Last night I visited with my therapist for the first time in several months. We talked and asked if she could be direct with me. I said I preferred it that way. I'm a no bullcrap kind of gal and I play life straight and to the punchline. Honesty to self, honesty to others is the best approach I find. Her questions really hit home but they were not unexpected nor were the answers. If anything, it was me sounding them out that really began to hit home. It is one thing to say these things to yourself but it is another to answer to someone else. The therapists I have had really never ever told me who I was and my current one hasn't, but she did throw back some thoughts and perspectives which really bore meaning and thought.
I told her I wasn't transitioning but working in a middle ground. I wasn't on hormones and I wasn't planning to change gender marker or legal status and to play a guy role as well. From where she sat, she wasn't buying it. In those past few months since I had seen her, with continued electrolysis and facial peels, I've been softening and transforming my face into an even more feminine realm. She asked me how I was passing for a guy. I honestly had to think about that for a moment and realized I was starting to get the questioning looks in guy mode that I used to get in girl mode about two years ago.
"How does that make you feel", she asked.
I told her that I feel, for the first time in my over four decades of life, as myself and simply congruent... at peace. I never have in my male mode and that mode only provided for a highly shy, nervous and anxious male person who avoided many social situations. I thought for years I had agoraphobia and had to avoid crowds and people. Restaurants had to be dimly lit or avoided and public speaking or even being in public could cause catatonia where I would just go stiff and rigid, with sweaty palpitations and an erratic heartbeat. Over the years, I learned to avoid situations that caused these reactions as I could not, even through immersion therapy, ever resolve them.
My therapist just looked at me and said she saw none of that in the person I was now. And it was true. Apparently I am, unknowingly or admittedly, some sort of social butterfly; talkative and witty, charming and humorous is what I hear most often. At the Transgender Day of Remembrance I recently attended, one of my friends remarked that she was asked how she had become aware of the event. When she mentioned that she had heard about it from Christen, there were remarks of, "oh yeah... you know Christen? Cool!". It is so weird as I never really had a lot of friends growing up and into my adult life. I would say that I was a co-worker or an acquaintance or someone to talk to in the office but friends... people I could talk to and share my life with numbered in the single digits.
Part of that low number was due to the fact that I was not comfortable with my own sense of self and partly it was due to the fact that guys just don't equate and relate to me in ways I find I can relate to other women. Yet trying to relate to other women as a woman but presenting as a man was enough to cause me panic attacks and clam up completely. Simply put, when I did so in times past, women simply viewed me as some sort of odd guy, gay male or caricature of a woman and still I was not speaking to them at a level which other women would and can understand. So I just shut down early in life and stayed that way... recluse and eventually moving away from the city to be in the quietude of the country where I could run away from my problems and myself.
My therapist basically said... "You are transitioning, whether or not you are admitting it... hormones or not...". It is the acceptance of myself and the joy in feeling I am who I was meant to be. It is the inclusion I feel and in the wholeness of self that is the essence of my inner being which had been suppressed for so many decades. I've been taking my time to ascertain if what I have been feeling is simply me escaping from the male realm temporarily to express a feminine side but am finding that the feminine side is who I am and the male side is what I escape into when I am not Christen. There is no pretense upheld as Christen to be someone I am not and there is only contemplation of a completeness never held before and a sense of confidence never before enjoyed.
I'm continuing to take my time in all of this but the journey seems to go on with a life of its own. I say I am not "doing anything" to transition but I am allowing myself to be myself and that fact... me being true and honest to myself is materialized as becoming the female I am inside. Apparently my walk has changed, my mannerisms, my gesticulations, my speech patterns... in essence... everything. I'm not aware of any changes at all but am told so constantly by everyone else. It is quite a revelation to not fully be aware of changes in one's own sense of self and to consider that what has changed as being completely different from what actually has. It is all so odd.....
After therapy it was time to do some Christmas shopping for my spouse and so it was off to Kohl's. It was so very interesting to me how innocuous I was and how comfortable it was to shop that evening. More than one sales associate approached me and we began multiple conversations about everything... from travel to living in New Hampshire and numbers of other subjects. My best guess from the body language was that they were convinced I was natal female until the points where I spoke. For them, discovering the variance was a positive thing and it led immediately to their wanting to talk with me even more.
Here's my outfit I wore that night.....
When I ran into one particular woman again, she made a point to catch me and chat further. Interesting.... What appeared to be the manager of the store stood in the main aisle in clear view of the registers and the jewelry counters surveying and greeting and, from what I could hear him balking to the employees, micromanaging them. He was of impressive build and stature, both in height and girth and somewhat balding. I sauntered my way up towards him as I made my way to the next department.
His tone spoke worlds of his persona as he offered, "Are you finding everything you were looking for miss?"
Both my response and my intonation caught him off guard.
"Thank You, I've found everything I WASN'T looking for"
With the unexpected humorous answer which required thought on his part and the variance in my voice, he made the discovery as well as to my gender variance and the look on his face was priceless. It was this sort of blank, 'it does not compute' realm but there was no negativity... just a learning experience for him.
Interestingly, the women all caught my sense of humor in that same response and laughed. He did not. Guys......
I chatted up a storm with the cashier, who also had much to talk to me about regarding the economy and various stories of recent she had,. When I handed her my credit card with my male name on it, she knew.... but she didn't even blink an eye. In fact, she seemed even more impressed and she gave me a thank you at the end of the transaction that was far above what she had given her prior customers ahead of me in line. When I replied nearly simultaneously back wishing her and her the happiest of holidays, she had a warm look in her eye and replied back in a heartfelt way wishing me the same.
It was a very enlightening night... but an affirmative one in so many ways. I am clearly in a realm which is both natural for me and certainly not displeasing for others (although for the men perhaps surprising). In any event, my own comfort with my own sense of self and my stylish and confident but not caricatured presentation lends itself well to setting the tone and atmosphere I wish to see around me and for others to feel comfortable with. If I can be comfortable with myself and create that air around me in the perceptions others see as well, then the tone is set for all other aspects to fall into place. It's just natural... It's just me!