Monday, 31 December 2012

Can't see the wood for the trees?

Given everything that is going on at the moment, maybe there is a time for levity.  Or even just a question that doesn't have an earth shattering impact on my entire world.  Its about mobile phone cases.

I can't remember if I've ever mentioned, but I am a little bit of an Apple fan.  To say the least.  I love my technology pretty too.  In the world of clunky big masculine laptops, my 11 inch MacBook Air is positively buxom.  Being both an Apple fan and an early adopter I bought an iPhone 5 pretty much straight away.  Before other companies who design accessories had even come up with new cases for the new phone.  So I've been waiting to buy a nice new case for my phone for a couple of months.

Yesterday I was travelling, so I thought I would pop in to the Apple temple, en route to my destination, to buy one.  We all know how cathartic I find shopping to be: I've documented it before.   Clearly a phone case wasn't enough.  I also bought a really cute pair of red satin kitten heels, some much needed hosiery, some items for my new apartment and some new eyeliner.  Based on hundreds of positive reviews and the views of the lovely S, I have switched to Bobbi Brown's gel liner - apparently it is amazing.  More to follow on that in another blog.

So, I bought a phone cover.  If you haven't looked at the picture already do so now.  I thought it was really nice.  My main aim was to get something that gave me a sense of not being completely blokey so I could use it for work rather than constantly changing cases, but that would be neutral enough for when I'm actually going out and about in Rhiannon mode.  I thought bluey green would be ideal for that - and it has an orangey/pinky trim that fits with the corporate orange colour the company I work for likes.

I arrived at my destination having already clothed my phone in its new cover.  The first thing the chap (one of my friends) I had come to see said was, "That's a girly phone cover, did you buy it for when you are Rhiannon?"  I was astounded.  Whilst I didn't buy it for Rhiannon mode completely, I certainly thought that it was one that would be appropriate for male time too.

My concern coming out of this is whether I have a problem with being able to select stuff for myself without it being a lot feminine than I think.  I'm wondering if my sense of male and female has eroded to such an extent that I can't see the wood for the trees any more.  There is part of me that is fine with my phone being a little nearer to the girl on the gender see-saw, but I also still need to impress customers with my macho, go-getting, hard edged persona.  Difficult to be all of that and then to bring out a vision of green and orange loveliness.

My question therefore is, would you use this cover in male mode or has my friend saved me from myself?

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Christmas Verdict

Had a really nice Christmas.  Clearly the children didn't know, but everyone else round the Christmas table knew that this may well be the last of these.  Despite that sombre knowledge, there were smiles, laughs and even a little bit of fun.

In just a few short weeks the world is going to change and I'm not sure it'll ever be the same again.  How is it that you can love someone so much to the point where you catch your breath at the sight of them?  But that this is not enough to keep you together?

At the risk of this being a depressing blog, I am sad to the core of my whole being at the moment.  But I guess breaking up from the person you have loved for 19 years is difficult to get chirpy about.

Behind the scenes, I am gearing up for departure: new accommodation found and things that need to be bought are being bought.

In the centre of the relationship, we still pretend like it isn't going to happen.  We both look at each other and hope that one of us will flinch.  She hopes that I will stop feeling like a girl and I hope that she'll forgive me for it and let me stay.  I hope that she'll just let me hide it from her again and that we can both pretend it isn't there.  She's known and lived with this for our whole 16 years of marriage, so why not?   But the elephant in the room (the other elephant cheeky) is just too big and upsets her too much for it to stay there.  The elephant and I are both being evicted.

I'm becoming resigned to my future 'freedom' and I know lots of people (including lots who read this) will have been there, done it and worn the t-shirt.  But even knowing that, it is horrible when it happens to you.  When it is your marriage that is the one finishing.  I wish it could be different.  There is part of me that wishes I could wave a magic wand and be different.  To be the man they need me to be.  But I can't.  I have tried to fight against this for years.  Made myself unhappy for years.  Hated myself for longer than I can remember.  They want me to just do one more thing to try to stop: give it one last try.  But I'm spent.  There is no more energy left to fight it.  The girl inside me has won and she is getting her prize.

You know, the saddest thing is that I'm just consumed by guilt about all of this.  I know that it isn't my fault.  I know that I didn't choose this.  I know other people could have made a decision to support me rather than kick me into touch.  But when I look at the faces of my kids and know that I'm about to uproot their world, a piece of me breaks.  And I know the reality is that they may end up happier and in a better place etc.  But I feel like I'm fundamentally making a very very selfish decision and that they should be more important to me than how I dress.  Why should they be exposed to potential bullying, to an issue they can't yet understand, to a sad mother who's husband left her because he lost the battle of self control?  I'm being harsh on myself, I know.  But that's because we understand how hard this fight is - they don't and can't.  They just experience the aftermath of a storm they never saw coming.

But with everything within me, I'm going to try to not let this affect them in the way that it could.  I'm crying as I type because I love them so much.  I just want them to happy and want to find every possible way to help them continue to be so.  Part of being a parent is surely signing away the right to selfishly live your life.  I've never really done that for them before, but 2013 is a different landscape and I need to be a different person to cope with it.

It is all so raw at the moment and I'm not sure I've articulated myself well, or whether I'll even agree with what I've just written in the future.  But I desperately wanted to capture this moment for the people out there who I know care about me - and to remind myself of it before the world changes.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Two amazing days

Against a really horrible (and getting worse) backdrop, I managed to carve out two Rhiannon only days.  I have had the best two days of my life ever.  Which given my situation, was somewhat surprising.

The opportunity to do this comes based on the decision I took that I'm just going to be brave and not shrink back from going out and about.  Its been in the rumination for a while and a number of you have given me advice and encouragement for this over the past year.  But I finally decided so what if I am fat, so what if I'm tall - I'm going to do it anyway.   i have to be honest, I still struggle with the 'so what if everyone is looking at me' element but I'm starting to win on that one too.  You realise of course they are only looking at me because I'm beautiful  :o)

The adventure started on Tuesday morning.  For various reasons I didn't want to get ready at home.  Not sure it would have gone down that well to be honest.  So I drove into the office, before the working started and got myself ready.  Make up first.  Jeans, green top, light brown cardigan, flats and face the day.  My office is small with only one other person there mainly and other people cycling through.  The other person arrived, looked me over and was happy.  We worked through a busy morning of activity together - she was so fabulous and accepting.   Dressing in the office is going to become a regular feature.

At just after lunch, I needed to hit the road - the reason for the journey was that I was on a nationwide tour of present delivering in preparation for Christmas.  We walked out of the office together and this time did not encounter anyone.  That won't always be the case, but I was good with that as a starting point.  

I got into my car and headed to the first stop, Milton Keynes.  As I set off I realised that I had committed a schoolgirl error and not filled up with petrol while I was in boy mode.  I only had 80 miles left on my range, so I needed to fill up fairly urgently.  Deep breath and I need to get used to this type of thing.  So I pulled into a mediumly (is that a word) busy services and filled the tank up.  Got a look, but I will for the time being, so I'm ok with that.  Always more obvious when you hand over your credit card in your boy name to pay I guess.

With petrol in the tank, I set off again.   I arrived at Milton Keynes earlier than expected and had half an hour before I met the lovely Sarah.  Again a decision point.  Do I sit quaking in my car or do I go in on my own, order and wait.  In for a penny and all that.  I got out of my car and headed inside.  Smiled and said hello to the staff in the shop and arrived at the Costa section.  Hot chocolate and a granola bar selected and paid for, I sat down.  When I arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief, it was fairly empty.  All of a sudden, it filled up.  I just held my ground and thought that I'm going to have to be around people at some point, so I just smiled and got on with it.

Sarah was lovely and brought a friend along who was a lovely lady - we had a fantastic conversation and a really enjoyable time.  But before long I needed to get back in the car to get onto Hampshire to deliver presents, so I packed up and headed trepidaciously to hold Rhiannon's first meeting with my mother.  Flipping scary.

I arrived at home and went in.  My mother was absolutely fantastic, as expected.  She clearly found the whole situation surreal, but she coped very well and was very kind to me.  She thought I looked nice too which is always a bonus.  I had worked hard on my make up and look that day as I wanted her to get a really good impression of me - and she did.

Make up off and into bed ready for Day Two.  I woke up early and did some more work - emails don't write themselves, but needed very quickly to get ready to meet an awesome old school friend for coffee in Winchester.  This is without doubt the biggest thing I have done so far in terms of public appearances.  A busy and crowded market town full of people getting ready for Christmas.  I met N outside Marks & Spencers and we took a walk for a coffee down to Starbucks.  Honestly, she was amazing.  She didn't even bat an eyelid when she saw me and she relaxed me all the time.  I felt so supported and comfortable.

I was trying to explain (badly) to her that I think it is really brave for non-trans folk to go out with us because they share the stares with us.  But she didn't even seem to notice.  Afterwards we went to a couple of shops and to the Christmas market and continued to chat.  We've hardly seen each other for years, but we rabbit together on Facebook and it was like no time had passed at all.

Once we'd finished I got back in my car and headed off back to home.  But I couldn't let it pass at the that.  On the way home I regularly shop in boy mode at Fosse Park shopping centre in Leicester and today I had a little bit of time before I needed to get back.  I pulled into a very busy car park and went around doing some window shopping and bought a couple of bits and pieces that I needed.  I was bothered about being noticed, but the difference was that it didn't stop me.  And this time I was a girl on her own.  Another first.

Shopping done.  Back home.  Quick change in the car and I'm ready.  Sad that it can't last forever, but happy to have had my first full on two day experience.  I really can't begin to tell you how great it was and how often I forgot that I wasn't actually a woman and just was going about my daily business.

Sorry, its been a long one, but I was so excited that I just needed to share it with you.   Well done for lasting until the end. :o)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The best of times and the worst of times

This was going to be a weekend written, jokey blog, but life has caused it to take quite a serious and actually very sad turn to something I don’t want to speak of lightly.

On the very positive front, I have started to get brave.  I have had four or five experiences of going out over the last 6 weeks alone.  Admittedly two of them were with other trans ladies as part of the Chams group in Nottingham.  A really fab group - would highly recommend it.  But I also took the step of joining civilian life as Rhiannon.  The first occasion was a trip to spend the afternoon in a coffee shop with my friend Sarah.  Have I mentioned before just how awesome she is? And then on another day trip out for food on my own.  I have also been shopping recently and trying things on and having an absolute ball in many and various shops with some lovely assistants.  They have been fab.  On the Rhiannon front, I am now always just looking for excuses to go out pretty.  The photo on this blog was how I looked on one of the times I went out.

It will sound odd, but getting the new bag and I also bought a new coat, made a huge difference.  It meant that I was going out top to toe in girl mode.  Somehow that fact alone has given me confidence I never knew I had.  The mixture of reactions I have received so far have ranged from the very positive to the not negative.  No-one has been horrible or thrown a wobbler at me.  That has encouraged me too.

I work for a small company that I help run and over the last few months I have come out to a number of people who work for us and some in our office.  This has led to me gain permissions to be able to go to work sometimes in Rhiannon mode which is a major step forward for me.  The fact that I asked for it alone is amazing!

From a trans perspective, I've never been happier.  I'm in such a great place in my head right now.

But as I said before, something really sad has happened to counter it.  I’m really too raw to actually talk about it at the moment.  Still in processing mode.  But Mrs A and I have decided to split.  For more reasons than just trans, this woman whom I love so much, won't be my wife any more.  Part of me, I have to be honest is relieved.  Suppressing Rhiannon most of the time has taken its toll.  The bigger part of me is down and sad.  I will come back to this another day, but given that this blog is a record of my whole life, you need to have the lows as well as the highs to get the full picture of me.

A sad blog to write, but I know that you’ll keep reading and encouraging me.  That things will get better.  I’ll emerge stronger and hopefully happier.  But the journey to that point is not one I’m relishing very much.

Friday, 7 December 2012

More pictures...

I am actually going to write a proper blog this weekend!  So little time but so much happening from a Rhiannon perspective - I really need to bring you up to speed.  In the meantime - photos!