Bonding Between Us

When a relationship starts simple mental strands bond together. You go out and when you’re apart you think about each other, another strand attaches. Then one of you declares your love and the other confirms and more strands connect. Then you move in together. You share life experiences. That romantic film you saw together that you repeat phrases and laugh in reminiscence of for which holds so many parallels in your relationship. The deep orange from that candle on the table lighting their face.

When you break up one or two of those strands break under the stress and cause pain but every other strand remains firmly connected from years of bonding and strengthening. That is the difficulty – an emotional mourning loss that can’t be disconnected overnight with even a few strands between you years later.

The first time telling a partner about a gender identity disorder can be the most painful and naive moments in life with everlasting effects. I had lived with the gender thing since I was about three with an accumulation of experience and feelings but still a lack of understanding of what it actually is, why it is and the causes which none of us know I was probably naively expecting her to understand, even though telling her about it was the hardest thing I had done until that moment.

I had read from experiences online with suggestions such as ‘don’t rush into things’ but given the pressure cooker that had built up to that moment that made me tell her about it I had taken to my newly assigned freedom. It could have been both the worst and best mistake I had made. Taking things slowly allows for acclimatisation and spared feelings. Taking things quickly gets the truth out in the open and decisions on the future of the relationship without wasting further time; quickly pulling the sticking plaster off the cut. We weren’t married and we didn’t have children and in some sense this made things easier but the strands were still just as strong as they would have been.

It has to be coming up to ten years ago when it happened for me and the hurt that it caused, one of the few bad parts of the gender thing, has long since passed and lives have moved on apart but I still see the same situation everywhere. I see people online in forums and in blogs going through the process. Opening up to wives and children, then closely following limitations put on so-called being that other personality that the partner insists on in an attempt to limit how far it will go. A pressure cooker without a valve further pushing that other side to grow and become. Then the final decision, separation and divorce which in so many cases is the inevitable; after all the partner never fell in love with the person you are inside but the person they thought you were as a whole. It’s heart breaking.

I don’t regret telling her about it and I wish I could regret the relationship ending but it was, like many, inevitable without living a lie. I still don’t know how those who keep it from their partners deal with the pressure of not being free to be who they want to be whenever. I suppose they have moments where they can release that pressure from time to time and those odd days every month or week is enough for them to be content. Jenny on the weekend, John at work. For me the more I move forwards the less I want to go back and the more freedom I want.

This is what is essential for those who are deciding to do this now. I don’t think the decision is really whether someone wants to risk their marriage or relationship and trying to decide whether it’s a real genuine authentic thing that someone wants; it’s one of the hardest things to acknowledge unless they are without question one hundred percent sure. One possible way to decide though might be based on whether the problem is getting worse internally. Are you getting more stressed? Is the desire to be becoming too great to handle? Is it eating away at you every day, every minute? This might not be enough alone to decide on telling something so personal that might change your whole life but it might be enough to recognise whether you should get some help through counselling, psychiatry and psychology before then moving on. Then again I have met some people who are perfectly happy in some kind of mild form of gender identity where they are content to be who they are from time to time and the jack just has no intention of coming out of the box; and that is also fine.

Recognising that fact and making the decision to just remain exactly where you are – as you are is a life changing decision in itself. It can give you the ability to move on with your life in other areas and allow you to enjoy everything else. The important thing is the choice being yours and being true to yourself. There will always be ups and downs in whatever choice is made, some huge, but the important thing is to get the right help and the right outlook on the future and why you’re doing whatever it is you decide to do.

Until next time

x

Salt in the Recipe

People around the table, all friends, laughing and chatting about times past, a bad day had at work. What started as a ‘Hi, come on in. Dinner is cooking.’ gradually becomes louder through the evening with glasses emptying and the bottles closely following behind. A candle on the table dashing back and forth in the light currents of air provided by the glowing conversation around the dinner table.

It’s funny that when I think about it, in our society – at least here in Britain, where drink is generally consumed from moderate through to just getting pissed out of our heads in an attempt to dull away the tedious sides of our lives and that alcohol is to our personalities that salt is to the recipe. Sure there is drunk which is that time where inhibition is suspended which takes away a part of our personality that makes us whole but before that, the band of tipsiness, which enhances who we are to others; the only time that may be we know we’ve gone too far is the day after when soberness asks, ‘did I really say that last night.’

I don’t drink that often anymore and when I don’t I realise that things aren’t really that different. I can enjoy a great movie that I love with or without a glass of red, the film will still have the same immersive effect on me, I just might not be quite so wide eye’d at the end. Yet there are times that I know if I’ve had that glass that I will feel just that little bit more immersed emotionally with whoever the characters were and the story. Things will be just a bit more contrast, saturate and the emotion will be wider and deeper.

If we do this with alcohol then what do those with the whole gender thing who go that step further with replacement hormones that the body can’t provide take from it. Part of it is medical and physical to make those subtle changes but some people have spoken about small changes of mood and approach to life. At what point do we take this as a change of personality or just a difference in outlook. Someone many years ago told me that they wondered if it changes who you really are and I thought about this on and off since. I do wonder if really there isn’t a change. It’s the same person, the same recipe, the only difference is the heat. A cold spaghetti bolognese is just a cold Italian inspired meal. May be it’s the person’s reaction to being happier and so more relaxed and a positive outlook on life or may be more stressed from a new life and the way some people react. I guess we will never know for sure but the important thing is that whatever the salt we add or the temperature we serve ourselves we just need to feel happy in ourselves, whether it’s identity, work, friends, the books we read or the beach we sit in the summer.

Coffee has much the same effect as alcohol in it’s ability to change how I react. I know I talk faster and ideas must be met quickly under the influence of an espresso. That said my timing in music flies out the window and goes on holiday for several hours. Neither coffee or alcohol are subtle in their changes in our personalities and I wonder how subtle everything we consume is and so who are we really? Are we just the person we are at a particular moment in time or is there an innate thread that runs through us and everything else around it are just clouds of vapour that come and go depending on our moods.

Many years ago, not long after I had graduated and had enough money to travel on the weekends with my friends I would drive us to other cities and towns just for a wander. We went to Cheltenham once and spent more time chatting walking the regency lined streets than really doing much else. It seemed aimless but it was time to spend with a group of friends that over the years we gradually drifted into our own lives. I think how I’m a different person now in how I was around those people then and how they were. We’ve matured and become subtly experienced.

We would leave in the early evening and I would drive the black ribbon country road, the sun seemingly taking forever to drop away with just a red and orange powder on the horizon and the calmness in the slowly flowing River Severn that would come into view as the road swept in and out of the country to the riverside. I discovered a compact disc that I used to listen to in that car on the way back and instantly I remembered the sky, the river, the remoteness of where we were and the warmth of a moment that already felt drenched in nostalgia even then. Even as the seemingly different person I am now that inner thread is still the same. I see the world in a similar way and it has a similar effect on me. The thread changes very little and only the shell matures. We can change the bits we want to change whether it’s coffee, wine, medication or just self improvement. As long as we are genuine and authentic in our reasons then the changes themselves really are a part of our personality. Change is who we are.

Whatever you decide to do each day you can decide what is authentic. Honesty with yourself will tell you and if you’re not sure then you’re not ready for the answer – may be.

Until next time.

x

The Sand Between My Toes

Five pm the horizon lined copper, the freezing air filtering through my hooded jogger and a single pin hole of starlight in the weakening blues hung low above the village church. The only noise was an evening bird and the background grey noise of the motorway in the distance until it was cut bluntly by an ageing moped roaring by in a cloud of blue smoke. On the way back a clatter of salt rushed along the road from behind. A gritter kindly moving to the other side of the road as it passed so my legs weren’t stone-chipped.

My run wasn’t far, not as far as late last year at least, but it was a symbolic milestone that my whole run was without a stop. The tops of my legs had grown colder, even at pace, as if they were two slabs of steak just starting to solidify in the freezer. I might enjoy running but even so the thoughts had run through my head faster than I was running, “was this a good idea today?” and “why did I take my wooly hat off before I left the house?”

You would think that at a time of my life when I have every option at my feet, the choice to do practically anything, or at least give anything a go, that I would be feeling at my most free and breezy; but it’s taking a lot to keep feeling that way. I’ve had to pull on every thought provoking and clear mind routines that I know of to keep a clear and worry-free outlook.

For the whole gender thing, well it’s just there. I had to go to an appointment at my local hospital for some kind of support that they are giving since I’ve been referred to London but as usual it was another new psychiatrist. The lack of consistency feels like something is missing from my care but I suppose to some extent I’m past having to be cared for, even though I should be. It was rather administrative than talking about feelings but I’d already done that for two years.

They hadn’t received anything from the gender clinic in London as it had all gone to my GP and so I was more up to date than the psychiatrist. I didn’t think they would really need anything anyway but as it turns out if they don’t receive documentation from London then they might have a problem with the funding they’re providing. Getting gender identity care in Wales, administratively, is a bit like England – in the 1980s.

While that whole thing is parked, for a better word, my career is at the forefront of my problems or options. Still exhausted on a career that just doesn’t light me up anymore and freelancing whenever the work comes up I am at a point where the world is open to what I do next. The question is what do I do next. I’ve yet to write as a profession and while I work towards that the rent still needs to be paid.

I’ve spent too long reliving ghosts of the past hoping they will reappear and invigorate my life, old friends I no longer hear from or work places and the people that filled them that the comfort zone contains as a solution to just go back. It doesn’t work that way though. The reality of those people has been blinkered by the passage of time and rose spectacles. I may be on the edge of having little money left but I have the opportunity to look to the future, look for change, act on it and finally dispose of the old career that has seen me financially well but has run it’s course and the enjoyment and satisfaction that is running on empty.

I have so many options and when I start writing I feel that warm glow inside that makes me want to continues for years with the financial reward being a pleasant side-effect. When I create a song I feel a creative buzz that would have the benefit of the expensive instrument purchased in the summer paying for itself. We hear about people who take that leap of faith, changing their lives in positive television documentaries, success stories of the riches or in self-help books of which I am a faithful collector, but that leap, the actual push of the button that commits fully to a change is more difficult than most appreciate and that’s why so many people fall back to that comfort zone, “Well I tried” or “It won’t happen for me.” For me the worry is cementing that change and knowing I must commit to solidifying my new creative skills professionally. You could rubber-stamp this outlook onto the gender thing; change, change of gender, commitment to a new life. Why should it be so hard though. If it doesn’t workout just go and try something else or go back to where you were. It’s a shame gender isn’t quite so simple even though on the outside it can seem so binary, but we know it isn’t.

It’s a fight to make the changes to my life happen between those positive almost caffeinated enthusiasm moments to make progress towards a new career and that of the low points when my head feels almost hungover with little energy to produce anything. There are times when I can be driven and, like a cat that’s like a dog with a bone, I won’t let go until something is achieved or I reach a goal, either that or I fall asleep from exhaustion at stupid o’clock in the morning, and then there are times when I can barely lift a finger towards it and time is spent thinking about what I can do and dreams of what it might be like or fighting hand to hand with internal doubts. I have learnt that the way to deal with it is flow with the tide. Deal with the churn and work when I can apply myself and when I hit a low point, accept the low point and ride it through until the clouds clear and golden sunlight glints of hope and enthusiasm and the breeze flows controlled again.

I live for those up-days and for the down-days I hope for blues skies.

Until next time.

x

New Year’s Eve Special – Cropped Socks and the Orange Solitude

The television was on in the corner of the empty kitchen of my parents house. I glanced out of the window, the cars still dusted with Christmas holiday week frost with blues skies and the sharp yellow winter sunlight enough to cut through and slowly reducing the white. The TV switched to one of those adverts in the break. You know, those ones you usually only see early in the morning taking up channel space before the actual channel starts, day time TV or, in this case, the Christmas break. An extended advert, an infomercial. An American accented delivery of an exercise DVD set or equipment which just about falls short of snake oil.

While these adverts have little power to get me to part with money my attention was caught. The narration was a blur as was the exercises but I noticed thinner toned bodies and the lycra which just shouted enjoyable exercise to me. It was mesmerising to see what these people were doing and what they had physically and how I’d been missing it. One too many mince pies adding a millimetre here and there to my body making me just a little disappointed that I’d not been able to keep up my exercise recently.

At that moment I wanted to sort it out. Waiting for the New Year wouldn’t cut it. That was too long away. Sure a few days won’t make a difference physically but mentally it meant everything. If I had the money at that moment I would have been straight to the car, into the city and at the nearest decent sports shop to find some new clothes to boost that feeling of returning to running that makes me feel elated and fresh. With that comes clear thinking and solutions. I had to do the second best option – go home, the next day, and find the next opportunity to run, that was after two loads of Christmas holiday washing.

Cropped socks and running shoes. A pull-over hoodie and three quarter lengths. Then fingerless gloves, one purple that I’d lost the matching other glove and one blue one because the matching blue one had developed some air conditioning in the palm. I was glad I had waited until the washing had finished because it meant it wasn’t too late that I’d have been risking my neck on black ice under clear star lit skies and that I was early enough that the sky in the relative silence of the small village was lined with a glowing orange so vivid that I felt like I could reach out and grab it. The orange faded in twilight to a pale blue that stretched over the hills and my head to the darkened deep blues of the approaching night.

It was perfect. It was more than the fact that I had got back to running before the New Year and preceding any resolutions. Beyond the fact I didn’t feel any joint pains or even happy with the clothes I can run in, it was the sky. It had painted the scenery to give me the encouragement that I needed to keep doing what I love, running and everything else. These types of days can be a delivered by fate. The weather, the conditions, my body, fate – things out of my control.

This is the important bit. Fate is only responsible for some of the things that make a day or what ever we do to occupy our time, but without making our own effort to move we get little from fate that would be in our control. I read recently that “Great things never came from comfort zones” and that “you are only confined by the walls you build around yourself.” That second statement is the powerful one. While it can be applied to almost anything it certainly fits precisely with the gender thing. Those walls are the things that I had built way back in my late teens; made of reinforced concrete and covered in Araldite for good measure.

In the last few years all that bonding gunk is gone from the wall. I don’t even have to peer over the wall any more as it’s low enough to lean on and take a look around while exposing a little of who I am. Walls can take a while to knock down with a small hammer. It may be a slow subtle process but it’s a way that suits me and some other people too. For some, they’re happy to take a sledge hammer to it and get right into the surgeons hands and back to work to get on with life. We just need to pick the best way for ourselves and not feel pushed, raced or guilted into any decision either way.

The morning came with an awakening to the feeling of not being able to sleep anymore; and so I shouldn’t have. Nine thirty a.m. is late enough even after staying up until one to see the end of a film. I had a lot to fit into today, all things for me but they had to be done today, including another run. ‘Start as you mean to go on’ as they say and doubts about running again so soon were halted by a mental vision in the mirror of loosing just enough weight to feel happy about myself again.

It was lunch time and with my running clothes ready I quickly tied my hair off in a rough plait that wrapped around my hoodie and down the side of my neck topped off with a wooden hat to keep out the cold.

As I approached the village the winter wire trees and luscious green hills in the distance were disguised in a rising grey mist from last nights hard frost. I felt so energetic today, probably helped by two of the remaining mince pies from Christmas I had after breakfast, but even so it was different. I could go further. I didn’t want to push too hard so soon but I wanted to go further with the reward of a stunning view over the other side of the village.

I ran over the old road bridge that crosses an ancient celtic river flowing with pace with a line of thin fog following it just a few feet above between the over hanging trees. It was a hard run up the hill on the other side of the bridge but I pushed for that view – that reward. It might sound like a small reward, a view of the countryside with the rising mist and grey distant outlines of farm houses, pastel skies and the black and white dots of a town, it could have easily have been the beach with it’s wide open space, gentle lap of the waves and solitude only found there during the winter months; the thing is as long as it’s meaningful to you it’s a reward. Something that is away from the work–home cycle of daily society that turns us into the machines we so despise and where some of us just make do.

The effect of these small rewards can add up to leading a much more positive life with more affirming decisions and being proud of what you do, whatever that is, and of who you are.

The city centre shoppers were still flowing even days after Boxing Day. As lunch time became afternoon the more claustrophobic it became with crowds of people. I was only there to swap the one single duplicate present; no post-Christmas retail hangover craving for me. I escaped to the nearest branded coffee shop as soon the swap was done and sat in the large window with panoramic views of the pedestrianised street.

Girls coming in with names like Chloe while an unsupervised toddler presses their hands against the door refusing entry. Espresso machines screamed steam and Christmas special latte’s and hot chocolates on the menu disappointingly out of stock. New Year was nearly here and the old year in it’s last few breaths. Manic and desperate.

I had taken myself out of the busy crazy retail frenzy. The only thing I bought was a nice diary for the year to come with a store credit given to me for buying some presents there before Christmas. It struck me while sat drinking my hot chocolate that people seem to be in a desperate rush to get that thrill of Christmas, opening presents and the acquiring of shiny material things for one more time. I had seen a family pass by, son, mother and grandmother. The mother defending some decision to buy something and the grandmother trailing a few feet behind and angrily announcing ‘well if you want it bloody get it.’ I could feel the goodwill and cheer peeling away from them.

Taking yourself out of these situations, watching other people struggling with British life and how many of us live here fitting so much into every second never taking a moment to watch life, was a prescription without medication. It’s cleansing. It brings things into perspective. Just watching other people there are moments when we can see the things we don’t want to be and the things we do we wish we didn’t. It puts everything about gender identity into perspective. It sizes the problem for what it really is. It might be an important thing for us but it doesn’t have to be made into a big monster of a problem. It is, after all, such a small thing amongst all the other good and bad, relationships, work, careers, travel, family, friends and our outlook.

In the past year so much has happened and as always in small bite sized subtle chunks. What I wear and when I do. Expressing parts of my personality that I may have suppressed before; although may be I didn’t realise I wasn’t suppressing it at all. Visiting the GIC and making a step towards making a decision; or not having to make a decision which is a valid answer in itself. My best friends finding out about the gender thing and being totally cool about it.

The subtle changes to anything are usually the things that matter. They’re sustainable and comfortable. Easier to live with and probably a bit more honest. Whatever you decide to do for twenty-seventeen, whether you decide that continuing as you are is what makes you happy – may be you’re already at your most balanced self, or may be you have plans to change things for the better, whatever it is, have a good year.

Until next year,

Hannah x.

Christmas Eve Special – Narnia to The Mediterranean

It may be December and practically Christmas, if not Christmas Eve day then Christmas Eve Week, but the city park full of ancient oaks was still carpeted in the autumn browns but just colder and damp. The river still flowing through it. People walking home with branded bags of presents. Runners keeping fit with the freshest air that can be found in the city and people all wrapped up woollen sat alfresco outside the wooden shack cafe with dogs on a break from their walk tails wagging meeting other stranger dogs.

There is more Christmas warmth in a beautiful park than a shop repeatedly playing over played Christmas songs of the 70s and 80s. This must be the time to replace Slade and Wizzard for a while. I like shopping for presents for most of the time but the repeated forceful, ‘you’re going to get into the Christmas mood whether you like it or not’ chiming from the ceilings of shops and shopping centres is padded cell inducing.

My Christmas shop was complete. Walking home through the park I came to a fork in the path. To the right lead to a wide open space of grass. Empty and bleak. To the left a winding path near the river, decorated with winter-tough shrubbery, ancient tress and beds of wilted remains of flowers. A little more warm and inviting. It was almost like a representation of a decision and not just the gender thing. It could be interpreted in so many ways. Left for the comfortable life that I know, a safe place. Right without any hint of whether it will be better or just pure emptiness without soul?

The thing is, am I really in a comfort-zone without change? When I really think about it I’ve already started walking on the path that felt like the right place and life has changed. I’m no longer in a nine ‘til five monogamous job although eight-thirty ‘til five-thirty before further work-expectations would be more accurate these days. I have also at least started to work something out with the whole gender identity in small subtle steps. The fact is I’m already way down a path of some sort, it can be a bit scary and sometimes it’s like walking through a thick fog with no reply to my calls.

Not knowing what will happen is both scary but also exciting making life just a little bit free flowing, opportunistic and vibrant rather than dull and monotonous. Christmas is a great time to reflect on the year and where we’re going. Usually the New Year and in particular New Year’s Eve gives us the chance to look back. To rose tint the past and put the grey clouds to rights but this year I have already seen people commenting on the year in the run up to Christmas – early, a bit like how the New Year sales keep retreating each year.

For me, internally, it’s a time to reflect privately on who I am and all the parts that go with it and to continue to work to see the good parts of it rather than dwell unhealthily on the sad grey bits. How lucky I am that at least I’m alive and to some extent I do get to experience all those parts of me that I want to be. Celebrate how far I’ve come and how much more relaxed I am about everything, despite how hard it can be at times. Subtle changes to the way we live can be hard to recognise but when they are recognised it can be positive and enforcing. Self replicating within.

At Christmas time I like to feel those cold frosty days. I like to see the snowy mountains, the frosted grass hiding in the shadows from the sun, the roaring fireplace in the pub or the twinkling ice bright lights people hang in the trees. People watching those who are still rushing around trying to get all those last minute things that post-Christmas they probably will realise they didn’t need. Much like a hang-over from drinking will probably do just the same again next year and fail to learn from the experience.

Despite enjoying all that Narnia style frosted Christmas I also enjoy looking at Mediterranean azure blue seas and white linen clothes in films or photos from my own album and dream of that perfectionist early retirement life. It sets the mood for the year to come. They say a picture tells a thousand words and in looking at these things at the approaching New Year sets most if not all of my fluid resolutions in an instant without the need for a huge unobtainable list in my diary.

Getting that balance of good and bad thoughts are the key to happiness. Keeping the balance and not allowing ourselves to fall in an uncontrollable lilting cycle of dwelling on the bad. It’s a hard thing to get right but once mastered it’s a tool that can be used to ensure we see a balanced view of everything that is happening and have an ability to look for the best way to change our future for the better; even if that means pressing the reset button and starting all over again.

Whatever your outlook is, whether it’s your gender identity or not, have a great Christmas and think about what the possibilities are for the new year coming. It will reward you.

Until next time.

x

A big thank you to all my followers and readers for what will soon be three years of blogging. Without you, the reader, I wouldn’t have a reason to keep writing.

That Winter Chalk

When it was cold, and I mean icy cold, damp clinging to the floor and frost staying all day in the grass in the shadows, it felt christmasy. I actually felt in the mood for Christmas. But then this week the temperature rose and the damp remained in the air along with the thin fog and everywhere seemed to be in the clouds. That Christmasy feeling was replaced by the trudge around shops for Christmas presents with Christmas songs from the 70s and 80s being tinned out and over exposed on the shop floor and everything just seemed a bit stressful. Thankfully I seem to have beeen given a break with the sun beaming through the glass doors in the dining room with an orange glow on the horizon behind the trees lining the local fields with just a spattering of winter chalky clouds.

As I move through December seeing other women wearing those christmasy type clothes, whether it’s warming huggable coats or fun pattern leggings under a skirt, it reminds me that I shouldn’t dismiss the expression through clothing as part of the whole gender thing. We express who we are in how we communicate, how we speak to each other, how we express our body language, our moods – our clothes. It’s all part of the ingredients of what makes us who we are. I think sometimes, since realising a couple of decades ago that the clothes weren’t actually a cross-dressing thing, that I can dismiss it as just a side part of the problem. The reality is that I don’t see these clothes as female clothes, I just see them as mine. Just something that’s enjoyable to wear. Just like anyone I can go through days of preferring a pair of jeans over wearing turn up denim shorts or a skirt day or whatever. Moods and clothes go together, especially with such diversity in female clothing. It also reminds me that I shouldn’t doubt who I am.

We are more than our physical bodies. We are ingredients of a recipe and may be that’s how we should decide our gender. I think Christmas time only magnifies how we feel about gender because some of us are around loved ones and friends. Going about shopping in town and city centres when crowds are even heavier this time of year and if you’re someone who isn’t currently free to wear everything you would like too, then this can constantly be a reminder of things. For some it’s a pressure cooker very slowly coming up to heat. One day it will boil.

When you can’t wear anything when you want there can be times when we just buy stuff for the sake of it trying to make ourselves just feel a bit better in the interim while we sort out who we think we are. A bit like buying cheap jewellery. We know we probably can’t wear it day to day and so it doesn’t seem to make sense to spend proper money on a decent necklace or ring or something. Besides it’s hard for some to fund two wardrobes and so it supposedly allows us to experience these shiny feel-good things for cheap.

The problem is, it makes us feel cheap and unworthy. The cheap tat makes us feel like cheap tat and brings us down, just a little and so the side of our gender that makes us feel better can also conflict and make us feel worse. Sometimes it’s a little better to just do without or save for something special whether you get to wear it much or not. Either that or bring your gender expression to the public and free yourself of these types of shackles.

I’m beyond the cheap tat now. It didn’t take too many mistakes like that to always think about my purchases. I tend to mostly buy things that I can wear when I feel I want or things I know I’ll cherish that make me feel good. The things that make me feel good help me overcome those rainy misty days and see the good that the rain brings rather than how wet my feel have become.

I’ve been so wrapped up in job hunting and colds that I’ve not been running properly for a long while. I miss days where I can run the three miles or so to the lake where only ducks and swans break a slow ripple in the water and the air feels rejuvenating spreading to the branches of my lungs. It’s a spiral that takes some getting out of.

I stop running from time to time because of a cold or some kind of virus that’s going around. My fitness declines a little, I start running again and get another cold. But when I have those weeks or even months where it’s undisturbed by any interruptions I’m in another place. When I’m not running I see other runners in their running clothes running along a river or the coast and feel a part of my ability to express myself, as well as doing some exercise, is actually missing.

I sometimes feel that the amount of meaningful expression does come from the everyday supposed mundane things like running, both the clothes and the freedom. A walk along a long serene beach in the winter seems to sort all of life’s problems within the first twenty minutes or less. I think sometimes we should be able to get a walk on the beach on prescription.

Until next time.

x

Futility

Rain, hail and thunder, it’s done it all today. A change in direction being processed by the universe I expect. The clouds so dark and grey at midday huddling up to each other closely to let out a huge release on us all shouting, “It’s November!” It’s a Friday and I find myself sat in another cafe over a pot of tea, every now and then huge rumbles of thunder being felt running along the floor and up through the chair legs like minor earthquake aftershocks. I finally, after many years of promising myself, started my christmas shopping early. I braved one shop before the cafe with faces of shoppers dull and drawn waiting to be served and staff rushing back and forth in confused state with all their processes of service falling apart. Christmas tunes chiming out of the shops speakers did little to make it feel Christmasy, it was just commercial, industrialised trading of brands and cheap toys being passed in exchange for money or debt; as grey and dull as the sky outside but without joy, art or substance.

During the week I decided, finally, to write back to the GIC. I was a little confused over some of the processes and who I needed to see about what and that blood test that hadn’t been done. I piled it down in some kind of order into a letter to the clinician I’d seen in London when I was there a few months ago, clearly asking what I needed to know. It wasn’t a moan but just so I knew what was what. A short trip to the post office to have the recorded delivery sticker added and it was off. Just an administrative thing that needed to be done so I could get on with things; it was surprisingly positive.

There was something about sending the letter that later on had lifted some weight off me about my uncertainty about where I was. Because I knew that I would likely get answers to the boring stuff it meant I didn’t have to think about it. Within a day the clinician had kindly rung me and spoke to me about what I needed to know one-by-one answering every point I’d had. Things were being sorted out and it wasn’t just how quickly he phoned me back but the understanding that was given had helped me clarify everything; he even spoke about how they might be changing things a little to help those who attend the GIC with these types of queries by giving us information to take away after a session with them.

While the clouds outside are still clustered together and producing the noise of war through the windows and walls of the cafe I don’t feel phased by them. The weather is passing me by because it’s part of the joy of the seasons adding depth to the winter while we go about our lives. It does of course help that I am, to some extent, my own boss and work for who I want when I want and because I have unshackled the way I live from the nine ‘til five to something that is more, well, nine ‘til five during some parts of the year and ten ‘til whenever when I ‘work’ for myself. Shopping for food when I want, taking in the surrounding people of a cafe and making time for those moments ensuring that my life isn’t a week-weekend of binary living. It can be hard because setting my own challenges to make life interesting is a challenge itself. Without that I wouldn’t probably get out of bed except for meals and the other.

Despite the more free living the question is still there. Don’t think for a minute that anything that makes life supposedly easier would make that question about whether the gender thing is the right things to do or the other question of whether it’s real rather than some learnt behaviour, besides, what is learnt behaviour. The problem with the question is that it’s impossible to answer without just accepting who you want to be and I think after acceptance and being then the question is self answered over time, there isn’t a scientific test that will answer it, at least not yet. Even if there was a scientific test a new question would be asked ‘Is the test right?’ Answers to the questions will never be one hundred percent. I find that the constant self questioning is a futile one. There is no winning answer. There will always be a leap of faith involved without huge amounts of evidence that satisfies our curiosity. Some people are able to commit to their change of gender without question. I don’t think this is down to the strength of those feelings though, I think some people are able to just make that leap without the need to question their own decisions – may be some are just inherent gamblers.

I don’t know where things are heading and from time to time just like anyone I have moments of doubt or uncertainty, especially without life that is particularly routine, mundane or monogamous. Restoring some order though and reminding myself of what matters to me goes some way to restoring my path. Whether it’s apparently frivolous things like tidying the house, discovering my favourite clothes again or how I occupy my time and how I ration myself to others, these are all things that can make things clear again.

Until next time.

x

Daydream

I sat looking out through the windows of the cafe. The alfresco brave sat in duffle coats or craving warmth from an ember between a pair of fingers. A steady stream of tobacco smoke slowly drifting in the cold sunlight of November. I hugged my hot chocolate with both hands after working through the mountain of cream precariously with the end of one of those extra long green thick straws meant for the summer drinks. The glass door opens with another customer and a blast of icy air floods in around my knees and my ripped jeans making the cafe heating more evident. The pigeons tapping away around the tables outside define the tourist nature of a Starbucks by the sea.

It may be a little capitalist here but it’s a home while I need time to think; and not just for me. Someone with a laptop staring furiously at the screen waiting for some kind of idea to jump out of them. A couple on the sofa chairs out for the afternoon both of them staring at their mobiles silently taking intermittent automated sips from their white embossed-branded mugs. A few tables away is an elderly middle-eastern gentleman, with a head scarf and a grey wiry beard that took some patience to grow, sitting quietly without a drink. I almost feel like buying him a cup of tea but for fear of offending him in case I’ve misread his fortune or lack of.

It’s been a while since I’ve just sat in a cafe and people-watched. That’s not to say I haven’t been at the cafes by any means, I’ve just had my head stuck at the screen working so much or had my head in the thoughts that drive me day to day about the gender thing that I’ve not stopped for a while and just taken a look around. Next time you’re sat in a cafe take a look. I don’t mean just a brief covert glance, stop for a moment and really take things in. Life really is eclectic, there must be at least thirty stories to tell in here right now. It doesn’t matter if what you see and think is the actual truth but I can make a good educated guess at who some of these people are. As much as gender issues are really the current thing at the moment which may be seen by some as outside of the norm, sitting in a cafe and watching how diverse people are – there is no norm.

If I was able to, if Starbucks was open late and they provided a decent sofa and if I had an endless pocket of change then I would quite happily watch other people all evening rather than watch the television. The diversity of people just shows that really, apart from gender stuff being slightly unusual right now, we’re really no different. We all have our daily problems. We have our good days, our bad days, days when we choose skinny and others when full-fat milk and topped with cream is the only thing that will do. I just suppose some of us put aside the things that make us different and conform to the society we are supposed to adhere to and then regretting sticking to the middle line at the end of our lives and wishing we’d been the different person we are.

The elderly gentleman is still sat on his own. At least an hour or more without a drink quietly sat there. I wonder what he is thinking. Is he mulling over his thoughts, is he just waiting for opportunity to spring it’s luck on him or is he just content because he has already solved the meaning of life and is happy in the knowledge that everything is going to be ok? He seems to have little worry and, other than what my future holds, I suppose my only worry at this minute is how much time is left on my parking ticket.

The afternoon seems long. It may be a Friday and people are winding down for the weekend but yet it has a Saturday afternoon about it. With low winter sun comes long shadows. It’s funny how small things like that define how we feel about the day. At the bottom of a hot chocolate came an order of an Americano. As much as I love hot chocolate I feel the guilt of it etching away at my teeth and my coins alike. A bitterness that is heads and tails away from the sweetness. Ideal to flip my way of thinking in an instance much like those long sun cast shadows. The bitterness of the coffee brings on more methodical thinking for a moment at least. Things like the letter I should have written a few weeks ago about one of the missing blood tests to the gender clinic in London but I know I should be taking this day like a Ferris day out. A break from work. Living for the moment as they say, the here and now and all that.

I have to be thankful, to myself at least, for getting to a place in my head where I feel comfortable in the places I like to be in the clothes that I like to wear and damn anyone else; well – some. It must be something I need to remind myself of from time to time so that I know that given how far I’ve moved forward and how normal things are now that if I continue to make those little changes then where I want to be in the future will be just as normal everyday as it is now.

At the end of my coffee I grabbed my black denim jacket, the one with the buttons down the left, and headed to the door noticing that the elderly gentleman had somehow quietly left without notice. The water in the bay was gloss black with gentle gloopy waves with a hint of yellow sun reflecting back in ever changing loops. If you want to examine yourself, take time out to examine others, and then reflect.

Until next time

x

Bleak

Not much else enhances bleakness more than a winter making it’s stamp on the land with autumn as it’s forerunner. There are two ways to look at our future, embrace the crisps cold days in the warmth of huggable thick pullovers and the protective nature of gloves against delicate fingers and eyes burning in the view of golden leaves tumbling in the breeze or we can envelop into the future painted with wiry leafless trees sporadically lining pastures below misty cold grey skies with no outlook for change.

It is so easy to fall into the trappings of a bleak outlook. Allowing opportunities for change to pass us by and not making plans to improve our lives for the better and live for the here and now. This is hard when moods are swinging from week to week or month to month. When I feel energised I find myself delving into hours on hours of plans, work and achievement. Days where every hour is used to it’s end and going to bed becomes an inconvenience and when I have these days I grab hold of them with every ounce of energy I can find. With the thought that this enthusiasm will end at any time, within hours, days or it could even be weeks, but without knowing when, I feel I have to use it while I can. Whenever the opposing lacklustre moment returns I will need to have achieved enough to get me through until the next polar moment. It effects everything. Work, cleaning the house, going out, music, writing and everything else, including the gender thing.

At the moment the trees are raining warm rustic colours and my fingerless gloves are working to keep me warm. I see an optimistic future for my career working hard even without any certainty of success. I’m thinking about myself. Ensuring I give myself enough time as well as others. Yet despite all this I remain confused how I have left my gender issues on the shelf for the last few weeks. I know it’s there and it hasn’t gathered dust or left me alone, but making any decisions or progress has been on hold.

May be this is just a moment of stillness. Like a pause between a breath or the lapse in the waves coming onto the beach. May be I need this time. Like many things we all need a break, especially from something that is so needling every minute of every day. At the same time I know that mulling around in the back of my head is the thought about whether or not the gender clinic and it’s process are helping me. The lack of proper guidance and even simple straight forward information that seems to be missing is all stress that I wonder what I am getting from it. The main guidance I was given was to ‘visit the transwiki website and may be go to a local support group meeting.’ While these resources are invaluable for some people I think the clinic had missed how much contact I’d had with other people in similar situations over the years and when it came to the information, well I feel a bit all-informationed-out. There is only so much you can read before it becomes just different opinions from different people. Various theories but no real evidence of the cause of gender identity issues. Medication, surgeons, doctors who help and those who don’t. The only thing that seems to be new these days is the direction of gender and how people are looking to genderless living. More to add to the confusion box.

I may have plenty of decisions to make and probably that is what I should spend my time thinking about rather than the clinical administrative errors like not taking enough blood for all the tests in that blood test that anyone visiting the clinic for the first time has to do. May be these things are just an annoyance that I just need to put aside.

I think, amongst all these things, what I really want is to take this energetic time and commit myself to the things that matter to me and crow-bar in a few minutes of a week for the admin of my relationship with that clinic and spend the rest of my valuable time doing rather than thinking.

Despite all the self reasoning may be this is all part of the journey. They say the journey is more rewarding than the goal and may be that is one of my fears.

Until next time.

x

Drunk

Brass piping and copper drip trays in a fight against cloth to stain and corrode. The modern take on the busy bar is channeling out the menu on flat screen televisions hanging from high above the counter where the last bell would normally chime. It always starts at normal conversation volume. Easy to order a drink whether it’s a glass of wine to feel hugged and warm with sulphites making my cheeks glow like blusher or the new trendy connoisseur of ale drinkers with a palette for zesty hops. It doesn’t matter what changes in the social occasion of the legal drug alcohol the effect is much the same – we get tipsy.

As the drink passes along with the conversation the noise of other people doing the same seems to get louder. It’s like one of those bizarre phenomenons you get in open plan offices where conversation gets progressively louder in the fight to be heard until the whole room is one large sonic block of cheese. May be the vocal noise of the bar is just people getting louder as their alcohol blood content increases.

While it seems a little more difficult to get to the bar or to correctly count my money or for some reason find it difficult to focus on the drinks menu which now seems a bit further away and a touch blurry some parts of my observational curiosity doesn’t change. How did she get her eye shadow that perfect? Why can’t I ever find those shoes in my size that the girl at the other end of the bar is wearing? Why is there someone in the corner I used to work with that I’ve fallen out with here of all nights? These are mild curiosities but thinking about the gender thing while mildly intoxicated can come up as much as it does when I’m at home or with more in parallel with when I’m running.

Much the same as when I run, when I’ve had a drink, and that’s not that often anymore, there is a clarity amongst the lack of focus. It always comes down to one thing. If I ask myself that question that we all of us with a gender identity issue ask ourselves, ‘If I could simply flick that switch this minute, would I?’ after a few drinks I would always answer ‘yes.’

They say that alcohol lowers our inhibitions, and while I would never say a huge decision about gender should be made under the spell of a glass of Corbières, does the removal of our fears present an honest answer? When I run I get a flood of endorphins that give me a positive outlook on the day and my future and this has much the same effect and answer that I come up with when I ask myself that ultimate question. Not only that but the answer in both situations appears to be the purest answer devoid of what other people think and the fears that come with those thoughts. But where does this leave that middle ground. That day I’ve asked the question when drink or running isn’t involved. Where inhibitions are clearly in place and that cloud of reality hangs overhead giving responsible finger wagging in the face of the argument.

I don’t have the answer. Not yet at least and certainly alcohol is not the voice I should listen to given the irresponsible decisions it’s lead other people to make but then the answers from while exercising are completely internal with the only source of a drug being produced is by my body which is natural; and isn’t a natural decision that seems pure is all that we want? At the moment the only thing the middle ground seems to give me is grief of the constant poking kind and a great ability to put everyone else first.

– ❤ –

I wanted to say a little about someone. Someone who I briefly met in person that was nearly ten years ago and who I’d spoken to online from time to time back when both our blogs were on Yahoo 360. When I met her along with three other people in a bar in London the one thing that struck me was her normality despite the gender identity change that seem to pass through her at ease. By normality I mean she presented herself as, well, herself.

I had met some people over the years where their gender was a pantomime and they were in between two very separate solid worlds, which I guess we all have been at some point, but she was living a normal life and gender was just a part of it, rather than everything. It didn’t seem to rule her life and she was probably one of the first people I’d met like this. The second thing I admired was her intellect and ability to talk about things whether they were gender related or the metal music scene that she was such a huge fan of. How many people can you talk about the psychological levels of gender and in the next moment Iron Maiden?

Over the years she became a great campaigner for gender issues but she did it in a highly subtle fashion by remaining ever so slightly behind the scenes and yet so many know her name. She seemed to be respected even by those who disagreed with her opinions and that is the mark of a person.

I always thought that one day I would make an effort to find some time to meet up with her one day, if anything at some event she might be at just to catch up, after-all I didn’t know her that well enough to claim a friendship but we spoke from time to time on forums. Before I knew it nearly ten years have gone by and to my shock I found out just a short time ago that she had passed away – so young.

So this is a thank you to Denise Anderson who made a small impact on my way of thinking that made a magnified difference so many years ago from just a conversation in a bar and who, without realising, showed me how normal things can be and how sad I am that I’ll not get to catch up with you.

Until next time,

x