We had visited Alaska twice in the years prior and I had fallen in love with the grandeur and splendor of the wilderness and of the solitude that was offered in abundance there. I had considered to move there and was speculating real estate outside of Fairbanks. But in reality, I knew this would not be realistic with both our families and for our jobs. We then turned our eyes back to New England and searched in New Hampshire, looking in the far northern reaches of the state. Joanne and I found a beautiful Log Home in Colebrook on 16 acres and high up in the woods at the end of a dirt road. The view from the living room window looked out across the sloping green fields and into the nearby rolling mountains of Quebec, Canada. In the end, this too was an exercise in fantasy as we realized there was no way we would be able to maintain our existence with any ease in such a remote location.
We settled on the Lakes Region of New Hampshire where we purchased a home in a quiet and rural town with less than a thousand people. It had no post office, no convenience stores nor even a gas station, but still was within an easy 20 minute reach of stores and services in any direction. It was here that after a year I was able to realize the full scope of why I was here and what I had been distancing myself from. The Trains, the hiking, the travels and the move to rural New Hampshire were all part of my way to run away from the one thing I could not run away from and it was the woman inside me who could not be quelled, quieted or calmed.
I continued my cross dressing at home. There was no sexual thrill in it. I simply found that I just felt at peace somehow as female and was at once one with myself when I was able to express as such. I began to change my wardrobe and manner of dressing at home to more tasteful and appropriate attire. The skimpy and slutty clothes began to be exchanged for more classy, casual or comfortable pieces.
I found that my frequency of crossdressing increased, from bi-weekly to weekly and then to daily. I never stepped foot outside the house for fear and the thoughts that I would never be able to pass as a woman in the greater world.... EVER. And then one night, while dressed at home, I had a complete and utter nervous breakdown. Fully dressed in female attire at home, I broke down and cried and could not stop. Standing there as I was in the kitchen that evening, Joanne empathetically held a look of concern as I grasped my arms to hold myself tightly. Mascara and eyeliner were running down my face as I sobbed in despair with the frustrations of a lifetime pent up and suddenly, in that one moment, released.
Up until that very instant, I had not wanted to piece together the answer to the ever increasing frustration I was feeling each time I expressed my gender as a woman. The ever increasing frequency at cross-dressing was a vain attempt to try to relieve the underlying tensions that were building within. They were the frustrations that were never completely resolved by the act of cross-dressing. Somehow, the clothes and the makeup were not the very thing I thought I simply needed. They were, as I had realized in that very moment, only the physical attributions associated with the female gender and yet, all the pieces of my life which had led to this very moment, told me that there was something much deeper, much more deeply at play here.
I was just beginning to realize in that moment and through the tears, that the woman inside had broken free and I had not the energy nor the means to confront her and to suppress her even one more time. I was finished holding her back for all these years – she had won.
With tears came past memories. They were memories that I never realized or admitted to myself existed. Working back through these memories, I began pulling out my old family photo albums which contained pictures taken during my childhood. I looked at each one carefully. Facial expressions, poses for the camera - all were examined. I asked my wife to look through these as well and to independently come up with her assessment of what she saw.
In all the pictures I have which feature myself - in nearly every one - I appeared to be sad or a million miles away in each picture taken. In a select few - the ones in which I appeared to be happy, I noted that my poses seemed all feminine. That is to say that my hand would be on my hip or in some other similar pose that one would see in a young girl. I certainly never knew I was posing in such a way nor did I note this until I looked through these pictures for the first time about a month ago. This was really something of a surprise and Joanne picked up on all of these same observations as well.
It was the poses, the way I stood, the way I appeared.
The looks of sadness in those photos or that look of being a million miles off in space with vacantly dead eyes when the picture was taken.
Some of the pictures from the teenage years, she said, showed a deep depression. She was right. I was very depressed and I never realized that one may not understand the very depths of the depression they were in, until they have been lifted out far enough to be able to look back at what they thought was just a normative state.
She said she saw, in all of these pictures..... an unhappy little girl. The poses and the body frame and just everything was so obviously feminine and staring right back at me now.
We both realized at that point what we would talk about next.
All of those years that I had professed to myself - had professed to HER that I was simply a cross dresser and enjoyed the clothes - was simply not an accurate representation of the whole of what I am. I am transgendered.
The stories came next.... stories of growing up and sitting with the girls in class. Avoiding the boys.
Watching the girls grow and then leaving me alone without friends in a playground at recess - no longer part of their community.
The little girl next door, Susan, until age 12, would come over to visit at my house where we would play pretend games. Some days it was playing cosmetologist and we would concoct cosmetics and face creams from items already in the house. I lost my girlfriends one by one as they matured and separated from the boys but Susan remained and then she was gone. I recall that one fateful day she came over to say that it was no longer a good idea for us to be as close friends as we were and I found myself sad and lost again. I recall everything in that moment... where I was standing, every detail around me as we talked on the front porch outside of my house, not wishing to come inside to speak to me. I didn't understand. I didn't know why. But now I do... she was a girl and I was a boy... we were different... and there were some things that her parents felt were not right with her being with a boy. I saw us both as the same.
It was the doll house that I found of my sister's that I played with for a few weeks at about age 8.
It was my father who took it without warning one day and when I asked, said that it was not alright for me to play with doll houses.
It was the books and hobbies I immersed myself in to console myself in my own world. It was stories of fantasy, science fiction and the escapes they allowed me. I was given encyclopedias for children which I read cover to cover - ALL of them. In my studies I could immerse myself in a world free of people, of judgement for feeling and being so different. By Junior High, I was versed in every science book in the library and many from the local library at a first year college level. I realized in college taking some of these same courses for credit, that I had obtained by that early age, a first college semester's knowledge of astronomy, geology, meteorology, electronics, environmental science and physics. I was building my own telescopes, building radios and soldering together other circuits on perf boards from parts at Radio Shack, developing and printing my own Black and White photos. I was writing stories and poetry. I had immersed myself in everything I could to avoid the one thing I could not learn and understand - ME.
It was revealing to put the pieces together - no - it was a revelation...
I fully realized that evening that I was never just a cross dresser as I had envisioned and that I had been showing all the traits of a small girl growing up and trapped in a world where she had to express her gender as a boy.
I was transgender.
I cried for hours that evening and in waves for days after. It was all in relief in finally understanding myself that I cried.
But this revelation left me feeling empty
Why did it take this long up to this point for me to realize all of this? How well I hid this from myself.
I had all of the pieces to put this all together but I did not. No... I WOULD not.
I had believed that any problem - ANY problem could be broken down into small enough finite
components such that any person could comprehend the solution.
I realized then that I had kept the secret of myself FROM myself and now having all of the pieces
I somehow had failed to put them together to form a coherent solution.
Of all the aspects in life which I had challenged myself to, I only now began to understand the one aspect from all these years which I could not come to accept – and it was my own self....