Monday, 3 April 2017

Facing more fears… (Part One)

Thank you so much for your kind support following my last blog.  You might have been able to tell, I really wasn’t in a great place.  I’m still feeling guilty and like I’m ruining other people’s lives for the sake of mine, but I’m the kind of person who is likely to feel like that generally.  I have a tendency towards unhealthy self-sacrifice.  Your comments really helped and I know that I need to move on and to be me, come what may.  I have thought very carefully about this transition towards living as female and I know that I’m on my way now and that, for me at least, it’s positive.

I don’t know if you have one, but I definitely have a list of 'scary things to do whilst presenting as female' list?  Some of them would sound stupid to you.  What scares me would probably not scare you.   The most obviously daft one is probably the thought of going, as Rhiannon, to my local supermarket.  So many people, in close proximity, who could behave in any and varied unpredictable ways.  And not least their children who would happily point at me and say things like, “why is that man wearing a dress mummy.”  The scariest one professionally, given I train people (often very large groups of 50+ people) is to deliver a programme as me.

Three of the things on said list are: going to a conference or event with lots of people surrounding me who I don’t know, travelling on a train and going to London.  I told you they might sound stupid.  Particularly, as you might argue that London, for example, is quite trans-friendly.  But the thought of so many people seeing me for who I truly am and potentially reacting badly to it gives me the heeby-jeebies.

So it started in Cardiff…

Knowing I’m going to have to face many of these things, whether I like it or not, I am starting to schedule them in so that I can “face the fear and do it anyway,” now while I have the chance to do it at my own pace.   A couple of months ago, I spotted that there was going to be an event in Cardiff that I really wanted to go to.  Please don’t judge me for this one, but it was a Dr Who conference.  I’m normal in most ways, but this is not one.  I’m a starry-eyed fangirl when it comes to all things Whovian.  A conference, run by Pride Cymru, on the role LGBT plays in Dr Who was too good to be true.  And…in a manageable way, was a first opportunity to tackle another one of my scary experience list.   Surely, if anyone was going to put on a trans-friendly event it was them?   So I booked a hotel in Cardiff and stayed the night.  In the morning, deep breath, get dressed and ready.  Jeans, flats, nice top, coat and bag.  Hand on the hotel door and out into the world of Cardiff.

I had a 15 minute walk through Cardiff to get to the venue, but it was a quiet Saturday morning, before the crowds were around, so all good.   Or so I thought.  Walking to the corner of a road by the hotel, I was suddenly aware of hundreds of people, all heading in the same direction as me.  Not just any people, they were all in pairs.  One adult, one child.  On the corner of the street was a cinema and it was Saturday morning.  Kid’s cinema time.  My heart rate spiked.  But bizarrely, I relaxed and an ironic smile spread across my face.  This just HAD to happen didn’t it?  I decided to keep walking and to brazen it out.  I was doing really well until the worst happened - a child decided to comment on me.  I was bracing myself a little for it to happen.  Its a little blurry now, but they said something like, “She’s got a nice bag mummy.”  I had to actually stop myself fist pumping and doing a happy dance.  I grinned as I walked past the million others and even made eye contact with some of the parents.  A tiny piece of fear, just died.

The rest of the day was surprisingly easy - and made me wonder why it was on my ‘too difficult’ list.  I queued up with everyone else in a long queue.  Had a lovely exchange with the ticket desk operators, got my wristband.  Found a seat and absolutely loved the day.  The panels were fantastic.  For other Whovians (you don’t need to out yourselves, its ok) there was a galaxy of people there including Russell T Davies, Bethany Black, Gareth David Lloyd, Phil Collinson, Nicholas Pegg, Barnaby Edwards, Waris Hussein (1st episode Director) and a whole load of people who work on Dr Who show.  CJ de Mooi was even in the audience!

I did get captured in one of the ‘officially used’ photos on the Facebook page too :o).  Yay! Such a saddo.

Conscious I’m going on a bit and there is definitely more.  So tomorrow, I’ll finish the story… more fears faced and London conquered!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

I ruin lives

I remember watching “Pretty Woman” for the first time and obviously loving it.  The sad moment, that stuck out for me was when Edward, the main male lead said, “Impossible relationships. My special gift is impossible relationships.”  I know it sounds so self-pitying and maudlin, but at the moment, it feels like my special gift is ruining other people’s lives.   Why is it that a lot of the time, you can feel happy and upbeat and positive and then other times - this morning included - you feel like you’d rather just run out and dive underneath a bus.  I’ve not felt like this for a very long time, but the enormity of the way in which I have a negative impact on people who get close to me is frightening.  And sad.  I feel toxic.  I should warn people not to get to know me because I’m likely just to end up hurting them too.

I have had so many relationships recently where things have gone awry.  Clearly, I’m systematically destroying my family life at the moment.  A couple of people in my fat club got in the path.  Someone at work.  People at a group I’m giving up leading to transition who are struggling to find a new leader.  Making it difficult for the people who employ me.  The thing is that I never intend to do it.  I try my hardest to be a nice person.  In fact, sometimes you might accuse me of being a people pleaser.  But somehow, haphazardly, by not thinking, by reacting from my pain, sadness and insecurity, I cause more pain than I help.

The thing is, I know that my transition is only going to make this even worse.  In my selfish attempt to achieve desperately needed congruence, I am the cause of other’s sadness and grief.  Whilst I know I have no choice but to do it because it is getting to such a distressing point, I’m also going to have to find a way of living with myself knowing there is a trail of destruction behind me that I have caused.  I feel like I’ve lived my life running from a tornado and everyone who gets near me ends up in its path too.  Many of them just haven’t learnt to run fast enough and get caught.

I’m not going to write anymore.  So so sorry if I sound like a self pitying cow.  Just having a really hard day today and this is my place to go.  You can probably tell I have sobbed my whole way through the writing of this blog.  But I needed just to say it.  Sometimes you do.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone…

Silence is rarely good when it comes to my blog.  This hiatus is consistent with that theory.  I'm filled with very mixed emotions that I'm struggling to process at the moment, let alone to articulate.  If I had a gun to my head, I would say that it is like the worst sadness ever, combined with relief.  The cause is easier to explain than the emotion.  For various reasons, I had to reveal my plans to transition to Mrs A.  So she knows.  My ever lovely and beautiful wife now knows that after years of fighting, I'm giving in and that with any luck, by the end of this year, I will have followed in the footsteps of many of you and transitioned to live full time as female.  As the real me.

This happened a few weeks ago now and the pain that I've caused her in making and communicating that decision is difficult to describe.  The depth of the guilt I feel is almost, at times, making me feel like life could never be happy again.  I knew that I had to do it and so one Friday night, I set my face and did it.  Ironically, she read the moment and knew that I had something to talk to her about.   I handed over the letter that I'd written, and watched the anguish and tears form in the face I love.   My heart nearly burst with sadness and swelled with a love for her that I thought forgotten.  Like watching a car crash happen in slow motion, I just wanted to rip the letter from her hands and to laugh, to pretend it was a joke, but I couldn't.  I had to go through with it.

For me, for a long time, the pain of feeling so incongruent has been building to a fever pitch.  Yet, the depth of sadness has of late contrasted with the complete happiness and sense of wellbeing I get from being who I am inside.  I reached the conclusion that unless I do it, I'm going to forever feel heartbreakingly sad.  A friend recently said, 'why do you have to set yourself on fire to keep everyone warm.'  The moment of clarity broke through finally and I got it.

So since I last blogged a lot has happened:  we are still together, in the same house. Not ideal, not because I don't want to be there but because I feel the desperate urge to try to make things better when I'm the cause of the problem.  I just want to reach out, hug her and tell her it's going to be ok, knowing that probably for a long while it won't be.  At work, I had meetings and they know my intentions.  Lots more meetings to come, but so far so good.  We’ve won some new work and I’m busier than I ever have been.  In line with my Doctor’s advice, I’m trying to simplify my life and to jettison a broad range of extra-curricular commitments.  My kind and loyal friends have rushed to help, I've been to support group and had more new people willing to be there.

But my whole concern is for her.  Is she getting any level of support?  She is not someone who easily opens up.  Even her natural supporters sometimes struggle to get her to reveal her emotions.  I fear for her.   And especially for the next x period of time while we are in ambiguous limbo.

I will keep you posted obviously, but having a hard time right now…

Saturday, 28 January 2017

“I get by with a little help from my friends”

I apologise for my relentless cheerfulness in yet another happy blog.  Don’t worry, my normal sadness will resume at some point I’m sure.  My highs are high, but my lows are bad.   I can’t remember if I’ve said, but one of my favourite themes in films is friendship.  Of course I love romantic films as much as the next girl.  Who wouldn’t love the press conference in “Notting Hill” for example?  But for me, friendship movies trump that: Samwise and Frodo, Andy and Red, Han and Chewie, Woody and Buzz, ET and Eliot, Elle and Paulette - there are just so many. :o)

Anyway, I digress.  I sometimes feel very isolated and alone.  But then there are other times when I realise the richness of the friendships I have and know that they are enough to give me strength and to sustain me through the tough times ahead.

This week has been a case in point.  It opened with a Rhiannon dinner with a great friend, wine and laughter and feeling normal and accepted.  I resisted all bad foods and made sure I stuck to some great veg dishes.  The conversation flowed and no matter what nonsense I talked and the obsession I have with gender, we both enjoyed ourselves.  I also walked to and from the restaurant - and am really feeling amazingly comfortable doing this now.

Another night at Chams, in Nottingham, later in the week saw me meeting some new folks as well as seeing the second ever lovely Mrs Jones (the first being her wife).  A greater, warmer welcome couldn’t be asked for - as well as Lynn being genuinely as lovely as she sounds in her blog, the rest of the group are pretty special too.  We covered a range of topics and there is always laughter on tap.  Its amazing how great it is to sit amongst a group of trans-people knowing that they completely get me, my history, my fears and my worries.   And Lynn takes a mean photo!  My goodness, no-one’s captured me that well for ages!

The following day was a meeting that, if I’m completely honest was making me nervous through the week.  I recently reconnected with a couple who I’ve been friends with for a long time, but have not seen for 5-6 years.  I only told them about the fact that I am trans about 4-5 weeks ago.  I thought I would be rejected out of hand as they have a very strong Christian faith and that’s often the outcome.  But I honestly couldn’t have been more surprised and moved by the compassion, love and acceptance I received.  Before arriving, I suddenly had a panic moment: were they expecting me in female presentation?  They reassured me that they were and I arrived (see photo left).  3 hours later and two cups of tea and we were chatting like we’d never been apart and like I’d always been a woman.  He is a church leader and if every church group behaved like they do, they would win over most of our community (me included) in no time.  Our conversation was wide ranging and meaningful.  I didn’t want to leave, but knew that work beckoned, so I pulled myself away and hope that its not long until I see them again.

Alongside that, all week, people have been dipping in and out on Facebook, on the phone, on WhatsApp and email and I’ve felt surrounded by people who really do care about me.  I really am a very lucky girl - fun conversations, heart pouring out conversations and lots of joy.  And more meetings being set up all the time, so more time as me which is never a bad thing.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The crazy days of 2017…

Wow, what a start to the year!  So, I’m really sorry that I’ve not blogged and have had to resort to a bumper blog to bring you up to speed!  I have had the craziest, busiest start to the year that I think I’ve ever known.  For those who know me, that is really saying something!  My feet have honestly not touched the ground.  I’ve been up and down the byways and highways of the UK relentlessly - and have to say that despite another few weeks of this continuing ahead of me, I’m really tired.  42 year old lasses shouldn’t put their bodies through this stress!

That said, I’ve also been moving forward on the Rhiannon front too - and in the middle of all of this busyness, I’ve managed several outings which have been fantastic.  Several days have already been spent being me and it has made me so much happier.  That I seem so happy is the number one comment I get these days.  Clearly, that is also intensely confusing as it continues to raise the thorny issue of transition.  Thorny not because I don’t want it, I’ve realised that I’ve never wanted anything more with my whole heart, but that the implications for both home and work are huge.  Conversations are looming that terrify me.  But I know that for my piece of mind and sanity I need to get on with it.   My counsellor has agreed to write a referral document confirming that he agrees with my self-diagnosis of gender dysphoria.  He is asking my Doctor to think about moving me to the next stage of transition.  So assuming that my system can cope, I could start my hormones in the next few months.   He can’t believe how much I’ve changed and grown in confidence over the last 6-8 weeks alone.  To help that along, I’ve continued to lose weight - and despite an early year slump (just busy), I’ve got another 4lbs off, so I’m up to 3 stone 4 lbs lost (46 lbs / 21 kgs).  I’m aiming to lose 10 stone in total by the end of this year.  So far, this means I have dropped 3 dress sizes which is really exciting!

I have continued to discreetly bring a few people into my circle of trust and they have been very supportive including the wisest person I’ve ever met - an amazing lady who in her early 20s already has the most incredible insights.  She has made several observations that have had a huge impact on changing my thinking.  A complete shout out to her.   I’ve also had support from some surprising places and this week have a meeting with some old friends which equal parts scares and excites me.

This month as well as just coping and trying to get through the work, I’ve tried to make time for Rhiannon.  So as well as my usual nights in at hotels working and watching TV, I’ve been busy!   I’ve been out for dinner with girlfriends twice, spent the day out and about including my monthly counselling appointment and waxing, I’ve just been braver and gone out of my hotel room on short errands as me rather than changing back before I open the door, I popped into Pink Punters on my own and had some interesting chats with drunk 19-year olds who were completely lovely.  I’ve had to buy some new dresses because I’ve shrunk and a third of my wardrobe is too big now.  I’m wearing dresses a lot more out because now I’ve lost weight (and discovered Spanx), I’m feeling so much more confident.  Its still fragile, but it really is getting there.

The next month or so has even more planned and I promise I will blog as it happens — there will be a lot to share.  But in the mean time, I thought you’d be interested in seeing some of the photos from the year so far…



Saturday, 31 December 2016

End of Year Outtake Selfies - me unedited?

So, as a final hurrah to 2016, I was going back through my selfies taken on my computer's camera and found a few *ahem* that I thought were nice, but got missed on previous blogs - or I deselected them because I was looking daft, doing something odd or showing off far too much chinage (is that even a word?).

Having started on this weight loss journey too (they are on in chronological order) - it was fascinating to see the effect of slimming down... hey, its new year, indulge me!

And have a fantastic 2017!  Wishing, hoping and praying that it is an amazing year for all of us. :o)




Friday, 30 December 2016

Scary Experiences Part 2 - The Update

Thank you so much to you all for your encouragement earlier in the week —I really was feeling very nervous about my lunch today.  When I met with them though, as some of you said, I’m really not sure why I was nervous as they were completely lovely and awesome.

The day started this morning with the lady I was meeting sending a group text to confirm that everyone was ok and to make sure we had the right time etc.  We agreed the time and I have to confess that I sent a side message to her to a) own up to my nervousness and b) to ask her what she was planning to wear.  She is one of the people I most admire from a fashion perspective - she spends a lot of money on clothes and particularly on shoes - and everything, expensive or not, is tasteful and completely suits her.  Today’s Jimmy Choos were a complete triumph!   She looked incredible.  I didn’t want to look frumpy or overdressed, so I thought I would check in to make sure.  Between us we agreed that what I was going to wear was perfectly right for the occasion, so I went with it.

So I got ready as usual - clearly paying a good deal of attention to my make up to make sure it was as good as I could make it.  I have been experimenting with eye shadows recently as I’ve nearly run out of my now discontinued favourite colour.  Today - they got some of my final precious supply on my eyes.  Anything to try to impress!  I even spent lots of time sorting my hair out - hairdryer - special hair product etc.  I just wanted to look tip toppety.  Because - and genuinely this isn’t to provoke a response, but I look at myself and just see a fat bloke in a dress.  Its hard to see anything else I guess when its you.  I’ll look at photos and purely see the bad bits - but I guess we all do that.

When I arrived the chap was already there and we waited about 10 mins for the lady.  We were talking away - he was really lovely.  He said that he was really impressed at how well presented and appropriate I looked.  He even said (with the appropriate caveats so as not to offend me) that he thought I look much better as a girl than when I’m in boy mode.  He really meant it too - not just flattery.  Honestly, I could have cried.   The lady then turned up with flowers for me which REALLY could have set me off.  I’ve only ever been given flowers once before and her ones really were lovely.

So we passed a few very happy hours talking about everything - people we’d worked with and where they were now, each other’s lives, boob jobs (not mine), my transition plans, hair extensions, transphobia, shoes.  Just everything.   It felt so normal and so relaxed.   I even brought a new dimension to ‘getting them out for the lads’ by handing over one of my silicon inserts so the chap could see what we meant by them!!  The staff were even fantastic where we were eating.  My friends said that I seemed happier than I ever have been before with them.  Which was really true inside me.  Sometimes you just feel like you could glow from the complete happiness of acceptance and feeling like you look lovely.  They made me feel every inch like just any other girl in their social group and more than that, they made feel like I could gain acceptance from the whole world.

I need more days like today, I really do.  Would it be greedy to ask for every day to be like that?

PS Lynn J, in the comments on my last blog said that if there are no photos, it didn't happen.  Hence the photo!  I need to remember to take some more often - I quite liked the ones taken today! :o)