After Life

Book Two: Purgatory

From Journeys and Transitions

by Melanie

Chapter 97

Melanie Whines Again....

AUTHOR'S NOTE:

I am writing this note just four days after having penned the following entry.  In it, I once again embrace self-indulgence like lover, and wallow in pity for my own situation.  While I don't actually blame Teresa for my troubles, I certainly lay them at her doorstep.

It is so tempting to edit this from the journal and expunge the negative energy rather than perpetuate it.  But it is a necessary step on the path to the almost miraculous resolution of these troubles that has already occurred, less than a week later.  Without this step it might leave a gap that others seeking to find their own answers might not be able to span.  So, I offer it in the hope of providing some direction, warnings, and caveats, but not without this disclaimer to soften the snarl.

December 2, 2005

Another tough day.  Started out okay, but then Teresa decided she wanted to go out to breakfast for like the first time in years.  And she wanted to go without showering, just get up and leave.

Now, if I donít shower, I usually get all sticky and feel yucky and my hair stands up and does tricks.  Still, if she was willing to hit the road, then it was a big step for her and I wasnít going to screw it up.

And, since we had talked about my looking forward to going places with her just yesterday, she was probably doing this for me anyhow, so double the reason to not make waves.

So, I started to get dressed.  But we had slept until 9:30 and were getting hungry.  And, when she went to see herself in the mirror, she balked.  The swelling, she said, was too uneven, and made her look a little odd.  I checked it out.  She was right.

After I got out all the stuff to make breakfast here, she changed her mind and decided to go anyway.  So I put everything back in the fridge.  But I suspected she was just trying to be supportive, so I nailed her to the wall, figuratively, and insisted she tell me what she wanted to do, based solely on how she felt as her own advocate.  The answer was that she really didnít want to go, and would rather have breakfast here.  So, I took it all out again and made us a wonderful low-cal omelet with spices, and sautťed peppers both orange and red and sweet Hawaiian onions and fresh mushrooms topped with roasted chipotle salsa.

Breakfast et, we both felt better, and she decided it was a fine day to go exploring and take, as she called it, a foray into the area surrounding our home.  And so, we dressed, did the make-up thing, and high tailed it down highway 50 and then North up to a shopping mall in Roseville.

Now, we havenít been to a mall here in Northern California before.  And, we very seldom ever went to one together in all our years (due to Teresaís paranoia of being read, and then compounded by our virtual exile an hour away from anything good up in Pine Mountain Club.)

This, then, was a big event.  For Teresa, it was her first real opportunity to mingle amongst the denizens of the normal world, no longer out of phase or stuck in the phantom zone.  But for me, the time of wandering carefree through a mall have gone.  And now I am the one with the paranoia.

And so, as we walked through the corridors, window shopping, and stopping to investigate several stores in detail, her mood steadily improved as people either ignored her completely, or went out of their way to strike up a conversation, due to her ever-improving good looks.   In contrast, my mood steadily darkened, and I felt totally ignored while others sought her out, dismissed as incidental whenever we both fell into conversation with a clerk, and constantly fearful of getting yet another slew of soft-clockings.  And, of course, all this was accentuated by comparison with Teresa, though my experience would have been nearly as bad if I had gone there on my own.  Several times I had tears pressuring the back of my eyes so strongly that I narrowly escaped bursting into sobs in the middle of the commercial center.  And more than a few time I actually had to gasp in a breath of air and blow it out through pursed lips, just to keep from breaking down entirely.

But, I somehow managed to hold it together, and toward mid-day, we left the mall and walked across the parking lot to an Elephant Bar restaurant.  And there, I had the only truly positive experience of the day Ė the grilled Swordfish over a wood fire, topped with a citrus-garlic herb sauce.  It was very low in calories for my ongoing diet, and also was by far the best Swordfish I have ever eaten.

Still, as soon as we left the facility and returned to the mall, the pall of my earlier angst and depression settled chokingly over my soul once again.  I tried to keep up my side of the banter, but I couldnít even look over at Teresa without feeling like shit next to her.

On the way out, we stopped for chocolate.  I had insisted.  And it was the right move.  Whenever I am on the verge of losing it altogether, I can usually still hold it together with the added strength of chocolate.  It is my Popeye Equivalent of spinach. 

The drive home was short, and Teresa, once again, wanted to talk about how I was feeling, my mood, was she the cause, and so on.  I tried to answer directly with simply yes or no responses, but she persisted until I became aware that nothing short of a full and complete accounting would satisfy her.

Now, I know she is just looking after my interests, and wants to see what problems there are so she can make whatever changes necessary to solve them for me.  But the thing is, the problems are not caused, nor can they be solved, by anything she does.  They are caused by how she looks.

When we got home, we had another long talk about it.  Teresa then went online and found a response to a message she had posted yesterday with pictures attached of how she now looks.  She called me over to see the response, which said something like, ďYou look like someone everyone would want to be pals with.Ē

She then told me that she felt this helped her understand why I have been so troubled by her surgery Ė she now looked so approachable, as evidenced by the response of people to her in the mall.

Well, she hit the button!  Give the girl a cigar!  But that, I knew, was just the tip of the ice pick, so I made it my business to elucidate.

I told her that, in fact, there was a whole list of issues Iíve had to deal with.

List follows:

  1. The big story on the news today was reaction to the worldís first partial face transplant.  Controversy centers around the ethics of the emotional anguish that might be suffered by the loved ones of the transplant recipient since, as the network newscaster put it, the very essence of the emotional connection with the loved one, the face, the window to the soul, would be so changed as to make them feel like a stranger.  She went on to describe how transplanting a face was also an identity transfer, and carried with it all those ethical considerations as well.

So, this is just one of the issues I have had to face, no pun intended.  And while this whole face-change thing is international news as being a first, Dr. O has done it 847 times (at last accurate count by his staff).  And the loved ones of all of those cases have had to deal with the very same issues that the networks are looking at as only possible problems some time in the future.

  1. Unlike the fact transplant, Teresa is not just made whole again, from being disfigured, but is made prettier, more feminine, and even had her apparent gender changed.  That was only hinted at in the edges of the network reports, but is already history in the world of FFS.

  So, for the mate of an FFS person, they go from being at a certain parity of attractiveness, some comfortable level of how good they look, whether male or female, compared to their partner, and this balance is instantly and forever upset.  And now, for me, I have gone from being the prettier, to being the less pretty, and in addition, from being the more female looking to being the more mannish looking, and from being the more feminine appearing to being the more masculine appearing.  As if the first issue were not enough for a human heart to contend with, we have now layered on a second angst that is at least equally disturbing.

  Now how much would you pay?  But wait, thereís more!

  1. Teresa has always been a charismatic person.  When she worked at the cartoon studio, Nickelodian, at the time I met her, there were always several people hovering around her desk, just chewing the fat, basking in the glow of her approachable, intriguing personality.  For a person as insecure as me, one who canít seem to make close friends, and is pretty much ignored unless Iím in charge of something (like teaching a class), the way she used to be was unsettling enough.  But now that she looks like a ďpalĒ suddenly her appearance no longer diminishes that charisma, and people can hardly keep away from her.

  So, for me, I find myself shoved out of the light so far that people forget Iím there, and then, almost apologetically, acknowledge me as an afterthought.  In fact, during all our joint conversations with people today, more than 90% of the words, eye contact, and attention was directed at Teresa, even when I tried to be equally engaging.  Add THAT to the other two issues and see if we can understand my angst.

  1. Now, Teresa has also been made younger by the procedure.  The wrinkles on her forehead and eyelids have been smoothed out by having tightened up the skin.  Plus, she is four years younger than me to begin with.  And, she has been on hormones longer/  And even before surgery, people frequently thought she was 10 to 15 years younger than her chronological age.  Now she looks 20 to 25 years younger, gets looks from kids half my age, and can wear a young womanís clothes.

  So, for me, I look like her mother.  I look over the hill.  We donít look like we belong together.  I wear the same styles and look like a middle-aged frump trying to pretend sheís still attractive.  She looks young, I look like Iím trying to pretend Iím young.  Add that to the other three issues, and you get an even better idea of some of what Iíve been going through.

  1. Teresa has now crossed the gender line completely.  She couldnít be mistaken for a man if she wore a fake mustache.  And, she doesnít have to worry about that at all, no matter how much sleep sheís had, no matter is she showers or not, no matter if she is sick, or the lighting isnít right Ė whatever.  She has ceased to be a transsexual and has actually become a woman.

  So, for me, Iím left behind.  Compared to her I am just a transsexual and she is a woman.  I have to fear about being read, she does not.  I have to worry about lighting conditions.  If I donít get enough sleep or catch a cold, I canít even go to the pharmacy because Iíll be read for sure.  The balance between us, the gap is so wide, that Iím not even in the same league.  Now add that to the other four issues and see how I feel.

  1. And finally, the money is gone.  Now that I have gotten the cashiers check for Dr. O., there is simply no more money left.  And that means literally years before I could ever hope to have some of the surgeries Teresa has now completed.  Whatís more, my forehead is already back far enough, so although he would maybe reduce some brow bossing, I can never experience the confidence of the complete make-over that she has had, because quite simply, he wouldnít perform that operation on me.

  So, for me, I have no hope of getting even the surgeries I can until Iím so old it wonít matter.  And every day, I watch her enjoy the fruits of our labors, I know I will never taste of that fruit.  But, Teresa tells me, with absolutely sincerity, that she will take a job for a year and turn all the money over to me so I can have the surgeries.  But imagine, Iím going nuts as it is.  Then, to have to spend 8 hours a day alone for a whole year when Iím borderline already?  And knowing that she is going out into the world, meeting people, going out for lunch, seeing things, feeling free, while I am imprisoned here at home?  And with only one car, and being 2 Ĺ miles from town, I donít even have neighbors to talk to?  Do we really think I would survive that?  Do we really think I could handle it?  Especially with my insecurities and knowing how beautiful, charismatic, attractive, and outgoing she would be in the midst of all the men and women of the workplace and all the other establishments she visits?  And having good times with them and coming home to an increasingly morose mate?  Sure, that would work out just fine.  But if I donít agree to that, Iím stuck to never resolve this problem.

If, of course, the problem is truly external.

But, what if the problem is all in my head, or at least partially in my head.  And what if the lip surgery actually resolves all of the truly external issues?  And what if, based on the new way I look to myself in the mirror, I start feeling better about myself.  And what if, because of my increased confidence, I donít send out negative energies and people start to include me in conversations and pay an equal amount of attention to me.  And what if I still have some surgeries down the line, but as enhancements, coming from a position of already feeling good about myself but just wanting to be better?

Could this be the future scenario, or is it just wishful thinking?

Well, I can honestly say that in looking back, I do not believe I was read once today, not even close up.  Why?  Iíve been on the higher hormones for two weeks now, and the difference in my face is amazing.  You wouldnít think hormone would affect the face so much, but it is almost like a minor FFS.  Lines have softened, fat has redistributed, collagen is coming back, cheeks are less sunken..

In fact, when I came home, tired and depressed as I was, I took a look in the mirror and, honestly, I looked better then than I had at my best anytime in the last five or six years.  And this while still not being caught up on my sleep, still waiting for the skin to completely renew from the higher doses, and still waiting to have the lip surgery.

So, is there hope that as bad as the emotions and fears have been to bear, they could all evaporate, or at least so largely dissipate that happiness is at hand just 86 hours from now?

Sure.

And when I find out, Iíll be sure to let you know.

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