Book Three:

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Skinned Alive
by Melanie Anne

Part One: Innocence Lost

Chapter 53

The Unkindest Cut of All

Author's Note: If there is a cardinal rule in the writing trade it would be, "Never insult your audience." Unfortunately, in the following section that is exactly what I do. At the time the next passage was written, I was entering a particularly deep chasm in my journey. I was feeling "Skinned Alive" by all of the directions in which I felt pulled. I felt as if I were losing control of my own life in the favor of others.

As a result, I lashed out at my own readers (you folk) with all of my penned up vehemence. If I felt I could, I would simply edit this out. But to do so would remove a vital link in the chain of growth I experienced, invalidating all that follows. Since I believe that, in the long run, only the truth offers a way out of the prisons in which we shackle ourselves, I'm leaving the original material unedited, but preceding it with this apology to my readers in advance.

I recognize that many of my readers are, themselves, at a crucial period in their lives. They are sensitive souls who might be sorely hurt by harsh words directed at them from someone they have come to rely on for support. Rest assured, my feelings changed after I got the words out on paper, which is why I continue to publish the remaining chapters of my diary and maintain a transgender web site at http://heartcorps.com/journeys/ where hundreds of pages of support resources are available to the community.

October 28, 1995

I hope this is the shitiest work I've ever produced. I'm getting damn tired of feeling like the whole world is hanging on every fucking word. Writing, for me, is a way of puking my guts up to get rid of a sour stomach, and it doesn't seem right that a hoard of others should be lapping it up as soon as it hits the ground.

So, killing off the pressure that has plagued me of late and forced me into a melancholy of non-productivity and aimless worry, I'll continue on my own terms: not for you - yes, I mean you personally - but simply for me, and if you like eating shit, please read on.

You know, I never wanted to get all these letters. Why I ever put my Email address up on the internet, I'll never know. Perhaps I was still lusting after glory in those days. Chris was the one who wanted anonymity, and I wanted the spotlight. Now I'm yearning for the hermit's life so much that I stopped the pendulum of my ticking clock today because it boxed me in.

All I really wanted, I suppose, was to rip the pain out of my heart and throw it to the winds. But pain has a way of coming back like a boomerang, so I needed to make it stick somewhere else. That's why I publish. But then, the worst thing of all: instead of feeling as miserable as I did, scores of people I did not know began to write me, telling me that my words had solved their problems, opened doors, filled them with hope. What a mess!!!

They admired me, adored me, idolized me, and said so in long and tedious letters. Now, I suppose every celebrity has to contend with such adoring fans, but my God! You know what that kind of burden does to a human being?

Oh, I don't hate you. No, I just want to be left alone. I don't enjoy hearing all your life stories - I've got my own. And just because you fell in love with mine doesn't mean I give a damn about yours. I never read biographies. I just write them.

So do me a favor. If my words have moved you, keep it to yourself. Or, if you absolutely MUST tell me how much impact I've had on your life, send me Email in 25 words or less: "You could have been talking about my life! There are so many similarities. I thought I was alone. Now I have hope. Yours truly, XXXXX." That would do it. And don't expect a reply.

Someday I'll be rich enough to hire someone to send you my regards. Like a television minister I'll pray over the hard drive containing your fan mail, sanctify the text of my form reply, and go camping while some poor peon returns each little replicated "thank you sir or ma'am as the case may be" back to its point of origin.

Now that brings a tear of joy to my wicked little heart.

Which brings up my boobs (though they tend to bring themselves up these days). They ache, and it's almost a month since surgery. I still can't lift anything heavier than a milk carton, and they firm up at night so that its a grand agony to rise in the morning.

And the house which is STILL a mess! God, I hate a mess! All these Christmas catalogs building up - taking up space, taunting me with offers of goodies too wonderful to simply throw away, yet too time consuming to select and order.

And what about that person who's supposed to be in bed with me? He missed his cue. Mary's in the back room, and I sleep alone on my day bed in the living room/bedroom, just like I did when I was 12, dreaming of companionship. Yes, that's it, companionship! Lord, how many of you muffins would love to be my companion? Oh, please, Melanie, PLEASE, let me be the one!!!

Fat chance.

Gender - I'm really beginning to hate that word. How can you find a life under its shadow? There is no way I will hitch my wagon to anybody who's even heard of the word, much less spoken it. No, I don't want no busman's holiday. I want a REAL relationship with someone who suffers from a completely different kind of mental problem (for after all, we all have them - one sort or another).

I wish my house would blow up. I wish Screenplay Systems would burn down. I wish the stock market would crash, the animals revolt, and an asteroid hit the earth. Then maybe I could get some sleep.

I cried for an hour last weekend because my breasts are too large. I just wanted to be normally rounded and ended up way too big for that. So, once again: every cross-dresser's fantasy, every transsexual's dream, and stuck again way out front unable to blend into the crowd and trapped forever in the spotlight that chases me everywhere I run. And they call me a luminary!

And then there's this gender group all the way 'cross the country in Boston that wants to pay my plane fare and room to fly out and speak to them in January. Do I want to go? What do you think? (You still here?)

Problem is, I can't think of anything else I want to do either. What happened to fun? When did I lose it? I seem to recall that I used to have fun, but I can't recall how or in regard to what. Happiness, oh, I've got that! I'm SO damned happy! I'm just not having any fun.

Everywhere I go in life, I end up leading. Leading can be fun, but not when its the only position you can accept. Isn't there some ground somewhere between dictator and slave? What about collaboration or friendship? What about suggestions and acceptance? I want some help. I want some co-operation. I'm tired of ramroding everything through by sheer force of personality. Isn't there anybody going MY way (who isn't gender)? Isn't there anybody who's way I'm going?

Well, my angst is gone, it truly is. No longer do I peer into myself with longing or sadness. No, now I look outward at my situation and get pissed.

November 3, 1995

Yesterday I cried again. It came on in a funny way. I was feeling absolutely tip top when I decided to get dressed for work. Full of humor and good will, I cracked my closet door and peered inside to find... nothing. Not one item of clothing I could wear that was not dirty, showed the elastic strap that holds my boobs in check, or didn't make me look like a drag queen with blow-em-up tits.

So, I cried. It came in waves, but each wave was progressively stronger. Finally, in desperation (make it stop!), I called my doctor's office and spoke with the sympathetic nurse who treated me with compassion whenever I had an appointment (she's the one who used tweezers to snag all the dried blood and mucus out of my nostrils when my nose cast came off). Sheryl.

I spoke to Sheryl and really dumped on her. Through sobs and wails, I painted a panorama of my heartache: that my boobs were at least a cup size too large, that I felt like a freak, that I was intimidated by the doctor so I never told him, that I just wanted to fit in as one of the girls and now would always stand out in the crowd.

She tried her best to soothe me, and spoke of the six months to a year of additional shaping that will occur as the muscle stretches and the boobs settle. But I wasn't concerned with shape - just the industrial strength size with which I am now shackled. Still, she did calm me a bit, but I knew, as I hung up, that I had unnerved her.

By now I was nearly an hour late for work. I have this great job, see, where I am the chief theorist of this new model of psychology that no one else understands, and it forms the basis for the best selling products in the company, accounting for over 1/3 of the gross revenues which will rise to over fifty percent by the end of next year. I'm manager of my department (Director of Research and Development), my closest male friend is the company V.P. (Chris), and so I pretty much come and go as I please, since Chris realizes that my high-strung nature is not only pain in the neck but also the source of my inspiration. Try to box me in and you kill the golden goose. And also, Chris is a true friend and let's me get away with murder if it will help resolve my emotional crises.

So, in short, I was an hour late, but it didn't really matter a damn.

Still, I felt I should call Chris, as he has requested I do, so I did. As soon as he answered the phone, I burst into tears. I sobbed and whimpered and told him all the same things I told Sheryl. Chris was also supportive and did his best to calm me down. (Ain't I a pest?)

When I got to work, I threw myself into the tasks at hand - primarily, writing a criticism of the motion picture "Just Cause" (with Sean Connery) for our story theory Journal newsletter. Suddenly, it's lunch time. Chris and Steve and I go out to the Chinese spread and, over soup, I tell them both my tale of woe.

Steve, being the linear thinker he is, gave me sage advice as to exactly what I should do and how I should do it. Chris, realizing I didn't want solutions or answers but support and guidance, provided both. What it came down to was my continuing relationship with the gender community. (What a surprise!)

For a long time, Chris has felt I should not be involved with the community any more, and also that I should move out from living with Mary. Well, of course he's right, but that is no reason for proceeding, as you can no doubt attest from emotion-driven situations in your own life.

But this time, I have been grieving over the invitation to speak in Boston. I won't even remunerate all the different concerns that fly through my mind whenever the subject comes up. Suffice it to say that I was confused about the whole issue, and couldn't get a handle on it.

The overall impact of lunch was to draw all that seething pus to the surface where, if I was lucky, it might be lanced.

When I returned from lunch, Mary (not my Mary, but another Mary who works for me at SSI) needed to use my computer, as hers was out of commission. While we were working in the same room, I started to share my present concerns with her. It was so strange: she tuned into my feelings and I could tell she actually understood what I was experiencing. This was something I had never felt with Chris, Steve, or any of the other male friends I have.

I would express some aspect of what I was going through, and when I would finish, Mary would call up similar issues she had had. There were two parallel considerations flowing through my mind. One, I was amazed at how much good it did me simply to know that another human being truly knew what my heart was doing to me, and two, I began to formulate the notion that men simply cannot relate to me in that way.

As I look back over that brief encounter now, I see a duplicate relationship with both my Mary's at that level. Each of them has connected with me in emotional ways I could not truly explain to any man. Perhaps that is why I fell in love with my Mary in the first place: not because we were all that compatible, but because she was somehow able to relate with me as she would a woman, rather than a man. Maybe what I have been calling my love of Mary was simply the normal empathic connection between women that I had not previously enjoyed as a man. I always had the capacity, but only my Mary tuned into my true nature and bridged that gap.

Women learn at an early age that men cannot join in such experiential progressions, and cease trying to reach them in that way. So, none of them threw me the rope until my Mary. For her, it must have been quite wonderful to have a man who COULD share such things, but in truth, she was only having a friendship with another woman. This is likely why she never did respond to me in the way I thought a wife should. Continuing this line of thought, since I was almost the only male companion my Mary ever had, I suspect she still does not know the true joy of being with a man who thinks like a man. Sure, they can be incredibly insensitive and frustrating, but there is something magical about them when they see into dark areas we cannot and pull together slippery elements that elude us altogether.

After speaking with Work Mary, I went downstairs for coffee. As I passed Aline's office, I stopped and came back. I stepped inside and began a simple conversation, asking her if she ever felt lonely, separated as she was from the rest of her department by a vacant office. She replied in the affirmative, and we shared several feelings before I returned to my coffee path.

As I poured the cup, new concepts began to clarify. I had just enjoyed with Aline the same kind of rapport I had with Work Mary and my Mary. This was not love. This was not rare. This was the common language among women. Why had I not seen it before? Where was my mind?

What Chris and Work Mary had said blended together and a new view emerged. Chris had told me on the phone that morning that he thought the breast issue was not really the problem. I told him I was sure it was. Wrong again! (I should learn to listen to this guy: he's seldom wrong.) This new view convinced me that I have been playing to an audience of men. Everything I have written in my diary up to this very point has been designed to relate to the male mind.

Why would I do such a thing? To win their approval! You see, I had not stopped thinking of men as "us".

Long ago, Chris and I discovered that one could not become simply by being like someone else, but must also NOT be like they aren't. In other words, to be whatever it is you wish to be, you must do what they do and think what they think, but must also NOT do what they don't do and NOT think what they don't think.

So, I had grown far enough to think of women as "us", but had not given up thinking of men as "us". As a result, the whole of humanity became my peer group, and I became a personality without a country. Women do not think of men as "us", so that separated me from them. Men certainly do no think of women as "us", to that kicked me out of that camp as well. Man, was I alone!

To overcome this, I tried achieving success. I achieved it. No effect on the problem. I tried adjusting my life and career so I only did things I enjoyed doing. I adjusted it all. Still no effect. Finally, almost in desperation, I picked up where I left off in my sex change and had my body further altered to be as female as I could be. I am. And still the problem is at large.

All the work I did in the gender community was to win the compassion of others who lived 'twixt heaven and earth. They adored me. They cherished me. They loved me from afar.

I could not have a true relationship in a one on one situation, for I did not know who I should be. I did not know who was "us" and who was "them". So, I developed relationships in isolation: posted my writings all over America On-line and the World Wide Web. I created video tapes on how to speak femininely and sold over one thousand copies all over the world. I was the featured speaker at gender support group meetings and national gender conventions, and all of this to win the approval of men.

Why only men? Because I've never ever been treated by ANY woman as anything but one of them. Not from the first moment I began transition. Men, on the other hand, have always had trouble coming to terms with me. On the one hand, what they see before them attracts them, but on the other, they know where from I came. Their logistic minds cannot rectify the two views, so they avoid me. (Unless they are enlightened seekers of knowledge, or don't know about my past).

This all goes back to basic Mental Relativity theory. Men think spatially, women think temporally. As I have written in much more detail elsewhere, we all have a sense of time and space, but which one gets first crack at considerations (or which one is the style in which considerations are framed) is different between the two sexes.

Although both time and space sense are internal phenomena, space sense tends to look outward and time sense tends to look inward. It is the space sensitive nature of men that leads them to be more linear, to see things in a binary or definitive state, and to classify things by like physical nature. So, to them, the Melanie that they see is clearly a woman, no argument. But men are also linear, meaning that they look more toward the past, present, and future as all being part of what something is. History is more important to men, which is why male laws put murderers behind bars yet women often fall in love with such men because they believe they have changed. Men look at who Melanie is and who she was and the two don't jive. Under such conditions, how can they determine who she will be in the future? I leave them in a quandary, and they keep their distance rather than becoming lost in the mobius loop of a dilemma.

This, then, is the audience to whom I have been playing. Because I wanted to be accepted by my peers, but I saw all humanity as my peers, I was trapped in the very mobius loop I was trying to disrupt. There simply is no way at all that I am ever going to be able to express my feelings about who I truly am in a way that will overcome the disparity that makes men classify me as an enigma, neither male nor female. Yet, even trying is not neutral, but has done me damage (if that is the audience I wish to reach). For if I had published nothing and spoken never about my past, there would be no support of that perspective, even if my past were known as a simple fact. And in that scenario, men would tend to discard that knowledge as irrelevant, and I might have led something of a normal life.

I can't do that. To keep mum about my entire life prior to age 36 would be like living in a witness protection program: I would have to live a lie. I lied up until I was 36. The last thing I want to do with the rest of my life is live another lie. This led me to notion that I might as well stop trying to play to that group, because even though I might be effective, I would never be satisfied.

I needed to stop thinking of men as "us". I needed to stop trying to explain to them.

Up until this entry, I was making excuses, arguments, whatever you choose to call it. I was trying to describe the nature of transsexualism in both an emotional and logistic onslaught so intense that it would overpower all notions of opposition and men would "get it" and accept me totally and completely as a woman, so that I could talk all I wanted about my past and still be thought of as she whom I wish to be. 'tain't gonna happen. Men can't do that. Most of 'em, anyway. It is even more futile than fighting a losing battle, for there wasn't any battle. Men couldn't even see the conflict.

What now? Two things (yet again!) - One, I can only be emotionally satisfied if I only care what women think of me, and let men think whatever they way. By seeing women as my peer group, as being "us", then I can experience all the wonderful heart-felt emotional empathy I have yearned for, as part of my everyday life. It was there all along, and I didn't see it. And the best part is, I don't have to earn it, I already have it, just by being a woman. But I wouldn't even have to be a woman to get it. All I would have to be is sensitive, and there are a good number of men, both straight and gay, who are. And those are the men with whom women can be friends.

As for me, I never wanted to be the male friend of women. I felt and thought AS a woman always. For me, being physically female was and is not only the only way to instantly receive the kind of responses I wish to have, but it also matches the body map I carry within me, making me feel like the self I was meant to be.

And as for men, I will only do myself a great disservice if I continue to make a name for myself in the gender community. The more crossover that information gets, the more men outside of the community who will come to think of me as Melanie The Enigma.

I've done my bit for the community. I've done quite a lot, actually. Now, I am no longer driven by my true reasons for doing it: to justify myself as a woman and to gain the indirect love of the masses. Instead, I can have the direct empathy of my sisterhood, and seek the direct love of the sensitive man who can and will accept me for who I always was inside, rather than what I have been on the outside.

Most of my readers, I'm sure, have been men. Those women who have read my entries and commented invariably say, "It doesn't sound like it was written by a man, but a woman". This is the very kind of thing I have previously used to justify my womanhood - not to women who did not need or even want to hear it, but to men whose approval I so desperately sought.

Let me say some final words to my male audience: It is no longer that I need your love. It now is that I love you. Many of you have been supportive in my darkest hours. You have given me all the adulation I craved and required, and you have gotten me through. I don't need that anymore. Try not to revere me, nor see me as a goddess or an enigma. If you have read this far, you must be sensitive, for this was truly not written by a man but a woman. Use that sensitivity to see me as the woman I always was. Not one of you who changed sex, but one of "them" who was born in a body that needed changing.

I'm leaving you now. I don't ask that you leave me. Tarry, if you will. I do not intend to write only that which will appeal to women. In fact, readers of either sex may not find any difference in my style or content. But do know that the very same material is now being written by someone who herself sees it all from a new perspective. I have not changed what I think or feel, but simply my nothing of who it is that thinks and feels it.

It is the author who has changed while the story remains the same.

And having closed this chapter in the journey of a lifetime, goodnight, sweet prince.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

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