The Dark Clouds Are Looming

By Amanda J.

A recent post was called ‘It’s not easy being ourselves’.  It was posted here on May 30 and written a couple of weeks earlier but what I didn’t realise at the time is quite how difficult being ourselves can be.  Kandi, as she usually does, added a great subtext ‘It’s not easy being ourselves but neither is it impossible!’ under the title.  That’s a fantastic message for many in our position and ever since I became active here, I have drawn much inspiration from the positivity that courses through the veins of everyone who contributes.

Of course, Kandi was absolutely right.  If living my life through Amanda’s persona was the only priority I had in life, by this time tomorrow that would be a reality.  There would be nothing other than any obstacles I manufactured myself standing in my way.  In fact, as I’ve stumbled through this side of my life over the past decades, I’ve dealt with many of the emotional roadblocks that I’ve encountered.  I’ve reassured myself that I don’t look completely hideous en femme (there again, if you knew my normal ‘look’ you’d realise that the bar isn’t particularly high in this respect!), I’ve discovered that I can break free from the confines of my house and feel the breeze on my legs and the click-clack of my heels on the pavement, I’ve come to terms with the fact that ‘Amanda’ is not someone I become, she’s someone I am.  And so on.  But when I sent that piece to Kandi on May 16, I had no idea how prophetic the title would be and how challenging living Kandi’s subtext would become.

Those of you who latch onto my every word and excitedly wait for my next post (OK, let’s get real, what I mean is those of you who have nothing better to do than read my ramblings and have a sense of relief if you get to the end without having lost the will to live in the meantime) will know that Amanda’s life carries on under the marital radar and that, after a botched confession several years ago, I promised to cease and desist, a promise that despite my best efforts, I have been unable to keep.  This plays on my mind every single day and I’m constantly trying to find an angle that will help Mrs. A (my wife) perhaps turn a blind eye if nothing else.  Sometimes, I think I may have a good strategy but then I’ll think about it some more and realise that it’s probably doomed to failure like all of the others.

As we all know, life has its ups & downs and challenges and life in the Amanda household is no exception.   Trying to sell our business & retire, a house move hanging over us which may or may not happen, trying to convince my one remaining home-dwelling offspring that the party’s over and if he wants the lifestyle to which he aspires, he’s going to have to get a good job which means knuckling down with his schoolwork and so on.  But one of those – the business sale – will have a particular impact on Amanda’s life because, once it’s sold, the luxury of an empty house five days a week during term time will be gone.  And so my mind has been working overtime trying to figure out a strategy using the one potentially decent card I have left in my hand – to try to get Mrs. A to understand that I can’t help the way I am and appealing to her compassion to allow me to indulge my feminine side to stop the whole thing eating me alive from within.

Without going into too many details, an incident happened just after the posting of ‘It’s not easy…’ that more or less spelled out that that particular strategy will almost certainly not work.  Of course, there’s a small chance that it will but finding out for certain runs the risk of blowing up my marriage in the process.  That is a huge price to pay for something that may turn out to be not as important a feature in my life as I thought it was.  But equally, it may not be as high a price as suppressing a part of who I am for the rest of my life.  I just don’t know.

At the time that realisation hit me in early June, I was in a bit of a lull.  It happens sometimes where I have no emotional need to let Amanda out to play but I’ve been through those cycles often enough to know that they are temporary and the urges soon return with a vengeance.  But I also realised that, in the first week in July, the school holidays would start and I’ll have full time company at home for a couple of months.   Now, what normally happens after one of those lulls is that I’ll realise that the urges are returning and jump on the first possible opportunity to slip into the heels.  This time, though, I decided to play it differently.

We all know that the inner woman cannot be banished and, in fact, the more we try to push her away, the more persistent her demands for freedom become.  But what I have learned is that sometimes I set Amanda free because I want to and other times it’s because I need to.  There’s a huge difference between breaking out the stash because I’m wondering whether I can get my eyeliner on point or wanting to feel the sensation of nylon on my legs and breaking it out because I’ve got that debilitating feeling in the pit of my stomach that we all recognise.  Getting the stash out for the first situations is life enhancing but for the second, it is life preserving.  And so I made a simple decision – I would not get dressed when I didn’t emotionally need to and see how long I could last before the urges demanded it.

Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  Not to put too fine a point on it, I love the whole experience of thinking about outfits, getting dressed, putting on makeup and then staring in wonder at the woman smiling back at me from the mirror.  At those moments, all of life’s challenges seem to evaporate and everything feels just right.  I allow myself to dream about what things would be like if that was my everyday routine.  It seems like there are no longer any barriers to Amanda living a full life as herself other than her male-presenting host’s pesky family challenges.

But, as I said above, Amanda is not someone I become, she’s who I am.  Of course she’s an incorrigible tart who likes nothing better than trowelling on the makeup and teetering around on her heels but perhaps, like many other women, it’s time for her to move on from that and live her life in jeans, a T-shirt and trainers/ tennis shoes and with a sensible, perhaps some would say masculine, hairstyle and no makeup.  How she’s dressed won’t change who she is and whilst those who lurk around flickr may notice a lack of new photos, those who have a deeper interaction with her wouldn’t see any difference whatsoever.  Also, for the first 18 years of my marriage, I managed to live life without indulging my feminine side – that amount of time is a good chunk of my remaining life expectancy (and possibly quite a bit more than it if my kids continue to drive me to distraction!).  And with retirement and a reasonable degree of financial freedom to give me the time & opportunity to indulge my other interests in life, perhaps the stilettos and eyeliner will seem less significant than they do at the moment.

All of this is conjecture of course because I know full well that when the aforementioned debilitating feeling in the pit of my stomach hits, there’s only one thing that can give me relief.

Now this is the point, dear reader, where you accuse me of overthinking all of this and you’re absolutely right of course.  And I have to admit that I haven’t even got halfway through my thoughts.  Not yet, anyway.

I know from experience that Mrs. A finds all of this trans stuff abhorrent.  That’s almost certainly never going to change.  But let’s suppose that she was prepared to turn a blind eye and agree to a DADT arrangement.  Prima facie, that’d be brilliant but the problem is that the arrangement never would be DADT.  It’d be YMCIDADTBIKEWYUTWINA – ‘you may call it don’t ask, don’t tell but I know exactly what you’re up to when I’m not around’!  Every time she left the house for a day out or I went away overnight, she’d be wondering what I was wearing and I don’t just mean whether I’d finally listened to her and managed to put a clean pair of jeans on.  And there’s every chance of living under that sort of pressure would have a detrimental impact on me, both emotionally and in not feeling able to take opportunities when they arise.  One thing that I know for certain is that Mrs. A would not be able to cope emotionally with me interacting with other people in my feminine guise, whether during anonymous shopping trips or in social interactions with like-minded people.

So is this Amanda’s swansong?  In all honesty, I don’t believe it is.  I’m still me and every time I look at one of my photos, it reminds me of who I really am.  It reminds me of the joy I feel when I am able to see the complete me, not just the compromise I live for the sake of others.  It reminds me that having a strong feminine side is nothing to be afraid of.  And it reminds me of all of the girls who have messaged me or commented on my posts to say that what I have written resonated with them or inspired them.

But what this whole exercise has shown me is that ’Amanda’ is far more than the incorrigible tart on the photos and, because I’ve accepted her emotionally, I don’t always need the physical reminders of her presence.  At least not at the moment anyway.  It’s proved to me that I have nothing to fear about the future but it has also shown that I have to control the future and not let it control me.  Of course, I’ve missed living and breathing in Amanda’s physical form – it’s been seven weeks now – but it means that the indications for the future when I no longer have the luxury of being able to dress how I want, when I want, are pretty good.

And what’s most important of all is that if I feel the need to slip into something more comfortable, I will do.  I’m not going to compromise the rest of my life through fear of confronting it, even if confronting it is challenging.  This whole exercise has been firstly about discovering which are the superfluous parts of this side of me and eliminating them and secondly to enable me to develop coping mechanisms when circumstances conspire against me.  So there’s no purge planned or anything like that but, in the same way, I’m not just going to break out the stilettos and eyeliner just because ‘it’s x weeks since the last time’ or ‘if I don’t do it now, it’ll be ages before I get another opportunity’.  But if I hear a feminine voice inside my head screaming to be let out, I’ll be up the ladder to retrieve the stash straight away.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in six decades of life, it’s ‘what a woman wants, a woman gets’!

As I write this, I have not retrieved my stash of clothes since it was last hidden away on 19 May.  That’s 49 days and counting.  My son finished school for the summer yesterday so that’s potentially another 62 days before the opportunity will present itself again.  Perhaps by that time, I’ll be climbing the walls in frustration, perhaps not.  We shall see.

When this is posted, I’ll add an update in the comments as to how things have progressed since I wrote this (there’s normally a 2-3 week gap between submission and posting) and please feel free to add your own with any bright ideas you may have that could help!  Please just don’t feel sorry for me because this whole thing is about working out how to have a happy life, not wallowing in self-pity.  That would never do!

11 thoughts on “The Dark Clouds Are Looming”

  1. As promised, here is the update!

    Today is day 61. I’m not climbing the walls yet but I do find myself wanting to break out the eyeliner & stilettos even if I don’t yet have that feeling in the pit of my stomach that I referred to in the main piece. What I’ve also come to realise is that it’s the transformation that holds the fascination for me. I don’t look at women in the street and think ‘that should be me’ but I do find myself constantly thinking about things I’d like to try – can I get my brows looking better? What would I look like in that outfit? What would socialising as Amanda be like? And so on. Again, though, the operative words are ‘I’d like to try’, not ‘I need to try’.

    In all probability, the first opportunity I’ll have to bring Amanda out to play again is 7 September – that’ll be a gap of at least 111 days. I’ve had longer gaps in the past so it’s not a particularly significant timescale. But what will be significant is how I feel as and when I do decide to break out the stash once more. Will it feel like seeing an old friend once more, reawaken all of the compulsions & urges that drove me to succumb several times a week, give me a feeling that this is a part of my life that is no longer relevant or any of a myriad of other emotions? I honestly don’t know but I do suspect that that will be a significant pointer in how I will manage the two sides of my personality for the rest of my life.

  2. Amanda,
    You are quite an amazing woman. You open up your deepest feelings to the world (well, almost the whole world).

    I’m sure most of us personally understand what you are going through, and I certainly do not have any good suggestions for you.

    I do know absolutely, that distinguishing between “want” and “need” is very hard. The heart controls want and the brain controls need. Experience helps sort these two things out; and you have a lot of experience.

    You are extremely beautiful, inside and out. Remember that always.

    Jocelyn

    1. Jocelyn, thank you!

      It’s ironic that I can talk about my deepest feelings with impunity purely because no one can attribute them to me! I doubt that anyone who knows me would recognise me from the photos I’ve posted here and elsewhere – I don’t even recognise myself on most of them even though I know it’s me. Perhaps that’s a good thing though because it enables a level of honesty that I’d find difficult otherwise.

      But as I wrote in the ‘It’s not easy…’ post, I think it’s important to share the lows as well as the highs. It’s too easy to just focus on the joy in what we do but there’s a flip side too and that can lead to absolute despair. I’m not trying to put people off with tales of doom, gloom and despondency but just demonstrate that we sometimes have to think the unthinkable to keep control of our lives. The sad truth is that the inner woman has the power to wreak havoc in our day to day life, as indeed does any woman!

      I think you completely ‘get’ what I’m trying to achieve here but, for others reading this, it’s not about banishing ‘Amanda’ to oblivion. It’s about finding where the compromise between ‘her’ life and ‘his’ lies and that’s something that every single one of us has to continually consider, whether we realise it or not.

      And thank you for the compliment!

  3. Amanda,
    The first lesson you’ve obviously discovered is never make promises you can’t keep . I’m sure many people are nodding in agreement , so many of us have experienced the ups and downs you describe .

    I’m working on a post titled , Freedom ” . Freedom to be YOU , freedom to believe in yourself but I know to the majority of us that freedom might come at a price . Our worse fears are the loss of close family and loved ones but they remain unanswered questions until we take that decision . In my case it became clear that I couldn’t live without my trans needs and my wife couldn’t live with them . When we finally came to the decision to separate we talked openly and honestly for the first time about the issue . We were both happier once we had made the decision which our children picked up on when we discussed it with them . Our parting was amicable , we decided a 50-50 split of the house and contents because we both wanted to offer a family home to our children and grandchildren . That has worked out very well , I have my daughter and her family for meals but at the moment not my son but he has met several times . I have lunch with my mother and sister every two weeks , so I have also met my sisters family .
    i will admit for a while after our separation my wife turned hostile , she knows and possibly regrets what she lost and she became annoyed whe I met mutual friends . I had to point out that as adults she had no right to dictate who they were friends with , the problems were in her mind , other people weren’t bothered . The important point after I had gone full time was I had to think more carefully about presentation , looking tarty may be fun but you have to chose the right time and place but I do understand the need when you are desperate to be Amanda .
    I do feel the need to be Amanda will increase and full time is going to happen , at some point you will need to be totally honest with yourself . I viewed it as my time was running out , I couldn’t live the rest of my life as it was , the discovery is my wife is happier now and it goes without saying that I am .

    1. Teresa, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      You’re right about not making promises you can’t keep but, at the time I made that particular promise, I genuinely believed that I could. ‘Amanda’ as she manifests herself now, just didn’t exist, I had no appreciation that ‘she’ is part of who I am, not someone I become when the mood takes me and dropping something that was ultimately going to destroy everything else in my life seemed an easy decision to make. Clearly, as you rightly say, that was a promise that I could never keep and whilst I can peddle out time-worn explanations ‘justifying’ my actions, strip all of those away and I just feel shame. Not shame about who I am – in fact I firmly believe that accepting my Amanda side has made me a better person – but shame that what I do runs against my core value of honesty.

      It’s very difficult for wives and some, perhaps many, do not handle the situation well if we take an impassive view. I know that my wife’s actions were a long way from being exemplary in the six months between confession and ultimatum but I have to take a huge amount of responsibility for that by omitting to give any consideration to the possibility that she may find the whole thing abhorrent. I’ve recounted my six word confession – ‘I’ve been bad, I’ve been crossdressing’ – here before but by blurting out those six words in an attempt to clear my own conscience, I effectively put paid to any easy route to her understanding of what I was emotionally dealing with. She tried very hard to understand and perhaps, in the end, her understanding was my downfall. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that she understood then what took me several more years to understand myself.

      The sad truth is that trans feelings can be very destructive. They can destroy families and livelihoods but their biggest potential destructive force is against our emotional wellbeing. We often have to try to keep two parallel but mutually exclusive lives in step with each other and that’s before we factor in all the general pressures of life. Writing here and elsewhere is my way of keeping my feminine side alive when circumstances prevent its physical manifestation and, in that vein, I’ll sometimes have gentle digs at myself though references to ‘tarting up’, stilettos & eyeliner etc. I use these as they are in stark contrast to my normal attitude as a male and also to provide a little relief for readers when I start to overthink things but not to detract from the seriousness of the trans situation in general or my own desire to present the inner woman in the best light I possibly can.

      As for ‘full time is going to happen’, I disagree but will keep an open mind. Perhaps we could touch base in ten years time to see which one of us was correct?!!

  4. Amanda,
    I am saddened by your comments , as individuals we shouldn’t have to live a suppressed lifestyle , it was an aspect my gender counsellor was most concerned about . We know being transgender isn’t a mental illness but not being able to fully deal with it can induce severe mental problems , I know that from my own experiences . Please don’t blame yourself , we know we can resolve our problems if we are met half way , we shouldn’t feel guilt and shame for something we can’t change , we are what we are .
    As I mentioned it doesn’t have to destroy families . If I can relate a conversation I had with a long standing friend when I expressed my fears over my son discovering the truth , he said , ” What makes you think your son isn’t hiding something from your ” . We have to remember we are not the only ones with gender or sexual problems and I’ve never forgotten those wise words from my friend .

    1. Teresa,
      You are correct when you say “we are what we are”. But we are not just transgender; we are also husbands and fathers and bosses, and we have responsibilities to those around us. We can’t just expect our transgender selves to be the ultimate end.

      Life is never “fair”. Compromises are always required. Amanda is doing what she feels is best in her circumstances, as I am in mine, and you are in yours. We each have to find out what works for us.
      Jocelyn

      1. Very true, Jocelyn, and because we’re on a spectrum, what’s an obvious course of action for one person may be counterintuitive to others. And that’s what’s so fascinating about being here – from a common start point (a feeling of gender non-conformance), each one of us has a different way of coping with, or in many cases embracing, it.

      2. Jocelyn,
        The two can work together , I still live up to my responsibilities being trans isn’t an excuse .

    2. Teresa, thank you for your further thoughts on this.

      I think it’s important to put my own situation into a little context. I’ve often tried to pinpoint exactly what would be the dream solution as far as I’m concerned. Obviously, being born with XX chromosomes in the first place but that’s a fantasy not a dream. What I keep coming back to is a situation where Amanda’s clothes and ‘his’ hang side by side in the wardrobe and I have a free choice what to wear on any given day or, indeed, time of day. In fact, after I confessed to my wife, I was offered that concession but had to turn it down as our daughter (who was in her early teens at the time) was quite happy to have a good nose around without warning and neither my wife nor I felt that it was appropriate for her to know about this side of me). However, even taking my wife up on that offer would only have given short-lived benefits (and perhaps accelerated the timespan to the day of judgement) because, in the end, what blew everything apart was my wife’s realisation that there was a lot more going on inside my head than just a desire to put on a dress and a pair of heels from time to time.

      I freely admit that I look at you, Kandi and other girls both here and elsewhere with a tinge of envy. But that’s not envy of you being able to live full time because that wouldn’t be right for me. It’s not envy that Kandi gets to work, act and do all of the other amazing things that she does because, again, those things wouldn’t be right for me. No, I envy all of you because you have had the strength of character to get a grip, decide what you need to do to live your life to the full and then go for it – a strength of character that currently eludes me. Equally, though, we’re all at different points on the spectrum and it’s a testament to how far things have come that occasional CDers and full-blown transitioners can come together and both discuss & respect their differences which certainly hasn’t always been the case.

      I’m 61 now and wouldn’t change a thing about anything that’s in the past. I absolutely could have handled the confession better. I look at my makeover pics taken last year and wonder what things would be like if I’d been able to do that 30 years ago. But everything I have done in the past shapes my future and I can now look to the future and be excited about the opportunities that the sale of our business and retirement will bring even though that future doesn’t rely on Amanda’s physical form being ever present. In fact, what I realise is that allowing Amanda to take over would jeopardise everything else that I’m looking forward to and that’s a price I’m not prepared to pay. Equally, though, having now been on the abstinence train for 64 days, I also can’t envisage the rest of my life without allowing this side of me to see the light of day from time to time. But how will I feel if the inner woman has to remain hidden for six months between emergences? Or a year? That’s what I’m now trying to find out but the truth is that I’m already starting to feel that there’s a gap in my life and that’s after only two months. So that leads me to start thinking the unthinkable – that I will have to confess all over again with, apart from the CDing I admitted last time, my ‘rap sheet’ now also including leaving the house en femme and a significant online presence, both of which I would want to continue to do (and expand the scope of). And if my wife admits defeat and accepts that this isn’t going away, how far would she be willing to bend? Amanda’s wardrobe space would be amazing but not if my wife sheds tears every time she sees it. Or if she agrees to turn a blind eye to the dressing but considers going into the big wide world dressed unacceptable, would accepting that compromise be advantageous or detrimental?

      In many respects, I’m very lucky because I have confessed in the past and know what the dealbreakers are likely to be. In other respects, I’m very unlucky because I’ve managed to burn practically every bridge in the process! I want ‘Amanda’ to be a force for good, both in my life and in every life I touch in her persona. Clearly, as things stand, I can’t be the amazing ambassadors for our community in the real world that you, Kandi et al are but my mission is to show all of those girls who are where I was a few years ago that whilst this whole thing can suck big time if you let it, they’re not alone with their struggles and there are some amazing highs to be experienced as well as the challenges. And, in the end, I don’t have to be wearing the stilettos and eyeliner to achieve that!

      But I still harbour a hope that I’ll open that wardrobe one day and see some space cleared out!

      1. Amanda,
        Looking at my lifestyle with envy , isn’t the point I was making , I took a huge gamble and luckily the outcome hasn’t been as bad as I feared . That is the basic message but I also realise the story could have been so different . The tough question is how far down that road can you go to discover the truth for yourself but please don’t put yourself down because I know how hard the choice is for most of us .

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