Sunday, 25 March 2012

The cage

As usual having an email exchange with my good friend Becca of Mutterings fame, she, as she invariably does, set my thinking going again about my situation.  And this time with an analogy.  Of a cage.  Becca noted that, “I think that you have so much of you locked away that Rhiannon will always find a way to get out of the cage.”

I thought about it long and hard and with one exception this life does feel like being held in a cage.  I feel like I live in a carefully defined small space designed to trap me in and to hide away what I really am.  The cage has a big lock that can’t easily be opened.  The weight of expectations keeps it firmly shut.  Mrs A.  Family.  Work.  Friends who want the best for me.  Society.

There is one really important thing that a cage is designed to do.  It is to trap and confine the inhabitant, restricting their freedom.  But I said that there was one exception with this particular cage.  The exception is that unfortunately, I made the cage and its locked from the inside.  I let the scary monsters back me into it.  And so afraid of them I was, that brick by brick I built it around myself.  Shielding them from seeing what I really am.  Then, when I’d built it, I added the biggest lock to it that I could find, so that they couldn’t see me and they couldn’t know what I was doing inside.

When they stop patrolling outside the cage, aren’t looking or are asleep, I unlock it carefully and sneak out.  I run free.  Happy.  Hopeful.  Squealing with pleasure.  And just as they are about to spot that I’ve escaped, I quickly creep back, in the hope that I never get seen missing.  Sometimes I think they’ve noticed, but fortunately, for a long while, they haven’t.  They think that I have stopped unlocking the door and escaping.  They believe that I’m sitting in my cage being happy, content that I’m enjoying my life.  They surmise that I now take pleasure in my new cage-life.  But I don’t.  I really don’t.  I hit my head against it everyday.  I cry that I am trapped.  I wish I could knock the walls down.  But I built it really well.  Really well.  And I’m not sure that I’m strong enough to demolish it.  Or that if I did destroy it, whether the monsters would devour me anyway once I got out.

There is no prince or princess coming to rescue me.  Its just me.  I need to change the story.  I need some strength and some bravery to face the expectations and the monsters.  I need to bust free of these confines.  I need to take hold of what Becca says and find my way out.

Friday, 23 March 2012

On nail polish alone...

I absolutely love the stuff.  Don’t know what it is, but when I have painted fingernails and I catch a glance of them, or particularly when I’m typing and I see my digits whizzing across the keyboard with a whole load of colour on them, I feel so womanly and there is a leap of tinglyness that happens inside me.  Why is that?  Its just a coloured nail for heaven’s sake.

One of the huge risks I take in my daily life is that pretty much all the time, my toe nails are painted.  I’ve given up to a large degree on trying to blend my girl side into my boy side.  It was distracting and made me nervous about whether I’d be caught etc.  And whilst I don’t mind these days if people do find out, in some ways its a relief, I don’t necessarily want to make it really obvious either.  But there is something delicious, that makes me smile, when I’m in a boring meeting and I remember that my nails are painted.  It somehow immediately connects me back to my girl side and in the macho world of work, gives me a Rhiannon moment when I least expect it.  Clearly there are logistical issues around wearing nail polish and I have even developed a routine that means Mrs A rarely sees my feet without socks on.  Devious and wrong I know, but a small sacrifice for her I’m sure.

I don’t go to a nail polish, they do it for you, shop, it is all self applied.   This has meant up to press that a) it was a slightly wonky application and that b) I was using my own real stumpy nails.  Recently, I’ve been practicing.  So I’m actually now getting much better and I’ve been secretly growing my nails so that they aren’t stumpy.  By that I don’t mean I’ve taken them off and am growing them in a flower pot somewhere.  Honestly, keep up :o).  No, I’ve just been allowing them to grow a little beyond the end of the finger.  And apart from the lovely L, who ALWAYS notices, clever lady that she is, no-one has spotted it.

But the other difficulty I had was which nail polish to use.  I hate those bigger bottles with the long applicator with about three strands of brush at the end.  They are a nightmare to apply and getting the stuff off is horrendous.  And I put on finger nail polish and take it off with an alarming frequency, so I need something that is more gentle and easy to remove.  Up until recently I was using the really small little bottles of Max Factor’s Max Effect Mini nail varnish.  They are a pain because you get through their contents so quickly, but the really short applicator is easier for clumsy clots like me to use.

But recently, on a trip to have my photos done, the world of nail polish opened up for me.  Tracey of Trans-Femme fame introduced me to the world of Rimmel Pro.  Have you tried that stuff?  It is fantastic.  Not only does it come off easily, but the applicator is designed for putting the polish on in only a few quick strokes, so it is really wide, which is also good for us girls for whom nature has blessed with wider nails.  You get a great result.  So anyway, for those of you who like nailing up - go Rimmel!!  And they do that bemusing make up company thing of coming up with fantastic names too.  So I am currently enjoying my: Heart on Fire, Desire and Grape Sorbet bottles.  *big smile*

I know I could go false and they'd probably look better or last longer etc, but why miss out on all this fun?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Friendship with normal folk

Far be it for me to label myself, in any way, as not-normal.  Clearly, just a normal woman me.  Nothing unusual here.  All perfectly usual and what you would expect.  I don’t know why I feel the need to start this blog in that way - nerves perhaps?

I’ve got the chance to meet (dressed) with a ‘normal‘ friend - a genetic girl / natal female / real girl - whatever you want to call her.   For the purposes of this blog, I shall refer to her henceforth as Slim-girl.  And deservedly so, she’s gone from big girl, to fit small girl in the last 5-6 years and I am so proud of her.  But I’m not sure what to do really to be perfectly honest.  She is such a great friend, really lovely, I value my relationship with her really highly which is why I am nervous about meeting her in Rhiannon-mode.  Does that sound odd?  I’ve got some explaining to do...

I’ve never met a non-trans community person, who is a friend, in full Rhiannon-mode.  I’ve stayed with a couple of people who are good friends who were subjected to the sight of me in my nightdress in the morning!  Did I mention I sleep in girl clothes?  Probably not.  But when Mrs A is not in the bed, I do.  And I’ve met the very lovely Sarah in half and half mode - androgynous girl clothes and heeled boots.  But I’ve not met anyone fully dressed up yet who knows me in boy mode.  Its a big step -- or is it just another small step in the journey?

There are four things that are making me nervous - and I want to outlay them before you in complete honesty:

  1. The two people who had the nightdress experience have either not been in contact or have been a bit funny since.  Despite reassurances that they are ok with it, my completely over-reacting, hyper sensitive self has been worried about their lack of enthusiasm.  I know I’m probably mis-interpreting things, but it is a worry.
  2. I am worried that this will change the nature of our relationship.  I mean this in the sense that I don’t want her to feel obliged to have to put up with me dressing every time we meet.  In turn, I don't want that to put her off from meeting me in the future.  I asked her if she was sure and she said she had fully considered it before she offered and that it was up to me.  
  3. She doesn’t like what she sees, decides she can’t tell me and avoids me.  I know, we think that's unlikely - and she's seen photos, but its a natural thing to worry about.
  4. Clearly I don’t want her to be forever jealous of just how girly I look to such a degree that she becomes despondent because she can’t compete.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  Clearly unlikely.

Truth be told, I would love to spend the evening with Slim-girl.  She is smart, bright, funny.  She is everything that embodies what a woman should be like.  She even shows off a lot of leg and she’s not trans.

You know that thing we’ve all been discussing about me overthinking things.  I think I might be doing that again...

What to do?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A very ordinary night...

Possibly the most boring (and short) blog of the year or of the ever.  But I wanted to share that tonight, I was happy.   Really happy.

Had a bit of a tough day what with one thing and another and the rest of my week is shaping up to be a challenge too.  But I am staying away at a hotel tonight working and I haven’t spent time in Rhiannon mode much recently for various reasons.  And I was feeling grumpy about it.  I arrived back tonight and just didn’t feel like it at all.  I watched some TV and then thought, actually, I’m going to do it.  Full on tonight and that’s it.

So I got everything out and put it all on.  My make up worked really well, the new wig was perfect, my new pink top is so cute and goes well with my red cardigan.  The new nude shoes were quite literally everything I dreamed they would be.  My new forms brought some authenticity and I just felt great.  I spent the whole evening relaxing, went on line, drank a couple of glasses of red and just was happy.

I don’t like tempting fate by posting such blogs normally.  But it was one of those nights where you know that being a girl is actually what you were born to be.  But, instead of that fact turning into overwhelming frustration at the gap between actual and what should be, it turned into a very satisfied, nice (sorry horrible word) experience.

There has to be a downside and the only two downsides were that I had to take it all off.  And that I know, at the moment, that I can’t do it all the time.  But given my last post and that actually I felt cute and feminine, it meant that more journies out have to be on the cards.  Surely.

Don't burst my bubble (and allow for it being a basic camera and less than ideal lighting!), but here you go:

Monday, 12 March 2012

Cross that I’m not braver

I’ve been using the weekend to get stuff in order.  No bad reason.  Just was feeling out of control in terms of what I had committed to do for people.  But its amazing that when you begin to get stuff sorted out that it frees up your brain to think.  So this weekend, I also thunked.

There is surely a balance between stupidity and bravery?  You can’t be daft with your girliness and just flaunt it?  Just saying ‘f**k it’ and going out irrespective of convincingness isn’t something people do is it?  Mini-skirts and fat legs are wrong aren’t they?  37 year old men in mainstream situations wearing women’s clothes is a hanging offense right?  Telling people that you are trans is tantamount to jumping off a cliff with no parachute isn’t it?

What’s the point?  There are people in this blogosphere of ours who do all of the above. They enjoy their girliness.  They don’t care about passing.  They (God forbid) wear mini-skirts without any regard for the prettiness of their legs.  They go into the mainstream.  They are open and honest with most people about who they are.

Let’s just make one thing very very clear.  I’m not one of them.  On the miniskirt front, you should be very grateful for that.  Although once upon a time, the pins weren’t bad.  But what is it that stops me? Why don’t I just get stuck in?  Instead, what I do is to constantly overthink the situation.  Most situations actually.  Last week's fashion event for example.  I play the mind games of "what are people thinking?" and are they are thinking negative thoughts about me. I should just get in there and enjoy myself.  Ironically, part of what I am thinking is that they might get the wrong idea about me.  Let’s just play that one through a second.  For fun.  A man, presenting as a man, at a ladies fashion event, trawling through stalls of ladies clothes, looking comfortable and happy.  What conclusion would you draw other than the one that is 100% spot on correct?  Why am I bothered about the fact that people draw that conclusion?  Its what I am -- and if I’m going to such events, surely I am putting myself out there as it is already.  So worrying about it means I end up not enjoying myself as much as I should have.

The thing is that I need to get a bit braver and just do it.  I need to stop worrying about what people think all the time and worry about the fact that I am missing out and not getting any younger while I’m doing it.  Sarah posted on my last blog saying that I need to, “stop beating yourself up and start living.”  She has known me a long time and she’s right.  I know that some of the above points are correct: there is definitely a balance between stupidity and bravery.  Turning up at work and knocking on the Director's door as Rhiannon without warning might be seen as silly.  Shocking Mrs A with my favourite dress would definitely be a negative life changing experience.   But there is more enjoyment of life to be had than I’m having at the moment.  Much more.  And I want it really badly.

I want to be one of them.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Half and half

OK, so interesting night.  One of my fantastic friends is an absolute guru on woman’s fashion, image and style.  What she doesn’t know about the subject isn’t worth knowing and she has amazing taste in clothes and just knows what works on anyone.  Tonight, she was running an event for women on what the trends are for Spring Summer, what has been on the catwalk and how its translated to High Street fashion.

Together with another friend, the lovely L, I decided to go along.  It seemed like a really good idea when I booked.  I love guru-lady to bits, she is awesome - and was just the most welcoming host.  There must have been 80-90 ladies there - and me.  Running late and going straight from work, I went in boy mode and it felt weird.  Don’t get me wrong: the presentation was great - and some great advice - in fact, I can’t wait to go shopping - I loved some of the new fashion styles.  I got really wrapped up in the presentation.

80-90 ladies having a ball and one very awkward looking, besuited and bespectacled large man kinda didn’t really work.  The situation bought out the paranoia in me.  Surely they are thinking, “what’s that man doing here.”  Or, “does he realise he arrived in the wrong place.”  Or worse, “he is making me feel uncomfortable.”  I know it was my issue, I was the one feeling out of place, they probably didn’t even notice.

But it brought home to me that I’m just in a weird half and half state.  I don’t fit in with men at all, I can’t do the bloke conversation.  After years of trying, I just can’t.  But I very clearly didn’t find it easy to fit in with girls either.  Maybe if I had been dressed and made up I might have.  But somehow I feel like that would have made it even more difficult.  L was lovely and I was so glad she was there or I don’t know how I would have coped at all.

Feeling frustrated, confused and like I’m never going to fit in anywhere.  Is this our lot, or is it just me?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

SAD and happy and sad: shoes and blues

I’ve been SAD.  It wasn’t diagnosed as such and I’ve not seen the Doctor about it, but I know it to be true.  I always get strange looks from people when I own up to the fact that March 1st is my favourite day of the year.  And that my second favourite is, this year, 24th March.  I hate the Winter-time with a dislike approaching hatred.  So the moment that Spring begins to poke through, the almost depression like cloud begins to lift.  The alteration in the clocks is the final nail in the coffin and we begin to enjoy long evenings of light and everything feels right again.  Seasonal Affective Disorder?  Who knows?  I just know that things get happier from here on in.  Well, until October / November that is.  As a result of the impending Spring, and a few other factors, recently, I’ve been happier.

Other factors?  Enter shoes, stage left.  Do you ever cringe when t-girls rabbit on about their shoes and handbags?  I must admit that I sometimes do.  I think that in the hands of some, conversations on the subject can feel put on and affected.  There is almost a sense that, “its what women do” ergo we should too: whether we feel it or not.  So please bear that in mind when I say that I have been looking for a particular pair of shoes for a very long time and now finally, I have them.   And as a result, I’ve become the object of my own cringe.  But actually, I really don’t care.  I’m completely swooning about them and if it wasn’t for society and my family and colleagues’ collective harsh gazes, I’d be wearing them all the time.

It will probably sound like I’m just a big trend follower: but I’ve wanted a pair of nude patent leather heels for ever.  Being a size 10, you have to put up with, to a degree, what’s available.  To press, none of the nude shoes that I spotted were perfect.  I’ve seen open toed, but I wanted closed.  I’ve seen suede leather, but I wanted patent.  I’ve seen flats and low heels, but I wanted 3-4 inches.  I’d just about given up.  And now, sadly, I’m happy.

About a year ago: in this blog in fact, I discovered the therapeutic power of shoes and the act of shoe shopping.  It really does work.  No matter how you are feeling, buying a new pair of shoes will reverse the bad mood.   Clearly if you can buy a new pink top, a scarf, some jeans and some new underwear at the same time too, that might possibly help too... :o)

Anyway, so clearly there is an upside to retail therapy, but based on the pleasure -- pain theory, there must be a downside too.  And the downside for me is complete guilt.  Guilt is such a downer when you are feeling happy.  With no surety of whether I shop because I chose to or because I have to, I feel that I probably shouldn't.  The thing about shopping is that it costs money and whilst I’m spending disposable income, given how Mrs A feels about it all, I feel bad spending money on Rhiannon stuff at all.  Maybe I should be saving it or spending it on mortgages or bills instead.  Y’know, useful stuff.  Stuff that is not the very thing I’m supposed to be avoiding and not doing.  Every pound I spend makes me feel like I’m going further along that slippery path to certain doom.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist the melodrama.)

The trouble is that as I’m sliding further along it, I’m smiling and shouting, “Weeeeeeeee”.  Oops.