After Life

Book Two: Purgatory

From Journeys and Transitions

by Melanie

Chapter 80

A Pretty Path in Purgatory

November 8, 2005

When I woke up this morning, I felt no better.  But I did have a much more organized, clear, and concise view of exactly what the hell is going on.

As I had feared way back in my first entry in the very first book of this FFS journey, Teresa and I have had a role reversal.  What was true for her is now true for me, but in several respects is actually worse for me.

This is how it over the course of the 9 years of our relationship, and how it is for me now:

She, Then

Me, Now

 

 

Feeling that she looked like a guy

Feeling that I look like a guy

Being afraid to go out in public

Being afraid to go out in public

Having everyone tell her she didn’t look like a guy

Having everyone tell me I don’t look like a guy

Having me honestly tell her she didn’t look like a guy

Having her honestly tell me I don’t look like a guy

Feeling that no matter how good life got, she would always be trapped looking like a guy

Feeling that no matter how good life gets, I will always be trapped looking like a guy.

Discovering that FFS existed

Discovering that FFS existed

Learning that it might actually solve her problem, but not being sure.

Learning that it might actually solve my problem, but not being sure.

Investigating, yearning, longing, but having the finances go South and take her ever farther away from hope.

Investigating, yearning, longing, but having the finances go South and take me ever farther away from hope.

Bemoaning her unhappiness and insecurity with the way she looked nearly each and every day.

Bemoaning my unhappiness and insecurity with the way I look almost each and every day.

Falling into severe depressions over it that sometimes lasted weeks at a time.

Falling into severe depressions over it that sometimes last weeks at a time.

She felt that life was so hopeless, happiness so unattainable, that she was cursed, and becoming paranoid that god hated her and that everyone was against her – me, my kids, the people in town and at work.

Feeling that life is so hopeless, happiness so unattainable, that I was cursed, and becoming paranoid that god hates me and that everyone is against me – me, my kids, the people in town and at work.

Having to not hold a job and not go out to work and barely going out of the house for four years due to her anxieties.

Having to not hold a job and not go out to work and barely going out of the house for ? years due to my anxieties.

Making me responsible for making the money to get her the face surgery.

Making her responsible for making the money to get me facial surgeries.

Getting suicidal if she thought she wouldn’t be able to get it.

Getting suicidal when I think I won’t be able to get it.

Worrying that even after the pain and expense, surgery still won’t solve the problem.

Worrying that even after the pain and expense, surgery still won’t solve the problem.

 

In other words, I now have the full complement of the problems she just left behind.

But there are differences too.

During the time before FFS, she knew I also had bad days where I had valid concerns about the way I looked when I was too tired, run down, or depressed, and it made my face more masculine.

Now, I can see that she looks absolutely female no matter how tired, run down, or depressed she is.  So, while she at least had some sense of parity, of having a comrade in arms, I do not have that luxury, and feel I am alone.

During the time before FFS she knew I did not have supreme confidence in my looks and had to rely on steeling myself mentally to go out in the world, so we shared those concerns.

Now, I know she has supreme confidence in her looks, and does not have to put forth any mental effort at all to go out in the world, so I am alone in that concern.

During the time before FFS, I knew I looked better than many transsexuals, and still do.  I even look better than many who’ve had FFS.  Those who look like transsexuals end up looking like women.  But those who look like men often end up looking like transsexuals.  I didn’t feel “better” or more legitimate than those less fortunate, but did feel luckier, more blessed, and felt pity for those who didn’t look as good as I did.

But over the years, age has taken its toll, I have come to look more and more like those that I pitied over the years.

Now, I see how Teresa looks, and I know how she must feel, and I know that she now feels luckier than me, more blessed, and must also feel pity for me, as I do not look as good as she does.

During all our time together, she never had to contend with having a mate who had been legitimized in a tangible fashion to KNOW that she was female both inside and out.  She never had to contend with knowing her mate could feel complete inside, and while she could not.  Rather, it was a frequent topic between us as to how neither one of us felt complete, so she lived with a kindred soul with whom she could seek common solace.

I have had that taken away from me.  What made use equal is gone.  What made us proud to have both reached genuine voice, passable looks, and equality in all ways, has been altered – the balance has been tipped, and I have become a second class citizen in my own home.

She is a real woman.  I am a transsexual.  She knows she is a real woman, she feels it inside, with all the entitlement and right to belong to the group “women” that we have both longed for.  But while she has it.  I do not.  We are no longer the same.  We are on different sides of the fence as much as if I was living with a pretty, outgoing, charismatic, genetic woman, and I still felt and looked like a man in drag to myself.

Today, she is even prettier.  Just minutes ago, she came to kneel by my chair and to put her arms around me.  I held her as she put her head against my breasts.  And though I could feel the pressure on my breasts, I was higher on the chair, her head was on me, I was holding her, and I felt so very masculine, so very much playing the man’s role.

Still, I love her to come to me like that.  I enjoy so much her femininity.  I love the way girls look.  I was always afraid of talking to a beautiful girl.  I believed I wasn’t man enough.  Turns out, I was right.  As mentioned in my previous diary, I had asked out 21 girls in a row and been turned down.  That last time, realizing I had nothing to lose, I decided to go for broke and ask her why.  She though for a moment and then replied, “You’re just so…. Harmless.”

Actually what she was sensing was my female heart.  There was none of the masculine edge.  When I met and married Mary, the big attraction was that she didn’t seem to see that.  She treated me as if there was nothing wrong with me.  She treated me, and made me feel, as if I was normal.

And so, I put up with a multitude of emotional dissatisfactions, because in her presence I could feel like I had a right to exist.  The one time she seemed to be threatening to leave during an argument, I fell on the floor by the kitchen door, curled up in the fetal position, and cried over and over again, “Don’t leave me…. Please don’t leave me… please don’t leave me….”

So when I get the love I do from Teresa.  The acceptance.  The joy I see in her eyes when she comes to me…  simply, it gives me a reason to live.

Does it also create envy?  Does it also make me feel different, separated, apart, less worthy?  Yes.

But I would feel those same things alone.  If I had to endure this alone, without her love, I would surely end it all.

In fact, she returned to me just moments ago to hug me again in the same way.  She told me how much peace she was finally feeling.  And though it hurt me to know I was not and did not expect to feel that peace, it also heartened me to know that such peace was possible for our kind.

She asked what I was writing, and I told her I was adding to my journal.  She said she hadn’t looked over at the screen to read it.  I sensed her desire to know the current bent of my emotions.  So, I explained in non-passionate terms, the essence of my discussions here today.

I verified that I did not hold any of this as her fault, but that she was, in fact, the unintended instrument of my discontent.  I explained that all that she felt before FFS for nine years, I felt now.  To which she replied, “I don’t understand how you can say that!  You are so beautiful!”

I then reminded her of how many times I had told her the exact same thing over the years.  How many people had told her right up to the day of surgery that she didn’t need it.  How many times she had been told how much she looked absolutely genetic, that all she had to do was believe in herself and she never got read under those conditions.

I said, “Now, recall how you still felt inside even with all these things that people, including me, were telling you.”  I said, “What you felt then, is what I am feeling now.  I realize you are no longer there – you are on the other side – but do not forget so fast what it used to be like for you.”

And then I said, “Don’t feel guilty, don’t blame yourself.  You are, in fact, my hope that perhaps someday I too will find peace.  And if you wear a crown of thorns to suffer pain along with me, that hope is diminished; taken away.”

She told me that she must come off as an ogre, a monster, in my journal.  As we continued to talk, I realized that the interplay between us exacerbated the negative energy.  Still, she really needed to get a grip on where I was at.

Having published just a couple days ago the first book of this new journal.  I decided the time was right for her to read it.  So I have just directed her to the web pages where it is presented.

I try to end each “book” (major section) in my journal on an upbeat tone.  In fact, that is how I know each section has come to its natural conclusion – when a new hope takes me, and I am able to gather the strength to carry on with the real expectation that things will someday be resolved.

So, though I will not wish to share this second book with Teresa or anyone else until that point is reached, I fully intend to do so once it’s partial journey has reached an end.  End of Act II, as it were.

I’ll close for now.  Teresa is right now reading that first long entry I wrote at 5:30 in the morning, before I even knew I was keeping a proper journal, nor had any clue as to the depth and length into which this tome would evolve.

I eagerly await her comments, hopefully at the end of each chapter, and then tonight’s inevitable discussion of the first book as a whole.

I can only hope it brings her a true understanding of my heart, where my mind it at, and the nature of my daily pain.

I can only hope that is will help heal the issues between us, not aggravate them.

And, I can only hope that through her reading and our afterward discussions, we can become even closer – that she will lose her feelings of guilt, and that I will once again catch a transient glimpse of real peace as it sails past my life.

Early Afternoon

A most extraordinary thing has occurred.  Teresa is about halfway through reading the first book.  But after just the first chapter, she paused to talk.  Although she took exception to a few minor things such as, “I’m not always online talking to people in the transgender community…” and “Ha!”  To which I inquired for further explanation.  She informed me that we had talked about her habit of making unexpected provocative comments, and she has made real efforts to no longer engage in that, albeit unintentionally.

But aside from that, she told me she had no idea how much pain I had been under during the time leading up to FFS.  And I found that just by her reading it, my mood lifted almost instantly.

Apparently, I have really wanted to share all these concerns with her.  But because I love her, I could not do so before surgery when she needed encouragement and support.  And I could not do so after surgery when she was unsure of the results and what she felt about them.

By keeping this journal, I have been able to capture them live, however, and retain them for a day such as this in which she has expressed her new confidence and has settled into a positive view of her life, free from the angst that hounded her for years.

In fact, she mentioned that very fact herself in our conversation – that she no longer felt the angst that I was describing, though she remember it.  And I noted that though I’m not at all happy with the suffering I must endure, though I probably shouldn’t say so, I am convinced that is the best thing for the future of our relationship in the long run.

Before, I had no idea of the kind of pain Teresa was suffering.  And since she had already found her true and complete female self inside early on, she staggered under that oppressive weight each and every day.  As she put it, “I would suffer the pain each day, then go to sleep and wake up with it again the next morning.”

Though I have both good and bad days, and though I have had some degree of this hurt nearly every day since surgery became a certainty for her in the future, I will never have nearly a lifetime of it.

What I have gained is personal knowledge and experience with the kind of pain, if not its duration.  So now, and through my ongoing efforts to resolve it, I am building a common experience with Teresa – veterans of the same war, she who had a longer hitch but is now home free, and me who was drafted late, but still has time to serve.

I was able to tell Teresa, now, that I did, do, and always will love her.  I explained it as such: “I wake up glad that I am with you.  I wake up sad that I am with me.  I used to hate who I was inside.  Now I am peace with my true self, but hate what I am on the outside.”

Somehow, just knowing that she now knows what I have been going through, and knows that so much of it is like her burden – this has brought us together, and has relieved me of much of my angst, for today at least.

So, we are planning, for the afternoon, to get her out of the house for the first time since her return from surgery.  We’ll drive down to Placerville to pick up some Kentucky Fried Chicken, which she will try her best to eat, and I will enjoy to the limits of my strict 1,000 calorie diet.

And one more thing.  For years I have been troubled by the dilemma of making my transgender background known when I have a world-recognized career as a teacher of story.  I didn’t want to jeopardize my bread and butter.  And I didn’t want to be known primarily as “that transsexual woman who also teaches story.”

But today, while Teresa was continuing to read, I took the “public consumption” version of my home page and overwrote it with the transgender version that I had previously linked to only from my transgender support site.

So, now, anyone who buys my StoryWeaver software for writers or visits Storymind.com will get the same story as those who visit my Transgender Support Site at heartcorps.com.

Essentially, I have outed myself in a really big way.  And I feel great about it.

I am not yet sure as to whether it will cost me my livelihood or if it will increase the notoriety, acclaim, and bucks in the bank.

But either way, I am truly tired of hiding.  And even if I don’t think I look as good as I used to, or passable at all under an increasing variety of circumstances, I am who I am, and that’s all that I am, as Popeye says, and as quoted to poignant effect in a pun in the book, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (not to be confused with “THE Invisible Man by H. G. Wells).

So the cat is out of the bag (or the pussy out of the closet), Teresa is privy to my most personal fears and doubts, I have scheduled surgery for just 28 days from now (a normal, female lunar cycle from now), and today, at least, I am comfortably walking down a pretty path in purgatory.

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