Surgery is in 40 days. You've probably not noticed it, but about three months ago, I put a little countdown timer at the bottom of my blog. It's hard to believe that it's gone from 120 to 40 so fast. Still very surreal. Between thoughts on surgery, wondering how I will get through the holidays, and the full-day custody trial scheduled for mid-January, my next 4 months will be about little else than survival.  I've not yet experienced any pre-surgical freakouts, crazy emotions, or anything like that, but I'm sure that will come as November 7th draws near.  I can't imagine what the night before will be like.  I can't imagine what it'll feel like the last time I see my kids before surgery.  Just thinking about it brings forth some pretty heavy emotions.

When I say "survival" earlier, by the way, I don't mean it in the suicidal sense; I mean that I have only the energy to put one foot in front of the other and get to the next day... to put myself in a position where I have a chance to finally, finally, after 40+ years, have a relatively drama-free life. I don't even know what that's like.  For now, I'll continue sucking it up and dealing with the insomnia, constant-pit-in-my-stomach, and loneliness.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel... but just how long is this darn tunnel?

Before my first consult to get my hair done, about 18 months ago, back when it was reminiscent of an inverted grey mop, I had a couple minutes to kill beforehand and stopped at the drugstore. Some guy started talking to me in line about how he didn't have much to do that night. It took me a minute to realize that he was hitting on me. At the consult, I related this anecdote with surprise to my stylist and a friend, Holly, who was there for moral support. I recall Holly saying to me, "Faline, you're pretty. Get used to it. Deal with it." I didn't quite believe her at the time.

I apologize for the self-indulgence which is to follow. But, I need a mental pick-me-up. So, to steal Holly's phrase, deal with it.

I had two appointments related to my kids yesterday, so I put a little extra effort into looking nice. Spent a little time on my hair, picked out a muted purple ruffle cardigan, fancy cami, charcoal pants, black skinny belt. A little bit of makeup. Not much. Ended up being one of those days that I look in the mirror and cannot believe that the woman staring back at me, is me. I looked fantastic. I made my usual stop at Starbucks on the way to work and counted various stares from no less than four men and two women. Yes, I counted. I'd ask for a little slack here, as this is all still a novelty. :) I gave one of the starers an "Um... helloooo?" look and when he realized it, he gave me a sheepish, embarrassed grin. I know this grin because it is the same sheepish, embarrassed grin that I used to give someone who caught me staring just a little too long. YSG was among the transfixed, pun not intended. I gave him a big a smile and a wave of my fingers; he smiled back and gave me a "peace" sign with his.

I guess Holly was right. I'm not quite used to this yet. As evidenced by the fact that I'm writing blog entries on the subject. But, I'm dealing with it. :)

Over the course of my transition, although no one has (overtly) rejected me, over time, friends and the relationships have faded away to the point where other than a precious few people, we're friends in the Facebook sense only. I try to do my best to understand and realize that I'm not the same person I was before and that people were friends with him, not her. I also think removing myself from the local triathlon scene has contributed to that. Triathlon can be cult-like at times; social events revolve around training and races, and if one doesn't train and race, she's not really part of the group any more. So this is no one and everyone's (including me) fault at the same time. I'm as OK with it as I can be.

However, there's one particular friend for whom I truly feel a loss, and this loss saddens me more than any other. I'm not quite sure why. I've known her for three or four years and although at times she could be a little aloof, we clicked. At times it almost felt like a little more than friendship, but it never happened, which was probably for the best. The amount of communication has waxed and waned over the course of our friendship, but I trusted her to the degree that she was among the first few people to whom I came out. I remember how supportive she was and how she told me that I shouldn't be afraid to talk to her about it. We went out a couple times when I was still in wig mode. In fact, she was the one who prodded me into going out without the wig, a much-needed prod. A couple months later, she, I, and others were hanging out, carrying on, having a couple drinks, and she told me that I was her favorite friend. She's said stuff like that to me more than once. She was my favorite friend, too.

We met up for dinner around the time that I came out at work, about a year ago to this day, and I haven't seen her since. I've sent a couple emails and messages here and there about getting together, but I haven't been taken up on it. Granted, she's very busy with some new stuff in her life but if I figure if people truly want to make time, they will. I'm not angry at her in the least; after all, she was friends with him, not her. I had hoped she was friends with her, too. I miss my friend.

Did you ever have one of those nights that, despite the fact that you don't necessarily need validation anymore, absolutely validates everything you're doing, and makes you smile so big that your cheeks hurt? That was tonight for me. I don't even know if mere words can do justice to the way I'm feeling right now.

Tonight was one of our quarterly All Hands Meetings at work. They go over business stuff for about 90 mins., and then there's social time, drinks, apps, etc., for a couple hours. I had never even shown up for one of these during my first three years with the company, before transitioning. I woke up this morning with dread. All day I wondered how long I would stay at the social part of the meeting. How long of an "appearance" would be enough? Show my face, then go home. I thought that if I managed to stay until 6:30, that would be enough. Never been my thing, and still wasn't, after how I handled the first All Hands' Meeting that I attended a couple months ago.

The business part of the meeting started, and they worked their way to the "Employee Recognition Awards." Each quarter, one employee receives a "Super Star" award, out of about 500 people in the company, for outstanding work/commitment. There is one given to a team, as well. I've mentioned here in the past how I was working on a pro bono project, in which I ended up doing the work of two people. The person giving the award started describing the recipient of the Super Star award and her work, and as I listened, I thought, "OMG. This is me. Wow, just wow." And it was!! It was a bit surreal walking up to get this award from the CEO with my picture and name on the overhead with 500 people applauding, when a few short months ago, I feared being fired. (The recognition wasn't bad, but the $200 AMEX gift card wasn't either!!)

The business part of the meeting ended, and the social hour began. People were congratulating me on the award right and left. But still, I felt like I didn't know all that many people; that I was wandering around aimlessly amongst all the masses. My lack of self-confidence got to me. I walked around for a little bit with my glass of wine, had a couple cursory conversations, and then after about 30 minutes, decided it was too much stress, and that I had to go. So I sneaked outside, pretending to be talking on my cell phone, got into my car, and started driving home, bitterly disappointed with myself.

I approached a stoplight. As I sat there, I shook my head and thought to myself, "you know, this is your night. you won an award. people are congratulating you. and you're sitting here in your car, going home at 6 PM. And you look *good* today (it was a good hair day). Turn this car around, bitch. Turn this fucking car around now and go back, and have a good time. You can do this. You know you can."

So I did. I turned the car around and I went back. And guess what? I had a blast. I was social. I talked to lots of people. I made them laugh. I got hugs. Ended up staying, along with the young 'uns, until 9 PM, about an hour after the event was supposed to end. One guy in particular, I had worked with before, and while on travel, before I transitioned, we had a bit of a "rock star" night. Including a baseball game, casino, horse racing, a midnight run to buy alcohol, and a strip club. I figured he of all people had been pretty freaked out by my transition, and I wanted to talk with him. I sought him out, and we talked. When I transitioned, HR sent out a message to the people I had worked with, John included, disclosing my transition. The email subject was simply my name. When I talked to John tonight, he told me when he got the email, and he saw the subject, his first thought was that I had killed myself; that he knew there was something very wrong with me and that I was incredibly unhappy. Wow, just wow. I had no idea that I came across that way to people before transition. Anyway, he said that he didn't quite understand it but that he was just glad I was still around.

The last person I talked to was a woman who had just joined the company a few months ago, and for whatever reason, it was a particularly special conversation. There was nothing outstanding in what we talked about, topics we covered, but you just know when you connect with someone on a friendship level. We talked for about 20 minutes, hugs were exchanged, and I headed home.

I drove home somewhat astounded on how well I'd done; how people reacted to me and how I felt I was in my element. My element! A room full of people was never "my element." There's this new song that I heard recently on the radio, only once, that I love. I sent the radio station an email this afternoon asking them to play it again. I had the radio on in the car tonight and heard this about a third of the way home ...

"This one's for Faline..."


"Here's 1000 Ships, by Rachel Platten."


The icing on the cake. Is this my night, or what? Wow, just wow. I cannot stop smiling right now.

Is it worth it?  Worth it for who?  Me?

Probably, but I can't say for certain.

I don't have the perspective yet to answer.  I wouldn't feel right answering until "it" is long past, which won't be for a while.

So far it's cost me $50,000, my relationships with my family are extremely strained, I'm in the middle of a legal battle with my ex-spouse to stay in my children's lives, and I'm currently in no-woman's-land as far as friendships are concerned.  In 5 years, when I look back, will I view all this as being worth it?

I'm as sure as I can be, but I can't say for certain.

Is it worth it for you? I don't know.

It's worth it if you are one of the extremely few number of people who have gender dysphoria to the degree that requires transition.  If you're not one of those very rare birds, for me to tell you that it's worth it might, despite my best intentions, end up hurting instead of helping.

So be cautious.

This isn't like being gay or lesbian, you know?  If you're gay, you know it well before the journey starts.  If you're transsexual, you can only be "sure" to a certain degree before embarking on the journey.

So be cautious.

I don't want you to end up like Charles Kane, or worse yet, Mike Penner.

Is it worth it for you? I don't know.

The only person who can answer that question is you, and the only way that question can be answered is by walking the path.  And the only way to start walking the path is to take one small step, and see if it feels comfortable.  If so, take another when you're ready.

Be cautious.

And someday, you'll know.

My "arms" post was a little down-sounding.  Yeah, I'm lonely, but I don't need to sound so depressed about it.  I heard this song on the radio for the first time yesterday and instantaneously loved it. Similar sentiment, but more optimistic. I couldn't help but smile as I bounced along in the car to it.  I don't know that I've ever had such a reaction to a song before, from the first couple notes.  When I got home, I realized that I didn't remember any of the words, and they had provided neither the artist nor the title.  This was an emergency.  I needed to listen to this song again.  Tried a couple things (see the comments), but no luck.  Thought some more and remembered that it had the words "coffee," "belly," and "soliders" in it.  How many songs have those three words, right?  Worth a shot.  So I googled "coffee belly soliders lyrics" and 1000 Ships was the first hit.  Yaaaayyy!!   Well, it was the first hit for the correct spelling of "soldiers," which Google graciously suggested. That's one of those words I can't help but misspell.

I can't stop listening to it. Just makes me smile, which I need lately. I found out that the artist, Rachel Platten, will be performing in my area the the a few days before I fly off to Montreal. I'll get a few girlfriends to go and we'll have a send-off. Cheers!!

A got an email from a friend last night, said friend asked me about the motivation behind it. The idea behind my last post got away from me a bit. The comments somewhat took it further away from the point which I did a lousy job of elucidating in the first place. The point of my last post was *not* to assert my validity as a transsexual woman, nor was it to assert the non-validity of others. Truly, it had nothing to do with that.

I ran into my Starbucks "friend" the other day and he's become very friendly towards me. We chatted for a little bit. It's the kind of thing where one can just tell that there's an attraction. I left and as I got to work, was feeling good about the whole thing. But then a thought crossed my mind. I tried to envision telling this person about my history. One thing I've done throughout transition, especially in terms of coming out to people, is rehearse conversations like that. The rehearsals always go well. This particular rehearsal was a disaster. I couldn't envision what I would say, how I would say it, or how he or any other man might react. There is virtually no one that I can talk to about this. The post was the way those feelings manifested themselves.

The point was that not only do I have no idea how to go about this, I don't even have anyone that I can talk to about it. I don't have anyone who is in a situation similar to mine. There are three or four people I've met through transition, all through teh blogz, with whom I consider myself close. I've spoken on the phone or Skyped or met in person with all of them. But even among that group, there's no one who has been-there-done-that. I know of straight transsexual women, but I don't even know their real names. And there's only so much trust one can put in someone who won't even share their real name with you. Even though I typically have ended up doing my own thing, it's a little frustrating nonetheless to have no one who can relate in a real-life sense to this particular transition hurdle.

So anyway, if my last post sounded frustrated, I suppose it was a little bit. I'm under a tremendous amount of stress these days. I spent all afternoon yesterday trying to avoid having to go to Court this morning because my X is trying to force the kids into therapy to use against me in a custody hearing come January. My mother has been giving me the silent treatment for 2 weeks because she didn't like the way in which I thanked her for the kids' birthday presents. I still haven't quite figured out this "make friends" thing. Oh, and I have this whole major surgery thing coming up in 9 weeks and change. Things that normally wouldn't get to me seem are getting to me. For example, the county voter registration office asked me to send in a copy of my court order so I could change my name with them. They don't require it in cases of, say, name change due to marriage. Normally, this, at the risk of sounding like Monica Roberts, ain't nuttin' but a thang. But I raised a fuss about it; I fired off an angry-sounding email to the county Registrar demanding to know why I was being treated differently than other women. Awesome overreaction, Faline. Like that will accomplish anything.

This would be the perfect time to be able to snuggle up on someone's arms and have him tell me this will all be OK. But there are no arms and no possibility of arms right now. I don't know how to get arms, and furthermore, I have even less of an idea how I'd keep them, once I got them. And I'm alone in it.



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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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