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)

Monday, 26 December 2016

Scary Experiences

Help - so scared!  I have two friends (a chap and a lady) who I’ve known for around 8-9 years, they are both completely lovely.  We started out as work colleagues and over the years we grew closer.  When we all stopped working together, it started out with lunch meetings and over the years has turned mainly into an annual meet up for lunch.  This year its happening later this week.

They are familiar with the fact that I am transgender.  Since they found out, they’ve always been supportive and very kind about my gender issues.  Yesterday we were sharing a joint text conversation wishing each other a Merry Christmas and I’m not sure what grabbed me, but I finally thought that it was time to introduce them in person to the real me.  Oh my goodness.  It seemed like a very good idea at the time, but today the butterflies have already been flying around in my tummy and I’m scared.  This is the first time I’ve introduced Rhiannon to work folk in such a formal setting and am scared - they are people I really respect and I care about their views.  I don’t want them to just see a man in a dress and to pity me.  I want to hold my own as a girl with them.  Did I mention that I’m feeling a little bit of pressure.

I’m thinking that I’m going to wear my favourite dress that I’ve been talking about obsessively.  And I’m hoping that it goes ok and that its not a complete nightmare.  Oh goodness I’m so scared.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Its Official!

So apart from taking to the blog to wish you a very very Merry Christmas, I went to fat club this morning for the pre-Christmas weigh in and... a week ahead of when I thought it would happen, I managed to get my 3-stone lost award which was just a fantastic feeling.  Clearly I have a long way to go still.  2017 is going to see another 7-stone+ melting away, but its a good start and I’m feeling very happy and encouraged.

In other news, I've just had a week with lots of Rhiannon time which never fails to make me feel very happy.  Monday saw me going out with two girlfriends for Christmas lunch.  I was going to go originally in boy mode as I’m always conscious that I don’t want it to be forced on people all the time.  But I couldn’t resist and my favourite dress beckoned.  So out again in a dress it was.  My friends were lovely, the staff were friendly and kind and just accepted me as another lady out for lunch with her friends.  Complete bliss.  One of the things I'm always wondering about is my confidence when I'm out.  I asked S, who was with me,how I did and she said that she felt that I was much much more confident today than ever before.  So so happy!

Then we had our office mini-party later in the week.  Another Rhiannon day and my favourite Christmas present of the year from A who got me a Radley compact mirror.  I’ve been coveting hers all year and it made my day to get one of my own.  We drank nice wine until much too late and had lovely food from the on-site caterers.

I even had a lovely evening alone in a hotel this week which was so nice.  Don’t do that so much these days.  An evening of tea, work and slobbing in my favourite skinny jeans and a nice top.  Even got my nails painted a festive red! :o)

Rhiannon goes quiet now as I do the family thing for the next week, but I really hope that 2017 is both a year of growth as a woman and fingers crossed may include an opportunity to take things even further.  Full of hope and excitement for the year to come.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

So frustrating…and so stupid

Grrrrrrrrr.   Argggghhhhhh.   I’m at another one of those points where so much good is happening to me as Rhiannon that its causing even more frustration.  Going to the support group, Chameleons a week or so ago has unstuck some issues in my mind.  But its like one of those logical Yoda-isms (Rogue One is fantastic by the way) - “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”  OK, OK, enough fan girl stuff and to the point.  I’ve had some real successes in the last week or so and lots of me has been very happy.  But “happiness leads to needing to more happiness.  More happiness requires sacrifice which leads to frustration.  Frustration leads to stupidity.”

So, on happiness:

1. Weight loss is helping.  39.5lbs now lost since August which is great news.  This has increased my confidence.  Clothes that have been my staple for a long time now don’t fit me - I put on some jeans the other day which were just sagging around me.   Conversely clothes that were too small are now fitting again.  This is one of my favourite dresses and the fact that it fits me again is just a miracle.  Knowing that if I carry on it won’t any longer is bitter sweet.  Mainly sweet.  What other dresses await?

2. A long-standing friendship that I have which went south a few years ago, finally started to heal.  A couple whom I love a lot, but had drifted apart when I perceived their poor handling of Mrs A and my last break up, thawed.  I came out to them and they understood and were beyond accepting.  Hopefully a meeting in January will move it even closer to being resolved.

3. So much positive feedback about the picture I posted last time.  I've shown several of my friends and they have been lovely.  One friend, who I've blogged about before - L, was so amazingly fantastic.  I've re-read her comments loads of times because they were just so kind.  I wish I could publish them in full - just to be able to say, 'look someone knows I'm trans and still said these amazing words about me'.  I'm not saying this for effect, I sincerely believe the opposite from what she said and her words hit me deeply in my inner most soul.

4. The conversation that I talked about in my last blog where I was really struggling about how someone close to me was feeling got resolved.  We had a very good conversation where I was very honest about how I was feeling and my fears and she reciprocated with how it was impacting her and why.  I cried.  A lot.  Tears of relief but also of a frustration that is growing.

So these and other things are making me very happy at the moment (I am SO up and down aren’t I?).  Despite the fair warnings from some wise contributors, this happiness and acceptance can be very addictive.  Pretty much all the people who I want to know and like me as Rhiannon know, so to move further is to push the envelope into the world beyond that, which is scary.  I know that I’ll have to go further to transition which I think increasingly in my mind is the pathway I want.  But I try to balance that with doing it by my rules, in my timeframes.

So anyway, I went to a Christmas meal and had one too many wines.  Before you worry, I’ve been keeping my alcohol consumption under control of late happily.  But I was out with a group I do some work with and drunkness, frustration and need to be accepted combined in a sudden decision for me to out myself to a couple of the people there.  They are probably amongst the few people I have told who are a) out of my normal circle and b) could impact back on my life in an uncontrolled way.  To be fair, they were lovely, but I have no idea if they will report back on our conversation.  Normally when I tell people, I know that there is discretion and in this case I don’t know that at all.  I’m bracing myself for a circle of about 500 people who know me to potentially find out about Rhiannon.  Its either going to be ok or the most stupid thing I’ve ever done because I also have no idea how the broader group would respond.  Given that many of them are ruffty tufty men, I’m not sure if it’ll be positive.  Today is the first day I go back into that world and I’m actually a little scared.

I really do need to get my frustration under check.  My fat club Facebook group was posting before and after weight loss photos yesterday.  I was so near to posting a very different type of before and after photo that also included a dimension of weight loss.  I didn’t.   But I am a little worried that my usual patient and careful side is a bit raggedy at the moment and I need to get it under control before I do something that I need to do, but in a stupid timescale before I’m really ready.  Like now.