First of all, I hope you had all wonderful holidays 🙂 And I sincerely wish you a happy new year — may all wishes come true, as the song goes.
The week before Christmas I had a chat with my wife, instead of crossdressing at the time I hoped for. It was a rather long talk… I actually just wanted to ask her permission to go to a CD Christmas dinner, which she obviously rejected — no surprises there. I wasn’t expecting a change of opinion, and, as you all know, I’m very patient. That doesn’t mean that I “give up” easily: instead, every time there is an opportunity to go out with my friends, I try asking for permission, over and over and over again. There is obviously a point in doing that. Even though it’s nine years since I revealed myself to her as a crossdresser, she’s still not happy about it. She would rather prefer that my urges would disappear overnight, putting a stop to everything, and getting on with our busy lives. But she’s also not ignorant about gender identity issues — she knows this is something that won’t “go away” just by “wishing very hard”.
For many months, or perhaps even a couple of years, it’s clear to both of us that I reached about what is the comfortable level for her: no more crossdressing than twice per week, at home, and just allowing me to go out very late in the night, where the chances of meeting anyone who knows me are virtually zero. I’ve often written here about her reasons for that: they’re mostly pragmatic, related to the unsafety of running around fully dressed and become a target of transphobes. While the number of actual transgender homicides is low, getting beaten up is a reasonable risk, if you happen to run into a group of young, drunk transphobes, like neo-Nazi gangs. Again, the risk is not that high, but it’s not zero, either, and this leads my wife to worry a lot.
The only exception so far were the few days spent in the touristic south coast of Portugal, of which I wrote earlier in 2013. Back then I went out much, much earlier than usual. There was no risk of getting beaten up at the hotel 🙂 because, well, hotel owners do care about their customer’s safety, and, as said, I warned the receptionist about my crossdressing (mostly to make sure that their security wouldn’t worry about watching an unknown “woman” walking into our apartment).
And that exception was… one of a kind. We cannot really afford vacations. While this exceptional one were actually some gift vouchers from my mother-in-law which she was unable to use, it’s very unlikely that there will be another opportunity. Also, my wife hates every bit of the country southwards from us, and she made that quite clear to her mother, so it’s even more unlikely that she’ll be persuaded to be generous again.
So, well, I’m pretty much stuck. And at this point of our conversation, I sort of mentioned that I would really like to start to consult with a professional psychologist, specialized in transgendered issues. There is a limit to how much I can do on my own, even in spite of my Buddhist training. While I can deal with it on a daily basis at a conscious level, I’m aware that my professional productivity has been reduced (I haven’t told my wife about that, though). No wonder: there is little more I think about all the time. For the past years — and this my wife is well aware of — my goals have been to take small steps in my crossdressing. Sometimes, the steps are a bit larger, but nevertheless, for her sake, I’m quite willing to take whatever time she needs, and restrain my urges. I don’t worry any more if I skip planned sessions — I’ve lost all pretensions of being in command of my own time (work time or free time), and, once that anxiety is removed, I’m pretty much at ease with that. I remember how frustrated I used to be when an item didn’t arrive in time; or when, during a session, I was so incredibly sleepy that I had to go to bed hours before my wife, and that was incredibly frustrating; or when I couldn’t even have some time to take pictures or make movies; or when, after so much yearning for those few hours of dressing, my whole outfit sucked, and it was all wasted… All of that is behind me now, and I can just smile at my earlier pretensions of trying so hard to “be in control” of my own time.
The difference, however, is in dealing with this artificially imposed barrier that she has set for me. I can stay at the point I am now, but cannot progress further. Ever. That means that all plans of going out with some friends, or of attending some event, or even of going out dressed with my wife, are now just castles in the air — and, like clouds dispelled by the warm sun, they quickly faded and disappeared, and the reality was revealed: I’m not to go on further more on my path, but remain stuck at where I am, and be glad of it.
Well, that’s currently very hard to accept. And, as said, this is constantly nagging at me. And, as a result, my work performance decreases.
There are additional problems. Being unable to cope with this Final Decision, I’m often driven to silliness, like buying things online (which might not be as good as they look on the pictures) or even in shops near to my office (thus getting higher exposure… and often things don’t fit me, either), or, well, pampering myself up (which is sometimes expensive): on Thursday, while I was waiting for my wife to finish a group assignment with her colleagues at the university, I went to a local salon (they have few customers), did some pedicure and manicure, had them paint my toe nails (a first for both myself and the pedicurist!) in a brownish red colour, and let the beautician pluck my eyebrows. All that while wearing a bra with some silicone padding beneath my sweater (I have no idea how noticeable it was for anyone besides myself). This was an afternoon well spent, while I was waiting for my wife to get back from university, but, afterwards, I wonder how pointless it all was. My actual plan was to get “ready” for going out on Friday night (… early morning, to be more precise…) — because I’m supposed to be receiving some new outfits by mail next Friday morning — or even attempt my long-standing plan of telling everything to my mother-in-law on Saturday, the whole point of that being just to have another “safe” place to go (and, let’s admit it, to “show off” a bit) which my wife approves (to a degree…). In fact, my original plan was actually to “come out” during New Year’s Eve — because usually we spend it alone with my mother-in-law and nobody else, but this year her ex-husband invited himself to the party, so my plan was shattered. I still wore lingerie beneath my clothes — a complete set of bra, panties, and very long stay-up stockings. Which, of course, nobody noticed 🙂
And spending way, way too much time every night reading transgendered webcomics. That’s just escapism really.
Well, of course I didn’t went into this amount of detail with my wife, but I could notice that she was a bit worried. She said that I should better watch out for those psychologists, because they tend to persuade people that they are, in fact, transgendered, and push them into transition, and that, obviously, would be out of the question. I countered by saying that these days, anyone doing that (because it was not unheard of in the mid-1990s!) would be completely out of bounds, and I’d run away from them and search elsewhere. And, in fact, it’s true — I don’t really want a professional encouraging me to do something I’m not allowed to do. Instead, I wish for their help to cope with the impossibility of progressing further. Secretly I’m even wishing that they figure out that all my crossdressing urges have a completely different origin, and by working with that, I might regain my contentment about my current situation.
Still, my wife was not convinced (remember that she’s being doing therapy since 2007 to deal with her panic attacks and constant anxiety and worries; she’s far, far better now; so she’s quite convinced in the effectiveness of a good therapist; she just wants to make sure that I really get a good one, not a quack). And so she shifted slightly the topic. She said that my problem is that I’m always looking for an ideal image of a woman which doesn’t exist — either it’s the “Barbie” look (frilly and feminine), or the “going out for a party” look. Neither are “real” archetypes for women. And, in a sense, she tends to say that all I wish are the good parts of being a woman — or at least what I perceive to be the good parts — and avoid all the rest of the inherent troubles.
At this point I should also mention that, besides many other chronic diseases, my wife actually has a lot of serious issues with her reproductive organs. The exact cause is unknown, but there is a lot of her “plumbing” that doesn’t work as it should. She can have hemorrhagies for weeks, for instance — not overly serious (in the sense of life-threatening blood loss!), but definitely annoying, and not at all healthy. For her, being a woman, with all those problems, is a constant pain to bear.
This is the kind of think that obviously I don’t (and can’t) experiment. Instead — she said — I just focus on the positive experiences, and, because of that, in my mind I create an exaggeratedly optimistic idea of what it means to be a woman. Obviously I cannot argue against that; I am aware of that, too. And I’m definitely most acutely aware of all the issues surrounding the transition process, specially inside the transphobic neighbourhood and community where I happen to live.
At this point of the conversation — mind you, none of us was angry, this was all just in a very calm and pleasant manner, as pretty much all of our talks usually are — she also joked with the time I spend on the bathroom just to dress up. It’s worth mentioning that she’s the kind of person that only takes a shower every other day because it takes too long, and just washes her hair once a week, and only for special occasions. She can remain in her pajamas the whole day, for days at a stretch, while she does her university assignments, because she cannot bother to “waste time” wearing something else. She postpones going to the hairdresser for months — months after her hair is due to be cut, that is — because she regrets the time spent there (luckily for her, she has gorgeous hair, which will look great even if not properly cut and styled). While she annually goes to the manicurist, she never paints her fingernails, because she cannot be bothered with the maintenance; and, to my recollection, she only did her toenails once, not long ago, inspired by my own work (if I can do it, how hard can it be? — she actually took two hours, though, while I usually do them in a few minutes). Nevertheless, now that she has lost so much weight, she has been dressing a bit better, even going as far as putting some earrings on and a bracelet or some bangles. I’ve even bought her a few new rings.
But her point was mostly that I spent too much time with all that work, and that “normal women” cannot be bothered to do that. Well, all I could say is that I have not the benefit to have the ideal shape. Because I haven’t done any permanent depilation yet, I have to spend the better part of an hour to shave — even though these days I manage to shave most body hair twice a week, and most hairs are so short that they are quite easy — and quick! — to remove. Then I have to put on all my foundation garments, just to be able to slip into my femme clothing. Because of the five o’clock shadow, and in spite of my many attempts, I have no other choice but to do a double coating of my face — first with red lipstick, then with some opaque foundation (either from MAC or Kryolan). All that takes time. Putting on a full lace wig takes time. Having to paint my fingernails — just to remove the varnish some hours later — takes time. The actual makeup is what takes the least time overall. So, my point was: I have no female shape. Just the preparations take a huge amount of time. If I lived full-time as a woman, I’d been through cosmetic enhancements — from permanent depilation to eyelash extensions, including wearing nail polish for a whole week or two, and hair extensions — and very likely some cosmetic surgery as well, so the actual time spent on all my routine would be shortened to half an hour or even less.
She brought the conversation back to her point: all that for the “Barbie” look or the “night out” look was just a waste of time! Well, I told her that I liked casual looks as well; I endeavour to look elegant even in my most casual outfits (and, actually, to prove my point, I afterwards dressed twice in a row in a very casual way); but no matter what I wear, I would still take a lot of time doing the whole routine.
I was at that point going to say, “and it still never looks good enough”, but I had an insight that she was also telling a bit more than that: that she could look great too, if only she didn’t think that spending so much time in dressing up was wasteful. So, instead, I pointed out that her own mother, even for a causal dinner just with both of us, almost always dresses smartly (the exceptions are when she has caught the ‘flu). She does it because she enjoys looking elegant and stylish — it matters little if she’s not going to get a lot of compliments from the two of us over dinner. She does it because she likes it (and, to a degree, because my mother-in-law also went through surgery to get rid of her extra body weight, she now has a much better figure, and she could finally start wearing things that looked nice on her — the novelty of dressing up hasn’t faded in the past few years after her surgeries). My sister-in-law, which is one of the ugliest women I know (which is a pity; she looked rather cute when I first met her), and also among one of the laziest, also dresses as best as she can — and does her makeup and her nails — even if it’s just for a family lunch or dinner. I emphasized the idea that some women actually get dressed up because they enjoy it, not just because it’s a social convention or something that’s expected of them; in the case of both her sister and mother, they don’t even dress up because somehow they wish to catch a husband.
In the case of my mother-in-law, she mentioned once that she had been quite repressed during her teens, since she went to a Catholic school, where she had a very strict dress code. She had to wait years until she finally managed to be able to dress as she liked. Then there was a period of constant fighting with her own mother, a marriage, the kids to handle, and, finally, when she broke up with her husband, she was unable to lose weight and nothing that she had in mind would fit her. It’s just in the past few years that she finally managed to look like she always wanted to, even though she’s now 60-ish, and she truly enjoys the pleasure of dressing up.
My sister-in-law is a bit different. She works as a tourist guide, and it’s expected of them that they look smart in public. Because currently she looks so ugly, she has to make a huge effort to compensate by dressing well and doing the whole routine — so that her customers don’t see her as sloppy or uncaring (she is only partially to blame about her figure). Of course, the more she got used to that routine, the more she does even when just going out with friends and family.
All this was mostly to prove my point. Some women, even though they’re aware of a certain “futility” in dressing up, still enjoy doing so, and are quite willing to spend some time to do that. I’m not much different! Also, of course, I just look plain ugly if I just put on, say, a wig and my house coat — which is apparently what my wife would prefer me to wear at home.
I commented that I had no objection to a “shorter dressing routine”; in fact, I know a few crossdressers who do exactly that: as soon as they return from their work (as a male), they put on something casual en femme and spend all the evening that way. What I have observed is that most who do that already have a nice androgynous body (there are, as always, many exceptions), so it’s actually easy for them to switch gender clothing and look good on either kind. This is, unfortunately, not my case. So even though I feel somehow attracted to the idea of staying en femme at home all the time, wearing something simple that just takes 10 minutes or so to get ready, I just haven’t got the figure for that.
This chat went on for about two hours. At the end, it was clear that we didn’t make much progress, but, of course, I’m always glad of the opportunity to talk with my wife about my gender issues. On this occasion, there were no major breakthroughs nor promises. Instead, she just restated her current trend of making sure that I stick to the limits that she has imposed, and that she has no intention — for now — to allow me to step over the limits. At some point during the talk I thought that I sensed a trace of jealousy. I mean, even my wife likes to look good, no matter what she says. What I can perfectly understand is that she has no patience to spend time with all the work that is necessary for looking good. If she goes through her full routine — something which might happen once per year — she might still take an hour to get ready, from the moment she steps into the shower. That’s half or a third of the time I need, but, for her, it’s way too much time to bother. Still, I got the idea that, on some of the days when I dress more casually, she actually doesn’t dislike the overall look that much. No wonder: my most casual wear were items that she gave me because she has lost so much weight. So I can only guess that she remembers how she looked in them (some of those items are quite nice!), but, obviously, back then she took even less time to dress up, so she would never achieve the same degree of “up-dressing”… On the other hand, this is just me imagining things. She actually didn’t say anything except that she hated my “Barbie” look and/or “going out” look. When it comes to more casual dressing, she just raises an eyebrow, and, very occasionally, she might offer a comment that I don’t look as horrible as always…
So with that, we enter a New Year. Around my country, not everybody takes their “New Year Resolutions” so seriously (even though a few do), and certainly not in my circle of friends and family. I personally like to plan for a few vague changes — enough to motivate me as goals, but never enough to frustrate me if I completely fail to achieve them. In the past years, I managed to do some of the things I had planned, but, most often, I completely failed to achieve anything.
For 2014, I won’t do a long list. I’m looking forward to March 4th, which is supposed to be Carnival — the only day of the year where crossdressers are perfectly safe to go around in public. It is, however, also almost always the Tibetan New Year, and a Buddhist festival which I have regularly attended, so I might have to skip it again (but we’ll see).
Sometime during this year, I will also try to look for a psychologist. I have pretty much zero hopes about that, though. I will have to state very clearly that I’m not allowed to do more than what I do now, so I’m only interested in learning a few techniques to cope with that, and I will have to warn the psychologist that any attempts to persuade me to go further will make my wife extremely angry and forbid me to continue any therapy. If I were a psychologist and heard that kind of story, I’d refuse to take a new patient 🙂
I will also probably get in touch with some hair removal salon. At this stage, my major problem is not with the depilation by itself — my wife is not against it — but with the side-effects (i.e. the state of my skin after each session). For most of the body, of course, there is no problem, but my problem area is the face, which is where I’d start. While I now have the possibility of doing depilation sessions on, say, Friday evening — after my colleagues have left the office — if the “burns” remain for 24 hours, my wife’s family & friends will start to ask annoying questions during the regular Saturday dinner at her mother’s place. There is a limit to how much I can tell them for now. Of course, I could just start doing other body areas first — like the chest, for instance — just to see how my skin reacts, but I’m afraid I might not have enough money for all that. So maybe I’ll just start with a test area and see how it goes.
I’m also seriously thinking of “coming out” to my mother-in-law. It’s difficult to estimate her reaction at this point. At a recent dinner, transgenderity came up (I tend to remain silent during those conversations, afraid of “revealing too much”), she sort of hinted that she has nothing against crossdressing (something I heard her saying quite a lot of times, in fact), but she couldn’t stand outrageous drag queens. In her mind, it’s pointless to go for anything else but elegance and good taste (which naturally reflects her own dress style as well), and she gave a few examples of some popular actors who sometimes do great female impersonations and/or dress in a very androgynous way. This was both mildly encouraging (because I’m also not fond of the drag queen look) but also mildly upsetting (would I look good enough for her high standards, knowing now how my own wife thinks about the way I dress — and knowing fully well that her mother is much more demanding?). So, I don’t know. As said, the major advantage would be having another place to go. A minor advantage, to be explored in the far future, is that my wife abhors attracting attention, which is her main reason for refusing to go out with me — since even in my most casual outfit, since I’ve got such a large frame, it would be impossible to avoid attention. My wife has a very British sense of embarrassment, and she avoids, at all costs, being noticed. She can’t do that if she’s next to me en femme. By contrast, her mother has no such qualms. I’m pretty sure that if my dressing style “passes muster”, she might be a bit bolder than her daughter, and, who knows, even go with me on a shopping spree on a place where there is little chance of meeting anyone who knows either of us. But that is all wishful thinking 🙂
Lastly, I’ve been refurbishing some of my clothing, and, most particularly, the foundation wear. I’m probably getting a new Veronica — which is the garment from Classic Curves that gives me awesomely feminine hips and behind — in the next couple of weeks; I’m quite curious to see how well it looks. Then I have to start seriously thinking about replacing my current breast forms: they’re starting to show some wear. As said on earlier articles, for the past months, I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a pair of Real Breasts, since they’re the most realistic breast forms I have ever found, but they’re also quite expensive, and, as such, I expect nothing less than perfection. They’re also probably far harder to put on (and off!), since, although they apparently have a tacky back, to help with positioning, they’re supposed to be glued on with surgical adhesive, which means a lot of time to put them on and off (and I’m constantly looking for ways to make my routine shorter, not longer!). The person I emailed at the company actually suggested that they sent me a sample for me to evaluate, so I might accept that idea. They also have two types — one has separate breast forms (meaning that they are harder to align properly), the other type is a single piece, which not only means simpler placement, but it also produces highly realistic cleavage… but it also leaves a new “line” on the chest at a difficult-to-disguise spot (while individual breasts are hidden beneath the bra cups). It’s a very difficult choice! We’ll see about that…
Realistically speaking, however, I think nothing of the above will happen 🙂 and that 2014 will be pretty much the same as 2013, with just a few new outfits and accessories for me to enjoy.
And, of course, it will be a new year to practice patience and contentment!
I wish you all the best for 2014!