Monday, 28 February 2011

A very British blog...

Since becoming a blogger, I have to say that my interest in reading all things blog has increased even more.  I was fascinated before, but now I can happily spend hours perusing other people's stories.  In some cases wishing that they would blog again soon because I can't wait for the next installment.  I was going to go for another obscure film reference there, but I resisted.

But in reading these blogs, two things seem to stand out to me.  The first is that they are often deeply sad, moving or 'depressing' due to which, the second, is that the blogger feels the need to somehow weave in a very self conscious apology for glumming down the blogosphere.  I too feel the temptation to do the same.  Having started writing my blog at somewhat of a low point for me personally in my life, there is an inevitability that some of the content is going to be less than upbeat.  Its an outpouring of my feeling when I don't have anywhere else to outpour.  When I examine my motivation for blogging it is not (probably wrongly) to entertain, but instead to just cope.

Last week when I was really low and sad, I went out and bought shoes.  I actually felt better.  I wondered why I'd never done that before - its a well known tactic.  They are really cute too and go well with my jeans and have a 4 inch heel.  Sorry, distracted by shoes...where was I?  Anyway, blogs, that's it.  I realised, (having parted with cash for shoes and understanding that if you are shopping you can't just buy shoes and that there was a nice top that I needed - oh and some very nice underwear - oh, and I must have that nail polish, I don't have that colour) that being sad could get expensive.  A blog however, is a reasonably priced way of getting all the emotion out.  And therein lays the issue.

The trouble is that when you let the emotion out in the words of a blog, there is a danger that it will be very un-British.  It might be messy.  It might say things that one shouldn't in public.  It might open me up to be thought of as mad, a bitch, a weirdo, a less than intelligent specimen, a freak.  But if I preface it with "I'm a bit upset today", "sorry for the depressing theme" or some other self-deprecating line then the madness seems less mad.  I've managed to save some face.

So what's my point?  I am really willing to read blogs where people are talking about how unhappy they are, where they are feeling a bit down, where they wish that they could be more cheerful.  I know that over time that I too will get more cheerful and I'll get things back on track and my blogs might even be funny sometimes.  But while you're miserable and upset, you shouldn't have to apologise for it.  I want to read the sad blog as well as the happy blog and I want to celebrate that you were frank and candid in both places.  And I want you to be able to be you.  We often have to hide so much of our trannyness away from those that judge us.  Surely our own blogs are the one place of sanctuary where we can let our full, multi-coloured outpourings outpour.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Inside I'm Screaming!

The boy version of me is not particularly either camp or even that femme.  If you look closely you may spot the odd thing - and, upon hearing, some of the people I have told have not been surprised.  But that's mainly after retro-fitting the evidence.  They wouldn't have naturally arrived at that point of realisation.  So what's my point?

This is probably just me, but as a wannabe girl being viewed by the world as a boy, I feel so excluded by women.  In reality, I completely understand why.  Apart from the fact that I am mostly dressed as a man and in fact am really a man.  Bypass that in a million years they would never think I would be interested in being included anyway.  Ignore that on the surface I feign disinterest.  Its a pretty compelling picture.  But inside I'm screaming.

Recently I had a conversation about cars.  I can pretend with the best of them to know things about cars.  I try not to reveal the fact that I only really notice the colour of the car and how many doors it has!  As an aside, I have perfected the ability to talk, albeit shallowly, about football as well.  But anyway, to the point. In this conversation I was told, "you're a man, so you should know about cars."  I felt really glum for the rest of the day.  Why can't people realise that I'm not a boy really, I'm a girl.  And its not that girls shouldn't know about cars, some do.  Clearly.  Its that I'm stereotyped in a stereotype that I don't want.  It made me scream inside and to want to escape.

Then just yesterday, a facebook status arrived about a woman who's perfected a new method of attaching false nails in a way that doesn't cause as much damage to your existing nails.  In the status she said, 'girlies, you'll know what I mean'.  This blog is making me realise that I am far too sensitive to these things.  But I realised again that my real reply of 'not just the girlies' or 'that would be perfect solution for the cutically challenged' or 'just give me some now', would have been misinterpreted as a joke at best or made me appear weird and pervy at worst.  Inside I really wanted to scream, why not me.

Maybe its just that I need to get over myself and be even more open about who I am and be more 'out', but I'm not ready yet and am not sure if I ever will be.  But resigning myself to being on the outside looking in, is really hard.

Obscure film reference, but I was always struck by one of the scenes in the Gene Wilder version of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.  It is when poor Charlie Bucket spots the other children eating lots of sweets in the sweet shop and puts his nose to window wishing he could be with them, enjoying what they have, but knowing he'll always be too poor.  Clearly he doesn't realise that all the chocolate is really going to do is make you fat and that many of the children inside were probably wishing they didn't have to be there.  But the grass is always greener over there isn't it?  And while I think that and won't do anything to actually scream out loud that 'I am girl, hear me', I'll just have to carry on screaming inside.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

How did that happen?

So, yesterday was the first counselling session and I have to say I actually feel different, which leaves me rather agog.

The format and approach was not a million miles away from what I expected: lots of talking about my past, what I was trying to achieve etc. I have talked about what and who I am with other people, but talking to someone who is experienced in this area and who possesses a profound understanding of transgender issues was such a relief.

I didn't get any startling revelations, there was no Damascus experience. But I came away with a deep peace of knowing that I'm on a path to making some decisions and that I'm not alone in trying to make them. Instead, someone who's been there has got my back.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hope

I have two favourite themes in films:
1. Friendship
2. Hope

It's why 'Shawshank Redemption' is my favourite film. As well as being the original 'bromance', it contains one of the most amazing lines in a film: "Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.". I get very emotional when I see people demonstrating that they have and are trusting in hope.

So today, judged by the 'Shawshank standard', has been a good day. For half a hour this evening I got to talk with a friend who has my happiness at heart and offers unconditional care, kindness and love. She is such a special lady.

And in terms of hope? Tomorrow I see a counsellor for the first time in my journey to understand where the future of my girlness is heading. Do I need to give up everything to be Rhi, or is being a girl something that I can choose not to do. Nervous about "walking on glass barefooted" but am hopeful that I can begin to get some answers.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Why is it so hard?

My intention is not to deliver depressing blog after depressing blog. But I fear cheerfulness will need to be put off for the next one!

Why is it so hard to come out to people. I've now told the sum total of 18 people about Rhiannon. 50% have been extremely positive about it which has made me happy. They have been completely understanding. In fact my favourite person who literally left me knocked for six said, "I feel so bad that you have had to live with this by yourself for so long." it finally dawned on me that I have been living with a nightmare of a secret that has left me not showing my true self to anyone really. The 'negative' 50% were unfortunately the first people I told.

But since telling the positive people, something strange has happened. I now find it really hard to be myself around them. I question everything: what was my motivation for telling them: validation, shock factor, for their benefit, for my titillation? I also expect them to be different, to treat me like more of a girl I guess. As well as being a weight off my mind, it leads to different issues.

It sounds weird, but the real problem which has arisen is actually a degree of paranoia and fear. I find it hard to take it on board that they are really ok with it. I'm waiting for them to turn round and tell me what a weirdo I am and that I'm wrong and need to sort it out. So when they don't reply to messages, when they delay texts, emails etc, I get nervous, worried and fear the worst.

Until I started telling people I rarely feared the worst about anything. I think I'm starting to sound like a complete mess.

I miss the sea

Odd place to start.  It  might seem vacuous, but it’s a theme of my life so far.  It’s always good to start with a metaphor I suppose.

The truth is I love the sea.  Sitting by it.  Staring at it.  Walking beside it.  Letting it lap against me.  Riding on it.  Smelling it.  Touching it.   Playing in it.  Swimming in it.  Feeling alive in it.

For the last 18 years, I have lived in a place where I couldn’t reach the sea easily.  In getting married and settling down, I sacrificed the thing in the world that I thought I could never live without.  Part of me went missing.  I replaced it with a happy family life and always felt I was happy, but there was always something missing.  My thoughts turned always to the sea.

Sacrificing what I really want in favour of what others want is one of the things I do best.  Its sad and I suspect I'm not alone, but its the story of my life.  Sometimes I kick myself and say that I should take control, that I should get my own way, that I should stand up for myself.  But at the end of the day, I want the people around me to be happy - even if its at the expense of my own happiness.  I'm no saint.  But whether its my wife, my kids, my friends, my boss, the people in my network, I genuinely want them to be happy.  So I try to fix it for them.  This includes sadly sometimes fixing me for them too.

This blog has already given me an insight I've never noticed about myself.  I am not the girl I want to be because I sacrifice my desire so that other people stay happy.

The question I want to explore here: can I still be Rhiannon or is it time to smile wryly and give up on another part of me.  Let it die a slow death.  To keep everyone happy with me, except me.