"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 - -

Sunday, 30 January 2011

A Stronger Internal Image

It may not work for others here, but it seems to me that what goes on between my ears is way more important than what clothes I wear. Without adding to a divisive discussion (please), I understand there are wide differences in our motivations, and what in fact 'turns our crank' here in Blogistan. I enjoy reading about yours, so perhaps some more insight into mine won't hurt; nobody expects you to nod and say “oh yes, that is exactly the way I feel too” on every occasion (although it is surprising how many times while I read, some part of what is conveyed feels very familiar).

To begin today's ramble, a short tour down memory lane: 

I was a splay-footed sloucher with nails bitten down to nubs, and cuticles that often bled. I must have looked a wreck. I was told in nasty, pestering voices “don't slouch”, “stop picking at your fingers”, “quit biting your nails”, “point your feet forward when you walk” and a myriad of other critical admonishments. I would think; "Why won't they leave me alone! It's my body and not theirs." I didn't care about 'superficial' things like my appearance. Hatred of my body knew no bounds. It went on for years, ending only since I stopped suppressing my true feelings about who I am.

What was missing was any kind of positive self-image to live up to. The way I saw myself in the world was not something to work toward, but to be avoided.

Fast-forward to the present. Taking care of myself is just part of who I am. Now and then I backslide and catch myself slouching or find myself about to attempt a nail repair with my teeth. I remind myself that a nail-file does a much better job. I pull in my tummy and put my shoulders back. The change has to do with an internal image of myself that I really like and want to live up to.

A new influence in my positive self-image arrived a little over a week ago. An opportunity to buy some hair, and fill out the wardrobe with some jewelry and create a 'look' for myself presented itself in the form of my sweetie on holiday (my own version of 'Home Alone' I suppose. LOL).

Skipping over the boring details, I had a chance to see what I look like; a 'mature, but hopefully somewhat stylish woman', top to bottom.
It gave me a chuckle to see how much I resemble my great aunt and great-grandmother at the same age. Looks really do skip the generations! LOL

The glow from that experience is with me now; sitting here in everyday drab, comfy clothing. I can replay the feelings it brought, and especially how comfortable and natural it felt. The experience has confirmed that taking pride in one's appearance only comes naturally for someone who likes who they are. That is a very nice turn of events. What next? Time will tell; it is not a concern at the moment.

By ignoring the demands of society to conform; now dressing in gender-inappropriate clothing and feeling good about myself for once in my life, suddenly I don't need any help with these 'superficial' things that my parents pestered about. More important than that; I do not feel like a visitor in my body anymore. More even than that, I have time and interest in others and their lives.

All of this, just because I like who I am and who I am becoming; taking things a little at a time. “Baby steps” is working very nicely; not worrying as much about the future, and not sweating the past. It has become possible to really know that who I am is truly between my ears. Today, that feels right to me, and what else matters?

Hugs,

Halle

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Keeping That Mind Open

Today, as usual, I am finding that reading other people's work is inspiring me to think deeply.

In an earlier post, I admitted my ignorance on the topic of sexuality within the trans community as a whole. Like others of my kind, I had been convinced that my sexual preference for women is one that would persist if I was to transition. Not only that, but many I have read seem to be convinced that, at the 'core' of their being, they are already where they will be after transition. Somehow, we are convinced that our body will change with hormone treatment and surgery, but that mind of ours... it is solid as a rock; fully formed and unchanging.

Talk about naive, and to prove it, there is nothing like the testimony of those who have been there, and done it.

For example, Alexandra Young, recently featured at T-Central, has posted “Love and Sexuality” today over at “A Journey With Alex.” in which she wades into this topic. Here are a couple of excerpts:

“...I can hold my hand to my heart and say I never once fancied or strayed through experimentation to being with any man on a sexual basis. The desire or need just wasn't there.”

“...Transpeople can indeed adopt any sexuality they so desire, and no one should ever assume that such sexuality will remain as a constant.”

She then goes on to describe in great detail her proof of that statement.

I have learned so much here in Blogistan (so much like Wonderland for this Alice), and perhaps the most important understanding; keep an open mind, even when doing so scares the begeebers out of me. There is no other sane way. For a good read and a reality check, please head over to Alex's post.

Thursday, January 27: As an addendum to this, and for another personal testimony on the topic, see Teagan's post "An Unexpected Change".

Sunday, 23 January 2011

These Aren't The Droids...

I am retired from my career, but that doesn't mean doing nothing. The fact is that around here anyway, all of the 'retired' people who we hang out with agree; we have never been busier! The difference is how we chose the committees and projects to be involved in. (apologies ahead of time to the grammar police; awkward sentence structure is something up with which I will not put).

Mrs. H is away for a few days, so duties which have traditionally been hers (because that is how she likes it) have become mine. The situation has been perfect for my gradual movement toward understanding myself as one who comfortably crosses traditional gender roles. It was always that way as a youth, learning how to do everything that needed to be done around the house and doing it very happily.

A few days ago I hosted a small dinner party for two couples who I volunteer with. Looking back on that day, the preparation of the house; cleaning and disinfecting the washrooms, dusting, vacuuming, setting the dinner table and preparing the meal (mostly done ahead), I really had fun. I was, of course in drab for their visit. None of these people have a clue (at least I don't think they do) about my gender issues. During that day, neither did I. For a whole day, I was just 'me'. I would have acted the same no matter what clothing I had laid out and worn. Since it was casual, the clothing probably wouldn't have been too different anyway; 'Sunday-go-meeting' jeans and a nice sweater (jumper?... “I didn't jump or sweat” lol) was pretty androgynous, and comfortable.

None of my 'cloned male stereotypes' showed up for the party. Yay! :)

The title reference is me wondering if maybe Jedi Halle is playing little mind tricks on us; just be yourself she is saying. Her strategy works out well more and more often. That is all I can ask really. One day at a time.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Is To Forgive

So I asks myself... "self" says I, "what in the world was that all about? I mean, yah, sure, but, so??"

'That' is, of course, the previous post. A nice little number about understanding and getting along, and not judging others.. blah, blah.. what did I need that for? I puzzled and puzzled, because you know it just pushed its way forward, that post did, as though I needed it somehow. It persuaded me to hit [PUBLISH POST] really quickly, then told me "go away now; finish shoveling that snow".

Now, later in the day, it dawns on me. That post is an answer to a question I have been asking myself ever since I started to feel accepting of myself male & female. Back in April, I wanted the war to end. The reason it ended, and now the reason I am not hating myself, is about me becoming more human toward myself. It is about me forgiving myself for a lifetime as a bigot toward my own kind.

Because I grew up in a very multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religion setting, it has always puzzled me when people would talk hate about a whole group of people. Didn't they know that you wait until you get to know someone before you decide if you like them or not? So I met Christians who I liked and some I didn't, and Jewish people the same, and Asians, ditto... all the way down the line... and learned by example that people should not be labelled by their appearance or the church they attend or how they have sex in their bedroom, or anything else. I grew up with that. Easy for me.

What I never grew up knowing about was gender confusion. That was just something I had; nobody else knew about my feelings (no way I was going to tell them that weird stuff), and as far as I knew until very recently, nobody else went through what I did (they weren't talking about it either). The only people who had changed their gender were generally treated with scorn. I was taught that men who wore woman's clothing were dangerous. It never occurred to me to see that in the same light as hating every (choose your label) person. After all, these gender swapping types had a choice, didn't they? What was I thinking? In my heart I wanted that too. How did I get convinced that I and they were both deviant and that was that? I have grown and changed. I apologize to myself and all of you for being taken in so easily.

Facilitating that change was, (guess what!?) meeting (electronically and otherwise) people who wear the labels "crossdresser", "transgender", "transsexual" and "woman of a certain history". I have even met others who like myself do not know what label to put on, even though we obviously fit somewhere in that continuum. Some I did not like. Some I liked a lot. Many have become my friends. They (we) are people. Why would I hate someone before I get to know them?

So, thanks to the previous post, I have now remembered the reason the war started, and why it is now over. I was hating myself because I was 'other'. I had labeled my feminine side "destructive" and refused to get to know her.

I have met and really got to know my feminine side. I like her a lot. And by the way, I have got to know the new male side a bit, and I like him too, just not as much; there is still lots to fix. He is a work in progress! I have all of you and your example to thank for teaching me what I should have known all along. This is part of who I am,  and I shouldn't have to apologize for what or who I am, just for how I conduct myself.

What really scares me however is the next step in this self-improvement project; give the rest of the world, family and friends included, the same credit I give myself, most of the time. I need to expect them to be open-minded and let them get to know me; the true me.

To Be Human

Demonstrating what it means to be a human being is not something we think about regularly, unless you are special (like me). We all know what special means, don't we? :)

This one might seem a bit 'preachy' so please forgive me. It's my blog, and the only 'trans' thing on my mind today is 'transformation' of the way we act toward each other, and that means me too.

Dave Marinaccio wrote a book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek". My copy seems to have been borrowed, or lost. At any rate, it was a good read, and I definitely subscribe to that sentiment in the title. This television program of the 1960's took us into situations that were often illuminating of the human condition. Those who loved the program and its many reincarnations will have there own examples, which I will enjoy reading in the comment section if you would care to share them, but I digress.

In one episode, Kirk finds himself in the position of having to justify humanities' cruelties of the past. He is a 'civilized' version of humanity, because, as he says, and I paraphrase "we can decide that today we will not fight each other. We could hate the person we do not understand, but we decide, that, today, we will be loving and accepting."

It is important to acknowledge that in our gene pool there are survival techniques that are no longer appropriate for a modern civilized humanity. Inviting a stranger into your camp was not necessarily a good idea when we were hunter-gatherers and food was scarce. Our ancestors learned to overcome that prejudice and a new tradition was created; hospitality, a value entrenched in most mainstream religions.

That same prejudice against the 'stranger' persists however in various incarnations. It is we and they, over and over. As a theme of repression and ignorance it persists. Today it manifests in so many ways that as a race we should be ashamed, and yet, seemingly intelligent people will stand on street corners, radio and television programs and on the 'net and spew hatred at those who are not like them. Seemingly caring people will refused to listen to another's point of view, choosing to turn to name calling to justify their own inability to be truly human. Many will even imagine that their 'God of Love' is telling them to do these hateful things. They will do this in spite of the teachings in the holy writings of their religion to love the 'stranger'.

Imagine.

We have a choice every day. We need to consciously make that choice daily to not fight each other, to find a way to be a good example of humanity, even when we don't think someone is watching.

I intend to find ways to be human every day for the rest of my life.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Finding Optimism

I used to spend a lot of my time looking for the reason why this thing was happening to me, and looking for someone to blame for it. Like so many (if we can believe the trans-fiction that is out there), I dreamt of someone magically coming and fixing me up, or taking me and forcing me to become who I secretly dreamt of being. More on this another time.

What I have found, is that there is more pleasure in taking charge of my own life, and believing that nothing about it is random and wrong. As hard as it might seem, I am convinced that I already am the person I need to be in order to find happiness. That is not to say I am perfect; there is lots of growth left in this soul.

This morning, Natasha has written a post she calls “Karmic Curveballs”. In it, she notes “I have found life most interesting when everything I expected of it suddenly shifts.” You might want to read it all then (please) come back. I was going to leave a comment there, but then I found the associated ideas getting bigger and bigger in my brain... and realized, that is no comment; it's a post! Thanks 'Tasha! :)

First let me say (or remind you, if you have been here a lot), I am a rationalist. I believe in things that I can see or feel, and I do not accept supernatural explanations for any of the things I believe. I do wonder sometimes just how complex my interaction with the rest of the universe is. When challenges start to come my way (not just trans related), I find that when I try to avoid them, other challenges arrive that are similar in nature. Soon, I usually notice a pattern developing, and realize that I am drawing these challenges to myself because there is some lesson I really need. Once I take them on, they stop arriving. New challenges take their place.

One of the people who influenced my thinking when I was in my thirties and forties (a while ago, I am afraid) is Richard Bach. Look up – look way up...(my Canadian readers will remember the source of that one) and you will find my all-time favourite Bach quote. Here is another, apropos to today's topic:

There are no mistakes. The events you bring upon yourself, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary to learn what you need to know.”*

and another,

You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you have nothing to learn from them.”*

I will never know if things really do happen for a reason; if you and I have been drawn together to share these ideas, or maybe it is all just random and meaningless.

I choose to believe that my life and its challenges are meaningful.

I will continue to swing at the curveballs because once you have done it for a while, it becomes a source of learning and fun to do so.

I will not hate this life, or its challenges. I will embrace them, and that will give me the power to be optimistic, and ultimately, happy.

*Messiah's Handbook – Copyright 2004, Richard Bach, Hampton Roads Publishing Company.  

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Something Has Changed

Something has changed in my internal landscape; hard to figure out why, but the what is easy.

At the time I started blogging, my attitude toward 'dressing' was very serious. It was serious enough that I wrote a post: “This Girl's Guy Won't Do Drag “, in which I pointed out the reasons that I couldn't imagine dressing up for a charity as a woman. Basically, making fun of women bothered me. I also worried that if I did that, my sweetie would not believe that “my feminine nature deserved a proper outlet”. At the time, I felt confused by my own reaction. It might have been the seed of the change since making me uncertain of those feelings.

So, what is different now? I still want my wife to know that I don't intend to embarrass her or myself when I am out as Halle (which still has not happened; let's remember I have taken a 'baby steps' approach to this). When I dress at home, it is hardly anything over the top. I have a pair of beige jeans, some classy pinstripe slacks, a pencil skirt, three sweaters and a nice blouse. I have a pair of flats and a pair of slingbacks (they are a bit sexy, I guess) and some jewellery. I've tried to indulge my love of colour with the sweaters and top, and some coloured hosiery too.

I know what some of you are asking; 'where are the photos?'. Be patient please. I am very shy! :)

Anyway, it occurred to me very recently (actually today, and that is why this post) that if somebody suggested a bunch of us dress up as 'French Maids', or whatever silliness might come up, it would not really bother me. It seems that since last April, something inside me has changed. Dressing was never about fetish for me, but I seemed to have a 'reverse bias' that has melted since then, replaced by a calmer, more relaxed person who says; “Why not? Let's have some fun.”

Never say never, I guess. I still wonder; why the change?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Balancing The Presentation

Trying to find balance is not easy for anyone, and we all need to do it. In our case, nothing about 'life gone trans' is easy, is it?

Diana, over at Salad Bingo has a very positive post reflecting on her new life, four months into her 'real life test'. One paragraph from that post stands out for me, as I attempt (in vain at times) to wean myself from the façade to the outward presentation of an authentic version of who I really am; a genetic male with lots of 'female' working in the background.

I don’t believe I’m exaggerating by saying I wouldn’t know how to present myself that way.. (as a man) any more. Most who knew me before have a hard time understanding this, but it never came naturally. I maintained it by rigid adherence to a set of habits. Don’t use your hands this way. Don’t walk that way. Don’t use that word. When you’re uncertain how you’re being perceived, do this. Stand like this. Pretend to be interested in those things. Ignore these other things. Feign distaste for that. Act aloof. Pretend not to notice emotions. Pretend not to care. Etc. etc. ad infinitum.

Since the beginning of the holiday season, let's say mid-December, I have allowed one of my old phony personalities back into action. It happened first by accident. I noticed it, and hated myself for it, but 'he' got me through a difficult afternoon and evening, so I let him back in. He has been back several times since.

It is like having an 'out-of-body' experience I would guess (never having actually experienced such a thing). I watch myself talk, and use my hands that way, and walk that way, and so on... and I hate it, but I do it, because the alternative is not working well yet; not well enough to be sustained in a crowd that has known me for a long time.

I hate this; it is like not really existing. But what can I do? Being a man by relying on my 'cloned males' is what I have done for so long, and being a woman is not really an option. Being someone in-between is a work in progress. What if .... let's not go there, for now.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Self-Acceptance Runs Amok!

Arms on her hips, staring down at the scales, groaning from their encounter with 'Mr. Bulky', she exclaims “I come back after a couple of weeks and what do I find? Bulges where I left a nice flat landscape, that is what. Time for a bit of discipline boy, before we end up looking like a old man, of all things!”

Yes friends, she is a bit peeved at me, my female half is, for a certain lack of concern for the shared 'digs' we occupy here in the land of Halle. I don't blame her. Over the holidays I have been 'making rather merry' and put on a bit over five pounds (2.5 kilos for my international friends) while visiting and hosting and generally forgetting that 'a moment on the lips makes a lifetime on the hips'!

As anyone over the age of forty will testify, it takes months of care to undo a couple of weeks of carelessness. Too late to whine; time to get back to a disciplined way of living. Good sensible portions, lots of water and exercise.

Move over 'slimzilla', I am coming to visit! :-)

Hugs,

Halle