guilt, but I can't. The last conversation we had was that you no longer trusted me, since I called your therapist and told her I was concerned. I remember how sullen you sounded. I remember telling you I'd do it again a million times if it meant keeping you alive. I remember crying. And that awful night. I can't stop think about how I failed you.

I haven't stopped crying since waking up this morning. Sometimes I'm happy because you HAVE to be in heaven - what else could that dream mean? Somewhere, in some reality, I didn't fail you, and you are alive and a happy woman. Other times I am sad because I miss you so very much and I'll never see you again. Hell I don't even know if I'll ever be discharged from this place.

I miss you Lisa. I hope you really are in heaven and somewhere your dreams came true.



...and to think that this all really happened. That I had friends who saw the signs.

I know what it feels like to be certain that I could not go on. I now know what it feels like to be certain that I was wrong. If you are struggling and feeling as if you can't make it...I want you to know that you can.

I am just like you..."

At Lisa's Affirmation party, Aug 3, 2013  L to R: Me, Lisa, Ally

Friday, August 2, 2013

I Told Two Men...then Jamie

The circle grows.  "The deadly net of Knowledge."

In the space of two days, I told two people the Truth about myself.

Both were guys.  But their places in my life are very different.

The first is a former co-worker.  I'll call him Dave.  He lives with "E", whom I will now call Elizabeth.  Random names so I can re-use the letters.  If you'll recall, Elizabeth was the first "civilian" person I told about being Trans.  She was the person who helped me choose my outfit for that fateful Halloween 2008, when I reawakened.  And she met Sophie for the first time very recently.

Thursday, July 25.  So I asked Dave to meet me at Rock Bottom, where we used to hang out back when we worked together.  I arrived first and found a table in the bar.  I put money in the jukebox.  I waited.

Maybe ten minutes later they arrived.  And my stomach went through the floor.  I was suddenly VERY nervous.  You see, I'd told two others before about being Sophie.  And they were both women. 

This time, I was telling a Guy.  A Guy I'd known for several years.  And I was about to tell him... that I was a Woman.

No pressure or anything.

They sat down and we talked about their jobs overseas.  We toasted absent friends.  Ordered nachos.

I previously told Elizabeth that I would be telling him that night.  She knew what was coming. 

I told Dave about my wife wanting me to move out... and didn't tell him why.  At first.

I pulled one of my business cards from my pocket and held it in my palm.  I asked him if he had any idea why this was happening.  He replied he didn't.

I then slid the card over to him, face down.  He turned it over.

He saw my true face.

Picture on my Business Card

And looked at me.  I said "That's me.  I'm Sophie Lynne.  I'm transgender."

He stared at the card for a few moments.  I told him that Elizabeth knew.  And that so did M. 

He started asking the usual questions, which I answered.  And he said "Ok.  I'm still your friend.  This changes nothing."

I've seen him twice since then.  And he treats me the same as he ever did.  On Monday he and Elizabeth fly back to Turkey.

As to the second person, I told him on Friday July 26.   Let's call him "R."  I met him at Rock Bottom as well.  In fact I sat in the same seat, at the same table in the bar where a day earlier I'd told Dave.  R was late, as always.  I had an order of wings as I waited. 
When he arrived, we toasted with shots of Sambuca (we always toast with this)  to his late Father and to our mutual late Friend.  (I discussed his passing in my TG Forum column HERE.) 
I wrote about the encounter the following morning on Facebook:

LAST NIGHT I told my friend of 34 years about Sophie. 
He was special forces. Is a Man's man. We had a few drinks, talked about a few things, like my home situation. He kept talking about honesty and trust. Kept saying that. So I told him I'd been lying to him all our lives.

And I told him the truth. Took an hour.

And he Cried.

This Soldier... this Man... who I've known all my life, who didn't cry when he divorced or when his beloved father died... Cried.

... He cried for me.
And he grabbed me by the shoulder... and said "I will always have your back." And he repeated that. 

Again and again.
I dropped him off at his hotel (he's visiting from overseas) and drove home at 2 AM.

This person I've known since junior high school. He was in my wedding, as I was in both of his (the second I was best man at the renewal of vows, as the actual ceremony was very private.)  He once told me he would "take a bullet for [me.]"  As I would for him.

Of all the people I consider my oldest friends, our old circle, R was the one I feared telling the most. I WOULD die for him, which is why I felt he deserved to be told face to face.  I feared that he would reject me out of hand as a traitor to manhood.
As I mentioned, he kept discussing how Honesty is the foremost quality of a man. That there are many qualities and "they blend like the metals we mix to make a good sword" quoting one of our mutual favorite movies.  But honesty is above all.  And then I told him.
Like all relationships when this is told to a person, there was a Before and an After.  I've never seen R cry before.  Ever. 
I've always looked up to R.  I've always thought he was what a Man should aspire to be: intelligent, physically amazing, funny, etc.  When he went into the military, I so wished I could be him.  He was my hero.  This was despite his many flaws; his womanizing, drinking, taking things too far. 
Then I saw him Cry.
And I admire him so much more. 

I saw R twice after that- once at a picnic and the day after, and nothing had changed.  Yet.  We've exchanged several emails discussing the process where he urges caution. 

Caution. I'm changing the course of my life.  To not think this through would be foolish indeed.  Yes, I'm being cautious.

So a week has passed since those nights.  And all is well where that is concerned.  No, I'm not posting entries as fast as I should, but I need time to reflect on them myself.  I can do no less.  Oh, and my readers deserve no less.  Or no more.  Or whatever.  Your mileage may vary.
Yet there was one other person who I felt I needed to tell.
On Thursday, August 1, I attended a game night at M's house.  In attendance, among others, were Dave and Elizabeth, also someone I worked with at the bookstore years ago (and her husband.) I'll call her the random name "Jamie."

Jamie is much younger than I.  She is a voluptuous woman, and possesses a beauty, internal and external, that takes ones breath away.  She is from Missouri, and like most people I know from there, Jamie is pleasant and plain speaking.  Where she differs is that mischievous look to her eye and the fire in her spirit.  She is almost as liberal as I, but manages not to piss people off with it like me.  Her husband is a VERY lucky man... and is worthy of her.
Jamie works in the publishing industry.  Like me, she lives for the Written Word.  As I only see her every few months, I decided that the best way to tell her about Sophie would be for her to read about it.  During Thursday night, one of the topics discussed was writing and blogging.  Later, as I was preparing to leave, I mentioned to her that I had a blog.  I told her that it was quite a secret- that my name appeared nowhere in or on it (A bit of a fib.  My drab name doesn't appear.)  She said she'd love to read it.  I told her M and Elizabeth had read a bit of it, and that Dave was aware of it, but probably hadn't read it.  And that she must keep her knowledge of it, and everything therein, a Secret from the world- even her husband.  She agreed.
Today, I messaged her on my drab FB.  She said she was willing to keep it secret.  I sent her the link- just like this:  LINK.  I told her in the email that I would answer any questions she had either via email or phone.
And I waited. 
I finished the weeding from a couple weeks ago.  Wife says I did a good job.  MIL said it "it isn't done."
Scorched Earth
I went to lunch with my "Big Sis" Mel.  She advised me to slow down the pace of telling people.  Probably a good idea.
On may way home, I called Jamie.  She was hanging out with her husband.  I asked her if she clicked the link.  She said she had.  I asked if we were still speaking.  She laughed.  "Of course!  I'll email you later about it!"  I told her I was relieved.  She laughed again, and said "You should know me well enough by now that I would support you in this!"  I thanked her.
So Jamie knows.  In the past week, I've raised the number of "Civilians" who know my Truth from two to six  (I told R he should tell his wife for me.  Yes, she's cool with it as well.)
Time will tell.  Maybe some or all of these people will drift away as they reflect more on what I've told them.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  As several of my Sisters have said, that will be the true test.
But in telling them, I tested myself.  My resolve.  My courage. 
My Honesty.
The Mark of a not just a Man, but also of a Woman...
Of a Human Being.