"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive boy who often thought he should have been a girl - -

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Gender Self-Acceptance Barrier

It seems to me that my journey, chronicled here, has been, to a great extent about learning that shame and self-loathing because of a gender issue is wrong. You can read someone else say that, but until you start to feel it, for some good reason, you cannot accept it. All you know is what is reinforced constantly by the outside; you are a man/woman posing as a woman/man and that is wrong. You are a woman/man who has feelings and desires that are inappropriate. You must erase such 'evil' from your mind if you are to be 'normal' and 'acceptable' to society. That sort of ingrained information is very hard to overcome. With enough reinforcement, another truth can replace it, for you. Replacing it for friends and family is a huge challenge. Doing it in society is a whole other problem, more difficult by many factors.

Meg, in a post on December 20th made some interesting observations from her point of view, one I have never explored; that of the crossdresser who is becoming comfortable not only heading out the door, but interacting with the public at large. Petra and Stana have certainly got to that place, and have written about their experiences and the feelings it has generated.

Meg wrote: “I also think this is another reason some men think they've gone from transvestite to transsexual.  I believe they think they're transvestites until they break that self-acceptance barrier.  Then they can look further inward, to see themselves, to understand who they are.  You can't do that when others are defining you and you're trying to meet their expectations.

Looking inward, finding self-acceptance is a place that is truly wonderful, even when it brings its own set of challenges.

We tend to think in terms of what is next; that is just the way we are built as a species. In this case, it works against us, because self-acceptance is a place we should try to live.  Define yourself. Meet your own expectations. Be true to yourself here and now.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Not A Popularity Contest

That might sound a bit strange, but as things wind down here at my blog of self-discovery, I need to remind myself what brought me here, after all, I am not a rock star... :)

Blogs come and go, and I have wondered about the ending of blogs before, and still feel badly about the loss of several. Remember that we are all here for different reasons. I write to understand myself. Others write to document their changes, and on it goes; so many different reasons to write, and for you gentle reader, to read. We pick and choose, and follow where we want to, and avoid those who might have content that has offended, or we found uninteresting. This is the ultimate democracy, isn't it? The only regret I have is the knowledge that somewhere out there is a writer who has something to tell me, but I have not found her yet. I will continue to search, because there is still a lot to understand about myself that has not been explored.

I wrote above that things are winding down. Let me explain that this is not drama folks, this is me trying to find what I am and what I am not. Letters to my younger self are not a set of instructions, just gentle thoughts I wish had been there for me to access so long ago.  I feel no compulsion to tell anyone what conclusions I have come to because of what does appear here which, I think, has been feelings and thoughts that have surrounded the process, and every now and then, some nugget of deep thought (thanks Tasha) along the way. What I have mostly learned is how not alone I really am. Thank you to all who have let me know about that. The loneliness of our situation is so difficult to bear.

On the subject of comments, being told the obvious is affirming, but being told something totally surprising and sometimes challenging has moved me along, and maybe it has done the same for others who dip in here. Those new thoughts and changes they have brought have shortened the life of this blog, something that, ironically, I am happy to report.

I do not intend to remove anything here because (no modesty here) the kind of stuff that has gone on here is exactly what I would like to have found on the web to help me understand myself better, and maybe someone who is just like me is about to 'tune in'. If so, scanning through the contents from day one might be useful to them.

I might post again; we will see. If I don't think of anything more to say on the process, or the feelings about it... time will tell.

I am most thankful for the good friends met along the way. Hopefully, some correspondences generated by a brief interaction here will continue, and become 'normal' in the sense of just keeping in touch. My blog has never been about the real me, or what was going on in my daily interaction, apart from how it might have affected my search for the authentic person living in this body who put up a front for so many years. There are some folk who know me better because of our conversations via email. Who knows where things go from here? Life continues to be a mystery!

Try to be true to yourself out there since that is all you really can do, eh? :) (Canadian content regulations, you know)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Living With Ambiguity

During the past summer, I read Kathleen Winter's book Annabel. In an earlier post I highly recommended the book. Since that time, the book has been nominated for the most prestigious prizes in the Canadian literary world.

There is a passage which touched me so much at the time. I was not really sure why it had so much impact. The whole book had an impact; there are numerous passages that might have got my attention, but this one, in particular, was worth copying out and saving. I did not put it on my 'fridge... too many questions to answer to the uninitiated, you know. I put it away and told myself if someday it 'explained itself' to me, I would blog about it. Guess what??

In the book, Jacinta and her husband Treadway's daughter/son Annabel/Wayne is a true hermaphrodite. In the early days since her/his birth, the ambiguity continues... but for how long?
“Everything Treadway refused to imagine, Jacinta imagined in detail enough for the two of them. Whereas he struck out on his own to decide how to erase the frightening ambiguity in their child, she envisioned living with it as it was. She imagined her daughter beautiful and grown up, in a scarlet satin gown, her male characteristics held secret under the clothing for a time when she might need a warrior's strength and a man's potent aggression. Then she imagined her son as a talented, mythical hunter, his breasts strapped in a concealing vest, his clothes the green of striding forward, his heart the heart of a woman who could secretly direct his path in the ways of intuition and psychological insight. Whenever she imagined her child, grown up without interference from a judgemental world, she imagined its male and female halves as complementing each other, and as being secretly, almost magically powerful. It was the growing up part she did not want to imagine. The social part, the going to school in Labrador part, the jeering part, the what will we tell everyone part, the part that asks how will we give this child so much love it will know no harm from the cruel reactions of people who do not want to understand.”*

Winter captures so much of my struggle for balance and honest expression. For me, it was inevitable that this passage and it's longing for a continued duality Annabel's birth condition made possible would resonate. Recently, my own growing admission of an inner duality brings on a longing to find authentic expression for both sides in a world where ambiguity is unacceptable.

There are no parents to blame here, the real struggle for power goes on between my ears. I am not naturally rebellious, but a voice inside says "Be yourself,". Then it continues, “but just who are you?”.

Is it really about the scarlet gown? Is it about the secret intuition? Is it about the heart and its mythical insight working through a male body? Still more questions than answers.

The voice inside says "Find a way to manifest those magically powerful male and female halves, complementing each other, then you will be true to yourself."

*page 28, Annabel by Kathleen Winter, House of Anansi Press Inc

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Proudly Canadian

There are times when being a Canadian really makes me proud. There are so many reasons for this, I might devote a post or two to it for the benefit of those who might not be able to find us on the map (pretty hard to miss actually.... LOL).

Yesterday the following article was published and it reminds me that here in Canada, we value all of our resources; we are a resource based economy, after all. In this case it is about the military and how it values folk like us in its ranks. Specifically, "the Canadian Forces have issued a new policy detailing how the organization should accommodate transsexual and transvestite troops".

Every organization needs to have policies and procedures that make the most effective use of its labour force and that is exactly what is going on here.


Canada is a pretty harsh place. I know it doesn't seem so, but just leave the major centers of population for a bit and you will find out just what a practical bunch we are; nothing ever gets wasted here for long, especially people. We figure it out eventually. It makes me very proud.

Thanks to Jillian for pointing the way to the article.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Doing The Best He Can

Being challenged to really dig down into that backpack full of old ‘stuff’ is not for the faint-of heart, but I know it is what I truly need to do in order to come ‘round right and be absolutely clear about why I am here and whether someone is going to die or live in the next little while.

In my previous post, I wrote the following crass remark about that person, one who I now realize did not deserve such criticism:

“I know there is so much more to me than the one dimensional façade I foisted on the world for so long.”


The person who has ‘taken care of business’ really does not deserve to be punished verbally or otherwise; he just did what seemed to be the right thing to do at the time, over and over for over fifty years. It didn’t always turn out well, but after all, it was a plan made by a child (almost an infant), so it didn’t go too badly, in retrospect.

What stimulated this reflection? In a post this morning, writing about early transitioning women, Anne wrote:

“What my friend pointed out was that what seems to stand out is that, not only did we KNOW something was wrong, we "FIXED IT", or died trying.   Hmmmm.....That certainly gave me pause.  Looking a bit deeper into this idea, and trying to give weight to all the reasons that people do not simply "fix it", I was forced to conclude that in those six individuals there existed a common denominator.  It was uncompromising and focused determination.”

Anne and her friend transitioned early in their lives. Reading her post annoyed me at first, I will admit. Dammit, I have determination. What went wrong with me that I lost focus on myself and my needs (and it was real, do not be mistaken). It threw my mind into the past, and without a great amount of reflection, I wrote the following in a comment:

“In my case, taking all of the burdens of the world onto my own shoulders from about the age of three would have to be part of my 'problem'. Denial is another part of the formula.
Yes, my denial came in the form of single minded determination to not let anyone know that I was not the most powerful, capable force in the universe who could overcome anything inside or outside of myself and succeed.
A formula for a crash and burn if ever there was one. I managed for over fifty years.
Personally, I do not apologize. My world as a child was screwed up quite enough without acknowledging my 'little' problem, I guess.”


As it was flowing from my fingers, I realized these words from my heart were more than just a comment to Anne’s post. They were a revelation to a brain that has conveniently suppressed so much of my childhood.

So it would seem that my childish response to an event I had no active part in, and no control over at the age of three, created a person I have tried to live up to for the last fifty-five years. I’ve been adding to the weight of it every year. It is an enormous backpack my friends and nobody has ever asked me to carry it. If I put it down today, few will know.

Keep your mind open. You never can tell where your learning will come from or in what form it will arrive.

I am truly happy this morning; it is pleasant to hate myself a bit less... not forgiven, just understood a bit better.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Not Much To Ask

Sometimes what we do here can be useful in ways we cannot even imagine. In the last few weeks, my mind has been in turmoil, but a few posts have influenced the direction of my thinking a lot. In this post I will jump around a bit, because without all of the influences that I will refer to, there might not have been any post at all.

In ‘Looking Back, Looking Forward', Karen wrote of her battles (so like my own only somewhat further along) with GID and depression. She has a plan and is moving forward. I do not have a plan; I seem to be twisting and turning to avoid having a plan. What she says scares me. I’m guessing it would be pretty crazy not to be scared, but it is necessary to continue to learn control, so I can create a meaningful plan and move forward. To that end she highly recommends a book in that post.

In her comment to Karen, then on her own site, Anne quoted from a book by Marianne Williamson that has affected me too.

It begins:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”*

I am certain there is a light here somewhere under this big heavy bucket. Every now and then something jostles it and a glimmer shows through. Perhaps the connection to the quote comes in my evolving reaction to that light; once fear, now part curiosity, part excitement. I know there is so much more to me than the one dimensional façade I foisted on the world for so long. I can feel the blossoming of ‘bliss’, a part of myself that should have been there all along, but has only become apparent since I began this open examination of my feminine self. Part of the reason for finding a plan and moving forward is to find a way to really find that light; my bliss, and show it to the world. I am very tired of pretending to be limited. That is how I see myself as a man; limited and passionless.

In her post “Arrival”, Ariel writes eloquently of having come to the end of a journey. She can just ‘be herself’ now. I really admire her, and others who have made the choice to just become that person they feel inside. While hers became a journey, mine has so far been a random wandering. I wonder, shall I ever experience the peace one has at the end of a process that was purposeful? I search myself all of the time to try to know if there is a journey I must also face in spite of the pain and loss it entails. Am I, as she put it “ill-suited to be a man”? In yet another attempt to find peace as I am, I ask why I must land on one side or the other of the gender binary in order to just be myself, in order to let my light shine.

In a recent post, Elly spoke of a different feeling she is experiencing lately. As she put it: “I felt as if I wasn't quite there with the world, distant yet still making the movements of life, at some kind of balance or equilibrium point. Neither male nor female, in the middle between the two. Is it possible that my spirit had achieved balance within itself? It was not an unpleasant feeling, I just felt distanced from most things.”

I wonder too if a blissful, passionate Halle lives in some in-between gender. While I might find some comfort in that, it seems unlikely that androgyny could provide a way to interact in the world for me. What is it about my male exterior that limits me? To what extent does my inability to express myself outwardly as a female in my current situation limit the things I do, dimming that light?

The fact remains, if what I have really is a light, then hiding it under a bucket is just plain wrong.

My goal? To find a way to be it all for those around me. Peaceful, Loving, Passionate. Not much to ask, is it?

Thanks and a big hug to all of you who continue to search and give of yourselves in the words you send out.

 “And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.”*

* Marianne Williamson
A Return To Love (1992), Chapter 7

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

I’ll Show You Mine…

No, not what you think. Although it does remind me of a girl I knew when I was about five and she was about seven. One day …
You didn’t really think you were going to hear a story like that from an old prude like me did you? LOL

We all carry around this backpack of metaphoric stuff. Some peoples are bulging yet pretty light, while others have these sleek looking things that are eighty pounds (35 kilos) if they are a gram. You just never know unless you ask to try it on, and for most of us, these things go mostly unnoticed.

Every now and then somebody starts carping about how heavy theirs is. I like to think of myself as a pretty good listener (ya, I know, you’d never know it from this blog…haha). I do try to empathize with others who carry a heavy one. Having children adds a lot to that backpack. As they age it does get lighter, BTW, and eventually, if you are very lucky like I have been, your children boost you up and make you certain it was more than worthwhile carrying that load for twenty years or so.

Blogging has been unlike any other activity in my life. I have enjoyed it immensely. It has been a chance to get stuff off my chest (like yesterday... more in a bit). Of course it is not a diary, so it is important to be kind to your readers too. Admittedly, from time to time a post slips by my internal crap detector. That device exists to tell me something like “yes, I would enjoy reading that one” or “oh, what a downer, why would somebody write that sort of stuff and expect anyone to bother ever coming back?” My last blog here was your look into my backpack, and from the reaction, I can tell it isn’t a pretty sight in there. Oooo Yuck! Thank you however to the brave and helpful friends who commented. I will take these words to my heart, given as they were under difficult circumstances.

Yes friends, I’m in a bit of a rough place these days and for various reasons it is not likely to be smoother for some time. My male side is getting lots of support (way too much as it happens). The lady part is really jealous. It is messing me up some, I will admit, so I should have noticed that my last post was crossing the line into trying to shift my load onto other shoulders. I am angry at myself now for that presumptive act, but have been angry at me for some time, and that makes me sound angry at everyone and everything. What a bitch and a sorry one at that, so I do apologize again. It might be my blog, but if nobody every wants to read it and comment, what will I learn then? Bupkiss! And if there is no learning, and I stay stuck where I am now… well if you think I am unhappy now, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! And if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!! :P

What heavy load? Not here. Now, let me have a look and see what you have in there sis.

Hugs,

Halle

Monday, 22 November 2010

Finding The Correct Treatment

As life goes on you start to get some ideas on what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to healing your body. Self-diagnosis can be easy and correct, or difficult and very dangerous. Diagnosis by medical professional, while not always required, is sometimes essential to getting to the root of a problem. Sadly, professionals are not always thorough enough. What gets someone through another day or week, is not really a remedy after all.
 
Some treatments are very simple; just take this for so many days and forget you ever had a problem. Other remedies are intuitively obvious, while some are counter-intuitive. Conditions requiring counter-intuitive remedies are pretty difficult ones, usually requiring an expert of some sort to identify and treat. Often, expensive tests are required and trips to specialists to interpret the results then prescribe the corrective.

Back problems are often that type, especially if the condition has progressed to the point where nerves have been pinched. The symptoms in this case are often not associated with the back, but some other body part; pains down the leg from sciatica are a good example. The treatment has nothing to do with the leg at all, often giving no initial relief, but if applied over time manages the condition well. It involves drugs, physiotherapy, exercise and diet control, among other things.

In the seemingly intuitively obvious category of conditions, about twenty-five years ago, I had a lesion on the back of my hand for months that wouldn’t heal. Finally I got myself to a dermatologist, who after inquiring of the history of the injury, and taking a small sample, recommended that I should try leaving it alone for a couple of months, instead of picking at it, as in fact I had been doing. The lesion healed up just fine, but the root condition did not. Other less obvious lesions did not heal, nor were they seen at that time. The doctor probably did noticed that the rest of my hands, especially around the cuticles were in very rough shape, but never suggested that I somehow stop picking at them as well, nor did the doctor suggest I take all my clothes off for a full skin examination either; after all, I had come in to have my hand treated. In retrospect he might have sent me to another professional who dealt in obsessive and self-destructive behaviors. It might have been at that point that some critical self-examination under the guidance of a firm, but kindly professional might have revealed root causes, and thus a treatment for a 'global condition'.

When healing the body involves healing the mind, things get complicated.

Is it possible that ultimately GRS is a treatment for a condition whose outer symptoms are a skin disorder? That does come under the heading of counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Why?

“A big question the trans world struggles to address with the non-trans world is about why we do what we do.” is the way Diana at Salad Bingo got the ball rolling. S at Our Transitioning Family picked it up. The Two Aunties did too. Today it is my turn, I guess.

So many ‘whys’… There is ‘why has my brain always hated my body and it’s label MALE?’ There is ‘why did I work so hard to pretend to be a real man for so long?’ How about, ‘why did you just find out about this gender conflict when in your fifties?’ (that is a good one), which could be followed up by ‘why do you write this blog?’ and of course, the ever popular ‘why don’t you just get the surgery done, fix the conflict and get on with your life?’.

My friend Anne asked me, in response to ‘Exploring the Labyrinth’, “Having fought the “good fight” for so long, and so well, why give it up now? I gotta tell you, being a woman ain’t all that special. It just is…”
What a great and important question this is, so, since I have addressed all those other ‘whys’ around here in earlier posts (and you will just have to wander around if you care, LOL), this is the ‘why’ I am going to try to tackle because the answer is one I need to hear too.

I was like an old-fashioned appliance, you know the ones we used to buy that lasted forty years and eventually got thrown out because you couldn’t find parts? For most of my life (as far as anyone looking on was concerned) a solid, reliable and hard working man, pulling my weight and never complaining. Hated myself too, but internalized the mess that was my fear and self-loathing. For fifty-five years it mostly worked. I had multiple coping techniques to make it keep running. So why can’t I just pull out all the old tricks and keep it going for another who-knows-how-many years?

When I examine this thing logically, from the man’s point of view, this idea of me being a woman (pardon my French) is a load of high priced merde.

Being a man might not be anything special, but being a woman is so much trouble! Friendships are so much more complicated for women. They spend time sharing what they feel about everything, as though any of that is really important. Everyone knows it is your expertise on a subject and how much you get paid that is really important. What and how well you think is what gets a person through this world. And when they talk, instead of cutting to the chase, they notice and describe every little feature in minute detail.
Make-up and jewelry has to be purchased and nails and hair to be grown out and maintained. Skin to soften and care for, just to name a few items. And the clothing costs soar as options go from casual and bland to colours to choose and different textures and weights of material to be selected from. Shoes that no longer cover and protect your feet, but pinch and lift you and change your balance points. I could go on and on. Why anyone would want to be bothered with it all absolutely baffles that logical side of my brain.

If this was a logical choice, no woman would do these things either. Some will say a woman is forced to deal with all of this, and they hate it. Although it is partially true, I am not buying that one. I know lots of women who are no longer competing for employment and could wear no make-up, casual monotone clothing and flat, sensible shoes every single day with no repercussions or change of lifestyle. They don’t. They won’t. Why not? Ask them, not me, I am a man, remember?

Nobody in their right mind would want to go through all of the fuss that women go through except for a woman. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

Now, what was that question again? Oh right, let me rephrase it a bit; why not just keep being a man? After all, I’ve done it this long, and being a woman isn’t very special at all.

Against all logic, I want that troublesome female life. If I could ‘not want that life’ I would not be here, writing and commenting, and empathizing about something so incredibly illogical as this is. I would be reading a book, or doing a puzzle, or some other retired guy stuff, and wondering what is for lunch.

Of course, nobody understands a man considering transitioning to become a woman, unless they have gone through the insanity of GID, or maybe have heard a good explanation, or they have a great imagination and loads of empathy. I would wonder too!

Hugs All Around Ladies,

Halle

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Judge Not...

One of my less pleasant experiences in the last week has given me fodder for the reflective process; lots of reflection in a very short time as it happens. It took such a short time that I wonder if it is worthy for sharing. I wonder how many bloggers go through a drafting process like my own. About a third of them never see the light of a computer screen other than my own.

In brief, a comment left in response to one of my own on another site rudely suggested that I was in love with the sex organ given me at birth.

Am I? Yes in some ways and no in most ways.

No, it is not something I like to look at. It is not something I have ever used to my advantage on purpose. I cannot ignore those sadly obvious ‘benefits’ that seem to come just because I present as a male, things like generally higher pay, entry into men’s days at sport clubs (maybe someday I will get to go to a ladies’ day) and other items falling into the category of meaningless status. Ever since I can remember, the idea that some men violate women has been a source of tremendous shame in membership of the class ‘male’ for me. In retrospect, I missed out on many likely pleasant sexual adventures because I retreated from situations where I might have felt that I ‘forced myself’ on a woman.

What do I like about it? Well if you do not enjoy the pleasurable sensations that sex involves, you have missed out on a treat, haven’t you? It would be a terrible pity to miss out on that aspect of life as a human being for the sake of ‘shame’ isn’t it? The nerve endings and the sensations they convey would have been there one way or the other; male or female. I have often wondered if the sensations would have been different in any way if I was put right. I may never know the answer, but I do know that I do not hate that part of me that is involved in this pleasure; neither do I love it. I will admit it has many times been treated rather badly because of my GID, and that is as far as I will go on that topic.

I can appreciate that there are people out there who are fed up with men who want it both ways, because I am fed up too. Observing a person dressed as a woman while simultaneously flaunting masculinity is the worst possible advertisement for someone like myself. That sort of image is the main source of my sweetie’s nightmares about our coming out, convinced as she is that this is the way people will see me and they will hate both of us because of it.

The suggestion that some new words are needed to describe the various gender variations out there meets with my hearty approval.

It is scaring me some to realize how many days now contain thoughts that would start me on the road to make it possible to wear one label only: FEMALE.  For those wonderful people who were born with that label, or have done what you needed to do to now deserve that privilege, you have only my admiration.

You might be able to sense how hurtful I found a suggestion that I am a ‘penis-loving hypocrite’. I try not to be a hypocrite and that might be a criticism one could level if they read my writings. But only I can answer the other part, and here I have; no I do not. Maybe writing this will help me leave the injury that barb left behind.

 I have been so blessed on this blog to have commentators who are insightful and civil. It is not universally so. Please, as Ariel suggested in a recent post, when commenting on someone’s ideas, discuss the idea, not the person who stated the idea, and do not judge others on the sole basis of what they write. Maybe I should just say, let’s stop judging each other.

Hugs, 
Halle

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Become A Woman, Eh?

As you know, I am rarely lost for words.

Opening up a magazine today, an ad for vodka got my attention.
 SVEDKAs “R U BOT OR NOT?” campaign has been launched in Canada.

As a sign of who is in control in my brain, and the power of that hidden female, the reaction I had was first disappointment, then anger. What I'd like to know is how women feel. How are you affected by this advertising?

I acknowledge the efforts of their artist to include aspects in the imagery that will get the attention of the men who see the ad. Why this would convince them to drink Svedka vodka, or any vodka at all, escapes me. Thinking about it too much could send me to my favourite alcoholic beverage, I suppose.


Obviously, this creation is designed to be sexy. The elements include the ‘over-the-shoulder’ glance, the prominent breasts, rounded buttocks and the feet apart, high-heel dragging-behind stance, all say ‘come hither’. Please tell me, as a woman, do you want to ‘be’ this robot? As a trans-person, do you want to be this?

Is anyone else disappointed by this, or am I sad and old and just a lot ‘behind the times’ and over-reacting? Should I just shut up and pour myself a glass of prune juice and turn on a game show on television?

No, (you knew there was more, didn’t you?) instead I did some soul-searching. 

Here are some thoughts on my visceral negative response.

Assuming this image is an artist’s crystallization and therefore our society’s belief of what it means to be an attractive female, I will tell you that with a lot of help from a credit card, I can be this attractive woman, and likely, so can much of the human race, NOW.

Shave the head, put on a full body corset, falsies & bra, and cat-suit and let them do their magic. Get a local beautician to do the makeup, slip on the heels, and voila! Instant (well almost) woman! Not only woman, but stereotypically attractive and desirable 'fem-bot'.

Just don’t get too close, or ask them to talk about anything. Don’t ask that ‘bot’ to be anything real. All she can do is stand there, look sexy, and sell (vodka).

Before I leave, two other thoughts:

When a person is looking for a job, is this the image an interviewer has for a suitable woman?

When the ‘powers that be’ ask us to go full time for year, how much of what they expect us to be comes from this sort of stereotypical thinking?

So, before you leave, take a look back up top to remember that for some, that is a woman.

Lest We Forget

The final armistice of the Great War, world war one as it later became known, was signed at 5 a.m. on the morning of 11 November 1918, and came into effect six hours later at 11 a.m.
On November 7, 1919 King George V of the British Empire, what is now Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations, issued a proclamation calling for a two-minute silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. His proclamation requested that "all locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead".

In the Commonwealth the day is now known as ‘Remembrance Day’. 

In Flanders Fields 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
 
John McCrae, May 1915

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Exploring the Labyrinth

As suggested in “Purging Indecision”, we need at some point to acknowledge what is already known; I must stop running around that same worn path and engage in the process of finding the way forward from here. Everything here might be wrong, but for me it has been the best chance to move forward from another stuck position, so I have attempted a frank working out of what is true for me (the whole person), even though, for your use, gentle reader, these contents have been highly edited. I gather from some comments, much of it has still been familiar, and for that I am both sad and grateful; misery does like company.

I have visited the gatekeepers hereabouts, and the way out of the labyrinth could very well be via the route they offer, however I am not ready for the red pill to keep me in ‘wonderland’, not now anyway. They understand those who are on a path to transition. I really don’t think they understand or have a path for me. The gatekeepers’ suggestion for one who like mysef, chooses not to transition, and whose goal is to keep sane while hosting a girly-girl inside is “get out there and crossdress”. Some of my good friends here are shaking a cautionary finger at me, others are standing and applauding at this point, saying ‘you go girl’ I expect. Maybe. Maybe soon.

I suppose the idea is to feed the beast to keep it happy and at bay. There are a lot of reasons for my indecision.

I love the scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where the main characters are fleeing the ‘good guys’ and find themselves standing on a high bluff; nowhere else to turn, they have to jump and trust that somehow they will survive.

In the movie, the main characters get away for a while, but as we know, (and this is giving the ending away if you never saw the movie) sadly, they die in the end, because their plan cannot be sustained.

The strange thing is that even though I have not been out and proud as maybe I should (I really do not know), my male side has developed what Petra once referred to as “increased curb appeal” because of our interactions here and an increasingly powerful internal ‘womanly’ presence inside.

The mind split is not a situation that can go away. I am trans. Maybe I should dress, but it isn’t nearly as important to me as being a good person.
The future, as always, is veiled in a secretive cloak. Every decision brings a new path and what is down there will be something I can think about and report on then. No matter what, here I will always remain your sister,

Halle

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Changed For Good

A lot of energy is spent on the different ways we are touched by and react to our gender variance. What I want to touch on briefly here is that universal potential we share.

Being two-spirited should not be a burden. In another place and time, we might join hands (not just virtually) and sing our joy at who we are and the contributions we make to that world because of that perspective we bring. The crushing weight of guilt and shame lifted, we would soar.

How wonderful to live at least part of the time in that brighter world. I will stay there for at least part of today and I invite you who have lifted me to come there for at least a while. (I will be the one in green BTW.)

Big Hug!
Halle



Tuesday, 2 November 2010

I Am Whelmed (part 2)

Who among the whole of the human race does not respond well to encouragement? The support of those who understand what we go through in our lives, or in our work (our peers) is the highest form of praise. Self-love, that most critical form of encouragement, is considered by some to be essential to a successful life.

Almost seven months ago she was a 'gleam in my eye'. Now she shines in my place. Her face, that face from the past is one that pushes me to try to be better every day in some way. One look in the mirror reminds me of how important it is to continue to strive to be better. Let’s just say I know what it means to be moving past middle age. I don't mean that in a bad way, so let me explain.

At some point we all realize there is only so much that we can do; we are all limited in some way. As a youth, we feel immortal and unlimited, but limitations become obvious at some point. For many, sadly, they come so awfully early. I was tremendously lucky; something that only has been revealed to me lately, lucky to fulfill many roles in my life so far, and be able to keep dreams alive too. I am the epitome of the saying “Getting older is inevitable. Growing up is optional”.

The woman I might have been was one of those dreams and in so many ways not a dream abandoned; she is here now (even though she looks little like the one in that drawing over there). I cannot yet be her older sister in person, but I cannot forget her, or in any other way desecrate that presence who reinforces me and makes me such a better person.

A bunch of us oldsters (mostly women) were together and laughing about our attempts to keep youth alive and the shock of looking in the mirror first thing in the morning to realize there is an old character there where the internal script says 'youthful'. It is just the way things are. It is just plain crazy to hate what you are, whether that happens to be an aging lady, or an aging man, or an aging man who thinks like a lady; it really does not matter. You need to be who you are, this very moment in this world in order to keep the other dreams alive.


The encouragement received here has been staggering and has lifted me much higher as a person than anything else I have done in my 'real' life. That fact perplexes me sometimes because it has been a life with many accomplishments. It makes me reflect on those other accomplishments and I realize that those things I have valued (apart from fathering my wonderful children) could have been done as a woman just as well, or even better. It says, be yourself and do what you do because you love doing it; you cannot go far wrong with that as your guide.


The banner title may change soon. I am tiring of just ‘maintaining’ anything, especially something so flimsy as the word façade implies. Suggestions are welcomed for my evolving blog for an evolving person ready for anything in spite of any obstacles real or imagined.

Hugs,

Halle

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Fear or Love

Do we ‘stay a course’ out of love, or out of fear, or is it a bit of both.

In religion it is an old story with some people going to church because they are convinced, that is the only way to avoid some fiery punishment. I can still remember when, as a child, people would talk of ‘God-fearing' individuals. I never really understood why I should be afraid of God. In the church I attended, God was always referred to as ‘God of Love’. How could God be loved and feared at the same time? It is possible someone out here will tell me; that might be something I learn from this post!

On the same topic, love and fear are motivations for people to stay together as they age. In the last few months, it has been a big concern of mine that my sweetie and I might fall into the trap of letting our fears rule our choices of whether to stay together. Fear factors include our financial state, which while comfortable together, would be poor if separated. Another is our age. Neither of us is young (even though I have been known to act like a twelve-year-old). The thought of having to take a job or two to make ends meet is a worry.

Loss of friends if we separate is a big worry. In our social set we are a couple, and singles don’t always fit well with old friends who are a couple. Men and women whose company I now enjoy might not find it possible to hang in as a friend if I presented as a female. We might have to move in order to stay together and find new activities and friendships. We might have to move for the same reason if we separate. Our children might not accept me as a woman, and this might cause a rift, separation or not. The fearful scenarios are daunting for all who consider living 'trans'.

Fear of loss should never be a reason to go through the motions, either with a spouse or a deity. Any deity worth her/his salt can tell the difference between a half-hearted worshipper and one devoted to the cause. It is no less true in a marriage. We deserve honesty and the sort of relationship that only love can bring.

Being trans has put a huge strain on our love, yet somehow, I am convinced we are still a viable couple with wonderful times to share in our future. How many of those shared times will involve my feminine part? Time will tell of course.

To be a partner to my sweetie, and to be someone worth loving, I will need both halves of myself to be fully committed; more than a façade that is cobbled together.

To be a partner for me, she will need to continue to accept who I am, and allow that growth, not out of fear, but out of love.

This is not going to be easy.

A life worth living together is hard work.

A truly wonderful life together requires love.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Terrible Sadness

It began in February of this year, not three hours drive from our home. The base commander of an armed forces base on the north side of Lake Ontario had been charged with some pretty serious crimes, including two murders. Thanks to a confession and swift trial (mercifully for the families of the two victims and the more sensitive members of the population), this man is now living in solitary confinement and probably will for the rest of his life. 

Sadly, the image ingrained for public consumption is the criminal’s self-portrait; in bra and panties stolen from some victim. For that reason, in public memory he will always be a crossdresser who murdered innocent women. We can connect the dots to understand that this man is not the only one who has been put into solitary confinement as a result of his perverse crimes. 

No amount of calm, rational explanation will counter the visceral response I and others have to that image. I do not even have safety in my own mind now. How I hate this monster whose name I refuse to remember. I will not give a name to my pain, even this one.



In Memoriam:  Marie-France Comeau & Jessica Elizabeth Lloyd


link to cbc coverage

Monday, 18 October 2010

My Own Worst Enemy

I wanted Maintaining the Façade to be a place where ideas could be freely shared to help others to move forward, while I learned how to move forward too. It never occurred to me it might become a ‘cautionary tale’.

For most of my life my acting ability was too good. In all of my pain while that internal war raged for decades, I kept it together and everyone, even those closest to me, believed what I showed them; a guy who was in control and invincible. Instead of getting an award for lifetime achievement in acting, what I got was a mental illness whose cure is worse than the disease. That is old news. I should have kept the old façade, the one where I hid everything from my lover, but what really happened is in order to live sane, I admitted deception to my sweetie and made a new facade; close to the old one, but with an undesirable houseguest.

The illness is not the GID, the illness is the denial and the mental stress that resulted. What I know too late is curing the illness was simple, but devastating. I began the search for the true self that had been hidden so long. The person I have found is not this or that, sadly. If I was just this, then I could just do that, and get on with it. If that, well you get the idea. There is no easy way to get on with life; more trial and error is needed. Time is not on my side however, because the person I most needed to be by my side through all of this has lost patience and wants her life back. She wants the old façade; the one without an elephant living in our home with us. As Anne pointed out in a comment to a post last month, it is not surprising that marriages often fail to survive this kind of situation. My sweetie married a man, and expects that, not something else she would not have chosen, ever.

Putting the ‘toothpaste back in the tube’ is not an option. I need options. That will be my focus for some time.

Things around here (this blog) may not be the same for a while. They may not be the same ever. I do not know.

You all know how complicated life is. I know you wish me well, as I do you. As our friend Leslie says, “Don’t Be Like Me”.

Halle

Friday, 15 October 2010

What Is In A Name?

Since my arrival in this part of the internet, even before the start of this blog, I have been consistently accepted as one of a sisterhood. I will start be saying thank you for that, to so many of you that listing names would be just plain silly.

Beginning with that first email, it has been clear to me that I have been accepted as a female writer, as crazy as my physical appearance would make that. It felt natural and right then, and it still does now. Today, in a post elsewhere, I have been reminded that it is not so for everyone and it does not bother me at all, apart from the obvious incongruity with past experience.

In this place some of us call Blogistan, I am Halle. In the ‘real’ world (whatever that is), I am not called Halle at all. The fact is, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I am Halle now within myself. I am “Lady and Gentleman, both and neither” because that is how I think. I answer to many other names, depending upon the circumstances. All of these names are appropriate and I cherish most of them. Some of them, like 'dad', I have worked hard over the years to deserve, just as I would if it could have been 'mom'. These other names assume one gender; male. One of them does not assume that I am male, and I am very grateful for that, because the part of me that responds to the stimuli of the world as a female very much needs validation, and it needs it way out of proportion just because all of the other names relate only to that male part.

Did it surprise me to be called Halle and be called ‘he’ in the same context? Yes. Did it hurt? Yes, then no. After I thought about it, in that context it made sense. The author is writing in his own blog, after all. I do what I want here, he does what he wants there. If anything I write here helps another seeker, I am content. If it helps them in ways I could never have imagined, and in order to do that they need to gender me M, so be it.

Having said all of that, it sure does feel right and good to referred to as ‘she’ and ‘her’ most of the time here in good old Blogistan.

Hugs

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Envy

It is one of the deadly sins. Is it wise to admit to such a thing? As another well-known blogger reminded me recently “I am a blogger. I have no secrets.”

Envy is visceral and it is a feeling so I do not have to justify it. While not proud of such a thing, mine is a life under examination. I accept it, and wonder what it means that such a feeling exists, especially one so strong. So I ask myself "what is triggering envy?" It seems it begins with admiration.

Lately I find reading about those of you who have transitioned or are in the process of transitioning is making me very emotional with admiration, then envy. Another situation when I feel admiration, then envy occurs when I read of crossdressed adventures. Even those of you who have been unable to avoid tremendous loss have at least taken your life into your control and have allowed others in your life to do the same. I admire that in you.

Do I desperately want to transition, or crossdress openly? It might be, but if I am reading my emotions correctly, it seems that what is admired and envied is some measure of control. Lately, nothing I do seems to quiet the struggle inside. The truce in that war that dominated much of my life threatens to be broken.

It also saddens me to feel unqualified to add to the discussions on your blogs when these sort of topics come up, even though I have thoughts and feelings of support and concern. If ‘walking the walk’ is a necessary qualification for ‘talking the talk’ then much of the time it seems best to quietly sit on my hands and listen to what the ‘real women' have to say.

Why the admission? Why not just quietly slip away? You might have read the quote under the masthead. I believe all of you out here in Blogistan, especially those of you I envy, are all my family because I take joy in your life and respect you all more than you will ever know.

It seems I can be joyful and envious at the same time.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Purging Indecision

Spirit of the Future, I fear you more than any specter I have met tonight! But even in my fear, I must say that I am too old! I cannot change! I cannot! It's not that I'm impenitent, it's just... Wouldn't it be better if I just went home to bed?

Maybe in this lifetime war against myself, my ability to cloak and deceive others and myself has been my worst enemy, because:

My family never knew I hated being told regularly about things I did that were not how a boy should do it.

My teachers never knew how wrong it was being force to go out in the ‘playground’ three times a day to be teased and bullied.

My male school chums never knew how much I longed to go and sit and talk to the group of girls ‘over there’.

The girls over there never knew that I just wanted to be one of them.

Nobody ever suggested there was a solution to feeling like an alien in your own body, like a stranger on the planet.

Maybe the rest of my world didn’t know or care about these things because it wasn’t their job to understand me. That was my job, and if I had been doing my job, maybe I would have refused to work so hard at pleasing everyone by making myself look and act as they expected. Maybe if I had just refused to play with the boys, gone over and sat with those laughing girls and laughed with them, the war against myself could have been avoided. Maybe instead, I would have had a good war against the parts of the world that interfere with people who just want to live their lives authentically.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came via my Grandfather. He said “It is alright to make mistakes. You need to make mistakes in order to learn. Just don’t make the same ones over and over!”

So, it could be true today and for the rest of my life, that by refusing to work so hard at pleasing everyone, making myself look and act as they expect, refusing to ‘play with the boys’ if I don’t feel like it, going over and sitting with those laughing ladies so I can laugh with them, maybe I can become the best I can be NOW, and forget about a lifetime of regret that taught me these lessons.

Maybe it isn’t too late to stop hating the man I became because of my choices.

“Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset”

Hugs,

Halle

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Halle Can Be Pretty Naïve at Times

Am I the only one who is confused about transgender folk being left out of the gay rights movement? If so, let me think this through out loud, and get some feedback so I can get my head around this.

Although I am a genetic male who is hetero, I strongly relate to the world as a woman, and if I could work some magic, would become a woman in order to have some congruence between what goes on between my ears and what is located in and on other parts of my being. Even so, I relate sexually to women, not men. This puts me with the majority of MTF’s; with me so far?

If I was successful at this magic gender switch act, and remained (as I assume I would) attracted to women (one very special woman in my situation) wouldn’t that make me (and my spouse too) lesbian?

Now for the clincher. If I want to be seen as a woman who is deeply in love with another woman, then doesn’t that mean that I want to be seen as a lesbian, and would do what I can to support gay rights, since it is in my best interest, and I have some understanding of how gay people feel?

O.K. I haven’t walked the walk. I don’t intend to do it any time soon. I do still support the people whose lifestyle I would emulate and they should be able to see that too. However, as far as I can tell( and this may be where I am mistaken, I hope so) gays hesitate to associate themselves with trans individuals, which in light of the above seems counterproductive to their cause.

There is no question in my mind that I will soon be reminded how incredibly naïve I am, however, I truly would like to know where my thought process is flawed, so please don't hold back. It won't be the first time I have been either wrong or naïve. If it goes well, maybe some strategy might present itself for improving the understanding of our issues by all concerned.

Either way, nothing ventured... etc.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Coping

Knowing and acting are very different in all aspects of life. Their relationship is a matter of difficult choice.

I have a pretty good idea at this point why girl fog envelopes me most of the time. I have a pretty good idea of what I could do to lessen, or maybe eliminate it (Better Living Through Chemistry). A choice, with consequences.

I don’t know why GID has cycles of urgency. These cycles have been part of my life forever. Since I realized and acknowledged that the source of my anxiety is my trans-nature, the cycles have become more manageable (they are not gone, just different). For most of my life, thinking that I was just a screw-up, the low points of that cycle were accompanied by urges that manifested as (what ‘normal’ people would call) deviant sexual desires. The shame that accompanied these cycles spread out to give me a self-image that on a scale 0-10 was in the 1/∞ range. For my non-mathematical readers, this means less than any small number you care to mention.

Thanks to the vast resources here on the internet, and conversations we have here in Blogistan, I have increasing self-knowledge and with it, self confidence. What I don’t always do is take the action that appears best to continue to improve that condition. Because of a previous commitment, those actions while solving one problem, would create a new problem I am committed to avoiding (see this previous post). From reading your stories, I know I am not alone. The reasons for this inaction are as numerous as we are. As Meg points out in her post "You Just Don't Understand", we are far from alike. Yet we do empathize. Some of us get impatient with others when we think there is an obvious course of action they should be following. Mostly I get impatient with myself, because I see others taking action while I am not. We all berate ourselves at times. The wheel we are on turns and the feelings ebb and flow.

That is all.

Oh, you thought maybe this post was about solving our problem? Don’t I wish. No, this is just another post acknowledging where I am currently ‘stuck’.

This is just me telling me (and you too, gentle reader): Don’t feel alone. Don’t feel screwed up. Feel validated that all of this is real, and you are still doing the best you can do today.

Doing my best to live true to myself,

Halle

Monday, 27 September 2010

Stirring The Pot

Traveling down my childhood memory lane hasn’t been all bad. For instance, the memory of dinnertime and especially after dinner with one of my great-grandfathers evokes pleasant smells (his favorite pipe-tobacco) and sounds of arguments, and laughter. The grandmother I grew up with (his daughter) loved a good argument, and she was in her glory at these gatherings.

Grandad was a devotee of the Toronto Telegram, a newspaper that died somewhere around 1970. I think he cried, especially since its demise meant that he would have to get his daily information fix from the much-hated Toronto Star (some sort of political affiliation thing). He read the paper cover to cover every day, and studied much of it.

After dinner, we would sit around the table, Grandad would go through the pipe lighting ritual, and casually mention something he had read about that week, usually with a contentious twist. He would sit back and listen to what would inevitably result; “the discussion”. As a child, it was my duty, at pain of removal, to keep my opinions to myself, and my mouth closed. I was expected to observe and learn. Mostly what I remember is his undisguised pleasure in the chaos he usually managed to unleash. He loved to ‘stir the pot’ as he called it.

Every group of friends should have such a talented person in it, but such people are too rare these days. Everyone has an opinion, and most people, you can tell, are not really listening to others. They are busy thinking about what they are going to say when it is their ‘turn’.

Anyhow, on a totally unrelated topic, a friend sent me (the guy behind the façade) an email of witticisms. Within, was the following, a "gem of wisdom" he could never suspect would be read so deep at so many levels by me.

(reaching for my pipe and matches)

“Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.”

 Have a good week!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

How Our World Changes

Getting hatred to go away just will not work. Sometimes the only way things change is, as our friend LeAnne suggests on her masthead, by waiting for the target to move to someone else. Personally, I’d like to think the world might someday be a kinder, gentler place; the sort of world Gene Roddenberry wrote about in his series ‘Startrek’.


So how do you change the world? Well, like Roddenberry, you produce a good work of fiction.

People can be moved to act on a problem when a television program, movie, or book brings the issue to a personal level. Non-fiction tends to be boring and dry in comparison. It is hard to name a classic work of fiction from Dickens on that was not, in some sense, a social commentary, and each one, in some small way changed its world. 

Television quickly moved from light entertainment to societal manipulation during the 1960’s and has never looked back. The same well-honed techniques used to market any number of once unknown products were used to move whole populations to vote for a particular party, and in the case of social consciousness, to think in a particular way and either approve or disapprove more strongly of a particular group of fellow humans.

After reading Annabel, I began to see some possibilities, and look forward to the novels, the screenplays, etc. that might begin to let the world see what we already know about trans issues. Someone will create believable trans characters, who are capable of letting our culture see how wrong the send-up has been; that who we are, what we are living with and the ways we are finding to get on with our lives are not something that needs to be hidden away, or snickered at.

How else can we hope to move the target to some other back than by creating some empathy and selling the truth that we are decent humans and have much to offer society?

It would be much appreciated if a flood of responses gave everyone a few hundred book and dvd titles to peruse and purchase and recommend to our friends and family for their edification. Let's start changing the world.

Hugs,

Halle

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A Book Review

In the last few weeks, a short story grabbed me by the throat and said, TELL ME OR ELSE! If I am lucky, this will not happen again any time soon; even better luck for you too, I expect ;-).  Anyway, enough preamble…

In the middle of that time when I was writing, the library called to inform me that a book I had requested had arrived: Annabel, by Kathleen Winter.

I loved it and therefore recommend it to you all.

Kathleen Winter has created a world perfect for the exploration of a set of issues dear to our hearts; a life that crosses gender boundaries. Her setting is a small Labrador village, where the inhabitants’  yearly cycle of hunting, fishing, birthing, etc. are predictable and ultimately mind-numbingly boring, and yet this book is neither of these.

Beginning with the birth of Wayne/Annabel, a true hermaphrodite, lives are turned upside down for a while, and then settle down as much as possible, with predictable and some not so predictable undercurrents.

Winter's portrayal of events in and around Wayne's life is sensitive, but the events themselves have a harsh ring of truth for those who have been under siege by gender conflict. The scenes of school and childhood peers are particularly well fleshed with believable, not stereotypical characters. I found myself caring about many of the people who inhabit this world.

Annabel is a story more than anything else about people and their ability to survive in situations that are harsh physically and psychologically. It is a book I will read again in the future, because I know there will be more insights in the retelling.

Annabel, a novel
by Kathleen Winter
Published this year by House of Anansi Press Inc.,
Toronto, Canada

Monday, 20 September 2010

Halle Visits The Boy - conclusion

(continued from part 2
There are theories in physics that suggest that we live in a multidimensional universe.  Imagine being able to see these universes multiplying every time we make a choice. Even the most basic of choices divide our life path in some way, sometimes in very major ways. In chaos theory it is called the ‘butterfly effect’.
In dreamtime, moving back along the visible trace that has been my life path, I see branches, hundreds at a time, thin as silk, coming in from different directions, and like a squirrel, I am moving down the branches of some sort of gossamer tree toward the ground.
At the point where I am about age eleven, I see a new branch has developed where one was never seen before. As though a force field exists, I am forbidden from following along that new branch or any branch that is not my life path. It must be that those branches hold a new me, where I went after the last encounter with my future self. It appears I will never know what became of that dear child whose life I touched in dreams.
Heading back upward toward the present, I see a place where the branching is slightly heavier (they are all heavy, but this is even more complex). Looking in, it becomes obvious this is the time at the end of high school. Here was the time when in my personal path, I resolved to become a ‘real man’, put away all of those childish fantasies and get on with life. It was the start of the great denial.
Moving down just a bit, I joined a dream the young man was having… then again, maybe a nightmare because where the boy had made a pristine high-rise with a view to die for, here was a dark warehouse.
One bare light bulb allowed me to see dozens of men who I knew at that time. Each of them seemed to be in the process of rehearsing lines; repeating the same words and gestures over and over. Most were clones of family members and friends from school who I had admired. Strangest of all, the fictional alien, Mr Spock from Startrek, was standing and looking about him in his very unemotional way.
Huddled in a corner was a child; no, not a child but an emaciated young woman who looked very much as the boy had looked. Her curly blond hair was a mess. As she looked up, it was obvious she recognized me, but she just sat there, staring at me, or maybe she was looking past me because behind me I heard a young man’s voice ask, “who are you?”
“You don’t recognize me?” I said as I ‘shape-shifted’ into my current façade and turned to face my younger self.
“Well, you look a bit like my grandfather who died last year.”
Dad’s father had been incapacitated by a stroke when I was five. I had never had a conversation with him, but yes, as a man of almost sixty, I guess my appearance is quite amazingly like his at that age. “You are getting warm." Moving closer I put my hand out to him and thought, 'here we go'. "I am you, or at least one of the many possible versions of you that inhabit the future. Think of me as a ‘future ghost’ if you like.”
“Man, that is so cool. What a great dream this is. You are just in time; maybe you can help me to sort things out here.”
“Quite an interesting collection of personalities you keep here, isn’t it.” It was a bit eerie the way all of those actors wondered about like zombies. “So, remind me, because it has been a while for me, what are they all about, from your point of view?” I already had a pretty good idea what he might say as these were members of the same tired cast that got put out of work when my new façade was getting built.
“Well, like everyone, I need to be able to handle any situation that comes up, you know, and act the way I should when stuff is happening.”
“So you think everyone has this sort of collection, eh” He nodded his 'yes' as I continued. “Maybe you could give me an example? What is Mr. Spock doing here?”
He looked pretty sheepish, then firmed up and almost blurted “Well, he is here because I get way too emotional sometimes and I’m afraid people will think I am a girl or something, so Mr. Spock is the most controlled personality I can draw on to help me act naturally.”
I almost snickered but then remembered that this was me, and that was what I honestly worried about at that time. “Act naturally? You think being like a fictional alien is better than being yourself when you start to get emotional?”
“Sure, it's way better.” He paused, reflected a bit, then continued. “So, you know how my plan to reinvent ourselves is going to work out. What should I do to improve it?”
Remembering what had happened and it's consequences, a plan started to form that might help turn this young man’s ship at least a few degrees off of collision course. “Hmm, maybe you could answer one more question first, O.K?”
He nodded.
“I’ve been looking around and I cannot help but wonder, because I know we have a pretty healthy sex drive; which one of these ‘actors’ is in charge of that?”
“None of them actually. I take care of the talking and thinking part myself. I have to keep control of it since the sort of things we enjoy are pretty weird; nobody would understand if they found out. The little boy behind you who I have mostly outgrown is the one who really enjoys sex. I am the one who understands how serious the consequences are, so I keep a lid on things.”
Here was the center of the problem in a nutshell. I remembered that I had actually believed that my most basic and primal needs were wrong and had thought I needed to suppress them. I had re-invented myself completely and because of initial successes had lived an outwardly ‘normal’ life. The inner drive slowly but inevitably re-emerged and nearly drove me insane as it made me think I was some sort of incurable deviant, living a secret double life.
“Dear boy, I cannot tell you what you should do, but I will tell you a few things I have found to be true. In time, soon in fact, you will find that there are only two good reasons for doing just about anything. Either it teaches you something, or it is fun to do. Anything else is necessary in order to be able to do those things. It is important for you to see that ‘little boy’ you speak of as your best friend; a fun-loving, adventurous half of your complex, wonderful personality. He, SHE in fact, sees the big picture, and knows what you really are, and what you really need.  Together you are an awesome person. Alone, as half a person, you will find misery. I know why you have brought in this collection of actors, but you really don’t need them if you have her.” 
He looked doubtfully at this old person telling him his existence over the last five years had been misguided. “I have been so lonely inside, trying to make things work. I was sure in order to become an adult what I needed to do was put away the childish ideas so I could be accepted as a strong, serious man; someone others could put their trust in.”
“You are strong and intelligent and reliable, but because you have never listened to that childlike voice you have never seen that having fun is not evil. Sex isn't just procreation. It is an essential part of being a whole person. What you need desperately is another human being with whom you can  share your sense of what is interesting and fun; a person to share a relationship of love and support . By re-inventing yourself, you are creating a wonderful, but phony person. You will use him to find a lover, yes, but that woman will love who you seem to be. She will share and support the goals you pretend to have. They won’t be far off the mark, but far enough, and the person you really are will gradually emerge from this denial you are contemplating. That real person will come as a surprise and will cause divisions within you and in your marriage too as you struggle to keep up appearances. Even if you survive, as my sweetie and I have done so far by great luck and hard work together, it will cost you and that wonderful, trusting lady dearly.”
Looking at me and smiling he said. "We find a soulmate?"
"Yes, she and I have had a wonderful life, but through the years, our relationship has had many rocky times because of my deception; the same deception you are now considering.
He looked past me at young Halle. “You say that child who keeps messing things up by his emotional behavior is important and you call him a girl? That can't be right. Girls don’t like sex and he loves sex and doesn’t take any of it seriously. I have to hide what he makes us want to do. We have had all kinds of close calls thanks to him.”
“Please accept what I say now on faith, because in time it will be confirmed by experience. Out there are lots of women who will think this little girl’s wildest fantasies are very tame. If you can become one person, and live true to yourself, you will attract like-minded women who will love your kind, caring nature as well as your ability to fantasize.” I looked back at my young Halle smiling at me as I spoke. “Don’t you dare shut her away. Learn to love your whole self, as you are.”
As I moved out of that dream, I could see the zombie-like actors blinking out, one by one, until only the young man and the young girl were still there. The scene seemed to brighten too; no longer the warehouse, but a place with vistas, all kinds of possibilities opening. As I pulled back out of the scene, I saw new branches, a myriad of them, appearing on my gossamer tree.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sometimes a Burden Needs To Be Shared

My sweetie has repeated many times that she sooo wishes we could go back to before I became aware of this ‘gift’ of mine, and decided I had to be honest and tell her what was going on. At the very least her life would be simpler if I had just continued to hide myself carefully and not bother revealing my ‘deception’. It makes no sense to me, this attitude she has, but it is how she feels, and you don't argue with feelings, you try to understand them. So I am working on being sensitive to the times she is willing to talk and the times when she is not.

I am unsure what secrets Carly Simon was referring to, or which lover had shared those secrets that she sometimes wished had never been shared in the name of honesty in a relationship, but I have always liked this song. The particular performance below is special in it’s own right. The performance is part of the video “ A Moonlight Serenade on the Queen Mary II.”

This video is dedicated to Mrs. H, and the rest of the sweeties out there who wish for the sake of honesty and the sake of what is fair we had just kept it all to ourselves.

Carly, her daughter Sally Taylor, and Vin "Vinny" D`Onofrio on acoustic guitar.

Nice.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Halle Visits The Boy - Part 2

continued from Part 1

As a child, I was always building models, and drawing plans for futuristic houses and apartments. I should have studied to become an architect, but took all the wrong courses in school, then got interested in other things.

The view out the window screamed 1960’s Futurama with high-rise buildings and monorails joining them; people walking around down below on open concourses. It was his dreamscape and I was in it. The apartment furnished with white smooth leather, armless chairs and couches. With all of the teak it should have smelled, but of course, this was a dream and there was my eleven year old self, running toward me in it.  

“Halle! You found my apartment in the city I imagined you living in!”

“Wow! You have some wonderful ideas here sweetie. Everything has such clean sharp lines and I love the layout of this apartment! But no cars?”

“Nope, in the future the car will be gone, replaced by public transit and high speed rail service. I think so anyway. Wait a minute, you can tell me all about it, can’t you?”

“No my dear child self, I can’t tell you what your future will be like.”

“Is it against the time-travel rules or something?”

Sitting and tucking my feet under me on his comfy-looking couch I tried to let him down softly. “No, it is more like ‘I don’t know’. In my world, it really hasn’t changed that much from your time; just way more cars and even taller buildings and lots of suburbs. You see, every choice you and everyone else makes in your time changes the way the future goes”. He sat down across from me, taking me and everything I said in. “I wish it was possible to tell you what you or your future world will be like, but you are not likely to be the person who I was, just because I am here telling you about it. You see, nobody from the future ever visited me when I was your age, as much as I wish it could have happened.”

“Oh Halle” he seemed so happy it melted me, “I had hoped that by making this future world in my dream it might bring you back, and here you are. You said before you know all about me. If that is true, then you can tell me what I should do, you know, about how much I hate being who I am.”

I so wished to find a way to tell him everything possible, but I knew it had to be short, and simple for it to stick after he woke. “You hate yourself that much?”

“Nobody understands Halle. I have to hide everything; you know, right?”

“Yes, I remember how much we wanted to tell someone, but knew nobody would understand. I know you think you are the only person in the world who is a boy and wants to do everything the girls do, but have the wrong body. Everyone makes fun of you even when you try your best to be who they want.”

“I can’t be a girl. That’s impossible; I know that. I just wish I could find out how I can be me… or who the real me is… it is so confusing sometimes and going back to school is the worst part, with bullies and boring teachers and having to watch the girls in their short dresses and heels. Why do I want to be like them Halle?” He was so desperately unhappy.

“You can’t change yourself sweetie, and it isn’t your fault, any of it. That is the most important thing you have to know. You need to trust that you are a really wonderful person. Nothing about you is wrong or bad and the way you feel is something others do share; not many, but there are others. You need to trust Gran enough to tell her how you feel.”

“I can’t tell Gran! She’ll be so angry.”

“If she does get angry, it will be because she thinks she has done something wrong bringing you up.”

“Like when we moved away from the last place so I couldn’t hang out with Heather any more. I heard her and Grandpa talking about how worried they were about me becoming a homosexual because I liked playing with girls all the time. If I tell them about this they'll put me in a military school or worse.”

I remembered how bad all of it had been. What could I tell him to help him get through the next few years without hating himself so much? His desperation was contagious, like falling down a black hole. That mental suggestion was enough to start the dreamscape crumbling away in front of me; his beautiful world coming apart, like his life seemed to be.

I called out to him, “Trust her! She loves you and when she knows how serious you are and that it isn’t anything she has done, she will do anything she has to do to make you safe and happy…. Trust her!”

He was waking up and I was left wondering if anything I or anyone might say could help him. I wondered if what we had shared in dreamtime might move him away from the terrible loneliness and pitfalls I remembered from the next few years of his life.

If I meet him again, will I recognize myself? I hope not.

(Concluded in part 3)