After Life

Book Two: Purgatory

From Journeys and Transitions

by Melanie

Chapter 79

Two Roads

November 7, 2005

Yesterday was a real crapper.  Teresa has been online looking at new clothes for herself, including lingerie.  And I’ve been looking over at her across the large living room, from my computer to hers, and seeing how pretty she looks in any lighting condition from any angle.

She had expressed interest in taking another series of still pictures so she could have them for her FFS progression journal.  So, I set up and grabbed the usual “wrap-around” shots.  But this time, we decided to do it against a different blank wall in the bedroom rather than the one in the living room.  Same color, more space, and better lighting that might not require the flash.

So, we shot a series, but had to use the flash, and as usual, the harsh light made her bruises show up and cast really angular shadows to her face.  As a result, she ends up on these documentation photos looking FAR less feminine than she does in person under normal lighting conditions.

But, as she stood there, under the lights, right after our session, she looked so beautiful that I told her not to move, grabbed the camera again, and shot a close portrait under natural light.  And man, did it come out wonderfully well!  It fully captured her beautiful, female, feminine new look, with a “come-hither” smile that melts you in your tracks.

Naturally, she was pleased to have it.  My daughter had called early and inquired as to whether Teresa had a picture yet that could be sent by email, since the last time my daughter had seen her, Teresa was bandaged about the head like a mummy, just eyes and lips showing.

This picture was clearly good enough to show.  And even at just short of three weeks out of surgery, my god, is she attractive. 

So, still haunted by my own demons, I decided to sneak back into the room a little later and take a shot of myself under the same lighting conditions.  I just needed to know, rather than having my shots and her shots, seeing her live and seeing me in the mirror – what would I think objectively if I could compare her shot to mine under exactly the same conditions.

I clicked the shutter, switched the digital camera to preview, and my picture fluttered up on the LCD screen.  My heart sank.  I looked so much like a transsexual, and so much less pretty than her that I felt like the scum of the earth – a toad – a grotesque mockery of what a real woman is like.

I tried several more shots, and (though it seemed impossible), each came out worse than the last, until after four or five I simply gave up, near tears.

From that point forward that evening, every time I looked over and saw Teresa, I felt ugly, an ungodly abomination, and worst of all, a transsexual for life.

Now mind you, through all this, I never lost the new communion with my own heart that washed over me that Saturday, just a little over two weeks ago.  But under these conditions, that self knowledge made the feelings even more painful.

Before, I used to be able to fall back on the perspective that I was male and female, masculine and feminine, and blessed to be.  That I could see a wider range of life than either sex, and though I didn’t belong to either camp, I was rare, special, and privileged.

But now…  now that I knew my soul to be truly female, completely female, and wholly part of that half of the population by spirit, any masculine traits make me feel unclean, deformed.

So as Teresa sat in the chair next to me, and would turn to smile that most amazing new smile, rather than melting to know she was mine, I braved a false face to her while screaming inside in total agony.

And then I began to think that doing the lip would be, as Slim Pickens’ once said in an interview, “like pourin’ parfume on a pig.”  It would be an empty gesture: spitting into the wind.

What’s more, business has been very slow compared to normal (due to the sluggish economy).  I have already lent to our family funds almost ten thousand dollars of my 15 thousand dollar share from the sale of the house.  I only have six thousand left and don’t expect my business to cover the rents, mortgages, and back tax payments due at the end of this month.  So if I hold back $3700 for my lip surgery, I may very well be forcing myself into yet another miserable financial situation such as I just got out of after years of torment!

So, I decided not to have the surgery.  But then, the pain grew even worse, and I felt even more condemned to hell than being a lady in waiting in purgatory.  Eventually, Teresa tuned into my bad mood – as good an actor as I am, I was under such internal pressure that I just couldn’t keep it from leaking out enough for it to be discovered.

When confronted by her, I chose honesty.  I dumped my concerns, my fears, the way her new face made me feel, and also my fears for our future finances.  She tried to be supportive, but I was so depressed, that eventually, I dragged her down with me.  And this after her telling me earlier that she had finally just recovered from post-surgical depression!  I felt like such a cad, yet still had no escape from my pain.

Her head started to pain again.  The onslaught of negative energy from me created such pain for her that she wasn’t able to sleep for hours.  I lay there next to her, feeling so responsible – BEING so responsible for her suffering, but still my pain was not abated.

As I lay there, I saw before me two roads.  One led down the path of continued suffering and torment.  Strangely, it was so attractive.  It required no effort on my part.  All I had to do was wallow in my own misery, and soon, Teresa would leave, and I could sink comfortably into perpetual anguish through the end of my days.  So easy, so effortless, so tempting….

And then there was the other road.  A path that required me to get a handle on my issues, though not necessarily to solve them.  In this scenario, I remained miserable inside all of my life – BUT, I had a beautiful girl as my de facto wife and lover who adored me.  I made trips around the world, I made money, I enjoyed hobbies and friends, and my secret angst was put in a box that shielded the rest of my existence from its power most of the time.  Occasionally, circumstances would trick me into seeing the monster in the box.  And then, I would cry for myself and the damnation of the most precious part of my life.

Two roads:  both with misery.  But one lead to complete and utter suffering, and the other to a largely wonderful life, with a vague background noise of suffering beneath it all.

Seen that way, the choice was easy.  I would be a fool to throw all those wonderful, enviable elements away simply because one part of me would be perpetually doomed to scream in secret.

I chose the best life I could have under the circumstances.  Having made that decision, I immediately set about putting it into play.  I cheered myself up by my own emotional bootstraps.  I simply acted cheerful until it seemed almost real, even to myself.

When we awoke this morning, I was so damned cheerful that Teresa asked if I was really happy or just putting on an act.  So I explained about the two roads and the choice I made.  I told her that it would take some work to wrest my demon into a crucible, but I would succeed.  And in the meantime, I would enjoy the good life I had been graced with in all other areas.

To be honest, I am not happy.  I can feel the pain within me, omnipresent.  And it taints every positive feeling with a bitter tinge.  The good times I spent in bed with Teresa over the last few days are not carefree anymore.  They are not gentle sessions of the spirit, but rather pleasurable moments against a background of hurt.

What is different is that I do not dwell on the negative, and I pretend that it doesn’t exist in all my outward appearances.  Teresa knows it is there.  I know it is there.  And neither of us can do anything about it.  If it is unsolvable, than it must be ignored or I must succumb to it – the two roads – and I choose to ignore the pain and get on with my life.

This afternoon, then, I decided to go ahead with the surgery.  Why?  Because I do not think I can live without hope.  I must have some belief, no matter how small, that perhaps, someday, I will be free of the demon and can once again enjoy the carefree life I only so briefly tasted.

I am afraid of the surgery.  I am afraid not that I will die, but that I will die before I find a way to destroy my pain and live a truly happy life for a while.  And yet, if I do not have the surgery, there is no hope, and life itself is not worth living.

But how can this be?  I have related the tales of how even those at Cocoon House were startled to find out I was TG.  And how Dr. O himself said there was no need for surgery.  Yet even in the face of that universal outside appraisal, I still see myself as a transsexual in the mirror, and suffer for it.

I explained this to Teresa earlier this morning.  I am like an anorexic who knows intellectually that she is not overweight, but no matter.  When she looks at herself all she sees is the ugly fat girl in the mirror.

So I know that I am probably as passable as anyone ever has been without FFS.  And yet, when I see myself in the mirror, I see the transsexual.

I don’t know how they try to cure anorexics.  I don’t even know if they can be cured, or merely convinced to ignore their hearts, go with the democratic consensus, and live life with pain forever, as I have resolved to do.

Still, just as an anorexic must have some image at some weight that would make her feel pretty (or would she?), is there some physical arrangement of my face that would make me feel I had removed the disease of male features fully from myself and see nothing but the woman?

If the anorexic is simply warped of mind, then perhaps she could waste away totally, because it is really not the weight that makes her feel fat, but a thinness of spirit.

And in such a case, could I not have every procedure available, including FFS itself, and still see my image as that of a transsexual because I have a femininity of spirit that can never feel wholly realized simply because I was born into this body – a condition I can not remedy in this lifetime?

These are the thoughts that plague me now, even as I write.  And as I write, Teresa has come over to me on several occasions – love in her eyes, and knelt down next to me to caress me and to be held.

Without her touch, and with the burden I must carry, life would have no purpose, and I am not sure I could remain long in its clutches.  But with Teresa’s love, though I may never find an external image that calms my heart, I can at least survive, achieve, prosper, and in the best of situations, for a time, forget.

Like the anorexic, I cannot let this go.  I am not a quitter and never have been.  I will have the lip surgery.  And as finances may allow, I will continue with others until such time as I may finally feel free or until I am simply too old to convince a surgeon to work on me.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the lip alone was enough to do the job?  But over the course of this day, I have observed both Teresa and all the women I see on TV and in the magazines on the coffee table.  I see what Teresa has in common with them that I have always lacked.

I look at my nose, the one ruined by my doctor 12 years ago.  Teresa says it is pretty.  Doctor O says it is “fine.”  But to me it has become crooked compared to the original.  And rather than having gently sloping sides like Teresa’s and like all feminine of face women, mine has almost straight sides, rising from the face in far too angular a manner.

From the side, it is okay – not great, but a nice gentle curve, though somewhat uneven.  But from the front, where I see it, it is crooked, and sharp, and ugly, and male.

And my chin and jaw which used to be so pointy and feminine, is now draped with the droopy jowls that have melted down from my cheeks, both squaring the look of my jaw, and making my cheeks look sunken.

To be picky, there is a slight, very slight, hairline recession on either side, a tiny flare to the back of my jaw, a barely noticeable rise of my brow bossing, and that cursed Adam’s Apple, though it is still within female range.

I will do the lip for $3700.  I could do the nose for $6K.  A face lift for the jaw and cheeks would run $8500.   That would resolve the most prominent male attributes that look so exaggerated to me.  Nineteen thousand would do it.  But all I have is $4K, even if I risk the family finances.

Will I have the money for the rest before I get too old to ever look like I want, even if just for a little while?  I do not know.

So I will do what I can to keep my mind off my pain, will do what I can to change what bothers me most, and will try to live the “good life” that every else tells me I have.

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