I feel I am at something of an impasse at the moment. I have reached a certain level of comfort with myself and with who I really am. I have come out to a handful of people. I have little or no problems in spending time presenting in my true, female gender. I have been to plenty of places and done plenty of things as a woman, and without fail it has been more fulfilling, more enjoyable and just more “right” than if I had done those same things as male. At the same time my male life is becoming more and more of a drudge, like I’m trapped under ice waiting desperately to reach the next hole so I can break through to the air above. So, you might ask, what’s stopping me moving on to the next stage? Why aren’t I going to see my GP to tell him about this horrible disconnect I feel between what’s in my head and what’s on the outside? Indeed, why aren’t I going back to see my counsellor again? Family.
Regular readers (there must be some) will know that Mrs Kirsty knows all about this side of me. That I feel female. That I have this unfulfilled yearning to be female all the time and live permanently as a woman. Our two daughters don’t know as far as I’m aware, although there remains the possibility that daughter number 1 may have stumbled across my ever expanding female wardrobe at some point and chosen to say nothing. But Mrs K needs stability, and I need my family. If there was a perfect scenario for me, it would be that I would go full time, attend GIC, transition and remain with everyone I love around me. But I’m realistic enough to know that this is very unlikely to happen. Obviously, as long as I continue to try to keep some sort of a lid on myself it will never happen, but should I set myself on the path to transition I could very quickly lose my family. And that would be unbearable.
Things have moved so quickly for me in less than a year. Eleven months ago I was still to present fully as female for the first time. Even then, I didn’t believe that I would ever have the courage to go out in public as a woman. So I said things, made promises that I never thought I would be called upon to keep because I thought that I would never be in a position to do these things. Promised that I was “just” a crossdresser, definitely didn’t want to consider transition. Yeah right. Promised that I would only ever dress alone at home. Broke that one. Promised that I would only ever dress in the confines of the Butterfly Club and other safe locations and never in public. Broke that one. Promised that I would never tell anyone else. Broke that one. Promised that I would stick strictly to places where I would never be recognised. Broke that one. Then, at the culmination of my counselling last summer, I promised that the plan I had made would enable me to remain part-time, and I would never need to go through transition, that it was firmly off the agenda for ever. I do think I believed it at the time. In fact, I haven’t broken that one yet. But it’s there. It’s a prize, a glittering shining holy grail from which I can’t avert my gaze. But if I take one more step towards it, I risk everything falling apart. Even if I were to go back into private counselling, I would be saying that the plan wasn’t enough, that I still want to progress further, that all bets are off. Another promise would be broken. Is it any wonder Mrs K barely believes a word I say these days, even though I have never knowingly lied to her about any aspect of my gender issues? But sometimes it does feel like she is completely indifferent to this horrendous suffocating maleness that I feel constantly, and is only concerned that people don’t find out that she’s married to a TS and then think worse of her because she couldn’t get herself a proper man. So I should avoid transition to spare her the embarrassment. It doesn’t make me feel great about myself and my importance.
Mrs K and I had a very long chat after I returned from the day out with Michelle and the two Andreas just after Christmas. She really can’t deal with this aspect of me, much as she tries. She says she can’t comprehend how I can say I am a woman, since as far as she is concerned I clearly am not. That she could cope much better if I were to say instead that I am a man, but I want to become a woman. That would make sense to her. Is it just splitting hairs? Possibly. But philosophically she just can’t cope with my assertions on this blog and elsewhere that I am a woman. Legally, of course, I remain male, but I don’t feel it. I’m not sure I ever really have done. I have had to re-evaluate so much of my life in the light of what I have been through this past year, that a ridiculous amount of things have taken on new significance and new meaning, but Mrs K remains viewing everything as it appeared to her at the time. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I am kidding myself. Maybe I’m a massive fraud and this is all some sort of affectation. But it feels more real than anything I have ever experienced.
As I see it there are three options for me:
Stick to the plan and stay as I am
I suppose this is the safe option, keeping a foot in both camps. But it feels terrible. See the last 1000 or so words for further details.
Result: miserable Kirsty
This is what I dream of. That I leave all maleness behind and become physically, socially and legally the woman that I believe I already am. But what of my family? Hope that they trail along in my wake? I think the kids probably would be ok eventually, but if as seems likely Mrs K wanted no part of it, then I lose them as part of my daily life, and probably some or all of my siblings, who I suspect would view me as having selfishly abandoned my family even though I would never ever walk out on them.
Result: miserable Kirsty
Throw away all female clothing, stop living a dual life, and attempt to “be” male at all times and permanently. No risk of exposure, no risk of upset or embarrassment to family. But I would be killing my real self, which would be unthinkable and unbearable for me. And I would lose some wonderful friendships with people who have made a huge difference in my life. This is the worst of all options, and the one I can’t consider at all.
Result: miserable Bob
So all my options are, not to put too fine a point on it, crap. So what do I do? It would appear that I need assistance, and further counselling to help me with this impasse. But even seeking that out would I believe be taken by Mrs K as my choosing Transition and moving forward. So I need to sort this out by myself. And I can’t.
Well that bit of soul-searching went on a lot longer than I anticipated. It was only supposed to be a quick paragraph before I told you about what I had been up to. So I will do that now but in somewhat curtailed fashion…
My first trip out of 2015 was a couple of days ago, when I met my best friend Andrea for a shopping trip, followed up with my second visit to my book group. Andrea had come out to her daughter and ex a couple of days earlier, so I knew there was a chance that I might have had to provide a shoulder to cry on if things had gone badly. Thankfully, things seem to have gone remarkably well for her and nobody is more pleased than me. Except for Andrea herself, I imagine. So when I met her it was a very happy Andrea that I found waiting for me at Sprucefield shopping centre in Lisburn.
We drove straight into Belfast and spent a couple of hours walking round the shops, including our first trip into Debenhams. It was, predictably, a tad pricy although I did manage to pick up an absolutely gorgeous long maroon sweater. It’s so soft and warm, I think I might well wear it next time I’m out. We went round a few other shops such as the big M&S in the city centre (also the first time in there together) and Next, where Andrea bought herself a skirt for work – less than four weeks to go now! Our original plan was that we would go for a coffee and a bite to eat at the Costa located in-house at Next, but then I remembered that when I had been shopping for school shoes for my daughter a few days earlier I had noticed that cut-price shoe store Shoe Zone were doing knee boots for around half the price that I would normally expect to pay for them. As my daughter was with me, I couldn’t go up and examine them more closely but I know that Shoe Zone stock women’s shoes up to size 9, so I was hopeful. I had been hankering after a pair of longer boots for a while, so I persuaded Andrea to accompany me there and then we could get coffee back up in Lisburn when I dropped her back to her car. Fair enough.
All the shops on the street on which Shoe Zone was located appeared to be closed, so I feared we had had a wasted journey, but as we approached we saw a light shining out of the shop, so my fears were unfounded. I found a couple of pairs that I liked in my size, one with a block heel, the other with a wedge heel. I tried on the block heel pair first. They were, let’s say, a snug fit. So snug, in fact, that I was unable to remove them. Andrea valiantly stepped into the breach and had to yank them off my feet in the middle of the shop. Thankfully, the wedge heeled pair were a much better fit, with the added bonus that I was able to put them on and take them off without outside assistance. Duly purchased for £25, which I was very happy with.
We got back up to Lisburn just before 6pm, only to find that our usual branch of Costa was closing up. This despite the fact that it is located next door to a busy cinema was just starting to see the arrival of people for the evening’s movies. So a slightly disappointing end to the afternoon with Andrea, and as I needed to be at my book group for 7pm we didn’t have time to go to a restaurant or to try to find an alternative coffee shop that was still open. We sat in my car for a bit of a chat before parting, me to my book group and Andrea in search of her dinner.
I arrived at the book group to find much reduced numbers compared to my first visit there. As it turned out, this was just because I arrived a little early, and by the time we got under way in earnest the circle had filled out to a respectable twelve, including once again Shirley who has been a casual acquaintance of Bob for over 20 years. Again, she either didn’t recognise me or hid it very well. However someone else did recognise me. Sort of. More of that later.
It was a very different experience second time round. I felt a lot less nervous, and happily participated in the small talk and “How was your Christmas?” style chat as we waited for everyone to arrive. In fact, I did a lot more talking this time round, and if anything I worry that I spoke too much. Oh well, maybe that’s not a bad thing. After all, the purpose of the exercise is for me to widen my social circle and engage with people as my real self. I had a lovely little conspiratorial chat with the woman next to me who was in possession of a book she had been assured was “pure filth” but was unsure about suggesting it to the whole group in case they thought badly of her. Obviously didn’t mind what I thought of her though!
There were two books this month, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, and Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa. I much preferred “Harold Fry”, which I found to be a lovely fable of a man walking the length of England on a whim to save a woman’s life by faith (hard to explain, but it’s great – read it). I found “Aunt Julia” to be rather rambling, and was somewhat surprised to discover that it was supposed to be a comic novel. I just found it unfocused and annoying. So unfocused in fact that one guy confessed to having read the first chapter five times, not had a clue what was going on, and gave up!
The oddest incident was right at the end as we were putting on our coats and getting ready to leave. A woman to whom I had not spoken before approached me and asked if she looked familiar to me. I answered honestly and slightly apologetically that no, she didn’t. She said that she definitely knew me from somewhere. Really, I thought, are you sure about that? She checked my name, and then said “I definitely know you from somewhere Kirsty” before asking about any other groups or societies I had been in. I said that there were none, although this was a white lie since I know Shirley via a different society, but I couldn’t admit that in case she said “Oh Shirley is in that, do you know her?” and then called her over. But I digress. I explained that this was the first meetup group I had joined, and the last month had been my first meeting. She replied that last month was her first meeting too, and as soon as I walked into the room she had thought to herself “I know that girl”. Yes folks, she definitely said “girl”. I had a little glow inside. Well quite a big glow actually. But I smiled at her, touched her lightly on the arm and said “Well if you remember where we met, let me know”, to which she laughed and we said our goodbyes.
Now there are three possibilities. Either she is completely mistaken, I have a genetic female doppelgänger somewhere, or she has met Bob and recognises Bob in Kirsty. Although the Bob explanation seems likely if a little scary, Shirley, who would 100% definitely know Bob if I walked in there presenting as male doesn’t appear to recognise me at all, and I genuinely do not recognise this woman. So she’s either mistaken or there’s another Kirsty out there. And I thought I was a one-off!
Until next time