Book Three:

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Skinned Alive
by Melanie Anne

Part Three: Innocence Reborn

Chapter 59

Licking Old Wounds

March 31, 1996

I can't even imagine what still allows me to open my heart after all the kicking around it has had. Maybe it is because I'm finally sending the bad feelings back to the source, rather than just absorbing them. Every time I walk through the door at Screenplay Systems I get angry, and it doesn't go away until I leave. I've actually come to hate Chris. I loved him as a brother for so long. He really hasn't changed, but I can hardly stand to be in a room with him now. And I feel so much better by hating him. I like the emotion. Over the years I've never allowed myself to feel hate. I would just make a logical decision not to be involved with someone, but wouldn't carry a grudge. Well, I'm not going to try and hurt him in any way (unless he tries to hurt me again) but I really hate him, and that's quite fine!

I almost feel like armor or scales or bullet proof clothes are just falling off me. I feel free. And yet, there is no clear sense of direction. No clear joy. I think that is going to happen slowly, not as an object but a process. Each day I find myself able to give up that which hurts me, even if it has positive aspects as well. I don't mind flaws, but I do mind having to pay costs because I am attacked.

It is one thing for me to accept a situation with a price to pay, but quite another when someone tries to exact a price in exchange for their favors.

April 11, 1997

A letter to Mr. W. Squared:

I must write you to apologize for the way I have treated you over the last couple of weeks. Although there are many reason for this, none of them can excuse the cruel and insensitive things I said to you.

Over the last month, I have been struggling with the boys at Screenplay Systems. I have been forced to resign as manager, quit my job, gotten into shouting and crying matches with my former friends, and seen the potential development of future products I have dreamed about evaporate.

I have felt cheated, abandoned, and betrayed. This has taken an incredible emotional toll on me. I have had to address many deep-seated emotional issues that cut right to the heart of me. And in the middle of all this stress and strain, I felt pressure from you:

Pressure to initiate conversations, pressure to spend time, pressure to journey out to Florida, pressure to open my house to you. Actually, all of these things were quite ordinary requests. And I believe had you known how raw and frayed and afraid I was at the time, you would have never have even brought them up.

But I am a good actress, and work very hard to keep all that to myself so I can continue to be the shining beacon of hope and inspiration the public has come to know and love. Of course, I'm being sarcastic at my expense, but that is how I deal with personal issues.

Also, though I had hoped and actually believed that such things as shopping for wigs and makeup would not bother me, apparently all the suffering I went through during transition has still left many raw spots. Going out on those outings with you brought it all back to me in spades.

But, being the kind of person I am, I did not address these issues for what they were, as I did not want to offend, and also I wanted to be supportive. But, I'm sorry to say, I'm human. The pressure built up so much that I finally couldn't hold it any more and I simply snapped. I exploded. I let it all out at once.

For this, I am truly sorry.

I did not mean to hurt you. You are a sensitive soul with much to do and a long journey ahead. But at the time I snapped, I wanted nothing more than to hurt you deeply so I would not be alone in my pain. And, I'm afraid I did my job too well.

I am writing this letter to try and undo any pain I may have caused you. I can't take it back, but perhaps I can put it in a different context that will help heal the wounds and lessen the hurt.

My life has not been an easy one, but I can live better if I don't make it harder on myself. I still have a lot of learning to do about how to relate to people and when and how to express my feelings in a way that keeps me free from angst yet does not harm others in the process. I can already feel a deeper understanding of these things, and hope, through it, you will forgive me for any harm I may have done to you.

Melanie

Author's Note: The next day after I sent the above letter, I received a truly gracious note from Mr. W. Squared. He thanked me for my honesty and apologized for his insensitivity. He put forth the hand of friendship and I accepted.

Over the next few weeks, he renewed his offer to invest in my company, Heart Corps. I wanted to do some soft of deal, but couldn't decide on how much of the company I was willing to give up in exchange for his funding. A couple of weeks dragged on.

Then, an envelope arrived, Federal Express. Inside was a check from Mr. W. Squared in the range of five figures, with a note instructing me to use it any way I wanted, and just let him know when I figured out how much of the company I wanted him to have in exchange for the investment!

It should be publicly noted that much of what is available on my web site today, would not have been possible without his generosity. It should also be noted that, as of this writing, Mr. W. Squared has changed his name to Jenni and been living full-time in the new role. She is scheduled for Sex Reassignment Surgery in just over a month.

April 12, 1996

Things have gone back and forth with Screenplay Systems at a dizzying pace the last couple of weeks. There have been meetings, phone calls, and an endless flow of email in both directions.

At times, I have felt that Chris and Steve were truly my friends, and had nothing but my best interests at heart. Then, in half a breath something is said that makes me feel as if they are my mortal enemies, out to take me for everything they can get. At this point, I really don't know. I actually have no idea at all how they feel about me.

How do I feel about them? As if I must protect myself from them because I can't be sure of their intentions. I've been financially and emotionally raped by the men I've worked for too many times in the past to risk ever letting it happen again. The sad thing is, I'm beginning to feel that it is not those specific men, but all men in general from which one must protect oneself.

At first I considered that if I had a history of trouble with men in business, well then perhaps there was only one common factor: me. Maybe it was MY fault through some lack of understanding or some character flaw that caused me to be unreasonable.

I tried that on for a while to see how it fit. It didn't. The more I considered it, the more I settled into the conclusion that all of these troubles I have experienced are due to mental sex differences - that I am talking a language men can't understand, and they are looking at things from a perspective I can't see.

So, I tried describing this concept to Chris and Steve, and even to my son, Keith (who is almost 17). They heard me talking, but I didn't come through. They understood my words, but none of them actually believed there could be a way of looking at things they were incapable of seeing.

It is almost as if their belief in objective reality is so strong, that it cannot accept that there is any view of the world that is not common to us all. In other words, there is only one way to look at things: their way, and if women don't see it, well that's just because they are "unreasonable", or "all messed up with hormones", or "being childish", or being "self-centered and gratuitous".

Isn't that amazing? Men will read these very words and understand everything I am saying, and STILL not be able to accept it. Oh, they will accept that I (and all women) think differently than they do. But they will simply feel that is because we are unable to think "properly" or "clearly" or "reasonably", and therefore discount whatever conclusions we come to that don't agree with theirs.

Oh, I understood all this in a theoretical sense for some time. And, I was well aware of the comment that "men don't take women seriously", and had even run into it before. But I always chalked it up to lack of communication or miscommunication. I never realized that it was due to the fact that men are quite incapable of ever appreciating the true reality we see, while I am just as sure that there is something they are seeing that we cannot possibly perceive.

That is the horror and the beauty of it. The difference is, that as part of what men can't see comes the inability to accept there is something they can't see. What we will never see is pure and true logic without the "taint" of emotion.

Everything has an emotion attached to it for women, though you've probably never thought about it. Think about it now. Look at any object in the room. Does it not have a definite emotion attached to it? Do you not feel something very specific for it?

This doesn't happen for men. Oh, they will have this thing and that thing that hold emotional meaning for them, but not everything. In fact, I must go so far as to say that their feelings are not even the same as ours. "Love" doesn't mean the same thing, "joy" doesn't mean the same thing - oh, the definitions are the same, the logical explanation of those feelings is the same for both species, but the way those things actually "feel" is completely different.

Men have feelings, but they are not our feelings. Their feelings are ham-handed and blunt, unsophisticated and crude. To be fair, our efforts to dabble in completely unemotional logic must appear to them the same way. Even if we speak completely logically about something, then we turn around and put it in an emotional context, rather than leaving it at that.

Look at this entire article.... Does it seem logical? Sure. It has a premise and follows a series of related connections arguing toward a specific conclusion. But, how will it read to men? As meandering, inefficient, and tangential to the point. Why? Because it is laden with emotion. Each point I have made is not merely a strategic element in an overall contention, but is literally dripping with attitude.

Can women ever leave the attitude or mood behind and stick to the case? Sure! I did that for five years at Screenplay Systems where I worked with Chris and Steve. And let me tell you it was hell. Everything I wrote there was required to be devoid of my feelings, and as such, it got the information across, but left me feeling as if I had said nothing, for I had not expressed myself.

When I wrote the first draft of A New Theory of Story, it carried so much heart that it really made me feel I had expressed what I wanted my readers to get. But by the time it actually got to print, I had been required to re-write time and time again, until all emotional aspects had been thoroughly and completely removed. By the time I completed the most recent version, I had learned how to do it myself. What a tragedy! I got the job done, but even though I wrote 95% of the text myself, it doesn't feel at all like I wanted it to. Oh, I'm sure men are reading it in awe. Well, who the hell cares!

Don't get me wrong... I'm not putting down my readers. I'm just frustrated as blazes that I wasn't allowed to speak to the other half of the world in a language that would be more meaningful to them because it carried feelings with it. But, of course, that is NOT the way to write an informational text. If women were just more "reasonable" they would take the time to learn the language of logic so that they could understand the book in the male perspective as easily as men do. Yeah, right!

Well, I began this piece by talking about how things have seesawed in my relationship with the guys at the company. And I went on to say that I have come to believe the problems I am having are not my fault, nor their fault, but symptoms of the very real differences in two completely exclusive mental operating systems.

So what happened? Well, Chris and I sent letters back and forth. Every time I thought we had finally agreed on something, he would turn around and say something that clear as day indicated he was saying one thing but had completely different intentions. Only problem is, he didn't really have different intentions. He was just blind to the "other" message attached to his words - the message in the female language.

Of course, I am also "blind" to his view as well, because from his view, my concerns are completely unfounded and unreasonable. But how can I ever see that view when my concerns are so real and important to me.

I'm in these contract negotiations telling them I felt "unappreciated" and "unloved" and wanted to discuss my future life plan to see how the contract might affect it. They were telling me that the contract was simply a deal for rights to certain aspects of the theory. Well, duh! But what about the emotional impact? Why even do a contract if not to make your life a happier experience? To gain power, control, and money, of course! But what good are those? What do you want them for? Isn't it better to create an agreement that engenders a pleasant, fulfilling, and productive partnership? What does that have to do with anything? Be reasonable!

Shit.

It got to the point the other day that I felt we were finally on track! We were actually communicating for the first time since this whole negotiation started. I told Mary and Mindi how happy I was that things were working out so well. Then, I got a call from Steve. I said, "Hi, Steve!" with great enthusiasm, as I figured Chris had shown him my letters and he was calling to express his happiness that we were coming together.

Steve told me he wanted to meet right away. I responded that I would be happy to, since I was so pleased with the way things were going. He said, "Really? I have the exact opposite feeling about it."

Man, I was taken aback. He went on to say that both he and Chris felt things had completely degenerated to the point that we all needed to get together to talk over our points of view and try to resolve these problems.

Well, there you have it: The very same data was available to us all. The two men had a very negative interpretation, and I had the most positive of interpretations. Who was wrong? Bad question!

The point is that when looking at the very same things, we are looking FOR very different things. We are so focused by our own mind's operating system that we can't even see what is so important to the other. Oh, we can see what they are looking at, but we can't conceive of why they care about it. "Why would he do THAT?" "What was she thinking?"

Well, I'm tired. I'm tired of being expected to speak their language and kowtow to their great idol "Logic". Logic isn't all it's cracked up to be, and quite honestly, I think it sucks. Only if it is couched in feeling to give it context and meaning does it have any value at all. By itself, it's just a worthless waste of time.

I'm tired of being made to feel like I'm stupid or incapable unless I pretend to see it their way. I'm tired of being talked down to and made to feel like a child because I am an emotional creature.

My God! So many women have bought into it, been conditioned in it, that they teach their daughters and students to play the same game. That's no better than those few Jews who worked with their captors in prison camps to guard other Jews. It's like crossing a picket line, ratting on your buddies, or selling out your country.

We have our own country, you know. It doesn't have borders and it doesn't take up space. It takes up mind. We are sovereign there, but get no diplomatic recognition from the space-hoarders.

We're really short-changed insofar as our country lies in a different dimension right smack dab in the middle of their land. We are viewed as citizens of their dominion and expected to obey their laws which mean nothing to us... nothing!

Look around! When did we get the vote? Less than seventy-five years ago! Are we not still objects to be bought and sold in many parts of the world? What good does it do us when they perform female circumcision against our will, devote miniscule funds to our medical needs, create a system that makes us an extreme minority in government, portray us in their image on television shows for our young?

Oh, we're being raped all right. Every moment of every day. For men, to know us is to rape us, because the way they think of us - the only way they CAN think of us - is intrinsically abhorrent to our sensibilities.

The only sad thing is, we need them. There are times when only the logical thing must be done and any emotion would destroy the impact. So we must put up with all these things, and the wars, and the insensitivities, because without this smug breed, the "real world" would open its jaws and swallow us.

What a bitch.

April 27, 1996 4:58 AM

This may be my last diary entry. I've grown really tired of it. Now that I am away from the company for so long, my motivations are unwinding. I'm no longer stuck in a system which supports my angst as an energy source. So, with the force that molded me each day into a replica of what I was the day before now gone from my life, the facade begins to crumble, the roots spring out, and the form shifts.

As I look back over my motivations for starting this diary in the first place, they were never really for doing good in the world, or even for simply expressing myself to myself, or even creating a journal to share with others. No, I always wrote for posterity. That seems to be the driving obsession in everything I have ever done.

I started my first diary in 1962, and was at least honest enough in that missive to actually state that I was doing it "for future generations". I was never trying to document my time or work out my feelings. In truth, I was waving my feelings like a flag: projecting them on the big screen so that they might attract more than their fair share of attention.

My heroes were people like Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci, and more recently, Hildegarde Von Bingen. I looked to these people as role models - examples of who I should be, how I should be.

I wanted my place in history. I wanted a name that conjured up the same degree of reverence and awe as "Einstein". And you know the worst part? I think I've achieved that goal. I've created the Story Theory, Mental Relativity, founded the Transgender Community Forum on America Online, changed my sex, stayed married and kept my family together, made myself so female-looking that no one ever suspects I was once male. And why? Just to show I could.

I am absolutely sure that years after I am dead, my name will live on, and people will look back at my life and say, 'What an incredibly creative, insightful, inspired, empathetic individual." But you know, what am I going to care: I'll be dead!

We might speculate why I've been so obsessed with this approach to life, and clearly I have been obsessed. One career after another, one more crazy hare-brained scheme - from movie making to running a business to creating new theories to publishing a cyberzine - all of these have been propelled by my desire to make a place for myself in history. And why? Because I didn't think I could be accepted in my own time. No, that's wrong... I didn't feel I could be accepted.

I could go 'round in circles chasing my tail trying to figure out why I felt that way. No matter. I did. I don't anymore.

Since I've left the company where I needed that angst to keep going, I've unwound a bit. I"ve had more time to sit and think about the people around me, the people I know. As I look back, I see so many wonderful opportunities for friendship and closeness, and I didn't even know they were there. I've bounded from one crackpot endeavor to the next, striving for the brass ring, never noticing the golden rings all around my feet.

Well, no more.

No matter how much I create, how much I discover, how much time I sit in front of this damnable computer, I will never find what I am looking for. And what is that? Enjoyable time spent with others. Funny, isn't it? The most fleeting of things turns out to be the goal of one who has spent half a lifetime trying to produce the most lasting of things.

You know, today may be the first entry I've ever made in this journal in which I am truly expressing my thoughts just for me - just because I want to get a grip on them and see how they work together. Oh, I always got that benefit from my earlier writings, but it was not the focus nor the drive. Always foremost in my mind was the notion that if I documented my thoughts, I would someday be held in esteem. And, of course, I also got my head together along the way, but back to my place in history.... And so it went.

I saw this movie, "Greed" on television today. It was about an old man who had millions and also had a slew of greedy relatives. He wanted to leave his money to one of them, but only if he found one who truly loved him. The ending didn't quite work because it didn't sum up the issue they had been getting at for the whole thing. If they had, it would have really tied it into a grand statement. Still, the message wasn't lost on me, as it struck me right where I am changing. The message was, "If there is something special or different about you, you can't expect people not to be affected by it, BUT they might also love you at the same time."

I thought I would never fit in because people would find out who I was inside and not like me anymore. And now I've had surgery and run around thinking I'll never fit in when people find out who I am outside, and not accept me any more. As silly as it seems, I never considered that they might find me different and still like me.; that they might find my past unusual and still let me fit in.

Oh, I've come up with all these grand phrases like, "You have to be different to fit in; there's only one space for each kind of shape, and to make the world complete, you have to fill yours." That captures the logic of it, but not the emotion. Emotionally, I kept going binary: should I deny my past and just be a woman? Would I do better if I became a flag-waving, card-carrying transsexual? The blind spot in all of this is that neither of those things have ANYTHING to do with whether or not people will like me.

Well, that's not exactly true either. For closed-minded people, it has everything to do with it. And, for people I don't know (like the swarming masses) it has a really big impact regardless of whether or not they are open-minded, since they don't really know me. But for those close to me, it has nothing to do with it. It is in addition to it, not part of it.

And that is what happened in the movie. The young nephew who thought he wasn't driven by money, found himself starting to lie, cheat, and steal in order to get the inheritance. And, he went through all this angst trying to deny that the money had anything to do with his newfound closeness to his uncle. He kept running into his own greed, however, and had to bury it because he couldn't kill it. So he rationalized, and justified, and ended up realizing it really was only the money that drove him. And that's when he found out his uncle had lost his fortune and was broke.

He left in a fit of anger because his uncle had been lying to him, manipulating him to gain his favor. But then, after he'd been away from the situation for a while, he found that he still loved his uncle. In fact, he realized he had always loved him, underneath all the very real greed. So, he went back and brought his uncle home with him to live. And that's when he found out his uncle had really not lost his fortune, and was just trying to see who loved him.

Well, the nephew was furious for being manipulated again. But then, he decided the love was more important and made up. Now, here is where the movie blew it for me... They really needed the uncle to vocalize the lesson learned for the nephew: "It's not whether you are greedy or have love, but rather, if you are greedy and also love."

For years, I've stayed away from gender people in person, because I couldn't bring myself to associate with such weird people. (Imaging that!) Of late, several gender folk have found their way to my door. And you know what? Some of them I like, and some I don't. And, of course, I realize this is the way others see me as well. There are no weird people because of their situations - just weird situations. And in those situations, there are people you like and people you don't.

It is right to judge a person by their situation until you get to know them. Then you just them by who they are, not what they are. So, if you see someone odd in a crowd, go ahead, hate them, laugh at them inside, pass all the judgment you want. But if you meet them, see them for who they are, not instead of how you saw them before, but in addition.

It hurts when you stand out in the crowd. If I looked like a guy in drag, I don't know what I'd do. Oh, yes I do! I'd go back to being a man! Right now, I know I could act the way I feel as a man like I never could before. Can you imagine the Elephant Man as a high fashion male model? Maybe yes, maybe no. You need context to make that work. If the way you are inside is incompatible with the way you are outside, you WILL be laughed at and ridiculed if you act as you feel. The only way out is to create a greater context so you can be seen as special in order to throw your unusual traits into a different light. And, I guess that is what I was trying to do. What I didn't realize was that I didn't really have any unusual traits.

As a man, I could have expressed virtually all that I am today and had no one bat an eye. But I felt that I was so "soft" inside, so "unmanly" that I had to become a woman to express those feelings outwardly. Bullshit! (pardon). My kind and caring and sensitive heart wouldn't have caused a ripple in the back of anyone's mind. I just magnified it all out of proportion.

And now, as I sit here watching the sky turn from deep purple to slate gray, I find myself stuck with these boobs, this long hair, this genitalia, and the practiced motivation to NOW feel as if I can't show my masculine side! And the funny part of all is that in either role I fit in so well that I didn't have to create the damned context!

So, all of that stuff for posterity, all the work, the pain, and commitment... all so that I could express who I really am and have it accepted in context, well, it was all unnecessary. I could have just been myself and not changed sex. I could have been myself and not worked so hard with such obsession. I could have just lived.

Which brings us back to this potential last diary entry.

From here on out, if I pen words like this, it's going to be because I want to say them, not because I think they will increase my stature. BUT, I'm also going to keep in mind that I can't help being aware that these words WILL increase my stature. The real question is, am I doing this for one or the other, or both? Both works. Both is honest.

Heck, with all the writing I've done already, it would be really stupid to throw it all away. At least right now. I have this nagging feeling I should pull all my material down from the world wide web, burn my diaries, and get out of the public eye. That would be the best for my "self". But, there is also the public me, the one who is judged by society without knowing me. I guess I can't yet make my feelings about context go away, even though I am now aware of them.

Just as the nephew came to accept that he really WAS greedy, but also loved, so I must accept that I really do crave attention and acclaim, yet I am also content with who I am. The two are contradictory, but not incompatible, for the human mind is quite capable of holding two or more views at a time when it comes to the emotions.

The logical side of us is binary, and as such provides but a single point of view. The emotional side of us is holistic and can have any number of opposing or tangential pulls. So, I am pulled to the limelight, and pulled to anonymity. I am pulled to place my life in context, and pulled to live it truthfully and without apology.

I believe the real lesson here is that you don't have to decide between these alternate poles. Emotions approach the binary when one is considering how one feels about the greatest of attractions and the greatest of repulsions, but they will never actually become binary. They can't. Logic approaches the analog when one considers an issue in great detail as deeply as the mind can fathom, but it will never actually become analog. It can't.

Therefore, which issues are best looked at with logic, and which by feeling? Consequences are best looked at through logic, goals through feelings. Survival through logic, fulfillment through feeling. People's reactions to you through logic, people's responses to you through feeling.

So, what are the consequences of being public - no logical concerns that come to mind. Then, being public is not best seen as a consequence, but a goal. Now, what are my emotional goals with being public? Can't think of any. I guess this means that I shouldn't even be worrying about it one way or the other. If I start to get feedback that my writings and high-profile nature are causing problems or opening doors, then I'll make the appropriate mid-course corrections to cut back or push harder.

What about those items that are so intense (like standing on a street corner yelling out that you are Jewish in Nazi Germany) that there is no time for a mid-course correction and you really need to anticipate in advance. In that case, the consequences and goals make themselves known in your anticipations. To be a consequence, it must trigger a logistic concern. To be a goal, it must trigger an emotional one.

If one has an emotional assessment of consequence, then one is justifying. If one is having a logistic goal, then one is justifying. And that, of course is just what I have been doing. For a woman, this is true. Also, for a woman, goals are inside and consequences are outside. So, don't look for external goals or internal consequences. Which means, I don't see any external consequences for being public, but I feel their potential, which is a justification. I don't have any internal goals with being public, but I see their logistic potential, which is another justification.

To know which way to be pulled, I must look externally for consequence and internally for goal. What I find is that there is nothing to be seeing when looking with those parts in those directions. So, being public should no longer be a concern at all. Instead, I should write if I want to or not as I choose. I should do it because, in and of itself, writing brings me pleasure. And, let the public result of it, both now and in the future, be damned.

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