There are so many familiar stories in this strange and wonderful land of Blogistan that fairly early on, I actually believed eventually I would find 'the answer' to my particular set of questions. After some time and soul-searching, it dawned on me that we must plot our own course; nobody will or should do that for you.
Of all the bloggers I have met, Calie comes the closest to saying the things that are in my heart. In her most recent post, she set out what she calls a 'disclaimer' that I completely share:
"I have not begun to transition. I have never been on hormones. I rarely crossdress. I'm transgender."
There are those who will deride one who says they can actually make a choice about transition. They warn that when your bell rings, there is nothing you can do; you will transition or die trying. That is a fearful image. It is one I cannot reject. I really do not know how bad anothers pain is. I cannot even quantify my own terrible distraction that comes with my condition. I can tell you about the other symptoms that have abated because I am still in control of myself and have accepted that the need to continually work on this is part of who I am. There is a better person here, still living as a man. I may or may not be the best I can be. I take my life day by day.
In the same post Calie explains how strong the drive can be to transition; "the feeling … can be over-powering, unbearable, and overwhelming. It can dominate your thoughts and time, and completely destroy your life if you don't take steps to deal with it."
No matter what I am doing, no matter how engaged I am in that activity, the fog follows. Sometimes it almost clears for periods of time. Those times I have learned to take careful note of what has given me that respite.
In a much earlier post, Calie described her TIDE discipline, a strategy that helps her continue to live as a man when every inclination says otherwise.
The easy parts of TIDE for me are "D - diet and eat right", and "I - immerse myself in work and hobbies." Less effective for me is the "E- exercise and stay healthy" because of a life-long dislike for exercise for its own sake. I enjoy some healthy activities; walking or snow-shoeing, golfing, curling for examples. Unfortunately, these are not vigorous enough to distract me completely, but they help. In fact, sometimes it is very distracting when groups of women are involved in the same activity and I feel the disconnect from my natural desire to be 'one of the women' that comes from having to act like 'one of the men'.
The first letter of TIDE, "T - Trans friends who understand me" has so far had mixed benefits for me. On-line I could not ask for better friends (you all know who you are! )In order to spend time with non-virtual trans-friends, it is necessary to find and make contact with them. Our nearest population center is a very small town where my male side is pretty well known. The risks are just too high to send out an open invitation.
One invitation to join a correspondent (and now fellow blogger) and her friend was squandered last year because of my reluctance to drive for three hours. I have wished many times that I had simply made that long drive just to benefit from truly getting to know and to be with her, someone who I would immediately understand, and who would understand me. I know that such an opportunity will not be wasted again. We all need to support one another, and learn from one another. Besides that, I believe life should include fun, and so far there has been way too little pleasure from this part of my life.
As Calie suggested, "pure will-power" is definitely part of the way I live one day at a time. It would be wonderful if the list of useful strategies to combat that strong drive to transition was longer. You can be sure I will add to it and share it here if and when I can.