Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones.... And I will try to fix you.
- Coldplay

2010.  What to say?  Wow, I've done a lot of "fixing me" this year.  I remember back in the springtime, I was emailing with my sister... we're both big Coldplay fans, and she mentioned "Fix You."  Not in a trans context, but in a "this is a great song" context.  I hadn't listened to it in a while, so I went and watched the YouTube video.  When it got to the part where the guitars kick in and Chris Martin starts running, the emotions overcame me and I watched the video over and over and over, tears streaming down my face, as the song lyrics go.  I still can't watch that video without getting emotional, which is how I like it.

On BT, my triathlon website, my NYE blog ended with this: "I think that 2010 will also be a good year, and I think it might end up being one of the most important years of my life."  Pretty accurate, no?  There are times when I look back at what I've accomplished over the past 365 days, and it's hard to believe.  It's hard to believe that I've actually done this after so many years of wishing that I could, or would.  This morning, I mostly feel proud.  There are lots of things I'm proud of this morning, so pardon me while I gratuitously pat myself on the back for a moment.  :)

I'm proud...

  • that I've stood up for myself in the way that I have.
  • that I'm a great parent.
  • that, when dealing with others, I've managed to balance respectfulness of others' feelings with assertiveness of my own.
  • of my family and friends, for being the loving and accepting people that they are.
  • that I am gaining respect in the community through this blog, and my position as an administrator on PE.
  • that I've kept virtually all of my old friends, and made many new ones.
  • that I'm now in a position to help others who might be where I was a year or more ago.
  • that I've given myself a fighting chance at happiness.
My first introduction to Blogistan was a blog that I found when Googling "Electrology 3000."  I was led to this one particular blog.  I read the electrolysis stuff... then kept on reading, eagerly digesting every word about her transition.  I related to so much of it.  Hmm, maybe I can actually *do* this.  Perhaps it is possible.  I noted that she lived in my area and thought, "huh, you never know, maybe we'll cross paths someday.  That would be cool."  As it turns out, tonight I'm celebrating New Year's Eve by going over to her place and watching her and her partner be married.  There's something very synergistic about that.

To be certain, there is still lots of "fixing" ahead in 2011.  I need to take care of myself better from a physical standpoint. There are surgeries ahead.  My voice is abominable.  I'd like to start doing some volunteering and/or find ways to help other transsexual people.  There are some steps I need to take at work to further my career.  And of course the mental transition will continue long after the last hair has been zapped from my face.

But today is a day to take it all in, look back with wonder on all that 2010 has brought, and look forward to the future.  Happy New Year, Blogistan!!  :)

Round 2 of insomnia + wine this week... I've been trying to figure out the source of my recent angst, and I have yet another theory, yet another "main thing that is consuming my thoughts."  For the past year, life has been about transition.  When one is transitioning, it is virtually impossible for her life to be about anything but transition.  It's about going to therapy appointments, writing and re-writing coming-out letters, visualizing, going to electrolysis appointments, laser appointments, doing voice exercises, writing blog entry after blog entry about my metamorphosis, getting a new wardrobe, going on PE and chatting or reading threads, researching surgeons, attending support group meetings, learning how to live the way I've always wanted to live.

At some point, probably sooner than I thought it might be, the physical transition will be over, and a good deal of the mental transition will have taken place.  In under a year, I will have had surgery.  There will be no more hairs left on my face to zap.  I won't have to go to therapy to fulfill the SOC.  My voice will sound the way I want it to.  My body will be as it was supposed to be.  I won't need to go to a support group.  I'm in this protective cocoon right now, as I expressed to a friend, where I can make excuses for not completely living because "I am in the midst of all this."  For example, dating.  I have released myself from the pressures of dating until this is "over," whatever that means.  There are other pressures that I have released for now, while I cope with transition.

When all this is over, then what?  Then I just need to live.  Which ought to be very appealing, but the thing is, I don't know how to just live.  To just be.  To just be content.  Because in 39 years, I never have been.  What does one do when she is content?  What motivates and inspires her?  What is her point?  Concerning dating, how the heck do I date people as a woman?  I guess it will come naturally.  Everything else has.

I keep thinking about this character from The Shawshank Redemption.  Brooks was a convict who had spent almost all of his life in Shawshank Prison.  When he was released, he had no idea how to cope with life on the outside; he couldn't handle it.  He ended up hanging himself; he carved "Brooks was here" above his noose.  He had become institutionalized.  I feel at times as if I have been in prison for my whole life, that I have become institutionalized.  Will I know how to handle life on the outside?  I hope so.  When my time at Shawshank is up, I think that I will do a better job of handling it than Brooks.  It's a little intimidating at times, though.  I won't carve my name anywhere unless my boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/husband/wife carves his or hers as well, on some picnic table somewhere, where we can come back 10 years later and find it.

The prospect of post-transition life, while exciting and what I want, is also somewhat scary.  What I try to fall back on, and what I am trying to fall back on now and tell myself, is that so far, this has come naturally for me.  Things I feared, I did not need to fear.   Pieces of me that I thought I'd need to really work at, required no work at all.  They were always within me; they just needed to be released from the institution.

I've been trying to get to sleep for close to 4 hours now.  After I got out of grad school, around the time that the shit really started hitting the fan gender-wise, I started having severe insomnia.  It used to be so bad that sometimes I'd just give up and go into work at 4 AM.  I've not slept well for years.  20 years.  Late to bed, early to rise.  I started doing better the past 4-5 months or so... I was actually getting close to 8 hours' sleep, which for me, was awesome.  A real and true accomplishment.  When you're used to four or five hours a night, getting eight is a blessing.

I don't know what's going on lately.  I wish it would go away.  As the lives of people just starting their first year full-time go, life is good.  But I've been letting lots of things go lately... I've put on 6 pounds this month, I haven't been doing a good job of eating or drinking lots of water, or exercising, or taking care of my skin, etc.  I just haven't been taking care of myself like I should.  For me, the "holidays" end with Xmas, as I will not be doing anything on NYE.  I have this big list of things I need to start doing a better job at after I get back from Xmas.  It's a rather ambitious list, but I've certainly proven to myself in 2010 that I can accomplish more than I ever thought possible  in just one year.  So I am looking forward to 2011.

For tonight, though, I don't know what's up with this insomnia.  It's likely just a series of things, life situations, building up.  My grandmother is doing better, but she's been moved to a nursing home.  So I think about her lots.  I think the main one insofar as "stress," as I have mentioned before, the fact that I am now serious about surgery and starting the planning stages for it.  I won't reiterate everything I wrote in my second-guessing blog, but I do keep thinking "what if I'm wrong?"  Hmm, on second thought, the main one is, I'm also a little stressed about visiting the family solo, i.e., without my children.  Having them there was a bit of a buffer.  Actually, I think the main one is that I am really missing the person my ex-wife used to be, and I am pining a bit for those days.  Ok, I need to shut up now, before I come up with ten "main things."

I am going to have another glass of wine (this is only 2, so no worries), watch this YouTube fireplace video, and hopefully go to sleep.  Ciao.

I've tried to write about this before, and usually it ends up being a rambling mess. So here's my apology for the rambling mess which is certain to follow.

I have moments where I feel very disconnected from myself. Like I am stepping back and watching with morbid fascination as someone else goes through this process. At times this all feels surreal... am I really *doing* this? As if at some point I am going to wake up and this phase-I'm-going-through will be over. Of course, it's not a phase, and it won't be over.

My friend Suzanne captured this feeling much better than I could have in her blog...

"Once in a while, though, I get a sudden feeling like I'm being yanked out of a dream. What the hell am I doing? I actually changed my name... legally... to "Suzanne". What are you doing? You hate surgery. You're terrified of surgery. And you're going to voluntarily have very painful surgery... on your genitals? Seriously, what the fuck? Wake up, Scott. Get a grip on yourself.

I don't like that feeling at all. I strongly prefer the dream, if that's even what it is. It only feels like a dream when I snap out of it. But it's not a dream and I think everyone has these feelings sometimes. I don't think your life ever really feels like it's completely real or your own if you look at it from a distance. Sometimes you're going to take a step back and things about it will seem strange and disconnected from what you thought it would be, even if you're following your heart. Whatever choices you made along the way, sometimes you're going to doubt those decisions, even if they were the right choice."

I know that I making the right decisions, if in fact they are decisions, but I do question them sometimes. I looked at myself in the mirror the other day, and saw a cute woman looking back at me. I wondered what her life would be like in 10 or 20 years. I wondered if she would look back and think, "What was I thinking?" As I continued looking in the mirror, it occurred to me that her concerns were the same concerns of any female middle-aged divorced parent... would her kids be OK? would she be alone? happy in her career? respected? have lots of friends? None of my concerns or worries are specific to being transsexual. Sure, perhaps they might be exacerbated, but at the end of the day, I'm not all that different from anyone else.

I continue to have moments where I will temporarily get down on myself for stupid things. And at first, I'll think they're about being transsexual, but they're not. For example, it is freaking cold here right now. And I don't have too many warm clothes. So I went shopping last night. Lately, shopping is an absolute exercise in frustration. I have no idea what I am doing; in fact, I feel like I have less of a clue now than I did a few months ago. I tried things on in 5 stores, and bought nothing. I tried a friend's trick of going and finding everything that's on the mannequin and trying that on. But guess what? I'm not the mannequin! :) I don't think that anyone is the mannequin. Then I got home and made the egregious mistake of weighing myself, and I have gained 6 pounds. Wah wah wah. Put head in hands, sulk, pout, have glass of wine. Again, none of that is specific to being transsexual. It's fair to say that it's a little more difficult to find clothes that work, but these are the same problems as any other woman who feels clueless and intimidated by the perfect and unrealistic images of women in the media. And the mannequins. :P

So what I should be saying, is, yay! Look at you, girl! You have the same perceived problems that any other woman does! Welcome to the sisterhood, you've arrived! This is what you signed up for! Back to the point of the post... the self-questioning... my truth is that facing the issues that women face, however frustrating they can be, feels right for me. One person tried to dissuade me from transitioning by pointing out how much more difficult life will be, as men have it so much easier. Well, sure they do, but it doesn't matter. If you understand what it means to be transsexual, none of that matters. I really need to cease and desist with the second-guessing. Seriously. Enough is enough. Stop it. I'm tiring of it.

I'm going to write this blog entry once and not edit, tweak, and/or save it as a draft multiple times.  I'm going to write it once, make sure there isn't any complete mangling of the English language, and publish it.  I drive myself crazy with the endless tweaking.

Still feeling stressed about a bunch of things... only going into the two "biggest" here... my 91-year old grandmother had a heart attack and fell a couple days ago, and while it doesn't look like she's in immediate danger, the doctors are not able to operate on her due to her age.  I spoke with my Dad tonight and he said that hopefully at Xmas we'd see her and do what we usually do.  So that is obviously weighing on me.  My kids and I were able to spend some quality time with her at Thanksgiving, which I cherish.

I've also been spending a lot of brainpower on GCS.  I have two consultations scheduled for February, and there is a part of me that feels like I am rushing it.  The time it took from my first therapy appointment to full-time was just over a year, which in transition terms is pretty fast.  But I never felt like I was rushing it, or going too fast.  With this, I kind of do feel that way.  There's lots to think about...

  • Picking a surgeon isn't easy, as the three I am considering, McGinn, Leis, and Brassard, are all good, well-recommended, and have similar cost.  I wish that one was head and shoulders above the others.
  • I've also been putting off hair removal "down there," and I don't have anything else to say about that, other than it's going to freaking hurt.
  • Cost... the surgery will be paid for out of my rollover IRA.  Which sucks.  But at least I have the means.  Fortunately, the IRS ruled it is a deductible medical expense, so I won't incur the 10% penalty for early withdrawal.
  • I've also stressed myself out reading about some of the complications one can have... granular tissue, fistulas, but I guess that comes with surgery.
  • Mostly, though, I worry about making sure I'm getting this decision right, given the finality of it.  I talked about it some at therapy last week, and given my history and how seamless and easy my transition has been, how natural it feels, this has to be the right decision.
I can only make the best decision given the information I have, and everything points to this being my future.  I can't imagine walking around for the rest of my life with this thing.  So why wait, right?  But I still kind of feel like I'm rushing it, though.  It'd be around 2 years from first therapy session to surgery.  That's fast.  Too fast? Maybe.  I dunno.

I've been feeling very unsettled or stressed lately.  Not sure why.  This morning, I sat down and started writing yet another post which would have ended up tagged with either "HTFU" or "pointless rambling."  Didn't have time to finish it, so I saved it as a draft.

This afternoon, I took my kids to the Gaylord National hotel, where they have all sorts of Christmas things going on.  It's a wild scene.  We've been looking forward to it for a couple months now.  It was crowded.  It was very expensive.  Before we got there, I was a nervous wreck knowing that my kids were apt to wander off at any moment, seeing some ice sculpture that intrigued them, or a decorated tree, and I'd then have to raise my voice.  Speaking loudly isn't something I'm able to do in my pseudo-girl voice.  We had to wait over an hour in line to get in to the ICE thing.  To the parent of a 5 and 3-year old, it was one big clusterfuck.

As we walked back to our car, I was choosing to fixate on all of the above in my mind.  As well as calculate their projected bedtime and how overtired they'd be tomorrow, due to the lateness of said projected bedtime.  My kids, on the other hand. were excitedly talking about how cool and great the day had been, and how they couldn't wait to come back next year.  And how cool the inside snowfall was, and how big the ice Grinch was, and how they got to go down the ice slide twice, and how high the fountains shot up, and how fast the lights flashed during the musical light show.  As we drove home, the two of them made a list and counted all the good things that we had done today, all the good things about the day.  They came up with 22 things.

I shook my head at myself, and decided to make it 23.  There's a neighborhood nearby where every house is a Chuck Griswold house.  I've always wanted to take them to drive down it.  Another 20-30 minutes isn't going to matter.  So we drove down it and we had to drive back and forth 6 times past one house, until my daughter (the 5-year old) was satisfied that her brother had seen the Thomas the Train with Santa hat.  As I was tucking her into bed, I told her that sometimes mommies and daddies learn things from their children.  I explained that sometimes adults think too much about the not-so-good things, and that she and her brother reminded me to think about the good things.  Her reply was that "adults are crazy sometimes."

So true, huh?

It's 3 AM, and as I sit here writing, my ex-wife is here in my home, upstairs talking to my children in their room.

Tonight was my night to have the kids... I put them to bed, puttered around, and went to sleep myself.  Nights when I have them, I need to get up extra early in the morning to get myself ready for work so we can be out the door by 7 AM.  So I bring my cell phone up and set an extra alarm on it.  Around 1 AM, the phone rings.  It was H.  Her cat, Amos, was having heart failure and she was calling from the vet.  He's 14.  She's had him since he was a kitten.  We were trying to decide what to do about the kids... have them come say good-bye first, or let Amos go, as he didn't have much time.  H. wanted to come over, wake them up, and take them to the vet so they could say good-bye to their pet one last time.  Totally fine, of course, with me, but I did say that I wanted to wake them up so they weren't completely confused.  She didn't seem too happy with that, but I was firm.  Kind, but firm.  Anyway, H. came over around 2 AM, declined my offer of tea, called the vet, and after the call sat on the floor, head down, legs crossed, crying.  I came and sat next to her and put my arm around her.  I didn't say anything.  We sat there for a few minutes.  Without saying anything else or looking at me, she got up and asked to go upstairs and sit in their room to gather herself.   After a little bit, I came up and brought her tea, and asked her to let me know when she wanted me to wake up the kids.

She was up there for about 10 minutes or so.  Came downstairs again without looking at me, and asked to use the computer.  She looked up some Bible verses, then said, "ok," and looked expectantly towards the stairs.  I first woke S., our 5-year old, and told her that Mommy was here and wanted to talk to her and her brother.  H. came in and sat on the bed with S. while I attempted to rouse G., our 3-year old.  It's not easy to wake a 3-year old from a dead sleep.  I left while H. talked with them.  They came downstairs and S. explained that the only reason that she was out of bed was because Amos was going to heaven (now I am crying as I type this) and they were going to go say good-bye to him.  I cannot describe the look on her face.  A look of sadness and bravery with maturity that I might not expect a 5-year old to be capable of.  S. is a extraordinary child.  She was trying so hard, so hard, to be brave, for her pet, and for her mother.  My son, 3 year olds being who they are, was more matter-of-fact about it... in his first breath, telling me that Amos was going to heaven and in the second, talking excitedly about our weekend plans to go to the "ICE place."

The jackets H. had sent them over with weren't warm enough for a 3 AM December excursion to the vet, so I got them something a little warmer, and hats.  I hugged S. and whispered to her that Mommy was going to be very sad for the next couple of days, and to take really good care of her.  I helped buckle the kids in the car and asked them all to take care of each other, and to call me if they needed anything.  I kissed both kids and squeezed my wife's ex-wife's hand, to which she said, "thanks..." and off they drove.  It felt wrong not coming, and H. would never ask.  She doesn't ask for my help with things.  I called her a couple minutes later and asked if she wanted me to come, if she needed support, but she said she didn't, that she would be OK.  It's hard when someone you care about is in pain, and they will not allow you to help.

I remember when her father gave her away at the altar, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Take care of her."  I'm still trying to.  Perhaps that's not realistic anymore.  I'm going back to bed now.  I'll bring my cell phone with me, just in case.

My transition is going well, yada yada yada, blah blah blah.  That said... lately, I'm pretty freaking lonely.  I think it is more situational than anything... being separated for close to three years, followed by transition, doesn't lend itself well to relationships.  Or even dates.  There's been none of that, by my choice.  It's not all just about romance, however.  What I really yearn for, what would be more meaningful to me than a relationship, is that *one* special friend, just one... a best friend.  Finding a best friend is no different than finding a partner... it isn't something you can force, or make happen.  In either context, when you meet someone, you meet someone.  I've written words to this effect before.  There's a woman with whom I've really hit it off the past couple of weeks... we've been Skyping a lot, which is nice.  But, we won't be calling each other to come over and watch a movie anytime soon, as she's a couple of time zones away.  It's nice to have someone to talk to, though.  I find myself missing her this evening, purely as a friend.

I've previously mentioned how I've been feeling softer towards my ex-wife, H.  I suspect this whole loneliness thing exacerbates the feeling.  Anyway, this past Sunday, I was in the parking lot at a toy store, getting ready to finish my Christmas shopping.  The phone rang and it was H.  She had just finished going to church and said she thought of me when she heard the sermon.  She asked me if I would come.  If you've followed along here, you know that I am not religious.  I'm an agnostic.  Deep down, I knew that the reason H. was asking me to this was because she holds out this hope that I'll be "saved" or "see the light."  What I hoped, but knew wasn't true, was that she wanted me there just because she wanted me there.  So against my better judgment, off I went to meet my ex-wife at church.  The transsexual and the born-again.  We are both hoping for some "magical moment," she hoping that I will find God and abandon transition, me hoping that she wants me there just so I'm there.  It can still be difficult for me to say "no" to her.

No magical moments were to come, of course.  The service finished.  We talked for about five minutes and we went our separate ways, me going back to finishing Christmas shopping for our children, she to the kids' room to get our children.  She needs to let go of this ridiculous hope that I will "come to God" as she puts it, and I need to let go of this ridiculous hope that she would want to spend time with me, just because it's me.  It was nice to just stand there with her for an hour.  I did feel pretty damn empty afterwards, though.  I don't think I'll do it again.  It is very hard to let go, to let that last semblance of hope die.

I've been staying awake later the past couple of weeks.  My bedtime was holding steady at around 10 PM for a while there, which was great... now we're up until midnight, 1 AM again.  At least I don't wake at 5 like I used to.  Maybe I don't like to go to bed.  There are always people to chat with and interact with online, but there's no one upstairs.  In years past, I never liked to have anything touch me when I went to sleep.  I would cover my midsection with a blanket and that was it.  A sheet touching the edge of my toe would bother me.  These days, I sleep on my side, under my sheet and comforter, one arm hugging the pillows under my head, the other arm hugging another pillow, a fourth pillow between my legs.  A poor substitute, but this is where I am for now.

None of this is intended to be self-pitying or complaining... it's just a statement of how things at the moment.  So for now, I'll sit here writing, drinking my sugar cookie flavored hot tea with my Christmas lights on, listening to Lorena McKennitt, thinking about my kids being here tomorrow night and this weekend and I'll go to sleep surrounded by pillows.  That's all (somewhat) comforting.  It's a lonely time.  It's not called "transition" for nothing.  It'll be different someday.


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When I transitioned, there just weren't too many blogs out there written by straight, transitioned women. Well, here's one.

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