Monday, 23 December 2013

Latest photos...

Every so often, I go to Trans-Femme in Swindon in the UK for some photos to be done.  Being made up and photographed is a really great way to spend the day - and this time, these are the results.  As ever, please be kind!









If you are ever interested, I now have a growing collection of photos of me on my Flickr page. :o)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Why the fuss? - part two

So, having had a fantastic night and really enjoyed myself, I was left in a real dilemma.  Everyone was fantastic at dinner, but we now have breakfast and a road trip (4.5 hours drive) to get home.  Can I impose Rhiannon on them just one more time?  I had such a buzz last night, that I need this to carry on...

Cue: crisis of confidence.

They were great last night, but is it too much to expect?  Were they just being nice?  I’m not really a woman, will they be bored of me?  Why wouldn’t they just tell me enough’s enough?

So I sat for an hour and a half before breakfast to be honest in a little bit of a funk. I got myself to the point where fifteen minutes before breakfast I wasn’t ready.  And then the spirit of Thelma and Louise descended and I drove off the cliff.  I’m fast at putting make up on these days - 15 minutes is usually enough for full make up, so I did it.  I thought if they hate it, its just breakfast and I’ll know.

Breakfast outfit!
I walked down to breakfast and their smiles and acceptance were every single bit as fantastic as the night before.  And to be honest, the remembrance of that response is making my eyes fill with tears even as I write now.  It was like they thought that the girl from dinner last night has joined us again and we’ll invite her in, complement her clothes and jewellery, laugh at her detailed focus on having a different nail colour from yesterday because women don’t do that when they get older.  But overall, she is one of us.  And I really felt it.

I rhiannoned home in the car with two of my co-workers and was on a cloud.  So much so, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you, but Friday night, I wrote them an email:

“Hi,

I just wanted to say a very heartfelt thank you for last night.  It was the first time I'd been out for an evening meal in a regular restaurant.  Whilst at times that made me feel slightly overwhelmed - I couldn't have wished for a better group of people supporting me.  Knowing that made it very easy to be brave.  I had a really good time: please don't take my relative quietness as anything other than overwhelm and (slight) annoyance at out waiting staff!  I'm 100% pleased that I was Rhiannon - and even more grateful for each of you.

People say it's brave of us trans people to do what we do, but I think going out with us is equally brave as I know that for some the 'guilt by association' can be daunting.  I never felt anything from you all other than complete acceptance and relaxation. I'm very moved by the gift you each have to me last night by being there for me.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and look forward to continuing to work with you in 2014.

Thank you,”

What is even more amazing is their responses were even more effusive and I’m crying again - proper sobs.  How can I not proceed to a life as Rhiannon when I have people like this in life who think I’m beautiful and who support me?  They see straight past the man and can see the woman in me.

The dilemma for my immediate future widens, but I have lapped from that world and now I want to drink jugs full of it and to get more and more of it into my life.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Why the fuss? - part one


The title of which may rightly lead you to the conclusion that I did it!   Well...I did.  Firstly, I need to stop and say a huge thank you to the absolutely fantastic group of ladies who commented on my last blog.  At the time of writing I was about 25% in favour of doing it and, to be honest, more likely not to.  Your words of encouragement really buoyed me into action. 

Buoyed for what?  Short digression for the newcomers.  I was given the opportunity to go to my work’s Christmas night out in Rhiannon mode.  I have been out during the day a lot and in the evening in trans-friendly environments, but never to a busy civilian restaurant.  We went for dinner, then onto a bar for more drinks.  There were 7 of us ladies there - I was the trans woman in the middle. 

Your comments, together with the green light from the final member of my work who I was waiting to ‘agree’, propelled me over the line.  A big shout out to Becca too who encouraged me so much with daily texts, but also didn’t mind the final night phone call with me pathetically saying, “I’m really scared, I’m not sure I can do it.” 

So what happened?  Overall, I really enjoyed it.  I had gone to Trans-Femme to have some photos done in the afternoon (blog with photos to follow in a few days).  The very lovely Tracey also then did my make up, I got dressed as per the picture.  You can’t see my feet, but I had on my 3.5 inch black patent leather heels :o).  I felt great.  

Once ready, I drove to the hotel where everyone was meeting and where we were staying.   Everyone had already gathered before I got there, so I arrived to many compliments and smiles from my co-workers.  They made space for me and got me a glass of wine and I started to relax.   I could see some of the other patrons looking in our direction and of course I was assuming that they were looking at me, but actually seven loud ladies wearing very nice clothes (some with cleavage out), its not surprising we got looked at.  My co-workers are hot and scrub up well!  We are at different age ranges and each one would be considered attractive.

After a mix up with the taxis, we procured some lifts to the restaurant and after a 5 minute walk, which I admirably did in heels I might add, we arrived.  It is one of my favourites in terms of food: an Indian restaurant who focus on quality and inventiveness and they really deliver.  We ordered, and amazing food kept coming out.  

It was interesting, as there were three things about the night that were notable.  

1.
The first is that I thought, what was the fuss about?  It felt so natural to be there dressed.  My co-workers were absolutely awesome and never broke a stride.  There were of course some hilarious moments of mixed up names and pronouns, but I was completely forgiving. I know for some that's an annoyance and if I had been full-time, I would have been more so.  But the reality is that for now, these people see me switching between Bob and Rhiannon so often, that it's unsurprising.  

2. 
I did feel somewhat overwhelmed to be honest.  I’d never been out as a woman, with other women.  The tone of conversation, how relaxed they are with other, the topic of conversation.  Everything is completely different.  Changing clothes and putting on make up, really doesn’t prepare you for that.  I realised that I am going to need to learn to speak woman too in order to move this thing forward.  The lovely take away from that is that they behaved not as if there was a man in their midst, but another woman.

3.
The only blot on the landscape was that some people can be mean in little ways that spoil things somewhat.  I was a little quiet during dinner because when my order was being taken, my waiter said, “what can I get you sir?”  Which I thought was unkind. Especially as he was looking down my top at the time. :o)  I let it pass, but it did get to me.  I made a huge effort that night and was saddened.  During the course of the night, it happened two further times and they made sure that each time new dishes arrived, that the ladies got served first and that I was last.  I guess, I need to develop a thicker skin, but its not thick enough right now.  My guess is that they were busy, they’ve probably never been trained, that person may have felt uncomfortable etc.  But it just was unnecessary - a blot on an otherwise great night. 

After that we paid up and went back to our hotel.  After a few uneventful drinks we returned to our rooms.  I was buzzing.  Bed, I really don’t think so!  I stayed up a while just reflecting on the experience.  My worst fear was that I ended up with it going well and that I would want to be Rhiannon even more.  My worst fear was realised.

Anyway, the story doesn’t finish there and this is a long blog, so I’ll finish tomorrow...

Monday, 16 December 2013

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas...

...and that leaves me with an interesting dilemma.  One I’ve never really had before.  It fills me an equal mixture of dread and excitement.  If I want, it seems like Rhiannon might have the opportunity to attend the company Christmas party.  You know what its like when the thing you have dreamed of for ever actually happens.  Its a mixed blessing.  I really want it, and I really don’t.

I’ve been out during the day.  I’ve Sparkled.  But a night out with civilians in a civilian venue has been beyond my level of bravery.  But now, the gauntlet has been thrown down and all but one excuse has been removed.  The team I work (apart from one I’m not sure about) are up for it.  Not even just up for it, they’re keen.

The evening consists of drinks, dinner in a nice Indian restaurant followed by an evening of drinking with some of my favourite people on earth.  I have an outfit ready: a purple dress, a lovely long wrap, heels and new wig.  I even, for various reasons, have the easy option to have my make up professionally done before I go.

But I’m still scared.  And I’ve started to put my own excuses in place.  I’m fat. I’ll be a very obvious man in a dress.  Do black patent leather shoes go with a purple dress.  My photos look great, but that’s because they are not taken next to another real girl - you suddenly see that whilst I look feminine, proportionally, I’m massive.  We are going into pubs where there are people who might mock me.  Every possible fear is screaming out within me.

Face the fear and do it anyway?  Or run screaming...?

Friday, 6 December 2013

And some days are happy days...


Today, in the office, working very hard, but really enjoying the joy of being Rhiannon.  I even like wearing my headset on my hair.

I'm sorry for the melancholia of previous posts.  I've been a bit down of late.  Today is a happy day:  white double layered top, purple cardigan, black jeans and healed boots.  Nice (hopefully) make up on and a very large smile.

We even have mince pies, stilton and a wee drop of wine for lunch time to get into the Christmas mood.  Add festive boppy songs into the background and who couldn't feel cheered.

For now, I wanted to mark it, that I'm happy :o) x

Thursday, 28 November 2013

She's like a bus...

Probably too much UK based humour already.  We say that you wait ages for a bus and typically two always come along at the same time.  Meaning you wait for ever and then two of what you want arrive at the same time.  Anyway, two blogs in a few days of each other.  There you go.

I probably should say something more flattering, like 'she's like the wind'.  But you've seen my photos: she's like a bus is a much more accurate representation! (OK, I admit it, mild attempt to secure protestations at my vague beauty!)  :o)

Wanted firstly to say thank you for the previous comments to my last blog.  So nice to know that you are there and supporting me.  Having a tough time at the moment as you could tell.  Work is also quite mad right now, so I'm sat in a bar at Kings Cross in London waiting for a train.  It is 8pm and I've been on the go, working, since 7am when I caught my train this morning.  The Sauvignon Blanc beside me is deserved if you ask me.

The point of the blog is my current plague of very intense, sad moments.  Not trying to be too dramatic, but in can tell when I'm lacking Rhiannon time.  Things start to go a little bit - a lot - crazy.  As I look round the bar, my heart sinks.  Three pretty girls at 1 o'clock, another at 3 o'clock, two at 4 o'clock and yet another at 5 o'clock.  Happy, comfortable, enjoying being the women they were born to be. And waves of sadness debilitate me, because I am not.  Yesterday, at work, two very lovely ladies, looking great. A moment of unutterable sadness washes over me. But that time it didn't leave me either.  I battled through the day without showing it. Without crying. With a brave, happy smiling face, because my job requires it.  But inside I know that it's not what I am feeling. I wonder if my smile is spotted for the fake that it is.  It doesn't reach the eyes.  Or have I become so good at hiding that it is imperceptible to everyone.  Except me.  I know.

So when I talk of stopping, I know that I am talking like a mad person. It isn't possible.  And then I remember them.  My family. Those who love me.  And the vicious circle starts again.  And it really is vicious.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Why can’t I be more decisive?

I know, I know, its been a while.  And I left you in suspense the last time too.  But to be honest, I don’t know what to say really.  Things haven’t really moved forward.  I’ve made a couple of attempts to man up and face the future.  These normally end in disaster with me feeling bereft at the lack of Rhiannon in my life and result in some over compensating behaviour where I will place an order for some new shoes or dresses or something.  Or worse / better depending on your view - I turn up at work in Rhiannon mode.  I’m allowed to do this - small office, nice people, understanding boss etc etc.  The photo was the last time this happened.  But its still not really in the spirit of going home and being normal.  (I realise that sentence is very loaded)

Please don’t judge me too harshly, I am one very very confused bunny.  I’ve not articulated my doubts at home because I’m wary of rocking a precarious boat.  I don’t want to plump for a decision when I may end up being able to pull something out of the hat for my family.  They love me a lot and are going through some tough stuff from other directions too at the moment. I don't really want to add to their pain.  Daily, I oscillate 20 plus times between staying and going.  Hence, my question, why can’t I be more decisive?  I have many and various weaknesses that I have learned to live with in my life: this is one of them.  In my personal life, I am appalling at making difficult decisions.   Never so evident as in the last few months.  I seem to be at the point of being annoying.

In other news, I've lost a stone and things are always a bit happier when weight comes off.

This is probably a something or nothing post, but from my perspective it was an update so you could know where things were up to and reassurance that I’m still alive and still as crap as always.  Sorry.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A long time coming...

You are probably about to despair of me, so I give you fair warning.  If you are the kind that slaps your forehead at others' bizarre antics, a treat is in-store for you.

Do you ever think that your life is a mess?  Realise you are not really sure how it happened?  And find yourself seeing no obvious way out - at least, not without negative consequences in all directions?  If so, welcome, pull a chair up.  I want to enjoy a wine spritzer with you, through a straw.

As you know, my wife and I separated in January.  I moved out and have had a very mixed time.  Sometimes it's been fab, other times have been some of the lowest I've ever experienced.  During August, we put up the flags in a kind of marital entente cordial to try to spend two weeks giving the kids a fab holiday.  Mrs A's attendance was touch and go, but eventually she signed up and off we went.  We had a very good time, lovely location, relaxed.  Twin beds.  Like old friends together.

Sounds perfect?  It was.  Except. It made my sadness complete.  I realised in a major major way what I am giving up.  Since the holiday, screaming loudly away in the back on my mind has been an ever greater realisation of my unhappiness that I have to sacrifice family for my inability to stop thinking I'm really a girl.  I know we all know its unfair. But for fe*k sake, sometimes it bares repeating.

So with this screaming going on, I opened up dialogue.  Is the position the same as before?  95% yes, but a glimmer of 5% appeared and opened up an opportunity for discussion.  The despair point is that the 5% didn't mean she was now a born again trans lover, but it gave some wiggle room.  Namely that she is adamant I stop.  No negotiations on that front.  But that as long as I'm moving forward to stop, then if sometimes I find it hard and dress up, it won't result in an immediate divorce, but that there is an expectation that this would happen less and less often.  What would you do?

When I look into the eyes of my children, the answer is almost obvious.  The sensible thing is to make the sacrifice.  When I realise the heartbreak of separation, it is obvious.  So I sorta, kinda agreed to try.

We began breaking the news that there is the possibility of reconciliation and I hadn't realised how unhappy our separation had made the people around us.  The delight of family and friends was overwhelming.  Everyone sure that I had done the right thing, that I'm brave for trying and that it is for the best for the kids.  Etc, etc, etc. Plans began for us to be together again and are still pushing towards it.

So why the dilemma?  Yesterday really is the answer. Do you ever get caught up in thinking you are ok and then you remember that you aren't?  I was, for the best of purposes going along with this.  I was thinking that I could do what everyone is hoping and find my way though things.

On Saturday, I went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical.   Not everyone's cup of tea.  And not normally mine, but actually it was really good.  There were two tracks within the story.  One that is glitz and glamour and drag queens. And another, darker one which is about societal rejection of and violence towards trans people, the way that we are stereotyped and more importantly to me, the possibility of familial rejection when kids find out who you really are.  I actually went twice on the same day which wasn't my choice, but actually was fantastic in the end.  And after the first one I was very conflicted.  So for the second, I took my brain out and just enjoyed it much more.  Go figure.

Anyway, that started a train of thinking and events. The transsexual character in the musical is Bernadette and subconsciously I challenged my own decisions as I watched her.  Since then my brain has been gnawing away at the issue.  Pondering it, even more than usual.  The heightened thinking has led to greater sadness as I ache for what I'm about to give up.  And yesterday, it led to a day in Rhiannon mode in the office.  Do you ever just sink down with relaxed happiness and sigh.  It's like you are in a desert and you get offered a tea spoon of water.  On one level you are happier.  But in reality, it makes you thirstier.

And that's where I am now and why things have taken a turn for the worse.  There are a lot of people, including my family who are delighted that I'm trying again.  And I'm not sure I can.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Another TED talk

I don't know about you, but I find TED talks incredibly helpful and a friend sent me the link to this one which is so great - and she is very funny and honest.  Worth a watch!

In other news, there is a blog brewing with more revelations from the daytime soap opera that is my life... :o)



Friday, 2 August 2013

Time for an update - part two



So, to carry on from yesterday, I tantalised with tales of a trip out.  Here you go...

On Monday, I had the chance to do lunch with two of my girlfriends.  Honestly, even writing that line makes me smile ridiculously.  We went to Pizza Express for lunch and Costa for, well, coffee!  Except none of us actually had coffee.  I don’t have a photo from the day, but the outfit was this one.

The day was a mixture of great and tough moments as I continue to learn to cope with being out amongst the general public and with the continuing heat we are experiencing.

I woke up really early in the morning because I needed to get a load of work done before I left for the day.  So a 5am start, work done, time to get ready.  First job was obviously to try to get my make up on.  Disastrous.  I pride myself on the fact that I’m getting better at make up.  By no means am I an expert, but I’m improving.  That day it was like trying to paint water.  My new place, whilst lovely, is very hot and after I had put on my foundation, bronze and blush, I was dripping and dripping and dripping.  Horrible.  A full on fan was employed and I rushed through the rest of my routine.  My car has air conditioning and all I could think about was getting into it and cooling down.  In the rush, it also meant that I came away without my glasses and had to survive two days without them.

After a long drive, I arrived at Pizza Express.  Both L and S, my girlfriends, were already there and waiting for me.  S is used to being with me in Rhiannon mode and is one of my biggest advocates.  She is lovely.  For L this was the first time, but for various reasons she is very comfortable around trans people.  So when I arrived, she didn’t bat an eyelid.

I will hazard a guess in a moment as to why, but suffice to say, when I arrived, I really felt out of sorts.  The place was heaving, full of families, lots of noise, screaming kids etc.  All the other women were wearing sandals and I had some ordinary small heel shoes on my feet.  It became apparent that my foundation had dropped off in places which meant that some of my shadow was showing through.  And finally, the people at the next table decided that they would just take their time to look grumpily in my direction for a long time.  All small things, but I went quiet and felt like crying.

Half way through the meal, S asked me if I was ok because I was being uncharacteristically silent.  I owned up to how I was feeling and we talked about it and I started feeling better.  S stared out the table who were looking at me and they largely stopped.  What is it with some people?  We made plans to get my foundation fixed and I began to cheer up.

Given it was L’s first time meeting me, I was absolutely intrigued by what she thought.  L has the most wicked sense of humour - I absolutely love spending time with her and her response was typically L.  She basically said that she was relieved to meet me as she was worried that in real life I wouldn’t look like my photos.  Given that situation, she felt there would have been no option other than to lie or at least to be nice whilst thinking ‘ugh’.  Instead she was pleasantly pleased at how good I looked :o).  That’ll do for me :o)

After lunch (small salad and sparkling water), we went to sort out foundation.  S and L are both complete fans of Bare Minerals and felt that it would help me with my perspiration issues.  So we went to a concession and the very helpful lady at the counter helped choose my tone and applied some to me.  She added some more blush and as well as being amazed at how good the stuff was, I was back to looking properly made up again with no shadow.  Double yay!

So we headed to Costa.  By this stage, I was comfortable and back to my normal self and was really starting to enjoy the day.  We went in and ordered our drinks.  The barrista took time to use lots of female pronouns, ‘ladies’, ‘girls’ etc.  Probably a bit too much, but I’m seriously never going to complain about that. Quite the opposite in fact. So we sat down and continued our nattering, or as Sheldon Cooper would put it, ‘jibber jabber’.  I felt for all the world like just another girl, chatting to her friends and enjoying a nice day out.

Complete kudos to S and L.  They treated me as they would treat any of their girlfriends.  In doing so, they gifted me with another day I can look back on and smile about.  They are both completely fantastic.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Time for an update - part one


So much has happened lately and yet things have been so busy that trying to find a slot to write has been impossible.  Hence it is 4.50am, I’m in a hotel room in Glasgow and trying to bash this out before the next mad day gets going.

There is lots to tell that is more interesting, but probably the place to start is following a particularly tough time, I have begun seeing a counsellor.  About a month ago I went to an annual event that I’ve described before on my blog.  This event has every one of my worst situations rolled into one.  It is predominantly filled with women making an effort to look fantastic for one another.  There is a black tie event.  And for added fun, this year the weather was traumatically hot, which brought out the most impossibly cute sundresses while I was uncomfortably buttoned up in my male suit most of the time.

Honestly, in those few days of the event, I quite literally had an emotional meltdown.  Some of the people who I turn to in tough times got some of the most painful texts and emails I have ever sent.  I got to the point where I just didn’t know what to do with myself.  I didn’t know what to say, to think or really how to carry on.  In my pain, I reached out instead and contacted a trans counsellor.  Amazingly, I think she saw the gravity of my strife and just hours later we had our first discussion.  It was such a refreshing oasis of calm.  Together with some friends, I came back to myself and got through.  This was even when on top of it all, I’d hired another straight-jacket of a dinner suit for the black tie event and the shirt didn’t fit my collar even though it was the right size.  I contemplated not bothering going, but I summoned the fortitude to carry on.  I did go and it was ok.  I survived.

That preamble was to say that I had my latest counselling session this week.  I opened it up by saying that I’d not done many Rhiannon things this month - that I was putting it on hold a little.  Then I listed a long long long list of all the things I’d done in the last four weeks or so and I realised that I now do Rhiannon things without even thinking about it sometimes and that I’ve stopped traveling between him and her and have largely merged them together.  Even if I’m not presenting as Rhiannon at a given moment, I am still who I am.

Anyway, so what’s happened?  Well, three main things really...

Firstly, I Sparkled.  For the uninitiated, Sparkle is the UK’s preeminent trans festival, held in Manchester’s gay village and attended by seemingly hundreds or thousands even of trans-people.  I have to say - and it is with no shadow of a doubt down to the company of Becca of Mutterings fame - I had an absolutely fantastic time!

Becca and I are good friends and we have talked about going to Sparkle for a few months now.  I was reluctant at best.  A weekend as me, wandering about doing girl things was a bit scary.  However, I did it.  I went through it and enjoyed it.  There are a couple of photos here that are slightly low quality.  Becca is a wonderful lady, a great friend, a wise sage and a courageous human being.  But she is a lousy photographer.  So I can only really apologise for the photos. :o)

My main memories from the blur that was that weekend will always be the pleasure of going out on a Friday night with my legs out in my favourite LBD with some great heels, getting slightly (ok a lot) inebriated and walking back to the hotel holding my shoes.  I have always always wanted to walk home in a cute dress holding my shoes.  Another one off my bucket list!   The other memory is that I spent the entire weekend melting.  I have just the worst propensity towards facial perspiration and it was the hottest weekend ever.  My make up and I suffered.  So I extend my apologies to those people who had to endure looking at a rather wet looking large woman like person dripping all over the place.



But I met some great people and had a lot of fun and am keen to go back.

Second, along the way this month has been dressing rather more than usual around other people.  I have had a selection of visitors to 'Rhiannon's Place', including said Becca and (on a different occasion) my mother, which was great fun. The heat has curtailed some of my make up application, so some of the Rhiannon time has been hair and make up free, but its still me!

And thirdly I went out, Rhiannon-style, for another day out with two fantastic GG girlfriends.  But I am conscious that some stuff happened on that day that I want to share with you and that this is already a long blog, so I am going to do that annoying thing of deferring telling you about that.  Plus, its nearly time for the day to start!  So, give me a day or two and I’ll put it out there...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

I remembered how to cheer myself up...

I know my blogs have been unhappy of late for which I apologise.  Every effort is being made to be chirpy forthwith.  Starting right here in fact...

Yesterday, I was travelling home from work - I'd been working away - and I thought I would pop into Boots to buy some new nail polish.  Buying natural colour tights was really the aim of the expedition, but who wants to stick with just boring natural tights when there is a distracting colour fest available?  I think that you really need colour to balance out the shopping basket, surely?  And after all, its not like I'm obsessed with nail polish or anything like that.  Or that this blog would incriminate me in any way!  Or that my toes are always painted apart from the two weeks a year on holiday with the kids.

Anyway, so I arrived at the shop ready to buy.  As you know, I have been sad for a while.  In fact this has meant that I've not even not been shopping or put on nail polish for weeks.   So glumly, I was looking at the range available and noted that they didn't have my favourite colour in. :o(((  Was even Boots the Chemist conspiring against me in conjunction with the evil people from Rimmel?  I just love the oddly named red called, 'hearts on fire'.  What else could add to my woes?

But then I saw it and instantly smiled again.  Clearly, just for me, they'd renamed my favourite colour (or a near facsimile) with something that cheered me up no end.  I purchased a bottle of Rimmel's 'rock n roll'.  :o)  Such a cool name.  Boots and Rimmel are both redeemed!

And I'm not saying (see picture) that my skills are any good in terms of application.  In fact, they are usually better than the photographic evidence would imply.  But when I got home, poured a glass of wine (of course), got changed into my skimpy nightdress (I know - too much information) and put on my nail polish, I was really really happy.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

When friendship kicks the dust...


I have not blogged for ages and a certain lady has been giving me a hard time about it recently.  In fairness, she does write the most boring blogs in the world, so she can talk.  Now I’ve been shamed into it.  The dearth of blogs has largely because I have been really really down of late.  I know that, in reality, when you are upset is best time to blog given its cathartic benefits.  Opening a bottle of wine is faster.  So I’m sorry, but the quick fix has been winning out.   Feel free to disagree, but repeated blogs detailing how unhappy life can be are not fun or edifying.  So I let it be.

Today is a particularly sad one though, so as a window, is interesting.

I have known one of my friends for nearly 20 years.  We don’t see each other that often really any more - we don’t live near each other, lives got busy etc.  We are Facebook friends and at one stage we were really close.  I was his best man at his wedding.  I watch from afar, but I am really proud of him and of some of his achievements - he’s done some great things.  Today he receives the accolade from his latest accomplishment, but I’m not going to get the chance to share in it.  I don’t know why, but it is painful.

Recently, I told his wife and him about my separation from Mrs A.  They were busy at the time with a lot going on in their lives.  I told his wife first in a Facebook conversation (she uses it far more than him) and the response was quite lukewarm and it felt like it was uncaring.  It was a one-sided, short conversation with little response and an abrupt end.  I play the conversation over and over again.  Was a private Facebook conversation the right way to tell them?  Was she was worried about loads of other things?  Is it that we haven’t seen each other for a long time?  Did she just not know what to say?  There are loads of reasons for it, but I was left feeling bereft.

I showed the conversation to another friend who felt that his wife was just preoccupied, had lots on and I had picked a bad moment.   I agreed.  The issue was more about where I am right now - that I am lonely and am probably looking for things from people that they can’t possibly be expected to give.  The day after that conversation, my friend of nearly 20 years in finding out that my long marriage was in trouble, Facebook messaged me a quote about how things get better in the end.  No commentary, no words, nothing.  Just the quote.  Fine, he was busy too.  They both had a lot on.

But I guess the problem is compounded by what has happened since then really.  In the last three months...nothing.  I thought I would have warranted more really.  A call, an email, a how are you, anything.  I’m the type of friend who if someone has a problem, I want to be there for them.  I want them to know they can turn to me.  I want to help out.

I talked to Mrs A about it recently and how upset I am and she said that I should make contact with them and say how I’m feeling and that I should, in particular, ask them if they mind me being there today.  I even planned my route and printed off parking details.

Today arrived and I know Mrs A’s recommendations are the grown up thing to do, but actually, I’m going to let it pass. Sometimes, despite how sad it makes you feel, it is easier to let things go.  I have a number of one-way friendships that exist because I make the effort to make sure that they do.  I barely have enough wherewithal to keep myself going at the moment, why continue to fight for things others don’t appear to want either?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My new LBD and other stories...

Had some more photos done with the lovely Tracey from Trans-Femme.  I am absolutely blown away by how good a job she did of making me look great.











Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Coming out - when is enough enough?


The 'coming out' journey continues.  I don't wish to limit myself and to force myself into doing something because I have blogged about it, but I'm getting to a saturation point.  The number of people who know my secret has reached probably 40-50 people I really trust.  I don't mean to blasé but I'm nearly at the point where I'm thinking that everyone I who I wanted to know, knows.  I am also starting to wonder, based on the response I’ve had to date about whether I would mind if it came out more broadly now.  I read Alice's blog regularly and she has recently taken the move to tell her Facebook friends about herself.  Brave decision?  Probably, but part of me wonders if there is an inevitability to it.  And most of you will be acutely aware of the crushing weight of keeping secret something you don't think of as a negative anymore.  You start to wonder whether the crush is worth it?

If I'm honest, the people who don't know about me, don't know for one of two reasons.  The first is where it might affect my professional standing and by extension my chances of getting work.  The second is that in my limited ability to judge these things, there is a danger that it might lead to my kids being told.

The first is a practical one.  I'm self employed.  The people I work for may well be ok with it, or they may hate and feel uncomfortable with it.  In most cases, I don't know either way and I'm not yet ready to take the risk of finding out.  I'm not on the route to transition currently, so them knowing adds nothing except risking my livelihood.  If I decide to transition, then it doesn't matter - they would need to know.  As I'm highly highly unlikely currently to turn up to work for my clients in Rhiannon mode, they are better off in the dark.

The second is simple.  I really don't want my kids to find out before I think they are ready to cope with it.  That's a personal judgement I guess, maybe a better way of saying it is that I don't want them to know until they HAVE to cope with it.  Again, I'm not likely to start dressing in obvious girl mode with them around, so why is it necessary?

The thing that you can't control is what people do with the secret you place into their hands.  So far, so good.  But the more who find out, the more chance there is to lose control.  Nothing new, I've blogged on this before, but it is heightened by the fact that half a dozen people recently have passed on my secret when they've been told.  Mostly that is to other trustworthy people, but the effect on me is that I move inch by inch towards the mass inadvertent outing I have always feared.  But strangely no longer dread.

All this sounds very matter of fact.  Like its an operational exercise and to a degree it has been.  But I’m no longer ashamed of feeling like a girl and not being open about it, to a degree makes me feel like I still am embarrassed.  In some ways knowing that there is an inevitability to it being public knowledge makes me think, ‘just get on with it.’  Don’t worry, I’m not going to act rashly, but it all makes you wonder...

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Cathartic TED talks...

Normal blogging service will resume soon, but I saw this a couple of days ago and its been gnawing ever since.  It really is worth watching.

It is the 'Most Beautiful Way to Stop a Bully I've Ever Seen':



Friday, 5 April 2013

Progress


This is a really short blog that is more of a marker for me in my Rhiannon journey.  I have been working hard on improving my make up skills, developing my look, undergoing painful waxing etc so that I can see what I want to see in the mirror.  So I can look at myself and be truly  happy for the first time ever.

Earlier this week, I was looking at a photo of me that I'd taken of myself and apart from slightly flushed cheeks (I was next to the radiator), I felt the start of feeling happy with myself.

I'm not suggesting I'm an oil painting (yet), but I was so overjoyed at just how much progress I'm making.   To boot, I've been really working hard on dieting and weight loss over the last week - I'm determined to get my weight down for lots of reasons.  So when I got on the scales and they said I was half a stone lighter, I was a very happy bunny.  And I resisted having a biscuit to celebrate!

Verdict: still a long way to go, but today, I'm smiling. :o)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Do we pick them well, or is the ground fallow already? Where is the line?


Over the weekend, I told an old school friend (its 20 years since school, not that she’s old, because she isn’t) about Rhiannon.  True to form, she was absolutely amazing in her response.  After the ‘are you pulling my leg question,’ she quickly took it in her stride, said I look fab and that she wouldn’t have recognised me.  When I was surprised at how ok she was with it, she made an interesting comment along the lines of: its 2013, why would I be bothered.

Clearly from the newspapers, certain ones in particular, there are some people who think its 1813, not 2013.  But its got me wondering.   I’ve told a fair few people about me now and they have all been very receptive and kind when I have delivered the message.  Up until now, I’ve been putting it down to the fact that I am good at choosing people to tell, that I have an instinct (self preservation?) for it, if you like.  But I am starting to wonder whether actually, the reality is that actually most people, these days, are just actually not bothered any more.  If you are trans, you are, its no biggie?

Reading this, I think that this is probably the case really.  But I have in mind a test.   A fair chunk of the people I have told have been either women who are quite open minded already or are men who are my age or younger (I’m 38).  Tonight, I’m meeting a older man who I used to work with, who I haven’t seen for a while. I know that the subject is very likely to come up.  I’m not sure where he stands on such issues, but I’m interested to see how he responds on the basis that he is outside of my ‘norm’ group.  He is a great chap, so I’m sure it’ll be ok, but it’ll be interesting.

Maybe this isn't the question I need to ask anyway.  Of course people are more responsive in general now, especially as they think, what harm can that news be to me.  If anything, its an interesting conversation.  Instead what I maybe need to ask is where is the line that changes open minded people into being more reserved?  Is there a point where general societal positivity reaches its limit?  Is it when they see some of my photos?  In the group of people who know about me, some draw the line there and don't want to see them.  Or maybe its meeting me in private when I’m dressed.  Is the line there?  I have noticed that when I tell people, some offer to go out with me when I'm presenting as Rhiannon.  To me, those are the bravest, but even some in that group avoid me afterwards. I feel that maybe their spur of the moment offer, once considered, is where they found their line.  Everyone must have a line somewhere?  Or have they?  I have found two people who seem to genuinely seem to have no line and go beyond the pail compared to others.  In fact, they are the people who push my line forward rather than the other way around.  They cause me to be brave.

If people, in general, are open minded and liberal about this, why is it that in a crowded room when I’m dressed, I think that all eyes are on me?  I know part of it is that I'm insecure, but it is probably for most people, that seeing a big fat man in a dress has already crossed their line, whatever amount of effort I've put into looking my best.  Maybe society is ready for so much, but in the future, hopefully, will be ready for even more.  But not quite yet...?

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Yo-yos have it easy


I’m tempted sometimes to blog more regularly.  This is not least because I know that there are many people out there who care about me.  So, knowing what’s going on is helpful.  But at the moment, I think I would either confuse, or worse, frustrate everyone.  A potted history of the last month would be up, down, up, up, down, down, down, up, down etc.  You get the idea.

The old saying struck me when I came to write this blog: 'I’m up and down like a yo-yo', hence the title.  I also remembered the saying, ‘up and down like a whore’s drawers’ but thought that the blog title, ‘whore's drawers have it easy’ would a) give you the wrong impression, b) be censured by blogger and c) get me into trouble with the sex industry.  So I resisted.  But it is accurate, so I used it anyway.

Many of the ups have been great highs. I’ve been working very hard recently at my job and have been getting great feedback.  To a level of quality that I’ve not really seen before - I guess it happens when you put your mind to it.  I have a couple of slow moving, frustrating projects too, but I’m even enjoying them because I’m working with some fantastic people who empathise with my snail’s pace situation.

Another high was my first trip to New York which was fab - I really enjoyed it.  I kicked back and did everything a tourist is expected to do.  I also wanted to take the train from New York to Washington for the day.  It was so cool, but why did no-one mention that the walk from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial is quite so long and more importantly so freakishly windy.  Brrrrr.  I spent the afternoon of that day trolley busing - I love guided tours.

Oh - and another waxing session.  Little bit more painful this time, but so worth it.  Followed by a shopping trip where I got the most super cute cardigan and top combination in the world.  It feels so pretty.  The more life goes on, the more I realise I can’t live without allowing my girl side to flourish - and more and more I want her to take over.

My friends have been fantastic.  3-4 in particular has never stopped checking on me, making sure that  I’m ok.  Last week, one of my friends who I haven’t talked to much about Rhiannon and I went for dinner.  It was a very frank and open conversation with us both sharing our current issues.  At one point he said basically that of all his friends, he thinks of me much more as a girl than a boy and that he would find it hard to be this open with his other male friends.  A couple of conversations with him over the last few months have been touch.

And there in lies the hideous paradox.  In my mind, I completely think like a girl.  Everyone who ever speaks to me always says it.  Feminine traits just seep from every pore.  So why oh why did I get this 5’11 big fat bloke body.  Someone recently, when I said that I do the best I can with it, replied, "I've seen worse!"  That pretty much summed it up for me - its the level I've reached! :o)  Nooooooo!  How could it ever change or be different?

And one final 'high' shout out.  I didn't get to the live performance - but I love it when great people take big risks.  Lynn Jones of YATGB fame did live stand up recently and she was really good - a great start.  Watching that made my day.  It always does when people push themselves beyond what they think they can do and it succeeds.

But as high as the highs have been, the lows have been so low.  Putting aside the fact that my mobile (cell) phone was stolen from under my nose when I was in central London.  Ignore that the death of my nan really hit me hard over the last couple of days, the heartbreak of separation continues.  I know lots of you have been though it and know.  But the pain of it sometimes leaves me breathless.  The loneliness, the aching.  I sometimes am in a meeting or out and about and my mind strays to my kids and the sense of palpable loss is overwhelming.  Its like every bit of life has been sucked from my body and I could just sob.  Clearly in meetings, that is not best thing in the world, but I’ve had some close calls.

Despite my earlier comments, the temptation to try to give all of this up and to be ‘normal’ is crushing, because I want my old life back.  Deep down I know I would never be able to really do that.  So I go on.  It feels like a half-life, with so much missing, like there is an empty gap that used to be joyously filled and now its void and painful even to look at.

That’s the thing, I know it’ll pass.  Mrs A constantly asks me if I’ve decided to come back and, by implication, to stop being Rhiannon.  I find it a trial every time because I want to say yes and to jump straight back into her arms.  That would make everyone happy, only to disappoint them all again down the track when I can't stick to it.  And when I do fail, they’ll hate me because I gave them hope and snatched it away again. So every day I spend time resisting my natural inclination to solve the problem, to make it better, knowing that the best I can do is a temporary patch.  And inside, I grow cold as I realise that my dream family is over.  In reality that means something new will form.  But Family 2.0 is not as good (in my eyes).  I just hope that if I can work hard at it, things might be ok.

If you reached this far without needing to resort to alcohol, well done.  But you were warned, I am very up and down at the moment...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Missing what he had


I haven’t blogged for a while, to be honest, because blogging requires two things from me.   Honesty and a semblance of self reflection.  Of late, facing up to either has been easier to avoid.  And I’m not finding it straight-forward right now, but I woke up this morning knowing that it was a blog day.

But its why I should blog more often, because the moment I do, crystal clear, stark answers stare back at me.  I started the first version of this blog thinking that I was confused about my gender and that things were all up in the air.  The latter part of that is true, but the reasons why I am unsettled are simple and are not to do with confusion.  I am intensely missing all the things I got to have when I was him.  And I’m teetering at the edge of our acquaintances and beyond finding out the true reason for the split.

Let’s consider the equation for a moment.  As him: married 16 years, enjoyment with the kids, people understand your situation and think well of you for it, good job, fantastic family holidays, meals out with someone you love, a familial support network when you are unhappy, solvency because you aren’t supporting two households, good standing in the local church (I know, I’ve never mentioned that one before, but there it stands), respectability, normality, easy life.

Then I contrast it with now.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have some (well a couple) of those things.  But I don’t have the things off that list that I really value.  Family holidays have firmly been taken off the list - ironically they were high on the list of things I valued about my old lifestyle.  Meals with a loved one.  Having some respectability.  I am grateful for the things I have now.  Sitting, writing this, in my fluffy pink dressing gown and my pretty nightdress, I am happy.  But Jekyll and Hyde that I am, I’m also insanely jealous of what he had and I miss it so much.  Even to the point where I wonder, not for the first time you’ll recall, whether I should go back.  I have to question what is important.  Forgive my French, but having made four other humans, I purport to love, so unhappy to get what I want is just a little bit shit and feels a lot selfish.  Why should I be happy at their expense?

But worse, and I’m going to be excruciatingly honest here.  I’m really not comfortable with the whole world knowing that I'm transgendered.  How’s that for out, loud and proud?

The progression is already happening.  As this is a separation, we have not publicised it, but all parents know that kids, by their very nature publicise everything.  We have not told them about why we’ve split up.  But over and over again, as people are, bit by bit finding out, the question they arrive at is why.  Why are, to all intents and purposes, a happy couple splitting up?  And how do you answer that?  Thanks to a wise friend, we have a script, “Mr A has some problems that he needs to resolve, there is no-one else involved, but we needed some time apart.”  It washes some of the time.  But the kids don’t buy it because its their whole world thrown into turmoil.  I know they don’t buy it because they are still asking why.   We are not telling them the real reason and they can tell.  Mrs A and I might get back together and once I’ve told them, it can’t be untold.  Life’s ‘undo’ button is greyed out on this one.  And the moment they know, everyone does.

I’m not sure if I’ve explained myself well at all here.  Or if anyone else even get’s what I mean.  Suffice to say, there are days I would trade being transgender.  Even if feeling pretty is the best feeling ever.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Bringing you up to date


Life, of late, has been a set of very mixed feelings.  On balance, I would say, sadness has won out, but some moments of joy have forced their way into the mix.  I have just re-read my last blog so that I could catch you up on the latest news - and didn’t realise that it really was about 3-4 weeks and SO much has happened in that time.

Having taken the painful decision to break, I began my search for a new place to live.  This proved remarkably easy really.  I did not want to go much further than 10 minutes from our family house so that I could see the little people as much as possible.  I found a perfect apartment that had so many of the features I was looking for on my first trawl through rightmove.co.uk.  I rang up, visited it, offered and within the space of 24 hours, I was renting.  It happened dizzyingly quickly.  I picked up the keys early in January and have been at work, building a place for the uncertain future ahead.

Despite a couple of reconciliation attempts and deep discussions to try to resolve our differences, we failed and agreed that it was definitely going to happen.  I am still not resigned to the fact that this has to be a forever split.  I’m hoping against hope that we find a way.  She is a lovely, knock out woman and I love her.  Yes, she is not up for trans-ness, but there are a lot of women out there who are like that.  I have lots of female friends who are lovely, supportive, kind - and quite happy to be seen out and about with me.  But when I ask the question, “what if it was your husband who was trans”, a quiet, non-answer is the usual response.  Putting myself in Mrs A’s shoes, I’m not sure I can judge her too harshly for her actions.

But the decision being taken, set in course a train of steps that would lead to me having to do the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my whole life.  I had to tell the kids that mummy and daddy were not going to be living together anymore.  Having only done this on Saturday just gone, it is still a little bit raw.  I have spent a very long time agonising and crying over telling them.  My ‘avoiding something at all costs’ instinct kicked in and I tried to do everything I could to procrastinate.  But I did it in the end.  Three tough conversations with three upset little people.  More crying from me.  Lots of crying from me.  They took it better than I expected.  I didn’t deliver the whole shebang.  My transgenderedness is not something I need to burden them with right now.  I’ll tell them that when I have my own head straight on how I want to progress.  Its enough pain to know your parents are splitting up for now.   On Sunday, they visited my new place and decided that they love it a lot.  I chose it partly because I thought there would be things they liked about it.  The path ahead is the tough one for them, but it was nice that they have taken the first baby step.

I said things were mixed at the moment and that’s because in what has been an awful period of time, there has also been some good stuff.  I’ve done another day at work in Rhiannon mode.  My hair, despite being a curly mop is growing out well - I have to achieve a semblance of a professional look as a boy which I am just about managing.  Living by myself means lots more Rhiannon time than I’ve ever had before.  I’ve had some nice meals and conversations with people who despite everything, clearly love me still.  A notable shout out for Becca Pink of Mutterings fame who I met in central London for dinner.  She’s not owning up to this on her blog, but she rocked the girl look for our dinner together.  I was going to, but bravery (and time to get ready) lost out - and then I was glad I wasn’t brave.  I walked, in boy mode, through thousands of people in rush hour Waterloo Station knowing instantly that I would have been overwhelmed at that many people being able to see me in Rhiannon-mode at once.  I have added that particular “walk of shame” to my 2013 objectives though - I WILL do it.

This blog probably sounds very upbeat given all that’s happened.  I guess its partly its about how you feel in the moment.  Its a snow day today - and I have so much to do.  But I put some make up on this morning, got into my favourite wooly tights, black skater dress and purple cardigan and settled down to work.  And honestly, a feeling of comfort and normality overwhelmed me.  Despite all that is horrible and tough in my world, I’m being who I really am today and that counts for a lot.

Hope you have a great day too. x