Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Person That Became Christen

Every child in town seemed to like me a lot...
But the person who lived inside my head did NOT!
I hated myself inside and it felt like such treason

Now, please don't ask why. I didn’t quite yet know the reason.
It could be my head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that I always felt fright.
But I think that the most likely reason to be
May have been that I was a woman inside you see.
Whatever the reason, my heart or my soul
I rued each day that I was not truly made whole,
Looking inside myself with that virtual frown,
I felt incomplete and that just brought me down
While everyone I knew seemed happier all around

I felt every other person was simply bequeathed
With a blissful congruity of their gender beneath
As they lived their lives plainly without being sheathed

“And they seem so happy!” I muttered in a way no one could hear
“I’m becoming a man in not many years!”
Then I thought in my head, my thoughts were just humming
“I MUST find some way to stop a man from becoming!”

For one day soon, I knew plainly without joy
I would awake one day finding no longer a boy.
And then! Oh, the Fear! Oh, the Fear!
Fear! Fear! Fear!
The one thing I was becoming! The FEAR!

And the more I thought of this, what was I to do?
The more I did think that I hadn’t a clue
Why for my childhood years I’ve pretended to be
Something I wasn’t at all and to myself so untrue!”

And then I had an idea. A wonderfully unmentionable idea!
"I know just what to do!” I thought to myself
I raided mom’s closet for a pass at her clothes
I’d been wanting to do this for… goodness who knows!
Dressed as a woman I felt as the girl
From the youngest of ages when my hair had such curls
I tried on some makeup and I perfected the look
Many years in the making and effort it took

And then one day when I had some time free
I was dressed at home as the woman I see
When suddenly and as quick as a flash,
My parents car drove up the driveway so fast
I changed just as quick as I could
Hiding my stash so no one would see,
When I heard the footsteps of mom coming in
I knew just then what trouble I was in!

My mom entered the house and came to my room
I was startled but careful not to let on a clue
My mom looked around, I thought it was clear
I had put everything away! There was nothing to fear!
My mom looked down and she saw a high heel
A sinking feeling came over me I truly did feel!

She stared at the heels and said. “Why?”

Why do you have high heels in your room? WHY?”

But, you know I was caught and I had no real tricks
I thought up a lie but I knew it wouldn’t stick

Why, dear mother”, I decided that I couldn’t quite lie
These are my own heels!” I openly decried.

My admonition to mom went over like lead
She scolded me in earnest with what I verbally said
And mom went off on me that she thought I was gay
And I told her I wasn’t but no more could I say
She told me to get rid of my stash of clothes that day

So I took all my clothes, I took them away
I drove to a dumpster that very same day
In my closet was nothing feminine left I must say
And to not wake up tomorrow was something I’d pray

And the one crumb of girl that was left inside me
Was buried away for no one to see.

And so for many years I pretended again to be,
Someone everyone else saw that I didn’t see
And the thoughts in my head that were constantly drumming
Of a man I was expected to be and becoming.

And then one day, many years from then
That spirit in my soul came back again.
I paused and I thought of my life lived in fear
Of being true to myself was never quite clear
I did hear that voice from deep and down low
The one from my soul and it began to grow.

Why this sound was the one I had years ago!
But it couldn’t be so! But it continued to grow!
I listened to the voice this time without fear.
It was the woman within and she was now so quite near!
I thought to myself with such surprise.
That I must be true to my very own eyes.

And so it was on that emotionally charged day
That I began a journey that would find me my way
To thine own self be true I knew I must say.

And what happened then? Well my life began in earnest I’d say
My contentment of self grew many times that day!

And then I stopped for a minute for I just didn’t know
I puzzled and puzzed: "How could it be so?"

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without hormones, surgeries nor lags"

I puzzled and puzzed till my puzzler was sore.
Then Christen thought of something she hadn't before.

Maybe transition, she thought, doesn't come in ways thought before
Maybe transition, perhaps, comes from something much more..."

And in that moment in which I saw a great sight
I knew in being true there was no longer that fright
And the life came from within and all finally felt right
Those around me truly affirmed and could see
The woman I was and now truly could be
And although it was others that affirmed this was right
It was the person within that had been shown to the light.
-With Apologies to Dr Seuss and rewritten by Christen Bustani

Friday, December 18, 2015

Freeze Frame

Many transgender individuals seem to take pictures of themselves for a number of reasons. While many who are outside the community (and within as well) might often consider it as a form of narcissism, fetishism or something else, it is often much more than that. Although not exclusively a rule, I see the general trend that those individuals who have felt trapped in having to play an acting role in the play of their own lives tend to take pictures for reasons other than narcissism . 

It's a way to capture the woman inside them and to have that with them for when they have to revert to playing their acting role in the gender they do not identify with. It gives one something to hold onto, ephemeral and intangible as it may be. It is a way to ask for critiquing among peers as they try to find and hone their true identity for the first time. It is a memory and a window back to a short period of happiness in having been able to express as one truly identifies and a picture can carry with it, the strength to make it through until the next time when one can express as their true selves. 

It seems that those who begin to live full time as their true gender tend to rely less on "selfies" as they integrate in the greater world. Even the entire act of getting up in the morning, looking in the mirror and seeing the person they truly are in reflection back just becomes, for many, routine as the comfortability in one's self transfers to more meaningful and wonderful adventures in the larger realm of life. 

Everyone who will comment on this will comment from their own perspective and it is a perspective that may one day change as we grow and mature. I, personally, have found that growth and pictures, except to capture moments in life, are no longer about moments needed to hang on tenuously to an identity that was once hidden. It is an amazing and wonderful transformation to behold. While it is not a superlative in any way, it is just as, if not more meaningful in the calm quiescence that envelops one as they finally feel comfortable in their own life and in their own skin.  It is truly the most amazing feeling to behold and one that only a person who has dealt with in repressing their true identity can truly understand and appreciate.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It Started with a Smile

I was going to get my hair done next week but a look in the mirror yesterday morning convinced me that I was starting to look like Diana Ross. That evening I found myself sitting in the chair getting my hair done when one of the hair stylists passed by several times, her eyes intently glued on me. She had done this the last time I was in too and now it was just getting me a bit weirded out.
You probably know where I'm going with this already and, yes, when someone is really intently staring at me I tend to wonder if they are trying to figure me out. Afterwards, when my coiffure du'jour was completed, she came by and apologized saying, "I hope you don't mind but every time you come in here I just can't get over how well made up you are; your skin is amazing and you are just so beautiful". Well that just surprised me as I was not expecting anything like that.
I thanked her and before I knew it my hair stylist and two others had joined in the conversation. It was a cackle now of four women, with the last customer having left much earlier, just chatting, clucking, cackling and laughing as we clustered in a corner of the shop. Soon enough we were talking about relationships, husbands, sex, food, child birth and all things female. At some point we got into hormones, a subject I didn't instigate, and then the conversation made a left turn into menopause, peri-menopause, hormones and hot flashes. I was invited to share my thoughts on how to deal with those hot flashes and hormonal mood swings.
After spending over an hour of cackling, we called it a night. My hair stylist gave me a warm hug and I left her with a plate of my Greek Cookies. She softly said to me, "You know, they have no idea whatsoever". She had a grin from ear to ear as she said it. She was elated for me. She knew I was comfortable, that I was happy and in my element as who I am. "That's just our little secret", she quipped as we parted ways. I've never been so sure about anything in my life as I am now. The day is coming when no one need ever know and it will be coming soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Swimming For My Life

I shudder at times when I look back on my blog, at my writings and my posts from years ago.  It's like a different person was writing, a different person was living, a different person was seeing.  How do I begin this entry?  Where do I start?  There are so many things that have changed in my life that it's like the person who wrote, who lived just a few short years before, was someone else... someone else who saw the world through blinders, through rose colored glasses and who swam through life in the shallow waters of some swimming pool.  Now the woman staring back in the mirror is swimming for her life in deeper waters of the the blue Atlantic toward the distant shore of lands at the edge of a limitless horizon.

Those still happily playing in the shallow end of the pool, surrounded by the safety of the ladders and the lifeguards can scarcely perceive that the swim I am making is one for my life now.  I'm not drowning but I cannot stop where I am now.  The tides and currents have taken me too far from a shore that I can never return to in the same way.  And if I did make the effort to return, I would find that it was a vastly different place, that I didn't fit in, that I couldn't live the lie of my life having seen what truth to myself lay beyond.  I would surely drown to stand on those shores again and would prefer to drown at sea instead. I can only struggle to find my way to a shore that is slowly coming into focus as I push in darkness through the mighty waves of an oft angry and at best an indifferent sea.

Far to sea now, I swim for my life to reach the other shore

The days of excitement and longing to be able to present as my authentic self for a few short hours on some random weekend day, of being able to shed the male facade and don an authentic self for moments in a lifetime of hiding, those days are gone..  they have been replaced with the quiescence of a soul coming finally to be at rest and to feel whole as a human, as a person, as a woman.  The world around me reflects a silent and affirming resound in agreement to my affirmations and drives me to push on.

As I journey forth through these deep waters, far from land, those who still swim in the pool can scarcely understand the trials I face.  I say this not in a derogatory way but rather as one of perspective.  How can one really see, really understand another's perspective if they are not living it, not experiencing the emotions of that person?  They will see only with reference to what they know, what they understand. Even I, I could not perceive that I would feel as I have come to feel, to love as I have come to love, to fear as I have come to fear, and to grow as I have come to grow.  To try to explain the all of what one feels in a gender transition is like a physicist explaining quantum physics to a lay person.  Sure, some of the concepts will be understandable but at some point, without having the foundation for complete understanding, much will be lost, much will not be visualizable.

I realize this now, more and more, when people comment on my posts on Facebook and I realize that they missed the point of what I was trying to say, focusing instead on some ephemeral or topical aspect.  A few people "get it" and are able to read between the lines and their comments hit home to me against the chatter of the trivial and of the trite.  This is what I need;  I need the perspective offered by these people, by these comments.  I have also been surprised pleasantly when someone will read one of my comments to their post, a post with a sub-meaning to it that most who comment do not get.  I'll see their post and offer a comment that provokes a response of, "Wow!  You got it.  You understand me!".  And I do.  I do understand the struggles, the emotion, the second level that is hidden beneath the veneer of smiles.  I understand it all now in ways I never did before.

This is not fun.  This is not dress up time.  This is not about looking beautiful.  Yes, a woman perhaps enjoys fun and dressing up and looking as attractive as she can but life is so much more.  This is about identity, about being able to interact with a world in a way that is harmonious to me, as myself, as a woman.  this is about the feeling of knowing the world feels comfortable with me as that person, as a woman.  This is about the struggle of loss of a spouse who is now your best friend and sister.  This is about not having a "center" to my life as I once did.  Now my center is replaced with the amazing love of my girlfriends, the added realm of a boyfriend, the experiences of a public presence in my talks and speeches at schools, churches and at the state house, and in the love and admiration I receive from people I have never physically met but who have found my story, my words, my offering of a virtual hug a help in some small and meaningful way.


I may be swimming for my life at sea now but I cannot turn back for there is nothing to turn back to.  That person is dead and the person who once stood in the shallow end of the pool was but a facade of a human being who played out her life trying to please everyone else by acting out the role of the disguise she wore as a man.  No one believed her then and she spent much of her life alone and to herself because she found estrangement in being such a paradox of a human being.  No.  She swims now in azure yet also tempestuous seas, guided by the hands of those who help hold her when she feels she can swim no farther.  She is a woman who is more than grateful for the support they provide because without that support, that gift of love, there were times that she said silently to herself, quietly so that no one knew and no one would have heard, that she would take her life and drown.  There are still times that she stops swimming, treads water and looks wistfully toward that horizon and thinks for a moment of giving up, of letting the sea swallow her and end this struggle.  But then there is always a hand that seems to reach out to grasp her, as if knowing she had been too silent, too quiet of late, that something might be wrong.  And it is that hand that reaches out and holds me, touches me when I feel I can swim no further, that tells me that she can make it; that I can make it.  The other shore is clearly visible and I can see that there are many who are eagerly helping me to make this journey and who are also standing on that now not so distant shore awaiting for my arrival. Thank You to all who have and continue to help me in ways you perhaps could never imagine.  The meaning of my life's journey is made clear by the love you gift to me, for without it, I would swim alone only to land one day upon an empty, lonely and desolate shore at the far side.

To stand one day, the journey completed.....but is it ever?