Book Four:

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After Life

by Melanie Anne

Part One: Hell

Chapter 73

Flash!

October 23, 2005

10:47 a.m.

Last night something remarkable happened.  I had just finished writing the entry above, and the conclusion, I asked Teresa if I could read part of it to her.  Up to this point, I hadn’t wanted to share it, and was not even sure if I would ever share it with anyone, especially Teresa.

I have been so frank in the passionate expression of my angst, including that which directly involves Teresa, that I was afraid it might cost my relationship with her, should she ever have access to the material.

From time to time in this verbal record, I have reached a positive plateau, wherein I believed that I had resolved my issues, or at least found a way to live with them – to keep them in check.  At these times, I considered that someday she might read the text, since it appeared at those junctures to be headed toward an ultimately positive conclusion.

Almost invariably, however, the next entry turned sour, and I once again committed ill feelings to the file, and reverted to my earlier belief that I must forever keep these troubled musings to myself.

Yet, at the end of last evenings session, the feelings I had were so peaceful, so upbeat, that I couldn’t help wanting to at least calm her fears of what I might be writing by reading those closing passages to her.

I spoke the last five paragraphs, beginning with “Teresa discovered that she could define herself by FFS.”  By the time I had finished, I could tell Teresa had been comforted, and in fact, so was I.

She told me that it was remarkable writing, and she would like to read the journal someday.  I responded that she could read it when completed, if she promised not just to read a part of it, but all the way to the end.  I felt that only then would any part she might read be ultimately put in the positive context I now expect from its conclusion.

In short order, we decided to watch a DVD.  We had brought a whole box of them to Cocoon House, but, as expected, Teresa had not been up to it until last evening.  She had been saving an unopened copy of her favorite movie, which had never been released on DVD before – Robert Redford’s “The Milagro Beanfield War.”

We’ve had a couple of copies on VHS for years, yet though it was Redford’s second foray into directing, after his debut with “Ordinary People,” this movie had somehow become overlooked, and never been released digitally.

Why am I side-tracking into a description of an old, forgotten movie?  Because Teresa works in mysterious ways….

Over the almost ten year I have know her, Teresa has constantly worked behind the scenes, under the level of normal signal processing, hiding messages in the background noise of my own life, guiding me gently, clarifying perspectives, pointing out options.

After reading that passage to Teresa, she selected the evening’s movie, not simply because it was one of interest to her, but because she intuitively felt that the content of the picture would have a catalytic effect on the volatile atmosphere of my soul.  She almost never does anything for less than two reasons, and in this instance, her assessment of my being ready to precipitate meaning from the chaos of my heart was absolutely accurate.

We sat down together in the side-by-side easy chairs in apartment “A” for the first time, as she had previously spent almost all her time in bed.  We pushed “play” and sat back to watch the show.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, it is based on a book by John Nichols (part of a trilogy, actually), and focuses on the small New Mexico town of Milagro (which means “miracle”) and the miraculous things that happen when one of the generation-old young Spanish men in the village takes a stand against a development that threatens their ways by diverting water to which they had lost rights due to legal manipulations back into his dead father’s old bean field.

Although the story itself was to hold some special meanings for me, it was more the atmosphere of the relationships between the men and women of the village, with themselves and with each other, counterpointed by the men and women of the developer’s group, as well as other non-indigenous white folk who had come to live in the village.

As I saw the women in the village just being themselves, interacting as who they were inside with other women and with the men, I glanced over at Teresa, her profile now so genetically female in look, her new beauty shining through even more as the swelling continued to recede.  And suddenly, within myself, I knew I had to have that feeling.  Teresa could now watch the movie feeling as if she were one of the women.  Knowing that her new face had completely and forever changed her station in life.

No longer would she ever be read as a man.  Now, wherever she went, however she presented herself, she would be seen as a woman.  In fact, she would never again have any fear, and would also no longer have a choice of which sex she was seen as belonging to.

And within myself, a great yearning exploded, the fallout washing through every fiber of my being.  I knew with certainly that I not only wanted that feeling, I needed that feeling, and more, I would rather die trying to get it and be resigned to living one more day without it.

Simply and clearly, I knew with unshakable certainty that I must have surgery myself with Dr. O., if ever I am to feel whole.  I am so thrilled to be with Teresa.  So ecstatic with her new look, so envious of her feeling of finally and truly belonging to the world of women, that I had to pause the movie and tell her.

I hit pause, and simply said, “Okay, yes, I also want to have surgery with Dr. O.  and I want to do it as soon as possible.”

Her reaction?  She said, “I know,” and smiled warmly.  And then she offered to use her remaining share of money from the sale of our house that she was saving for follow-up surgeries post Dr. O (for things such as face-lifts) to pay toward my own surgery.  She offered to work hard to raise the money, even to take another job outside the house (as we normally work on our own business) and to continue to work until the money was there for me to use.

What a wonderful woman.  I cannot help but wonder how I have been so blessed.  When I say this to Teresa, she responds, “Don’t you know by now that I’m your guardian angel?”

Once we resumed the movie, it was destined to be paused perhaps twenty more times.  Each time was with a new insight that occurred to me by watching the interactions of the male and female characters.

But the key revelation, near the middle of the picture, was wholly unexpected by me, and shook me to the roots of my soul.  I’m not sure I can describe what happened to anyone to whom it has not yet happened.  Oh, my words will be understandable enough, but no matter how much passion and depth I try to interject, I won’t be ably to convey how fundamental the sea change in my heart.

Think of people truly finding faith and coming to an alter call, or having an epiphany at the moment of converting their religion.  Consider that you’ve just received news that rewrites everything about your world, such as that you actually live in the matrix, or aliens have just landed, or your parents adopted you.  Imagine the feeling in your stomach if you crest a hill by car in San Francisco too fast, and the bottom suddenly drops out without any opportunity to prepare for the experience.

Now, add all those together into one monumental moment, and increase the sum by the power of ten.  That is the feeling I had when something so basic shifted within me that it permanently and immutably changed my universe forever.

I won’t yet tell you what changed.  Rather, I will lay out what it changed from.  You’ll probably see it coming, but since I can’t really impress upon you the magnitude of my inner alteration, I think perhaps it best to present it by contrast with what was.

Let’s return to the concept of Transition vs. Transformation.  Consider the following:

As a small child, the toys I was provided by my divorced mother ranged across the entire gender spectrum.  She was reading Dr. Spock, who put forth the concept that children should be allowed to determine their own gender identity by choosing the toys with which they wanted to play, rather than having the parent try to impose rigid gender roles  by offering toys that fell only within the traditionally “appropriate” role.

So, I had a “Fanner 50” western revolver and gun belt, and a stove and refrigerator set.  I whiled away my hours with my Zorro costume with the sword with a piece of chalk at the end (so you could make “Z”s on things) and a doll house with miniature furniture.  The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.  Essentially, my imagination could run in whatever direction it liked, as far as it wished to go.

Fast forward now to my first day in kindergarten.  They had NOT read Dr. Spock at Brete Harte Elementary, and it took not very long at all before I discovered that certain behaviors which for me were normal and natural, were reprimanded by more structured teachers, and ridiculed by my peers.

This kind of restrictive environment is not really understood at a conscious level by a young child, but rather the new soul finds itself suffering negative reinforcement by acting in a way that heretofore had been in harmony with its actual state of being.

And how does the child respond?  By learning to not express true aspects of itself that garner reprisals, and to replace them with non-inherent fabricated means of expression that garner either reward, or at least don’t invite retribution.

In short order then, I had learned my first important lesson in school – it pays not to be yourself.  Indeed, it pays even more handsomely to be not yourself.

As I grew, then, I hid away more and more of my true nature because gender scrutiny became even more refined by my peers, instructors, and youth leaders.  Simultaneously, I established a complex web of reactions to virtually any situation that might come up.  I never had an internal sense or what an appropriate reaction should be, but consciously, with intent, paid attention to situations that happened to “other boys” to see what they did, see if I could find a consistent pattern, and if I could, add it to my filing cabinet of how to act in various situations.

Eventually, under such conditions one becomes very afraid that something of the real self will leak out.  In an attempt to prevent this from happening, you realize that if you hide your self from your self, you can’t divulge what you don’t know.

So you start to pull back from an awareness of who you really are, which if done early enough in your life means that you never really had the opportunity to discover all about yourself before you closed the door.  In fact, your entire adult self may NEVER have been known to you before you blacked it out.

Let’s take stock.  I grow up with most of my mind shrouded in darkness and unknown to me. In fact, I often had dreams that I was at the bottom of a pit that was too deep to climb from.  I had the feeling in my dreams that if I could just find a way up and out of the pit, I’d see a whole world out there, filled with blue skies with white clouds, green grass, trees, butterflies and the like.

I was completely unawares that most of me was under wraps.  The part that was left to me was fully involved in maintaining the “proper” image of a young man.  I tried very hard to be good man, but I just didn’t get it.  I recall back in elementary school that I had been sick for a few days.  Naturally, a child who misses school for a while often finds itself lost and confused.  Trying to catch up on lesson plans that have moved on without you makes one feel frantically lost.  It is a terrifying experience for a young child, even a fairly bright one.

But the worst was coming back from an illness and suddenly realizing that all the “other boys” were acting in ways I couldn’t relate to, couldn’t understand.  And worst of all, it seemed completely natural to them, as if they understood some secret the knowledge of which had been withheld from me.

Being one to try and understand my world – and I actually remember this from a particular experience in elementary school – I wondered if I had missed the days in class when they taught all the boys how to do that.  And I also wondered if maybe it was something their parents had told them, and wondered why my mother hadn’t told me.  Did she not really love me?

Well, that’s the kind of shy, self-doubting child I was, and the shy, self-doubting adult I’ve been most of my life.

Fast forward again.  I’ve graduated high school, gone to work for a year, gone back to school.  And all through it, I was so unsure of how to act, that I could only pass through classroom hallways if there was a crowd in which I could get lost, or there was no one there at all.  But if there was just one person coming the other way, or just a few people, I couldn’t walk down the hall toward them, for fear that I would be doing something socially wrong and not even knowing it.  I would pretend to fiddle with my locker, or walk the other way to get out of the building without passing them, even if it took me way from my class.

You get the idea.

During this time (actually back before puberty) I developed this fantasy of being a girl. After puberty, it evolved into an erotic fantasy.  In high school, I didn’t date, had developed my external façade into the replica of a complete human being that I myself had come to believe it and that’s how it remained until I got married.

I had children, raised them, did all the “dad” stuff, but felt just as uncomfortable with it and was left searching for a greater fulfillment than I was getting.  During the height of this, I was also establishing my career and building a business.  So for years at a time, and when physical relations were good with my wife, I actually forgot about my erotic fantasy of being female.

Life was good at that time – for a while.  But the moment I had any business setbacks, trouble at home, or difficulty with my career, the ol’ erotic fantasy would crop up again.  And eventually, after years of never having crossdressed at all, I had the compulsion to try it once again – to see how I looked, and maybe take a few pictures, a remembrance before I became too old to look good.

So, I tried it.  And I liked it.  And I went into compulsions and purges, and scavenged hormones, and all kinds of shit like that there.  And in the end, I went into transition.

Now, stick with me here.  Through all this, I still thought I was just a socially uncomfortable guy with an erotic fantasy.  I had no clue that the hidden majority of my true self, buried in stasis since elementary school, even existed.

Simply, business was falling like a rock, I was overworked, six months behind in my bills, Mary was distant, and I determined after this brief foray into crossdressing that I owed it to myself to pursue this fantasy and see if some happiness might lurk there.

I expected to pursue it to a point I discovered that it wasn’t right for me, and then to have the courage to turn back, and resume my life as a male with the knowledgeable satisfaction that there really wasn’t any more to life than I had already experienced.  I could then make the best of it, knowing that although life seemed somehow small, it was the same for everyone, at least.

But that moment of “Whoa!” never came.  Rather, I kept getting in deeper, and became more and more passable.  And then, one day while receiving electrolysis from a guy who would become my first boyfriend, something twitched inside.  I didn’t know it at the time, but it was like a kick from a child you are carrying in your womb.  It was my embryonic unknown self, making itself known.

When it happened, I discovered something inside I had never known.  I’ve written extensively about this in my earlier diary, but the gist is needed here.  (Remember, we’re on the way to talk about my land-shaking personal change of the other night).

This new feeling, in short, was my first experience of the feminine side of myself.  Inner femininity – it caught me by surprise.  I almost felt like I dropped two feet, while laying on my back on the electrolysis table.

What led up to it?  I had been steeling myself against the pain in a very masculine manner, as I had learned to do over the years.  It hurt.  And I spent my time on the table trying to find another way.  It occurred to me that if I relaxed and, Zen like, let myself bend in the wind, perhaps the pain would flow over me, rather than through me.

So I tried to clear my mind, give up control of the situation (anathema to my masculine sensibilities), and let go.  It seemed to work – the pain was less hurtful.  So I let go even more, allowing myself to think of my electrologist as guiding me through the process, captaining the ship, while I went along for the ride.

And suddenly, like a drop of oil dispersing on the surface of soapy water, my masculine façade spread out and evaporated, leaving behind something else – a gentle, non-assertive Id that wanted nothing more than to be taken care of and protected.

I hadn’t felt those kinds of yearnings since before elementary school.  But it was just the tip of the iceberg.  Over the next few weeks, and eventually years, I explored more and more of this side of myself, often feeling like I was switching back and forth between a masculine bravado and a feminine softness with as clear a dividing line between them as flipping a coin.

As transition progressed, I spent more and more time on the feminine side, until I was there all the time.  And that’s how I’ve lived my life until last night.

Let’s pick up one final thread.  When I transitioned, I kept my marriage.  I kept and enhanced the relationship with my children.  I kept nearly all of my other relationships and friends.  And you know how I did it?  I did it by maintaining the essence of my male façade within myself at the same time I was living in the new, real feminine personality I had discovered.

So, in time, I become a strange mix of the two personas, each emerging when it was most comfortable in whatever situation or mix of people I encountered.

And again, I became convinced that this was the extent of all one could feel in life.  I had within my command the fully spectrum of my male play book, and also the entire realm of my female nature.

But I was never fulfilled.  When with my son and daughter, I still tried to be Dad.  I knew they saw the new stuff in my soul, or better phrased, the glimpse of my actual soul that I had now embraced, but mostly, I didn’t want my relationship with them to change.  And more, I didn’t want to potentially lose my relationship with them by removing the personal they had come to love as Daddy.

I still tried to be husband to Mary.  I still tried to be son to my father and step-father, while all the time trying to add and integrate my newly discovered female self.  Of course, this created a strange mix, probably bordering on the peculiar.  And I had been told that this is not what any of these people really wanted for me.

But I am the type who has always taken responsibility, and tried to shoulder a burden before anyone else got stuck with it.  So, if I was to bring this uncomfortable situation upon them all, the least I could do was carry as much of the stress of it as I could within myself.  And I did this by trying to lessen the blow by holding within myself the exceedingly uncomfortable “old” me, along side with the real me.

Each day, I felt unfulfilled, but I honestly believed this was as good as it got.  I did develop a dream that someday I would be able to fully express my true self, rather than holding anything back, and to shed myself of the masculine machine because I hated it so when it ran.

But just as in the days pre-SRS, I never really believed I would have the chance in my life to do that.  How could I desert my children, the mother of my children.  And more, how could I shut down the logical, aggressive self I had developed that protected me, made me competitive in business, steeled me enough to handle creditors and the practical situations of life that demanded that kind of focus?

Into these works, a monkey wrench did fall.  Teresa began to explore FFS five years ago, and the rest has been documented above.

Until last night, the dichotomous situation remained that way within me.  Some inner part hurting and still wanting to get out, but being unable to let it out because if I reached that far into myself, I would stretch past the point I could still hold onto the male mask, I would lose my grip, and all would come tumbling down.

God, did it hurt over the years.  I kept feeling like a guy in drag whenever I had to invoke the Dave Self.  And the more pressures came to bear, the more he was needed, until there were times when I couldn’t summon my true female self anymore at all, and I suffered the fear that perhaps I had lost me forever.

And then, we watched the movie.   And I would see the women in the film interacting, being so grounded and earthy and real.  And I would look over at Teresa and with her new face, she looks just as real as they.   She have actually become transformed into a real woman, not just playing a role, but being one through and through.

I longed to feel the same rightness, truth of her womanhood; the sense of actually belonging to that group, being a part of the sisterhood of women, real, actual, normal, as much one of them as if she had, in fact, been born that way; as much as if she was genetic.  I almost don’t dare say it – in my mind, looking the way she does now, feeling inside as I have come to know her, she IS genetic, IS a woman, and now lives in a place I am not.

So imagine when I finally blurted out about my need to get surgery, where it really came from.  It came from not only the same bruised inner place that Teresa’s motivation for FFS had been born, but on top of it, I had now been left alone, no longer equal with my Teresa, no longer side by side, no longer able to commiserate over the same essential central angst.  Her days of hurt were gone.  Mine remained.

And so the movie continued, and the women moved across the screen, only one a central character, but I found myself transfixed by them, watching their movements, expressions, and attitudes, often failing to pay any attention to the center of the action where the men were doing whatever.

The yearning within me, the feeling of being alone, the paid of leading a double inner life began to grow within me.  I had a feeling like you get after an adrenaline rush when your body feels like everything is tired, everything run down.  I got a nervous sensation in the small of my back, just like before I told my first friend that I was transsexual and going to have a sex change, just like the day I was supposed to sign-up for college, couldn’t bring myself do it, and stood there on the sidewalk in front of the school, literally unable to move.

That nervous tensions, that feeling that all my energy has drained out of my body.  These things have always preceded all the key change-points of my life – the “Cusps” as Robert Heinlein called them.  So, I knew something was coming, some massive revelation that would change the course of my life down some new channel in a direction I had no way of anticipating.

And then, it happened, I let go of the Dave Persona Program.  I simply let it go.  There was no big psychic ripping.  There was no tearing or wailing.  And no feelings at all of loss.

The Dave Fabrication that I had begun in elementary school and maintained ever since, was just disconnected from my soul and allowed to drift away.  And when it did, I had within me the same sense of belong among the women that Teresa was able to achieve with her FFS.  I don’t know why I could do it.  Maybe it was having just come to know with certainty that I wanted FFS as well.

Somehow, for me, just making the commitment to go the FFS route – to make it an actual event of the future, especially after fighting it in Teresa for so long – it had then become almost as if it had already happened.  And in that context, seeing Teresa’s results, I could so imagine my own that I really felt already there.

And once Dave was gone, there was the most amazing sense of femininity, belonging, identity – more than I have ever had, more than I had ever imagined I could have.

Here I paused the movie.  I couldn’t find the words.  I felt so soft inside, so vulnerable, yet strong in a whole different way.  I felt complete for the first time in my life – and I actually felt like a REAL woman – not a guy in drag, not a TS, not a man, not a chimera, but a real, genetic woman with just as much right to express myself as I felt inside as any other woman on the planet or who had ever lived.

I looked around the room and things appeared differently with more subtle intensity than any other shift I’ve had including moving from testosterone to estrogen.  My manner changed; my mood.  My physical affectations, voice, even the words I used were different.

I re-started and paused the movie perhaps another dozen times.  At each, I just had to share with Teresa the feelings of truly being female that were washing over me.  And in these conversations, Teresa brought me back to four weeks before her surgery, when after almost nine years together, nine years of playing the dyke, being the rough and tumble one, she had finally trusted me, and opened up to the woman she hid inside.

When holding her, she would coo and move with grace and gentleness, and express herself with such feminine intensity that it enveloped me wholly.  She said it was the trust she had in me that made her able to release that and let out what was always inside.

She had always known her female self, and had devised the other persona as a mask.  Whereas I had never known my female self, but had also devised the other persona as a mask.

As the movie proceeded I came to understand that what I had thought just that morning was my full female self, was only a fraction of it.  In holding onto the male thought patterns, it took up part of my mind, used up space that might have been filled by more of my female self.  I became half of each personality, saving in my mind only those parts needed to show other the outline of a completely developed persona, but having no real substance of either available within myself.

Now, on this other side of the fence, having erased the male “self” from my mind, my true self rushed into the open space and filled the vacuum, leaving me feeling complete  for the very first time in my life.

I wish I could describe what it feels like to truly BE a girl, not just look, talk, move, and think of yourself as one.  But it happened to me last night. 

Teresa told me, having a month’s experience with this now within herself, that once you open the bottle, you can’t put the genie back inside.  Once you let go of the fake male personality, you can never get it back.  The female personality was always supposed to be loaded into your mind, and once it takes its rightful place and fills you, it locks in and can never be dislodged.

The movie ended, and drunk with the overwhelming flood of new female impressions, experiences, and perspectives, I joined Teresa in bed.  Teresa is very attracted to my former feminine side, and now that it has taken me wholly, she is completely connected to it.

Though she was only four day out from surgery, and still bandaged about her face, she reached out to caress me.  Her touch moved over me, and without lingering on the details, my woman’s sexuality blossomed as I could not have imagined.  The experience was more profound emotionally, more intense physically that I thought could have existed.

I spoke to her in gentle voice, and without even considering it, referred to myself as “This girl” – a phrase I have NEVER used before because I didn’t believe I really was one.  The term would stick in my throat, I had felt fake, I had felt that I was being pathetic.  But now, it seemed to natural, so right, so casual, so accurate that to say less, or to not say it at all would be less true.

I though of the reaction people might have if I did look mannish but acted so femininely in public, spoke to Teresa of it, and then said, “Fuck ‘em.”  And when I said it, I realized it meant something different to me now, even as I uttered the term.  Before it was always said from the view in which I had learned it – the male view, of doing it to someone.  But now, the term was being used from a female perspective.  I’m not sure I can define what that means, but I understand it, intuitively, and the use of the word is not at all the same.

As I closed my eyes, I drifted off, losing myself in the wholeness of my being, letting go of my Daddy relationship with my kids, my Husband relationship with my wife, realizing that I was now the resultant potential of the seed of life that lived within me always, and hade finally grown to maturity.

**********

When I awoke this morning, the newness of my being was still here, and the old male mental skeleton was still nowhere to be found.  But, there was little time for further self-exploration at the moment.  Today was the day Teresa was to have the “packing” from her rhinoplasty removed, as well as the pressure bandage from her chin.  We also had to move from the lower apartment “A”  It was all hands on deck to get showered, packed, moved upstairs, grab the taxi, and make it to Dr. Ousterhout’s office by 9 a.m.

I knew we had brought a lot of stuff with us, but I had no idea just how much until I tried to pack it all up again!  Since Teresa is not supposed to bend over (to keep the rhinoplasty from shifting), I needed to do all the lifting and most of the packing myself.

Terri had offered to help us move, and when I went upstairs, she was already there doing some housekeeping, and immediately came downstairs to help.  We rushed up and down gathering everything together as quickly as we could.  Still an all, the Taxi arrived just before the last load was shifted, so I sent Teresa out to the taxi to hold it for us and get her settled in, and I ran and dumped the last load, then scurried outside and leapt into the cab.

We took off for Davies, and talked about the wonderful moment when Teresa would have the packing removed and be able to breath easily for the first time in a week.  (Later, on the trip back, I was to learn that this was Teresa’s first taxi ride in her life!  Strange with someone who had traveled so much, ridden a motorcycle and been so independent at a really young age.)

We arrived after an uneventful trip, and entered through the emergency exit, as some of the hospital workers are currently on strike, and they only use this entrance before and after hours in order to verify who is going in and out.

Knowing we were just a few minutes early, we hurried down the hall so as not to keep the doctor waiting.  We were pleased to see that he wasn’t in yet.  Then we were worried that maybe we had misunderstood the time we were supposed to be there.  And better still, we had forgotten to bring Mira’s cell phone number with us!

But, as just moments after nine, Dr. O. strolled up with he cheerful greeting and pleasant banter, and ushered us into the office.  He had come in on this Sunday morning just to remove the packing and the stitches along the forehead, and would be leaving right afterward.  He told us that when you are a surgeon, the materials need to come out on a certain day, so you just come in and do it.

He was in great spirits!  Though in my previous encounters with him I gathered the impression he didn’t mind a good gab, this particular morning he was particularly effervescent, and launched into an ongoing monologue describing the war-time experiences of an old friend for his who actually received Hitler’s grand, bejeweled baton in surrender of a German U-boat captain.

Of course, this tale was related while he was pulling the packing material (a two foot long thing strip of gauze folded back on itself until it is about as thick as a pencil and two inches long) from Teresa’s nostrils.

Now, when I had my nose job some 12 years ago (though I’m not completely satisfied with the results), I don’t recall having any notable pain when the packing was removed.  But Teresa, well, she later described it as “Giving birth to an elephant through each nostril.”

Whoa, the pain!  Tears in her eyes.  Biting on her lip.  Poor critter was holding it back with real courage.  Removing the stitches along her forehead was also a bit ouchy, but not nearly so bad as the nose.

Still and all, Dr. O’s tale was riveting, and pleasantly amusing, and it really helped keep her mind off the pain.

Once he had completed this, the compression bandage on her chin was also removed.  What a magnificent reveal!  Even more of her new face could be seen!  Her previously enormous jaw was now delicate and heart-shaped.  Even though there is still swelling, it had already gone down significantly, and the promise of her new look was way beyond expectation.

Taken in conjunction with her eyes.  I had feared she would lose the character in her eyes when they were less deep-set by pushing back the forehead and grinding off the brow bone.  But just the opposite occurred.  Once her eyes were more forward, more easily seen, their power increased by tenfold.  Make eye contact with her now, and her gaze is like lasers, boring right into your soul.  Magnificent!

Taken altogether, even with the splint still taped on her nose, she is very pretty, and once the swelling is completely gone, she is destined to be a true beauty.  I only met one staggeringly beautiful woman in person in my whole life.  She was the only woman I ever said, “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.”  This was said not with the intent to win her favor or try to become closer, but I simply was so taken that I could not help stating it to her aloud.  Teresa is already her rival, and when the swelling has fully receded will easily surpass her.

I’m one lucky girl, to have her as my love, my partner, my mate.  In fact, at the risk of sounding crude, I can’t look at her now without yearning thoughts of many nights together at home in our own bed.

Having finished his work, Dr. O. began putting away his implements in preparation to leave for the day.  But I had something on my mind that I needed to ask.

As I wrote earlier, though I had now, finally gotten in touch with my true inner self, my woman self, I was still concerned both with the issues of Transition and Transformation.  I wanted to ensure that I was really and truly passable, not just based on the opinion of people who know me so well that their view of my face is tempered by their understanding of my heart, but from a more objective source – perhaps even the world’s leading authority.

In addition, I still saw the Man in the Mirror and wanted him gone.  I needed to make either a mental or physical change to separate the old me from the new in my own mind.  In other words, it is not enough to be unreadable to others.  I wanted to become unreadable to myself.

So I broached the subject with Dr. O.  I realized he had just come in to do Teresa, on a Sunday, and I would be selfishly asking of him his free time.  But the need within me, coupled with the time being right, transcended my usual desire to not impose, and I so I asked if I could have a brief moment.

He somewhat reluctantly agreed, and I quickly voice the whole Transition vs. Transformation concept, and asked if he could take a quick initial look at me and tell me what he thought might be done.

He agreed, again, reluctantly, and started a quick examination of my facial features and bone structure.  As he went, he manner changed, and some interest rose in him.  His first conclusion was, “Well, I’ve treated upwards of nine hundred patients seeking FFS, and out of all those, perhaps only 2 or 3 didn’t need work on their foreheads.  You’re one of them.”

Okay.  This was weird.  Teresa has always told me what a genetically female forehead I had.  I, of course, didn’t believe her.  Oh, yes, I knew it wasn’t the Neanderthal forehead, and that it was far more feminine than most.  But I always believed it was still far enough into the male range where surgery like Teresa’s could substantially improve it, feminize it, make my eyes look less to me like Dave eyes, and allow me to finally Transform.

Every since I saw how feminine was Teresa’s new forehead, mine had looked to me in the mirror more masculine than ever.  But now, the world’s foremost expert, a man who makes his living by providing surgery to transsexuals who want to look more feminine was standing here telling me that I didn’t need the surgery.

I can’t even explain how nonplussed and flustered that made me feel.  On the one hand, you can’t get a higher objective validation than that.  On the other hand, I was just denied my physical crutch with which to achieve Transformation!

Having said that, Dr. O. said “Wait a minute,,,,” and opened a drawer to take out the ruler he uses to check the projection of the forehead out from the eyes.  He placed it along side the top of my nose and said, “Yep, I wouldn’t want to do anything on the forehead.”

He stood back, took another look at the whole face and told me, “You know, you actually have quite a number of feminine features.”  He paused, and said, “I really don’t think you need any surgeries at all.”

Now, talk about being hit by a brick.  You know how most of us who have explored FFS feel about Dr. O.  The man is a miracle worker.  He is God.  He accomplishes things with the face that seem so far out of the realm of what our medical science is supposed to be able to achieve that one feels as if science fiction or magic is at work.  And he is telling me that my face is so naturally feminine that he wouldn’t do any work on it.

Still, I pressed him.  I described specific elements of my face that bothered me, and that I wanted to change them not because I would pass better but because I wanted to lose my own self.

So, he said, “Well, let’s see…” and he did one more close examination.  As he went, he noted anything that might even conceivably be changed, just because it would make me feel better about myself, not because it needed to be done.  The list was small.

He said that a the very back of the jaw, he could shave a little off angle if I wanted.  (Strangely, that part of my jaw looks fine to me – I think it gives me just a touch of strength, more like a television series actress – and anyway, it is almost always hidden unless I pull back my hair.

He said that although I had a perfectly female forehead, he could, if I wished, grind down, just the tiniest bit, the “bossing” under the eyebrow to make it a small bit flatter.

I thought that I might like to someday do that because it is the eyes that most stare out at me as Dave.

Other than that, he agreed with me that  I might look younger with a facelift.  After all, I’m 52 now, and age does, eventually, take its toll.

I told him about my lip, and how it used to curl more before my nose job.  He said he could fix that up if I wanted.

And finally, I asked about my nose.  He said it was perfectly feminine.  I protested that there were some things about it I didn’t like.  He said, “Does it bother you?”  I said, “Yes,” and he said, “Okay, we can do that.”

So, basically, he will do some surgeries, if I want, to take care of things that bother me.  But he doesn’t feel I NEED to have anything done at all.

Well, that was more than I could assimilate at the time.  We once again dissolved into idle chatter as he prepared to lock up.  He called us a taxi, and then Teresa and I bid the good doctor a good day.

While waiting for the cab, I discussed with Teresa both her feelings about having seen her more-revealed face in the mirror, sans sutures and packing, and also my feelings about having the Great Dr. O. tell me, essentially, I was unreadable.

What confusion in my heart!

When we returned to Cocoon House, our first real time spent upstairs in Apartment B, we greeted our new roommates and then settled in.  I spent all my free-thinking-time pondering how I wanted to proceed.

Just last night I had become prepared to go the full surgical route, just like Teresa, and in spite of all the pain and suffering I had seen.  And that led to my opening up myself inside to discover, for the first time, my true female self by rejecting, once and for all, the male persona I had kept alive since kindergarten as my shield.

And then, just hours later, ready to go the distance with surgery, I am told I don’t need any.

What to do?  However would I achieve Transformation now?

So I went to the mirror.  Tried to sneak in, actually.  Pretend to be using the restroom.  Catch a glance as I walk by, ostensibly going somewhere else.  It was just too damn embarrassing to be examining my countenance in front of all those other TS folk.

And from these little glimpses, I discovered some things.  The thing that makes me feel most guy like is my upper lip – the one the used to curl up so nicely until the guy who did my nose job made it droop down (unevenly) like a guy’s lip – flat rather than curled up.

If I did that one surgery, I would feel completely passable.  But what about if I pulled back my hair and didn’t rely on my bangs?  Could I get rid of the Dave Eyes?  Could I feel my forehead wasn’t so masculine?

I found that if I just filled in a little hair along the slight recession on either side (though as Dr. O said, my hairline, even, was within the range of normal female) it made me feel feminine even with those damned Dave Eyes, and even with that forehead that to me looks masculine.

You see, as I thought about it, the forehead and lip I have are just like my mother’s.  Whatever made me physically partially female gave me my mother’s characteristics more than my fathers.  But I recall, when my mother was alive, looking at her face, especially her lip and forehead, and thinking, “Wow, does my mom look mannish today.”

It was when she was tired, I soon discovered, that age and exhaustion caused things to droop, and made her features even more masculine.  And I also noticed that those features belonged to my grandmother as well.

So I really couldn’t say that they were actually male features, but certainly reminiscent of maleness, and also of my former self, so I wanted them gone.

I came to the conclusion that by doing the hair edges, maybe just a hair transplant, and by doing the lip, I might in fact eliminate all the vestiges of male form that personally bugged me, even though I needed nothing to be done for transition purposes.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful!  A simply lip lift and a little hair, and I might leave it all behind.  But if I still needed more, I could do the shave of the eyebrow area bossing and get a face lift as well.

With rising spirits, I sat down on Teresa’s bed (upstairs they are all single beds, and ours are the two in the front room of the apartment), and shared my findings.

That’s when Tricia came in.

As mentioned earlier, Tricia and Marylou comprise the couple (RNs both), who own, run, and started Cocoon House.  Terri is their long-time friend from Canada, who comes in once a year so the other two girls can have a vacation.

Tricia introduced herself and sat down in the chair by the door to spend a little get-to-know-you time with us.  We spoke a little while, and then Teresa, realizing we hadn’t introduced ourselves, explained that she had started the message board, BeginningLife.com, and had researched created the FFS page that was hosted there.

Tricia was surprised and pleased to make her acquaintance.  Then Teresa introduced me as\, “Melanie,” and Tricia said, “NO!”  She was taken aback.  She said she had thought I was just a genetic friend of the one who had the surgery.

She went on to say that Terri had told her that the two girls downstairs were moving upstairs.  She said it was one Dr. O. patient and her friend, who isn’t a transsexual, so she isn’t sure what the story is.

Well, there it goes again.  I’m sitting around complaining and all about getting rid of the old Dave look that I see, when Dr. O says I don’t need any surgery, the girls upstairs the other day thought I was a genetic woman, Terri thought I was a genetic woman, and Tricia thought I was a genetic woman.  This, from people who have seen literally hundreds of our kinds, and ought to be the most qualified to sense our kind even out on the street.

On the one hand, my feelings were real.  On the other hand, I felt like kind of a heal, dealing with personal issues, when so many out there yearn to be even moderately passable, even after FFS, and some never will be.

Teresa even told me of one girl that Dr. O. had turned away saying he wouldn’t do the surgery because the candidate would never pass, so it wouldn’t help anything.

I clearly had much to consider.

Later in the day, K showed up again.  She’s has such a lovely heart.  She had been out playing touch football and had time before another softball game later in the evening.  She came to see how Teresa looked after having the bandage and packing off and out.  Such a kind thing.

After she had left, some friends of our roommate, Lisa, showed up.  We all had a very pleasant discussion about gender issues (surprise!) and even a few other topics (surprise!).

And then, time for bed, with many unresolved issues to sleep on.

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