Friday, 15 December 2017

Tinder Trouble in Transitory Times

I have decided to compile 3 pre-drafted, historic entries into one post this week. Mainly because the content is pretty hard, some of you may be upset reading this. I need to get this out there, but I also need to draw a line under it and move past it. Hence I have moved the scheduled posts from the 22nd and the 29th into this single post. I don't wish to be starting a New Year in the wake of editing a post about suicidal thoughts. So here we go, It's a long one... Get a coffee, eh?

...Fortunately, the drive home was never more than 5 minutes from where my wife works.
But it was a long enough 5 minutes that when we got home,  I needed to call upon my old friend, Petrol Station Pinot Grigio.
After one glass necked and another poured, my wife (ex wife) began to talk it out over cigarettes and wine.
The long and short of it, because I can't be fecked going over the whole dialogue, is;
-She had signed up for Tinder the night before.
She explained that it was because she needed the ego boost, being 32 and single for the first time since she was 20, she wanted to see if guys would still fancy her.
I accepted this.
Who wouldn't want to know if they still had something/someone to look forward to in the future? Her reasons for joining and when, were irrelevant now anyway. I no-longer had a say in her life and her choices...  But I digress...
Now I didn't know this, but tinder works on proximity, the closer two people are, the more likely they are to see each other's profile. Turns out, as she was swiping, one of our friends turned up in her feed, he only lived around the corner from us - Couldn't be much closer really.
She knew that because she had seen him on there, that there was every chance he may have seen her.
Now, I hadn't spoken to this friend yet, about the separation or my gender issues, and my Ex was worried about him coming to me/worrying over telling me;
"Dude, I saw your wife on Tinder last night".

I mean, it's not that I wasn't going to tell my friend. He was on my 'to-tell' list. but I just hadn't had the time or energy - Like I said, in my last blog post, I was totally drained after the 7 days of non-stop 'doing shit'.
So that was thursdays plans outlined for me before I even sat down after cigarettes.
I was strangely calm about learning my wife was on a dating app. In hindsight, I'm not sure I processed it fully. Maybe the Pinot had taken effect on my completely empty stomach. The last 'proper' meal I ate was the take-out on Sunday. The rest was cheese and biscuits, crisps and large amounts of caffeine and nicotine.
Surprisingly, she went on to say, "I think you should sign up too... as Samantha. It'll make you feel better if someone else fancies you" It was so alien, hearing these words from a woman who had fought so many personal, emotional battles to keep me in her life. It only furthered the impression in my heart that the woman I loved, who loved me, was gone.

So, later that night, I signed up for Tinder.
After about an hour on my sofa bed in the spare room, swiping left on women with 6 kids, one woman with 5 cats and an immeasurable number of suspected catfish...
I deleted my Tinder profile.
This wasn't me. I didn't want someone else to fancy me. I wanted my wife to fancy me.
And she was in the next room. Probably talking to guys on Tinder.
Crying myself to sleep has never been my favourite thing in the world.

(As an aside to the above, to remain fair to my Ex. She was dealing with this better than I was. Because she had already been through what I was going through. But she did it a year earlier when I first told her I believed my issues ran deeper. She had mourned me for a year. In her head, David was dead and some impostor called Samantha had taken his place. I was too wrapped up in life and my own bullshit to realise it was happening. I doubt that knowing any of this would have changed the final outcome, it is what it is.)

I began to lean on cheap wine pretty heavily around this time.
I was drinking way more than is healthy on a 'usually' empty stomach.
But without it, I would not have slept at all. I knew it was bad when I was throwing empty bottles over the garden wall so I didn't arouse suspicion about how much I was drinking.
Day times were fuelled my caffeine and and anxiety as I travelled to friends near and far to tell them everything. Night times were fuelled by intoxicants to switch my brain off and get it to sleep. I knew it was not a long term solution, but for now at least, it was helping.

On the morning of Friday 15th, I regretted the booze induced sleep.
Up at 06:30 to take delivery of her new bed and get it assembled.
Sleep deprived and hung over, at 07:45 that morning I was roped into moving my sofa bed out of the spare (my) room, our (my) bed into the spare room and then assembling her new bed with her. I wanted it done though, I didn't want this job on the list for days on days, and she was due on night shifts over the weekend.
It started out simply enough. But as the pieces came together, so did the realisation that I would never sleep with my wife in this bed. I grew more angry with every dowel and screw.
By the time we were finished building it, the bed was the embodiment of my resentment. That pretty bit of flat-pack was the totem of my failed relationship.
I hated that bed and all who would sleep in it.

I had to get out of the house, but I also couldn't drag myself out of the door. I longed to just do nothing, to hide in my room. Trying to rest, because my body needed it. Trying to keep busy because my brain needed it.
I remember thinking at some point, that depression and dysphoria are similar in many ways, but specifically that the body and the mind are entirely at odds with each other. Trying to rest, because my body needed it.
Trying to keep busy because my brain needed it.
Body wants me to be a man.
Brain wants to be/is a woman.

The dysphoria was as real as it's ever been. Trying to balance my life between the me the world got to see and the me that I want to be. I dressed appropriately as much as I could, as much as my face could tolerate shaving... even on days when I couldn't - Was better to just avoid mirrors. Mirrors are fucking cruel sometimes, usually on the days where shaving is painful, so you don't bother with makeup, and you then still see your stupid fucking hairy face staring back at you in a wig....
...Best to just avoid that.

I just kind of drifted through the next week or so by drinking, sleeping, caffeinating, smoking.
Sharing a house with a ghost and 3 cats.
I couldn't escape my head.
All I could see when I closed my eyes, was a vision of her in that new bed with a faceless man that wasn't me. It mocked me. Gripped me.
It would still be over a week until I told my parents that me and the Mrs were over.
They were away on holiday, and I couldn't ruin that for them.
I'd have to wait for them to get home before I could tell them how my life had been completely fucked over.
Distraction - That was the answer.

To pass some time and occupy myself while not in work, I looked at flats on Zoopla.
I tried to write entries to my blog (evidently without success)
I began to learn to cook.
I updated my social media profiles.
Tidied up the house.
Played some games on the PC.
Did the washing and dishes.
I took old and knackered things to the tip and charity shops if usable.
I took pictures for a friend's new business website.
I did anything to not let the bad stuff in.
Futile really. Because the bad stuff always found a way in. A crack in the walls or a window left slightly ajar.
The bad stuff always found a way to get inside the safety of my head.

But soon, my parents were home. I remember it being the friday after Bed-gate/Bed Hate.
My parents would learn that my relationship was over.
That the woman I loved, that they treated like their own would not be part of my life for very much longer.
That the only life I'd known for a decade would soon be vastly different.
I cried.
They cried.
We all fucking cried.
What a jolly old time we had.
Being a good mum and dad, they offered me the spare room in their house, just until I could find my feet again. I declined.
Mainly out of stupid pride. I'd always seen moving back to your parents house to be a mark of failure. It's exactly how it's said... Moving back to your parents house.
But there were many other issues putting me off the idea, physical space and my reliance on booze to get me to sleep were inclusive.
I explained that we intended to stay in the house together and get all our debts settled up, save our own deposits for new places, then move on separately.
They accepted this but I could see it in their expression they saw this to be a mistake of sorts.
Pride... It'll get ya.

I spent that weekend trying to relax.
I was due back in work on Monday for the night shift, and I was determined to get myself occupied and take my mind off misery and focus on work.
On the Saturday, I began to set my body clock for nights, so by the time I woke up the house was empty - My wife was at work, so I decided to make myself look pretty and get pissed one last time before work on Monday in the hope I would feel better.
And I did. I went online, video chatted with some friends, generally just socialised via some servers.
When my wife... sorry, ex wife got home, we had a chat over a cig or two at the back door, "How was your day..." yada-yada. "My interview for the promotion at work is on tuesday morning..." Bla-bla...
All lovely, friendly, easy.
Until she asked me,
"You're on a night shift next Sunday aren't you?"
"Yeah, why?" as I exhaled the smoke,
"Oh, just cause I'm going out, and didn't know if you would be in when I got home is all...". I could tell she was holding back on something, it was thick in the air, I could almost chew it.
I probed at her statement,
"Oh cool, who are you out with?", desperate for her to say the name of her friend, any friend would do...
"...Someone..." she said reservedly.
I knew what this meant. This wasn't 'Going Out', this was a date.
It was a date and she was enquiring if I would be home that night. I felt physically sick.
"Not someone from Tinder by any chance?" I kept my cool. Mainly because I'm a sloppy drunk, but I kept it all the same.
"Err, yeah." then silence.
I neared the end of that cigarette and lit another from it.
So now I've gone from vape, to smoking, to chain smoking. Fantastic.
I dragged hard and deep, I couldn't drive anywhere, I was far too pissed for that, I had to just breathe and pray for the nicotine bump.
"Sunday is the 24th... That's the day before my birthday..." I said as the realisation came to me, painful and fast. But I swallowed it.
I paused, stunned by her apparent lack of empathy...
I stood in silence fighting back tears. I felt by blood boil. I wanted to scream in fury.

But for some reason I still don't fully grasp, I said
"Okay... This has to happen at some point. You want to meet people and move on. You want to know that you are attractive to people. I want you to be happy, that's all I've ever wanted."
And I meant it. I self edited the rest of what I wanted to say to her. It just wouldn't have been productive.

Then I asked to see his picture. I'm not sure why. I could have been trying too hard to show her that "This is fine". Maybe I needed a face for the faceless man who sleeps with my wife in my nightmares.
Whatever it was, I did myself no favours by looking.
I woke very late on Sunday and rested proper for the night shift the next day.
Sunday's details are not important to the tale. There was lots of YouTube videos and Netflix.
Actually, that sums Sunday up quite well.

Woke up, feeling... Good, actually. 10 hours sleep will do that to you, I guess.
I got myself showered and smartened up and off to work smelling fresh and trying, with everything I had, to be positive and productive. As I walk into the office for report, I hear a conversation some of my colleagues were having,
"...Yeah, I know what you're saying, but it's only when you get to the divorce that you find out how much of a nasty psycho they really are! ...Oh hiya David! Are you feeling better?"
It's not her fault, she didn't know. I did my best to ignore it.
We started work at 19:30, and by the time midnight came round, I'd even told my colleagues on shift with me that me and my wife were parting, I thought, "Yeah, I've got this".
At about 2:30am Tuesday morning, I went to the office for a coffee and sat down for a sec to look at my phone messages and...  I just started to cry.
Through tears I told the shift leader I was popping out for a vape for 5 minutes.
I returned 20 mins later still sobbing and ran to the office followed by the shift leader who couldn't apologise enough for the conversation she was having when I walked in at the start of the shift. She comforted me, sat and talked with me,  
"Just have a time out in here come back out when you're ready" - Lovely girl. Fantastic.
After another 30 minutes of crying, she had to send me home.
I was totally incapable of work.
But I couldn't go home, my Ex would want to know why I'd gone home at 03:30 and me being so upset could ruin her interview composure. I couldn't do that to her.
It was 3:30am and I had nowhere to go, nobody to turn to.
I mean - 3:30am! Where on earth do I go in Wigan at 3:30am on a Tuesday?
Get tee fuck!
So I just drove. Nowhere to go, nobody to talk to, just me, a large, slow Nissan and the pot-holed roads of a small town that was very much asleep.
I drove to our old houses, of which we had shared four. I drove past her parent's house to check for lights on - nope. I drove past my parents house to check for lights on.
Nada. Ziltch. Nothing.
So I drove some more...

And then, without really paying much attention to where I ended up, I stopped in a lay-by.
I needed a drink and a proper cigarette. I'd look at my social media sites, a bit of YouTube, hoping that would help to kill a few hours until I could go home at the 'usual' time.
But as I sat there in the lonely warmth of my car, staring at my beautiful wife's face on my phone screen, looking back through every captured memory we shared on Facebook, of holidays, parties... our wedding... I could only feel dread and pain. Tears fell off my face and onto the screen of my phone. I took off my glasses to dry my eyes, and when I put them back on the first thing I focused on was a truck's lights on the motorway beneath me.
Without really paying much attention, I'd stopped in a lay-by on a motorway bridge.

I'd never given much thought to ending my own life.
Even through my own professional knowledge and my personal life that had been touched by suicide, I'd always viewed the act as a selfish, "A permanent solution to a temporary problem".
And yet, there I was, giving more than enough thought to ending myself. Calculating the time it would take me to fall from the bridge to the tarmac below, how to time it to meet with a HGV as I landed. It felt like a solution. If I don't do it, I have nothing left. If I do it, I have nothing left. I can't function as a human, let alone do my job. Take me out of the equation, let people get on without me, let them be happy without me to fuck things up for them. I was to blame for every wrong in my life. This was my time. This was when I would find peace.
I didn't consider that I might ruin other lives by taking my own, I was only concerned with not feeling this pain anymore. I just wanted to make it all stop.
As I was about to leave my car for a closer look at the fall to the motorway below, when my phone lit up with a text message...
From my mum?
At 04:22?
What the f......
Turns out she was awake with worry.
Worry I would do something stupid. Damn.
"Make me a brew, I'll be there in 5", I replied.
I drove the one and a half miles to my mum and dad's house, all the way thinking 

"So was that just coincidence, or do I believe in destiny now?
As I was about to leave the car, perhaps for the last time, and my mum texts me because she's worried. As far as she knew, I was still at work... I can't even...".

I got to their house, my dad was out on a night shift, my mum was alone.
I walked in the door and began to ball my eyes out, gripping my mum like a drowning person grips a floatation ring.
There was weight pressing me down, closer to my mum, I couldn't let go. My mum got upset as I held her sobbing, but I didn't have the heart to tell her what I'd just been through.

"Just been sat reading stuff on my phone" I told her.
When I finally got a grip of myself, we sat and talked for hours.
I hadn't talked to my mum like that for years... if ever.
I rehashed the events of the last few years that had led me here, and being a good mum, she sat and listened. Handing me the occasional tissue, making coffee and giving me cigarettes.

I decided to leave at around 8am so that I would get home at the usual time that I would on a night shift and my wife would have no idea anything was wrong when she went to interview. I called my GP to make an appointment to renew my sick note and then left my mums house.
I got home just as my wife (ex wife) was leaving, I wished her luck and sat down on the couch.
My mum text me to let me know my brother had taken the day off work because he was worried too... Are my family psychic?

A little while later when my wife (ex) returned home I told her everything, and as I expected, she got upset. Some nasty words were spoken and it was left that way until later that day...

I shall not be going into detail here because it is not my place to talk about someone else's health situations, let alone my mum's. 

All I will say is that my mum received some bad news that day.
I'm proud to say that myself and my wife (ex wife) were there with her when she was being given the news, and despite the gravity of the situation with my mum, we managed to get our act together and bury the bullshit nasty words from earlier.
We rallied the family round to my mum and dads house, and told everyone the story to get us all on the same page. It was a bad day. Not the worst day I'd had this month, but it was sure close.
It's funny how life helps you find purpose and meaning in the absolute worst of shitty situations. Only 12 hours ago I was looking at suicide as an option, and yet now it was the furthest thing from my mind. Someone else's misery putting my own misery into context.

The rest of this week was spent in much the same way as the last week.
Seeing friends, talking to people, trying to keep my head above water.
Spending days alone at home, getting to feel like 'the me I want to be'.
Until the Saturday.
On Saturday I conceded, I could not be around when my wife went out on a date.
certainly couldn't be around when she got home... Just in case.
On Saturday morning I swallowed my pride...
I called a familiar number that I didn't even need to check in my phone...

"Hiya mum, is it okay if I come home? I can't stay here anymore"... I began to cry.
It was all too much. I was faced with a world I did not recognise anymore.
My wife had become another person, a living ghost that my heart did not recognise.
My mums health issue had become serious and absolutely uncertain (at least at that time).
I was more depressed than I have ever been in my life.
I had no sense of self or worth.
I needed to be somewhere that there were people around me, I needed my family.
I needed home.

My mum said that I was welcome and that they would clear out the spare room and sort out some cupboard space for me.

So on the afternoon of Saturday the 23rd, I began to pack. It was a long and drawn out affair, picking through memories and the possessions tied to them. I managed a couple of suitcases of clothes and some bits and pieces. As I write this, most of the large stuff I own is still in our house, (my Ex's house) because I have nowhere for it.
That night I got drunk again. And I mean drunk.

I went to bed late. Tearful and late.

Sunday. The day before my birthday. The day of my wife's (Ex's) date with a stranger.
I woke up at 10am, procrastinated, drank water, procrastinated some more and decided around noon to carry on packing the rest of what I couldnt live without.
But as I went to my room to do so, I sat on the bed and was frozen with fear and heartache.
I couldn't do it. I stared at a wall for an hour, thinking, wondering if this would ever be okay...
Then, snapping me out of my vacancy, my old friend, Pete messages me,
"Yo dude, you okay? I need someone to talk to if you're not busy"

I've never been so happy to read a cry for help,
"By all means, come over, you can give me a hand".

He arrived and told me the tale of how him and a colleague stopped a woman from being raped in the early hours of the morning. In full public view just off a main road and how so many people could see but did nothing, and how the would-be rapist ran like a coward when he saw the size of Pete and his colleagues (security workers). And how they even took the girl home (One colleague was female, so it seemed appropriate to taxi her to safety) 

He did not accept my accolade of 'Hero'.
He didn't help me to pack either. 
He was just there and to be honest... that was all I needed.
Someone to talk to, someone to keep me focused on the task and stop me from getting bogged down in,
"She bought me this chair for Xmas" or "Here's us at the Grand Canyon".
I packed my PC, clothes, makeup, toiletries and some paperwork and not a lot else.
We got finished up just as my wife (ex wife) got home from her morning shift.
So at least I didn't have to be around to see her dolling up for another man.

The face of misery

Pete, if you read this, you saved me that day, and that girl too. You are a hero! xoxo

We took the boxes to my parents house, dumped them in the hall. Had a brew and then he left as I tried to unpack my old life to fit my new one.
This was it, the day my world changed, the day my old life ended. But it did not feel like the start of my new life. My new life should be as happy as my old one to even be considered a life. What I felt then wasn't life, it was limbo.
I got drunk that night too...  And messaged my wife (ex wife) some embarrassing, regrettable stuff I am not entirely proud of... and yet here I am telling you lot about it!

I don't know why, but I snapped a photo of my drunk, miserable fucking face in the bathroom before bed. I think I intended it as a posterity measure... I mean if this is my baseline measurement, things can only improve, Right?
I drifted off to sleep in a vodka induced haze...

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Friday, 8 December 2017

The Middle. (of the end)

Live right now, Just be yourself,
It doesn't matter if that's good enough for someone else,

It just takes some time,

Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride,

Everything, everything will be just fine,

Everything, everything will be all right,

...I don't remember when time felt like it was moving again.
I don't remember much more of the rest of that day, except mourning.
Tears, talking, booze, take-out food, reminiscence, more tears and more talking.
We talked about all of the people, places and things we'd loved, hated, seen, done, eaten, drank, puked, partied, travelled to, said goodbye to in the last 12 years.
I had striven for a different way through, an alternative ending to make the film happier.
But I had to settle for director's commentary and post production notes.
But there would be no bonus features, there would be no sequel.
One thing was clear to me when we went to bed that night, this woman who I love dearly was no longer my wife, because in her eyes at the very least, I was no longer her husband.

The next day, Sunday morning, I was out of the house early. My in-laws were coming over to help my ex-wife out, moving furniture (a bed) to the spare room etc
But that's not the reason I was leaving, I had to get to North Manchester from Warrington.
I had a mission, something I had been planning for years. All the while terrified of the repercussions, convincing myself it would all be okay and then listening to anxiety's voice,
"Your friends will abandon you".
But now it didn't matter. I was already at my lowest ebb, so telling my friends that I have gender issues no longer registered on the difficulty scale.
The entire way to the first friend's house, I was moving between a state of panic over what I had to accomplish, to a state of absolute misery, fighting tears through songs, skipping the really tough ones entirely, then back to panic.
Rinse and repeat.

I came out to two of my closest friends that day and also shared with them the news about the end of my marriage.
Both of them, their own wives included, welcomed me with love and open arms
"As long as you're happy"... "We just want the best for you"...
Why hadn't I told them sooner? They weren't rejecting or cruel. These were my friends, they loved me. I've never felt love from friends more than I did this day.
I would go as far to say that I was quite overwhelmed.  
By tea time ('dinner time' for Southerners and 'Muricans) relief had allowed me to lower my guard. I was heading home and on the motorway when my Spotify betrayed me and it was too much. Lemme tell ya, 70mph and bursting into tears are not compatible.
All because of bloody New Found Glory (I normally love them, but not that day).

I was only 10 minutes from home when I remembered;
"Shit! I'm supposed to be in work tomorrow", I called work from the car, my manager was on duty, so I went in to tell her the news. 
All of it. Face to face. Divorce, gender issues, the lot.
I cried more in her office than I had all day, I was in no fit state to work. 
I was in no fit state... full stop. 
And to cap it off, I had taken my glasses off in my manager's  office (crying, remember?) and whilst looking for a bin for the orange-sized ball of wet Kleenex in my hand, I saw a black circle on the floor and tossed the mucous soaked clump into it. After another bout of tears and finally drying my eyes, I put my glasses back on to see that the 'Bin' I had used previously was in fact, my manager's handbag!
"Lynne, why didn't you say anything?" I gasped
"You were just such a mess, I didn't have the heart to stop you!"
I laughed the most genuine laugh I'd made in over 48 hours and it felt good.
Sorry again, Lynne (if you ever read this).

After more Spotify betrayal on my way home, I decided on radio. Spotify was shelved for a few weeks for the safety of myself and other road users. That night over more take-out food myself and My Ex Mrs essentially re-did the previous night's events in more of an abridged, 'Can we not dissolve into tears this time?' sort of fashion.
We even found some happiness in play fighting over laying claim on silly things from the house that we each wanted to keep (I got the 'Domestic Goddess' apron), we did anything to avoid emotions.
We agreed to live together in the house until we could pay off our debts and save our own deposits for new places. My birthday was coming around again on the 25th, so we planned to still have a party for it on the 30th (after payday, obvs), despite all of the upheaval, because god-damn-it, it's my Birthday Party and I'll cry if I want to. I'd long planned a day when I would see all my friends together and they could meet me as Samantha. And this was to be that day.
Something to look forward to at least...

I woke up the following morning with an urge to go and tell more people. 
I needed to come out. But I also had to break the bad news, to try and figure out just how many people I was going to be able to lean on. In the coming days and weeks, I came out to just about everyone I care about staying close with.
And you wanna know the best part about any of this tale so far?
Not one person...
Not. One. Person. Had any kind of negative or unkind thing to say to me.
All I got was a chorus of;
"We only want you to be happy", "Your gender is not you. We love you because you're a good person", "You need to do what is right for you, nobody else". And my personal favourite
"You still like cars though, right?"
I can honestly say I feel humbled by my chosen family this year.
I also feel truly sorry that I ever doubted them....
Fuck. *sigh* I'm crying just typing this...

This would be the day that I would cry in a house-wares shop because of love songs on the radio. Public place. Balling my eyes out. I had to leg it out of there.
And... this was also the day that I stopped sharing a bed with my wife.
On Saturday we had agreed that we would both stay at our house, neither of us was in a fit state to move out, be it financially, emotionally or even physically.
But on Sunday, my inlaws had helped my wife move the sofa bed back into the spare room.
Nights are fucking lonely by yourself. It's even worse when the woman you love is only in the next room. She was there, but she was not.

TV power supply with blown capacitors vs the fruits of my soldering 

Over the next few days I came out and broke bad news to more friends, repaired a broken TV power-board and cried intermittently at adverts like some kind of mad person.

By Wednesday I was exhausted, I needed to recuperate from the last 7 days of relentless movement. I needed to chill.
I needed to be me. So i got dressed how I wanted to, not how I needed to, how I felt obliged to.
And that was the first day I felt better, more like myself. It wasn't much better than,

*can refrain from crying for 3 hours*
But it was better. A candle, a mile down the tunnel, kind of feeling.
 diluted form of hope. Being dressed gave me a sense of what could be, how I could eventually be happier with myself.

I picked my wife up from work that night as I normally do.
But when she got in the car and told me
"I have something to confess, and I don't  think you're going to like it"
My reflex response was
"Is it money?...  Are you pregnant?" and to be fair to me, this would be the worst possible time to be pregnant. 18 years of child support payments ran through my head in a split second...
"No, none of those", she almost laughed as she said it.

Then like an elephant sat on my chest, it dawned on me...
"You've met someone haven't you?"

Her pause that followed, in reality was probably only two seconds, but felt like a hundred.
"No...." she said *Phew!*
"...well, not yet... Lets talk when we get home okay?"

So I drove. Mind racing. Heart breaking. My arms, literally shaking as they held my hands to the wheel.

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Friday, 1 December 2017

The Beginning of the End... (Becoming a Statistic)

I did that thing that I do, again, didn't I?
Make one post then leave you hanging for months...
I know, and I'm sorry, but what can I really do about it otherwise?

So, hello again!
This post has actually been a bit of a long time coming, but that makes it no more easy to sit here and type it all out for public scrutiny.
But first, a little, or not so little re-cap on me.

Okay, so over the years I have cultivated a modest following here.
That's mainly been through my identity as a crossdresser or transvestite (don't really care which one you choose, it makes no odds to me) and sharing my own tips, tricks and personal opinions around dressing up like a lass.
Regular readers, or really, anyone with the capability to read my other entries (hint hint), will know that over the last 18-20 months, my blog content has been changing, coinciding with my own changes in how I perceive myself and my gender.
Who the hell am I then?

Well I am certain I am not a man.
Ever since I was in my early teens, I have battled with low mood, seeking reprieve through alcohol and drugs, hobbies and distraction of any sort that could 'take me away'.
Then in 2012, after a particularly low spell, I saw a doctor who diagnosed depression. The only times the depression lifted were via the above escapes or when I was presenting as a woman. So I began to dress more and more to help me feel better.

 I've always felt better when dressed. From childish sneaking around with my mum's clothes, to later years with my own clothes, and recently more complete feminine presentation with wigs, nails, shoes etc etc. Regardless of the extent to which I dressed, there was always one constant - Satisfaction, Joy, Elation. I felt happier when presenting as a woman. And I never read any more into it than "I dress to feel better".
Perhaps foolishly, I never really examined why I felt better that way.

While I was able to quell my dissatisfaction with life for short spells in the privacy of my own home, I would always end up having to go back to guy mode because that was my life, and never the twain would meet. (Or if they did, it was through small, calculated and considered measures to maintain secrecy and safety.) Very few people ever knew about my issues with gender conformity, and that's the way it stayed for some time.
As time progressed, with myself and my wife both satisfied that my gender non-conformity was safely pigeon holed as transvestism, my fiance became my wife. And we began to plan the standard Man, Woman, kid and cats kind of life. But something was wrong. Something in me. And I didn't know it. Maybe I just didn't want to.
I won't go into full detail because it's been discussed here previously and it won't do me any favours to re-hash it.

Long and short of it is that in September of 2016, I told my wife and some members of our family that;
 I think it's more likely that I am transgender than transvestite. That I am increasingly unhappy living as a man, that I identify more with clothes/items/behaviours that society deems to be feminine. That I do not feel comfortable with my body, for a list of reasons as long as I am tall.
 I concluded the 'issue' was only escalating and needed help dealing with it, I went to my doctor and asked for a referral to a GIC (Gender Identity Clinic) and she did so with the utmost professionalism and compassion and I'm now more than half way along the 18 month wait.
It was at this time that my wife and I began going through harder times. We both knew that if I continued down this path of latent self discovery, then our relationship could not survive - My wife ,while a proud advocate for same sex marriage, did not sign up for a same sex marriage herself. We decided it would be best for me to present as Samantha more, just around the home, to get better acquainted with the idea of living as a woman as opposed to just doing it in spare time, to see if the hat fitted.
I also reminded my wife that she had been promising to go on a night out with me, presenting as a woman, for over 2 years at this point, so we agreed that we would do this too.
(If the last two lines feel shoe-horned in, hold on a few minutes, and it won't do)

Now if you're a regular reader, you will know that all of the above is only prelude to what I'm actually here to moan about today. If you're not a regular reader - then subscribe. And read all my other blogs, comment on them, '+1' them and share them. (Hint-Hint)
(And while your at it, do me a solid and click your favorite add on this page for me? It's all through Google AdSense. It really helps me out and I appreciate it xx)

So, skip forward about, oh,11 months or so...
We still haven't done the night out and we had both been quite low (but I'm not revealing the intimate details of our relationship here - it's not even necessary for the story). I was at my wit's end with stress in work and coming home to different stress over an uncertain future.
As respite, we planned a short break away, camping (following this trip, I am now certain I don't like camping. Actually, not that's not true, I would rather set fire to my tent and sleep in the car... that is to say I hate camping) in the last week in August '17 before Leeds First Friday (LFF) on the 1st of September.
At last, something to look forward to for both of us! As I said, camping was utter guff. I don't need to say much more than "cold appendages and walking 1/4 mile to go to the toilet are not my idea of a good time".
But the Friday came mercifully quickly.

Myself and Marissa in Bar Fiber
With another couple (close friends of ours, who had known about my issues for the past year), we headed over to LFF to paint Briggate red (pink, blue and white would also suffice).

Despite initial nerves, which I expertly quashed with a healthy dosing of Prosecco and Jack & Coke, I had what we northerners refer to as "A Fucking Belter" which, loosely translated means, "a highly agreeable period of mirth augmented by the consumption of alcohol". (LOL!)
Myself and my wife in Smokehouse

I mean, who wouldn't do with a new dress, new hair, fresh nails and better quality makeup than they're used to?

I was happy. I was drunk and I was happy. My wife by my side and friends to support me.
I was happy. Elated.

Until the next day.

After seeing to our hangovers with eggs, toast and coffee, we made the trek, back over the Pennines, past that mad bugger in the white house in the middle of the M62 motorway, dropped our friends off, then made our own way home.
Got indoors, cup of coffee, Netflix on, chill out, and then allow the rest of my hangover to depart.

Just as the theme music for Rick & Morty kicked in, my wife began to cry
I hated it when she cried. 
More so when tears and wailing made her incapable of telling me why she was so upset. I'd always felt so helpless and wounded seeing her cry. I just held her and waited for the storm to pass. I thought I knew what was coming. I thought this would all be okay in a day or two. But I was wrong.
After what seemed like forever, the sobbing eased and she managed to start,
"I haven't seen you as happy as you were last night, in years..."
This was the truth I could not argue with it. As a rule, I don't like clubs, and we were in some very crowded, loud bars and clubs. And it didn't phase me. I was actually enjoying myself. It felt right. And not even 'right - for a night out', I just mean Right. Correct. Appropriate...
"...And I can't carry on being the reason that you don't get to be that happy all the time..."
My hangover was gone now. Sobriety. 
Or was it? 
I felt sick, but not the hangover kind...
No, that was likely my heart turning to dust and making an attempt to leave my chest via my mouth.
I couldn't speak. At first through shock and slow, dullard-like realisation of what was being said to me. Was my wife asking for a divorce?
I still couldn't speak. Only now it was because with the remnants of my heart now feeling like they were in my gaping, dry mouth, tears forming little streams on my cheeks, runny nose making it harder to breathe calmly, I couldn't manage more than a hyperventilated, 
"Please, no, don't do this to me"
That is, at least what I think I attempted to say. I have no idea how it actually sounded as the collective volume of fluids in my head had begun a simultaneous evacuation of my facial glands and sinuses.
I can only imagine that it didn't look pretty.
She continued...

"Listen. You aren't happy as a man. I can see it, but you keep denying it to me. But I can't be happy with you as a woman. I'm not lesbian any more than you are a man. I love you, but this has to happen to give us both the chance to actually be happy..."
I was froze. Dumbfounded. This is everything I was afraid of, happening right then and there. It was at that moment I decided that after 5 years of vaping, I was a smoker again. 
She would later tell me that she had been hiding tears from me for months, taking herself away from me to let it out so that I wouldn't see. All because she didn't want me to feel bad. 

We still loved eachother, but my wife was asking for a divorce. 
And nothing I did or said that day, or any day after, could persuade her to reconsider...
This was the end of a 12 year period in both of our lives. It was the beginning of the end.

That's when time stood still....

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I do this in my spare time, I am not a pro-writer, but due to some unforeseen life changes, I'm taking what I can get. Please help me out, click an ad. If you like the blog, share it with a friend, I really appreciate it xx)