Each of us has to come to the point upon which we stand in our lives in a unique way... following a unique path which is ours alone. Decisions we have made, paths we have chosen, decisions made for us by others, situations not of our control which have guided us.... guided or confined us... to walk the paths which have brought us to this exact place where no other stands.
As humans we are similar in many ways, and many share similar paths, but no two are the same. In the parting mists, a self-awareness of my own place in the universe has come to unfold. It is as if, with clarity, I can see the cruise control I have been on for much of my life in chasing an ideal which was solely my own, but one contrived and built by others... parents, societal, and peer expectations. As a young child, I so wanted to fit in, that I created a goal at a young age... plans... to achieve specific positions and tangibles in life to that end. In so doing, I created a sense of uniformity and normalcy to shield a maelstrom which had raged within my mind since the earliest of memories.
The maelstrom was in knowing I was not who others saw me as. The rage with a body changing in ways which I knew defied who I was inside was the fuel which propelled me to achievements and to diversions to keep my mind occupied and on to more loft things than simply the seeming frivolity of gender. Gender.... Bah!... a socially derived construct to delineate the sexes into a binary norm. I wooed myself to believe that my own feelings of disparity which fought daily within me were something which could be quelled through ignoring them.
And so, I recall with deft clarity, sitting in a fifth grade class and writing out the timelines of what would be my life on a piece of paper. Marking the years and the completion of various milestones to be achieved by those dates were jotted carefully as I tried to calculate the future. I also recall sitting in the classroom and having feelings of gender dysphoria wash over me and feeling an inner sense of anxiety, stress and panic that I was not who I was supposed to be. For even at that young age and back to as early as age five, I knew that I was different but I could not quantify it. I only knew that I did not socialize like the other boys and that in the years between fourth and fifth grades, the girls started to pull apart from the boys. I so wanted to be with them. I didn't quite realize at that point that I wanted to be like them... just to be with them. Not fitting in with the boys, left me there, at that moment, by myself. Not comfortable with the mindset and social behaviors of the boys, I kept to myself and to my thoughts and studies.... and to the piece of paper which chronicled the milestones I could have control over and could achieve in my life.
And so, for the next 35 or so years, with occasional modifications, I continued to achieve each of the goals I initially had set forth for me in my life. Achieving a degree in Computer Science, a well respected job, learning good financial habits, a car, a home and a wonderful marriage to a woman who only exceeded my thoughts and expectations in so many wonderful ways. It had all come to fruition. Even the house we live in.... even that house was something that I had set my eyes upon as a goal if it became available. I recall riding my bike one day in 1980 along a winding country road and seeing the house we live in today and said to myself.... "I want that house one day....".
This was the degree to which I thought I controlled my life. And in thinking I was able to control the path of my life, I thought as well that I had the ability to control who I was inside as well. In the continuation of these thoughts through the years, I constantly found myself trying to affirm the illogic of the discord... always with a new reason why it made no sense and could not be. But still, she was there, always wanting to be, the woman inside me. And for her efforts I would occasionally break down to allow her to exist for a fleeting moment. Times of cross-dressing at home gave me that glimpse.
The woman manifested in those early years were horrid and crude attempts and the reflection staring back at me in the mirror suggested that such a crudely presenting woman could never appear to the public and the light of day. And... truth be told, she was not presentable back then, much as many may see fit to disbelieve. I was the image of a man with a five-o-clock shadow at 10 in the morning. Makeup could not fully cover it. Fear to shave my arms, legs or chest for what others might think kept me from ever being able to achieve any kind of feminine look. Although it pleased me internally to manifest my female spirit for those few times, it also disgusted me as well to look in the mirror and see such a horrid woman. Shame and guilt and repression would once again take over and she would be banished back to the closet and hidden away... except within my mind, where she lived on in those wistful moments when she gazed at other women and knew she was not to be among them, ever.
The crossroads to my life came later than for many. I was able to control and suppress the woman within by keeping her distracted through goals, and tangibles and in part, through living through my own spouse. In separation from her, I noted my anxieties would increase and with her, they would diminish.... because, in effect, I was able to live part of my life through her. But even these things, and the occasional crossdressing, could not quell my inner spirit forever.
The times of crossdressing at home increased in frequency and fervor. It made little sense to me but I could not stop it. Dressed, I felt that I was at peace, but it was a peace which was becoming more vapid and vacuous each time I did. And so I found myself cross dressing more and more at home in an attempt to resolve the issue, which it did not. And finally, finally, on one night I was dressed at home, I completely broke down in tears suddenly.
Joanne asked me what was wrong.... Did I not like the way I looked? The makeup which she even would help me with? What was it?
I could not answer at first. I just stood in the kitchen, with my arms folded, leaning against the granite countertops to steady myself in the high heels I was wearing. Tears were streaming down and turning mascara and eyeliner into tiny black streaming cascades. I remember telling her...
"I can't do this anymore..."
There was a pause... it was a telling pause for we both knew deep inside what this meant yet she asked the obvious in the hopes that it were the truth...
"You can't dress like this anymore?", she asked.
What I told her was that I could not play this game anymore... treat who I am inside as a hobby or a weekend pursuit. I explained that it was not the clothes... it was never the clothes. The clothes were simply the vehicle to attempt to allow the person inside to glimpse herself for a fleeting moment. What I needed was to be out... to be who I am inside and to be able to live my life in a way that allowed me to socialize as a woman, perceived as a woman... if I was to continue to live.
It was at that point, that I realized that my attempts to acquire the tangibles of life and to control everything and everyone and mold the world around me to suit my needs was a recipe for failure and one which led to this moment of realization.
A quote from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" came to mind that evening and resonated in deafening silence as I heard the words spoken,
"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
To be true unto others, I first had to be truthful to myself. And so, I made plans... plans similar to those I had concocted and created for my own path of life back in the fifth grade... except this time, they were plans to realize the truth in who I am. They were plans to begin taking the steps I needed to take in order to be able to live out my days on this Earth as the whole of my soul inside knew to be. Truth be told, the person who is coming to light today is so much more alive, so much more whole than the facade of who I played ever was. It is as if I am, at 46 years of age, only now beginning to live and to feel alive.
We do not know what the future may bring and even the most calculated and preconceived plans oft do not come to manifest in ways which we attempt to mold them to be. For in laying those plans, we so often do not have the wisdom, or, perhaps the courage to open our eyes to see what truths lay at our feet. If for nothing else, however, a life lived in truth and honesty to both oneself and then to others, is a life lived where at the end of days, one may say that they lived it without regrets for the choices they have made.... which for me is enough to feel good of the life lived and choices made.