Friday, October 21, 2011

Life As A Couple

M and I finally got to go on a vacation last week.  It’s been about two years since our last vacation alone.  It’s funny how you realize how badly you needed a vacation only after you get back from one.  Obviously, a lot has happened since our last vacation and this one was badly needed.  We decided to go on a nice long cruise of the Caribbean and do a lot of nothing.  And that’s exactly what we did, nothing.

The thing is I wasn’t sure how we’d handle this.  It was our first vacation as M and Dana, and I was wondering how we would handle the little things.  How would we get our pictures taken, as two friends on a cruise together or as a couple?  Would we introduce each other as our friend, or as our wife?  Even things like would we walk hand and hand and touch each other as a couple would?  Could I live a week and a half with the same people on a confined ship and pass without worries.

As usual all my worrying and planning went for not.  Walking on the ship for the our first picture together, M grabs me in a big embrace and our first picture is one of two people obviously in love with each other!  Our first dinner with 6 strangers and within 5 minutes one of the wives asks if we’re sisters.  M tells them without missing a beat that we are a couple.  I had planned all different responses to the question and she just blurts out that we’re a couple.  

Even, ‘could I pass for a week and half?’ was answered the first morning.  M ordered room service for our first breakfast on the ship to be delivered at 8:30 thinking that we’d be getting up at our normal 7:00.  But we seriously slept in and woke to the sound of the steward knocking on the door with a ‘Room Service’.  As M scrambles out of bed she just opens the door with me lying in bed wearing nothing but a T shirt and my hair in a mess.  If there’s every a time where it’s more Rick then Dana it’s the first few minutes in bed.  But the steward just walks in the room, looks at me and says ‘Good Morning Madam’.  That’s it, if I can be Dana at 8:30 in the morning lying in bed with just a grungy old t shirt from a 10K race 7 years ago, I’m Dana.

Just goes to show you all the planning and worrying is just wasted time and energy.  Within 12 hours of getting on the ship M’s just blown through all of my concerns and acting like the world is full of transgendered couples.

But even with all of my planning and pondering different scenarios for us on this cruise, one of the surprises would be how the world sees us together.  There’s no doubt we were taken for ‘that cute lesbian couple’.  Toward the end of the cruise we would be getting ‘hi girls’ and ‘it’s the girls’ from our table mates.  The crew treated us as a couple everywhere we went. 

I talk a lot about this path we are on, how we sometimes feel lost on it.  How neither one of us know where it’s going to lead.  Sometimes not knowing how we are just going to get to tomorrow.  But this cruise answered one of our fundamental questions of ‘Who will we be?’  We’re going to be that ‘cute lesbian couple, down the street’.  That’s how the world is going to see us.  And other then a few tight*ss people who can’t accept the world as it changed out from under them, being a lesbian couple is just no big thing anymore.  I think some where even excited to get home and say the hung out with cute little middle aged lesbian couple. 

It’s kind of a relief to know that’s where we are heading.  That it’s OK and that no one blinks an eye at us.  That people are genuinely happy to sit with us at dinner.  And excited to see us and be seen with us.  It’s a relief to find our place in the world and to know we’ll be accepted without hiding our love for each other.

One more story then I’m off to Key West for a last few days in the sun.  Over the last year or so neither M nor I have been wearing our wedding rings.  There’s no deep hidden message there, it’s just one of those things.  I guess it just didn’t feel right for either of us.  We’ve both had friends notice and worry if it signaled troubles with our marriage.  So on one of our stops in the Caribbean as we were walking down the tourist trap streets of St Thomas the rain starts coming down in buckets and soaks everything outside in seconds.  We duck into a small jewelry store just to get out of the tropical downpour .  To kill time and stay dry we start browsing the jewelry and checking out at the store’s wares.  Then as the rain starts letting up, M tries on a small ruby ring.  It looks beautiful on her ring finger.  In a moment of simple love she asks the jeweler if he has two because we both need a wedding ring.  The rain stops and the sun comes out as we leave the store holding hands with a beautiful ruby ring on our wedding ring fingers,  tears in our eyes, and smiles from one ear to the other like a teenage girl who just said ‘YES’.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why this is so hard

I'm tired.  It's late at night and I've been gone from home awhile now.  Work is wearing on me and E has her grips on me right now.  I struggle to keep at this.  I'm tired of always thinking of this.  I don't want to talk about it anymore.  I don't want to worry about who knows what.  I don't want to 'Write a book'. I just want to be normal.

I need M's warmth by me.  I need the normalcy that K gives me.  I need time to just be a woman.  Time to learn her ways.  Time to stop thinking so much. We finished work late tonight.  I've been struggling with E all day and she's winning.  I just manage to get to my hotel room before the crying starts.  I sit in the dark crying just wanting all of this to become easy.

I can't even tell you why this is so hard.  But it is.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

So now what?

So let's see, I've been on this path now for a little less then a year and as I look back on it I can see the tremendous changes that have occurred in that time.  I'm living my life as Dana now. My life is so much easier now.  I no longer fumble in the morning deciding who I'm going to be.  I no longer worry about slipping up and exposing my secret.  I'm happy.

In the beginning of this journey I wrote about not knowing where the path would lead or the steps I needed to take to get to where I wanted to be.  Turns out I just didn't look at the sign posts right in from of me.  The instructions for the path where simple I just didn't read them.  Take 2 pills twice a day, change your patch twice a week and wait.  It turns out E does all the hard work all I needed to do was wait and take life as it came. 

So now what? 

What do I do now?  When I first started down this path my biggest worry was being stuck halfway.  Stuck somewhere between Rick and Dana.  Not a male and not yet female.  But that worry was entirely physical.  I was worried about my physical self.  About how the rest of the world would see me.  But that's not the case.  I'm halfway between Rick and Dana in my head.  In my head, how I perceive myself, I'm certainly not a man anymore but I can't really say I'm a woman either. 

If someone were to ask me right now am I a man or a woman my totally honest answer would have to be that I'm transgendered.  I still see things as a transgendered person does.  Does a woman really walk through the supermarket and wonder if the person looking at her thinks she is a man?  No, I think the thought never even enters the mind of a woman.  Does a woman worry about using the restroom in a crowded airport because she might be confronted about using the wrong bathroom. No, never.  Does she worry about her voice, about using the right mannerisms, about who opens the door, or sits down first, or any of the thousand of subtle differences between being a woman and a man.  No, she doesn't.  But I do.  I worry about all of these things. Why, because I'm not yet a woman.  I'm still learning.  I'm still coming to terms with seeing the world as a woman.

I find myself filtering the experiences I have during the day though the lens of being transgendered.  Every new experience is something to be examined and analyzed.  Does a woman really get home and tell her spouse, 'guess what I used the woman's room at work today'?  Do her and her spouse have deep 3 hour talks over who orders dinner first at restaurants?  Or, how to handle friends who don't know or don't agree with who we are as a couple.  No, straight spouses don't do that, but M and I do.  We have to or we'll quickly be pulled apart by external forces.  I am not a woman with a wife.  I'm still a transgendered woman with a wife. 

So now what?

I wait.  I wait for time to do her work and change how I see myself. It's not a matter of confidence.  It's deeper then that. It's a matter of actually changing my view of my myself.  To actually see myself and the world outside of me in much the same way women do.

Will time and E finish the job?  Will they completely change my mental image to that of a woman's? I doubt it.  As I said before I won't ever be a genetic woman.  I don't have the past of one,  I don't have the shared experiences most woman my age would have.  I've never been a mom, I've never been some one's daughter or wife.  No, the real question is how far will E and time take me.  Far enough so these thoughts don't even matter anymore? 

So now what?

So now I just wait, I wait for the thoughts to become less important.  I wait for all the new experiences to pile up.  I wait for Rick's old experiences to become less powerful then Dana's new ones.

So now what? 

Now I wait for E keep doing her job.  To change me mentally.  M and I keep working on our new dynamic until it becomes us.  Until it becomes our new normal.  I use time to learn the ins and outs of running a business as a woman.  I wait for K and  all my FF friends to not see Rick anymore.  To see their friend as Dana, and remember Rick as he was.

I wait for the time when I don't frame my experiences through the lens of being transgendered but through the lens of being a woman. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It’s been a year now since I first went to the doctor to start this whole trip.  I’ve been on E now for about 8 months.  With that, I thought this would be a good time to just let you know where I’m at and where I’m likely to go.

First the big ones, I’m living as Dana now.  I have been her for 3 or 4 months now.  When I first started, this was my single biggest fear would I be able to pass as a woman and would I be able to live as Dana.  I’m happy to say I pass most of the time, and I truly love being Dana. My worry now is not so much do I pass but more along the lines of do they know.  I can blend into a crowd at the airport and not so much as get a single look.  But as I interact with people when do they know?  I struggle with the question, 'If someone knows but treats me as a woman with dignity and respect, does it matter if they know?'.    I suppose the answer will come to me shortly or I'll give up caring sooner or later. 

M is doing better.  This is still hard but she makes progress every day.  Every day she works at it.  And some days she has big realizations about her life that make it easier.  She’s had more troubles with her friends and co workers then I have.   People feel freer to give her unsolicited advice then they do to me.  I'd have to say most of the advice is hurtful and counter productive.  People seem at a loss to understand she is going to stay with me.   She's stronger then most people give her credit for and it surprises them. 

M and I are both learning how to live with each other again.  I make this sound like I left and came back and I suppose I did, Rick did leave and Dana did arrive.  Now that it's Dana and not Rick there is a lot to relearn.  Mostly little things, mostly how we interact with each other in public.  As we introduce ourselves to others in public are we wives, friends, partners, or just something else.  We're still trying to find the right vocabulary to explain who we are together.   For years M would refer to me as 'my husband'.  It was just who I was.  But now, obviously, that doesn't work anymore.  It's the same for me as well, she was 'my wife'.  Even though she's still my wife, it seems awkward in public.  I guess we're just not used to being two women together.  It will come, I'm sure of it now.

The boys are doing well, so well there isn't much to say.

Work is going exceedingly well.   Everyone treats me as a woman and works hard to see me as one too.  I too am getting used to working as a woman.  I've needed to learn how to lead my team as a woman leader rather then a man.  It's easier as a man, you point the way and everyone goes in that direction.  If you disagree with someone you argue over it, Rick was even said to have argued with others agreeing with him.  Nothing is personal it's just business.  Things are different now, I struggle with how to be the boss and be a woman.  How to disagree without arguing.  How to not take it all personally.  I'm just now coming to terms with being a woman boss and leader.  The lack of role models in my life make all of these things harder.

E has changed me.  Physically, I'm smaller, and 'fairer' if that's a word.  When I first started down this road my largest fear was would I be stuck in between a man and a woman.  I had been cross dressing in public for years and I know I never passed as a woman.  It was inconceivable to me a year ago I could go out in public as Dana without the entire world coming to a stop to stare.  But E gave me just enough physical changes to blend in. 

But more importantly, E changed me mentally.   You read all the information about how E rewires your mind, you read about the changes to expect.  You hope against hope for them.  But I can't describe how different I've become. 

A year ago you could blindfold me and put me in any airport in the country and I could drive from the rental car lot directly to the hotel with just a rental car map.  Now I can't get out of the parking lot.  Last year I could count the number of words I'd say in the day.  Today I lose count before I've finished my morning coffee.  Last year life was just so damn serious, now I laugh at the smallest things.

Life is easier now, the constant worry is gone.   The constant struggle to be Dana and Rick at the same time is gone.  As I've said in the past, it's as if Dana sees colors where Rick only saw grey.  I am a 'happy' now that I didn't even know existed a year ago.

I grew up and went to school on the east coast.  I lived in Boston for 5 years.  Six months after moving here to the west coast I knew this was home and I could never go back.  I've lived as Dana now for 3 months and I know I could never go back.