Monday, June 25, 2007

Life in Denial

As I've recounted before I spent over 10 years living in denial of my transgenderism. This was after I was discovered by my wife, and in my poor reaction to this I decided that I would just walk away from my cross dressing. Of course, if you have read any of my writings you already know how this worked out. I just want to document how I dealt with denial and why I now feel it was very naive of me to assume that this was ever going to work.

First off - how am I defining "denial"? It's not as if I didn't think about my transgenderism, or even that I didn't have "lapses" and do some dressing. For the most part, it had to do with me trying to not dress, and for me to publicly not give any hints as to the fact that I had at one time dressed. It was the only time in my life where I can say I went years without dressing.

Anyway, after my discovery by my wife I told her I believe it is a choice and that I can choose to stop, so I put a renewed effort into living the male role full-time. What I ended pu doing was trying to act somewhat macho, to the point of being very curt with people and just focusing on "solving the problem" or "getting over it." Cry at a movie? Men don't do that. Kids acting up? Punish them, let them know who's boss! Wife complaining too much? Women, sheesh! And no shopping with my wife - shopping put me near temptation, and no opportunity, not desire, right? I would complain very loudly if I was being dragged out shopping, in fact. Oh, and insensitive - that was my middle name. Focusing on things that I needed or wanted.

And this I think had extra negative results on our son, who is bipolar. I would practice "tough love" which is about the worst thing you could do for a child with this issue. And I would try to help him to just "tough it out" and tell him such loving things as "don't whine so much" and other things.

What an asshole I was.

Now, sometimes, a show would come on that had a crossdresser or a transsexual character. I would dread those moments, as inevitably my wife would ask me if I still wanted to dress. "No!" I would scream in a huff. "How dare you even ask me that? I said I was over it, and I'm over it!" And she would apologize and pull away just a little bit more. Perhaps if I said it enough, I would believe it, maybe.

And I put on over fifty pounds during that time. I also had a major recurrence of asthma from my youth (I couldn't breath at one point, and needed emergency treatment). I got high blood pressure for the first time in my life. And I had a major asthma attack. So I went on a ton of medication to try to manage my health - so much that I felt you could choke a horse with it. So not only am I being a jerk to everyone, but I'm killing myself at the same time.

I did have two major lapses. We moved to the New York City area, and I was living alone for several months. I discovered Lee's Mardi Gras Botique in the city and visited there once. I met Lee Brewster - an amazing person. It was heaven, trying on clothes (shocked the sales clerk when he saw how well I could navigate a pair of 5 inch heels!). That place was heaven! When I heard she had died I was so very sad. I did visit the area a couple of years ago, but the area has yuppie-fied and there is no trace anywhere.

The second time was during a several month period when I was traveling to another city for work once a week. I bought a pair of heels, pantyhose, and a nightgown (what a combination) that I wore a couple of times in the hotel room. I only did this on one trip, but I still have all that stuff. I decided to file it away in my office and if I ever had the urge again get it out. What was good was that was the first time I didn't purge my stuff. This was a year or two before I finally, irrevocably accepted that I was transgendered.

I was always thinking about it over the years I was in denial. I drive at least a half hour each way to and from work every day. I would often think about dressing, or transgendered people. I really had so few contacts with transgendered people that I just couldn't understand what it was all about. I would mix sexuality and gender identity all up in this one big ball, and even though I said the words "I'm not gay" I was so terrified that I was (terrified because I did love my wife, and if I somehow was gay after all I would end up inflicting a lot of pain on her - thankfully I think I'm now at a point where I know my own sexuality, but that came as part of acceptance and understanding).

As a software developer I would go to conferences, and sometimes I would run into this one person I knew who transitioned. You really couldn't tell she was transgendered. I acted very cool to her, because I was terrified that I might fall out of denial, and I wasn't ready for that.

Towards the end was when I had to evict my father from his house because he had Alzheimer's and couldn't function living alone any more. Seeing him become a shell of his former self was hard, and his death was a big moment in my life. I realized that this could be my future as well. I learned through his ordeal that a side-effect of Alzheimer's disease is that libido goes up, and I started to worry. If I come down with it, will I start running around a nursing home in a dress and being another sex-crazed octogenarian? That really unnerved me.

I also saw the movie Transamerica with my wife. I was very fascinated by this movie for obvious reasons, After watching it We had the usual "do you still want to dress" conversation, but this time I wasn't the jerk I normally was. I was still denying it, but at the same time I was running things through my head and starting to really confront my transgenderism, and I was trying to be more understanding to my wife. So the denial was weaker. Eventually, I came to accept that it wasn't going away, that it was a big part of me, and I needed to understand how to incorporate it into my life so I could manage it. I'm now well into that process with my wife, and I feel as if we got a "do-over" on a lot of things.

In my case a life in denial of transgenderism was a life of fear, deceit, and anger. I was so unhappy and miserable that I often made other people's lives horrible at times. I'm still trying to undo the junk that I've done to myself and to others. I still feel that fear every day, and the lies are very tough to overcome.

And it didn't work.