I left off about the point where I was seeing different gender counselors in an effort to try and figure myself out.
My wife had been growing increasingly alarmed about me and while she didn’t realize it, she was becoming increasingly angry about it. Small issues that we used to mildly argue about turned into shouting matches. She’d come home, find me dressed, her face would fall, and she’d ignore me for the evening.
I took a ten-day vacation by myself, hoping to get it all figured out. My wife sent me off hoping I’d figure it out too. I spent those days laying on a beach, hiking, sitting in a hot tub, drinking beer, and generally being a loner.
I still didn’t know what to do. I was hardly buckled into my seat after my wife picked me up from the airport and I got asked, “So, what are you going to do?” instead of, “Hey, great to see you! Did you have a good time?” It went downhill rapidly from there into an ugly argument I’ve thankfully forgotten.
But oddly, she was still somewhat supportive in some ways. Her cousin was a hairstylist, and she cut my hair cut and highlighted in a semi-feminine way, and my wife really liked it. My wife would still give me fashion advice. She’d encourage me to go out of the house dressed.
I only went out of the house dressed three times. I was too scared to go more.
The fighting continued.
As backdrop, we owned a small business together and it was very stressful for both of us trying to build and manage it. For my own part, between the stresses of running a business, trying to figure out the gender stuff, and increasing marital discord, I felt like I had no personal refuge. Work was a non-stop energy suck and home was a place I went after I couldn’t take work any more, whereupon I’d be immediately thrust into gender and martial discord. To cope, (hah!) I was drinking a six-pack of beer and eating one or two pot brownies a night.
This did not help anything, but made things much, much worse. In retrospect, it’s all very clear now, but at the time I did not know what to do. I gained 30 pounds. I started to have panic attacks in the middle of the night. I was massively depressed.
Every waking moment was hard. From the time I got up, “What can I wear today that won’t get me outed but make me comfortable enough to function?” to “These problems here at work seem almost hopeless. How did I get myself into this and how the hell do I get out?” to “I can’t take this anymore. Time to go home and hope it doesn’t turn into another argument.” to “What if I cashed everything out and just disappeared? Where could I go and be happy?” to the time I would climb into bed and lie there, heart racing, “Am I dying? Will my heart stop in the middle of the night? Shit – I’m going to die tonight, I know it. I think I’m going to pop.”
Somewhere in all this haze, my wife asked me if I was going to transition. I had no clear answer, even for myself. I started electrolysis. I went to a few gender support group meetings.
Part of me was thinking, “Self, everything you’ve read seems to mark you as a candidate for transition.” Another part was, “Self, this is huge. If you’re wrong about yourself, you’ll screw up your life in unimaginable ways.”
She kept asking, wanting to know.
I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure.
I was afraid. Terrified, really.
Again, in retrospect, it’s clear. I hadn’t fully accepted myself. My externally taken-on views of gender and self blocked me from self-actualization.
My wife kept pressing me, wanting to know, so I did a couple of exercises for her and for me.
I built a spreadsheet where I wrote down everything I could think of that would apply to me about being male or female. Things like, “wearing dresses”, “earning power”, “shaving”, “SRS/GCS”, etc. and then assigned a magnitude between 1-5 and a score ranging from -100 to +100. So, something like “having breasts” would be a 5 magnitude and a +100 for a +500 score. Something like “shaving beard” would be a 3, -75 for a -255 and so on.
I totaled up the male and female scores and they both came out negative. But the female score was higher than the male score.
I mapped out a gender transition timeline. I put things like “start electrolysis”, “start hormones”, “begin living full-time”, “surgery”, etc. on it.
I showed both to my wife. It didn’t make her feel any better. It didn’t make me feel any better. I kept crashing up against the hardest question: is a gender transition the right thing for me and would it make me a happier person?
I had no answer to that question and the only way to answer it would be to start transition. I kept going to electrolysis, but I started to wonder why.
Then things started to get even more confusing for me. I had long hair in my semi-feminine cut, I dressed androgynously, and carried a small purse. I’d get “maam’ed” at the grocery store by people who weren’t looking at me closely. My wife and I would go out to dinner and the waitress would ask, “What would you ladies like tonight?” I once had a little girl ask me if I was a boy or a girl. I was shocked and really didn’t know how to answer.
I came out to a couple of close friends and some family members. Some were supportive but most were shocked and didn’t really know what to do with it. My best friend said I’d make an ugly woman. Ouch.
My wife and I went to a group couple’s retreat to try and make our marriage better. I ended up outing myself under severe peer pressure to “stop hiding what you’re hiding” because it was clear I was holding back an issue that was causing severe friction in our relationship. Amazingly to me, many there sought me out one on one and told me how brave I was to confront my feelings. I told my wife about those encounters and it just pissed her off. She thought no one was “on her side”.
And then an earthquake happened. The Nisqually Earthquake. As I cowered under my desk as the building swayed back and forth and shook, I really thought I was going to die. Two weeks later, I had quit my business, leaving it in the hands of the managers I had hired.
I took a couple more weeks to move to a new house with my wife, and then took stock of where I was. I was unhappy. Really, really, really unhappy. I resolved to lose the weight I’d gained and make a real try at patching my relationship back together.
And then, after a total blow-off by my wife to go watch a beautiful sunset, I had an epiphany. Yes, my gender stuff was making me unhappy, but my wife was making me more unhappy, and setting aside the gender stuff that was my stuff, there was stuff that she had that she was nowhere near addressing, which left me at the decision point of sticking with her until she did or bailing out.
I took a low-stress retail job to get some space from her and my business and earn some money.
After long thought, I came to the conclusion that it was going to be years, if ever, before she addressed the things that were making her unhappy. I moved out and filed for divorce not long after.
I moved into a place by myself, the first time I’d ever lived alone. I could do anything I wanted to do. Half of my closet was female clothes, the other half male. My weight loss running program of running was getting me in shape and I was feeling pretty good about myself. I met a woman and ended up in a relationship with. I confided to her about myself and she was totally cool with it. Turns out she had dated a crossdresser previously. What luck!
I ran a marathon. I had dropped those 30 pounds I had gained, and was starting to get really toned, and I was starting to actually like my body, which was a brand-new thing for me. I stopped going to electrolysis. My desire to wear women’s clothing began to wane. I cut my hair. Short. In the space of about eight months, I turned male. It was the weirdest thing.
Then I had a gender theory of self breakthrough!
To be continued…