Sunday, February 28, 2016

2-28-2016 HRT Picture Entry: One Year on Estrogen

Hello my darling readers. As promised, I have finally gotten around to posting my entry about my one year anniversary on estrogen!! And I’m only doing it a week late, =/ (Pictures are at the end)

Yes, on February 20, 2015 I took my first real step into the transition that has changed everything in my life. I’d been on Spiro for about a month prior to that date but blocking hormones and starting new hormones hardly compare to one another. As some of you may recall, I started estrogen with the patch and almost immediately had some medical concerns flair up resulting in me heading to the ER out of concern that I had a blood clot in my leg. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and the swelling I experienced eventually subsided, but my problems with the patch were not over. The swelling was quickly replaced by awful and itchy rashes that would hang out for days on end wherever I placed my patches. They eventually got so bad that my doctor and I decided that an alternative means of getting my estrogen dose was necessary.

I believe it was around May, so about two months after starting the patch, I decided to switch to the pill form of estriadol. I could have gone with the shot method because it would have fewer potential side effects on my liver, but I didn’t really revel in the idea of giving myself a shot once a week. Plus, the idea of having a regular and consistent dosage each day of estrogen felt like it would be more natural to my body. As opposed to getting a huge dose at first that eventually fizzles out by time the next shot comes around. That sounded too much like a hormone pendulum to me, so I opted for pills; I definitely do not judge anyone who goes the shot route or the patch route, but they just weren’t for me.

Towards the end of May I started my full dose of Estriadol (6 Mg) and have been at that ever since with little to no physical problems (unless you count mental health issues, in which case there were many, but more on that in a bit). Shortly after that I made the decision to transition my life to living as Emma fulltime instead of just at home and on the weekends. I was tired of living a dual life and was particularly tired of going to work dressed like a guy. I hated being seen as a boy or being called Robert, and I was so ready (and terrified) to start my new life as Emma the (mostly) woman. Going back to male clothing and being seen as a male after spending days in this lovely place of authentic femininity was excruciating and fucking depressing. I remember crying (thanks estrogen) whenever I’d have to remove my nail polish Sunday night in anticipation of going to work as Robert on Monday. I remember cringing every time one of my attorneys would says, “Thanks, Robert,” to me when all I wanted was for them to see the real me, the true me.

By time I came out at work and started living as my true self all the time, I was ready to never look back at my life as Robert again. Sadly and thankfully, that wouldn’t be the case. It was sad that I still had so much work to do with my family and my wife around my transition, and despite my distress living as Robert the man, there was a certain comfort in that life. It was, for lack of a better descriptor, an easy life (who would have guessed that living as a straight, white, cis, married man came with some social privileges that made life simple? But I digress…). Yes, living as Robert had always carried a certain invisibility and ease to it. No one stared at me unless I was doing something ridiculous. No one treated me like I was lesser than them (unless it was an older, richer, manlier white man, of course) and no one ever really harassed me. I remember how scared I was to walk away from that.

Then add to that fear the grief of losing a part of myself (or so I thought) that had always been there with me and you can see how it was distressing. I was Emma, but Robert was always there to protect me. That personality that we were forced to display for the sake of conformity and safety had always been the smokescreen that blurred our true nature. Sure, people often remarked about how effeminate or sensitive we were, but they still saw a boy. Sure they often wondered secretly or not-so-secretly if we were really just a gay boy stuck in the closet, but our legitimate attraction to women (and them to us) stifled those concerns. On the surface, we were Robert, the heterosexual guy, and that protected us from the harsh realities of the world and our society’s view on gender-nonconformity.

Thankfully, we didn’t really have to give up that part of ourselves, even if we would never again use that masculine guise as a means of protecting ourselves. No, Robert never went away and in that discovery came the realization that had convoluted our sense of gender for so long. We didn’t know we were a girl from a very young age in the same way as the oh-so-common narrative of what it means to be a transwoman because we were both male and female. We did know that we were a girl from a young age, but we also knew we were a boy too. Imagine how confusing that must have been when society says you must be either one or the other, and dammit you better be the one you were assigned at birth!

 It wasn’t until Emma took over the pilot seat of our destiny that it became truly apparent to us that we were a we, not an I. There was such joy to discover that I (Emma) would never truly be alone because Robert would always be there with me. I was afraid he, my protector and friend, would die and be gone forever when I took over. Thankfully that has not been there case. In fact, there have even been times during the past eight months or so that Robert has played a pivotal role in ensuring our survival. I (Emma) am definitely still new at this thing called socially-recognized-personhood and there are times when it is too overwhelming. It is in those moments that Robert temporarily takes over the controls of our life in order to give me a momentary break from the trials of surviving the cruelties of this world. Together, we are Emma, and our fates are bound to one another.

Despite this twin-spirited existence we live, always having one another to lean upon, our life became horribly lonely after our transition to full time. While the estrogen was making miraculous and exciting changes to our physical body, it was also wreaking havoc on our mental health, not to mention our marriage. As our Saturn return came into its full influence we felt ourselves crack under the constraints we had placed upon ourselves. Our marriage to our wife, while amazing and so necessary to our transition, was no longer serving us the way we needed it to (I’m sure our ex-wife would agree it wasn’t serving her the way she needed it to either), and a contingency of that marriage agreement was our continued employment in a profession we despised.

The haphazard choices of our youth were catching up to us. Our decision to marry before truly processing and dealing with our gender dysphoria coupled with the general lack of direction we’d had as a result of not knowing who we were, weighed heavily upon us and we fell into a deep depression. We loved our wife and we needed the money from our job to help pay for the schooling we were embarking on, but it felt like we had been reborn as a new and vibrant being, only to find ourselves trapped in the ruins of a decaying life.

We wanted to be a lesbian, yet our marriage was so hetero. We wanted to help people find their true and authentic selves, yet our toil went towards the bottom line of billion dollar companies. We wanted so much to explore what it meant to be a girl who loved girls! We wanted to connect with those who were like us and who could understand us. We wanted to not simply be tolerated by those who claimed to love us, but to be accepted with open and affectionate arms because we were who we were.

We made the difficult decision to go onto anti-depressants after years and years of trying every other method to balance our mental health issues and depression. Our situation would not permit us to grow the way we needed so desperately to grow, so the only option we had was to find ways to tolerate the constrained conditions. We know now that these constrained conditions were of our own making, and they were constructed by our fears. We didn’t want to be alone. We were so afraid that if we left our wife and set out on a new adventure as a trans-lesbian that we would forever be alone. We were so afraid that no one would ever want us, and so we clang to our marriage like a life preserver believing we were adrift at sea. The truth was that we were in a kiddie pool and were we just willing to put our feet down and let go of that life preserver we would find there was nothing to be afraid of.

As Saturn so often does when it returns the first time, it cleared away the things that were no longer working for us. It destroyed my childish notion that I’d be alone forever by forcing me to be alone. My wife cheated on me and we divorced. While this was horribly painful (again, partially of my own making by not simply deciding to end the marriage when I knew it was over) it cleared the way for the life I have wanted to live for so long. If you’ve been reading any of my recent entries over the past few months then you know my life has gone from being a predicable (and somewhat boring) hetero sitcom to a romantic drama of queer proportions!

Shortly after the divorce the next big blow would come. That job I hated and despised having to do was also swept away. No more would I be a paralegal, painfully holding up the pretentions of overpaid lawyers as they kissed the asses of companies that profited from instruments of death (I’m not proud of every patent I helped prosecute, let me just say). No, I would be freed to pursue other interests, to make my life one of meaning both to myself and to others.

True, all of that has very little to do with the actual effects of estrogen, but I believe it was worth noting that making a (not-so-simple) decision to start hormones has set my life on a completely new and sometimes quite unpredictable course. Enough of that, though, let’s talk about physical changes.

The brain is definitely a part of the physical body and I can attest firsthand that hormones effect the way you think (at least it has for me). I am a completely different person than I was a year ago. Reading over my 2-23-2015 entry about estrogen almost feels like I’m reading the words of a stranger. I hardly recognize the person offering their perspective, and yet, that person was me. How I think, what I think about, what I like, what I want, how I want to be seen, what I’m interested in, and what I’m no longer interested in have all changed over the past year. I know estrogen had a big part in those changes.

For one, I believe I am much more empathetic and compassionate towards others than I used to be. Maybe that’s simply a result of living a genuine life and wanting others to find the same happiness, or perhaps it is because I’ve developed different neural pathways because of estrogen. I think it is probably both. My emotions, while a bit easier to regulate than when I first started estrogen, are still much more amplified than they were as Robert. Simply put, I cry, a lot… all the goddamn time. I’m not sure I’ve gone an entire day over the last two months where I didn’t cry at least once. It’s not simply because my life has been somewhat of an unpredictable roller coaster either (although, jesus it has been). I will cry over the silliest things, like a picture of an adorable kitten, or someone saying something really nice or profound to another person.

I was at Target last week and I heard an older black woman in a wheelchair tell her (I’m assuming) granddaughter (who was probably like 6) that she shouldn’t get down on herself when things don’t go her way because sometimes that’s how life is. She then went on to say that it was always important to stay positive, even when things don’t work out the way we want. Yep, I cried in aisle 7. In fact, I’m getting all misty-eyed right now just remembering these profound words from this older woman to her little granddaughter. A year ago I would have been touched but not so touched as to be overcome with emotion. And, perhaps it is simply my changed perception of living as a woman, but to hear an older woman bestow her wisdom (probably obtained from living a difficult life) to a younger girl just gave me all the girl-empowerment-feels. In some ways I was jealous of that little girl’s relationship with her grandmother. I will never know what it is like to be in those shoes. My only living grandmother still calls me Robert and we have yet to actually talk about my transition. My mother barely thinks of me as anything but her son (who has lost his mind, I’m sure).

I also believe that the increased crying is actually necessary. There are so many emotions that arise during any given day in my new chaotic life that were I not to break down and cry sometimes, I’d probably go crazy. It’s almost like I have to open the pressure release valve and when I do, tears come out. Maybe I had a hard day. Maybe I had a great day with amazing experiences. Either way, there are so many emotions that unless I cry in sadness or happiness, I won’t be able to function.

***NOW!! Do not mistake this as a commentary on how women are more emotional than men. This is simply my experience after being on estrogen for a year. Estrogen effects people (cis and trans) differently and my experience is not necessarily universal. I know so many women who are far less emotional than I am and I know many men who are quite emotional. It should be noted that I’m a water sign (Scorpio) and water signs are almost always the more emotional of the birth signs (whether they show those emotions or not is a different thing altogether).***

So what about the rest of my corporeal form? Well, my darlings, I have boobs. Yes I do, and I love them!! They still aren’t all that large, at least not on my frame, but they are not insignificant either. When I wear a tank-top/beater, it is quite obvious that Emma has boobies. When I wear my B cup bra, I don’t really need to “enhance” my chest with socks anymore. There is definitely still some room to take up in that B cup bra, but most of it is now inhabited by me and just me. When I stand in front of the mirror without a top on, it’s like I’m looking at a girl (if you ignore that whole lower half issue).

In addition to boobs, my fat storage patterns have changed quite a bit and I now have a much more hourglass figure than I used to. My extra weight is primarily inhabiting my thighs and love handles instead of the gut like it used to. This has been really great to see change because in many ways, I look a lot thinner than I did before, yet I still weigh pretty consistently within the same 10-15 pound range I have over the past 6 months. This change has not only been noticed by me either, it’s definitely been noticed by other girls too. I can say that with some confidence simply because I get hit on by gay girls WAAAAAYYY more often than I did even just 4 months ago when I first started going out to the bar. I suspect there are other reasons for that as well, but I am passing as cisfemale a great deal more often than before.

If you read about my dating snafu over Valentine’s weekend then you know I’m not exaggerating my ability to pass as cisfemale (not that I care if people know I’m trans*, especially while dating; in fact they sort of need to know). I even had someone yesterday confirm that they didn’t think I was trans when they met me (and hit on me, AND bought me a drink at the bar). This is happening more and more as my face and body continue to change from HRT. I also think it is helpful that I am wearing my natural hair these days as well, so nothing really seems “off” about me when people first meet me.

My skin continues to be as soft as silk, my facial/body hair growth continues to be stunted although I have to pretty consistently shave my chest and stomach areas every week or two if I don’t want to start looking a little too fuzzy for comfort. Thank the heavens the hair I had on my back has not grown back since I started HRT. I count my lucky stars for that one all the time.

What else? Hmm… well estrogen doesn’t effect one’s voice but I have been training my voice for many months now (more so now that I can do it at home when I’m alone) and have made a great deal of progress on that. I still often slip to a lower-than-desired range unconsciously but I can easily correct it if necessary. I even had a friend last night tell me that she was amazed at how much my voice has changed (in a good way) since she first met me in November.

Well… that’s it really. Nothing truly groundbreaking except that as each week goes by (now on week 54) I feel more and more like myself. My body finally doesn’t feel so foreign and wrong to me. I still have dysphoric moments with my genitalia but for the most part I am able to minimize those moments with effective tucking strategies and body-mindfulness. As my progress continues I really have started to look forward to the day when I can have SRS. I think I will finally feel 100% at home in my body when I no longer have my boy-bits, but that’s still a distant goal.

So, without further ado, here is my one year picture timeline:

Dear god, is that what I used to look like?

Feeling like a princess! >_<

Estrogen starting to take minor effect.

New clothes!

New Wig! No more boy hair!

Natural Hair is getting long, longest it had ever been.

What's a selfie without a bored-looking cat?

New wig, like this style way better!

All the new clothes!!

Going out on the town looking like a foxy-lady!

Hair is getting so long! Need to get it styled!

Last picture with the wig!

Wearing my natural hair to work for the first time!

My first Tattoo!

Second Tattoo, on my chest along the right-side collar bone

New haircut and nose ring!

Naturally curly locks!

Taken last week. Don't even look like the same person really.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2-23-2016 Entry: Learning How to Trust Again

Hello my darlings. Really, right now, I should be writing my “I’ve been on estrogen for 1 year” entry, but for some reason I just don’t have the energy for it. I hope to do a progression of HRT pictures so you can all see the transformation I’ve gone through over the last year, but I do not have them all in one place, so it’s going to take some virtual sleuthing to figure out where they are all hiding.

Anyways, no, I’m not here to talk about hormone effects. In fact, I’m not even here to really talk about gender things, although gender is part of every interaction, especially the realm of dating. Yep, that’s right, more discussions on dating as a transfeminine extraordinaire… a least sort of.

What I really want to write about tonight is the topic of learning to trust. Trust is extremely important to any relationship, whether it be a friendship or a family tie, but it is especially important when you are in a romantic relationship. That trust is paramount because it is most often our romantic partners (or at least it probably should be) with whom we share the truly intimate and vulnerable sides of ourselves. No one usually knows your flaws, imperfections, insecurities, and traumas more than your partner/spouse. It’s important to have a truly trusting bond with that person because when another person knows your vulnerabilities, they have the potential to really hurt you.

My trust, as we are all probably painfully aware of after months of me ranting about my divorce, was utterly destroyed when my ex-wife cheated on me and moved out two weeks later. She knew more about me than anyone has ever known about me. She knew me better than perhaps I even knew myself in some ways. She had all of my heart and complete trust. She’d never really hurt me, not in any irreparable way that I couldn’t forgive after a short period apart where we could both chill out. No, she had all of my trust. I knew, yes I’m deliberately using the word *knew*, that my wife would never hurt me. I trusted her utterly.

Perhaps that was my mistake about her character, or perhaps people are just flawed human beings usually doing the best they can, and those flawed humans fuck up sometimes. Either way, her actions devastated my trust in her, and really my trust in most people. I had been more vulnerable with her than I’d ever been with anyone and she not only hurt me but in many ways rejected my very being with her infidelity. She didn’t want to be a lesbian and although she was happy for my transition, she didn’t want me anymore as a result of it. If someone I loved so much couldn’t be trusted fully, then how could anyone really be trusted? If my partner of 7 years could so quickly throw away our relationship then how could I ever trust a new person to not do exactly the same thing?

As you are all likely aware, I have been testing the waters of polyamory for a while now and have not only become involved with Rose but have also had dates with several other people as well. What you may not know, at least not explicitly, is that a major reason I have gravitated to the world of polyamory is because of the safety it offered. I’m sure some of you are out there scratching your heads wondering how becoming romantically involved with multiple people at once, some or all of whom are in other romantic relationships could at all be considered the safer route in dating, but I assure you that it has been. It has been the safe route because it has also been the route that required the least amount of commitment. Without commitment to making the relationship last as long as it can with the eventual goal of getting married, it was much safer to become involved with people.

I adore Rose, I really do. I have almost never not enjoyed spending time with her or talking with her on the phone. She understands me and I understand her in ways we don’t get from other people. I could list a great number of reasons why that is, but suffice it to say that we complement one another and one another’s current emotional needs in a lot of ways. One of those emotional needs on my end is the need to not be at risk of really being hurt. True, Rose could hurt me if she wanted to. True, I did have to lower my guard a bit with her to even become involved with her, but I was able to lower that guard because of the low risks associated with our relationship dynamic.

Rose and I will never fall madly in love and want to spend the rest of our days together in monogamous bliss with kids and a house and… etc. etc. No, Rose and I do not even really have that as an option on the table (a key agreement you should come to before you enter into any polyamorous relationship unless it is intended to be polyfidelitous). What this means is that it is easy for me to trust her, not only because of who she is at heart and the boundaries we have agreed upon, but because she can’t bring ruin to my life on a whim. She can break up with me. She can lie to me. She could do all sorts of mean things, but because we have agreed that the love-story ending isn’t even a possibility between us she cannot devastate my trust the way my wife did. She will never be as close to me as my wife was, simply because she and I will never agree to make our lives a joint-venture until the end like one does in a wedding vow.

Any of the people I dated who knew I was polyamorous also had a minimal ability to hurt me because they too understood that things between us were really only casual. Neither of us were searching for the one we would fall in love with and neither of us expected the other to be that person or to want us to be that person for them. No, we were going into the dates under the mutual understanding that no matter how close we got to one another, we would never really make our lives a joint-venture until the end like you do in a marriage.

When I know that there is little to no risk that my relationship with a person will grow into a “let’s get married” level of seriousness, it is easier to trust and be open. When I know that I’m not at much of a risk of falling helplessly in love with someone, it’s easier to be somewhat vulnerable with them. I’m not saying it’s not scary after the divorce and I’m not saying it was necessarily all that easy, but it was certainly easier than the alternative. I can say that with some degree of certainty because the alternative has potentially crept into my life again.

I do not want to ruin what may turn out to be a very good thing by blabbing too much about it on here before I know what it even is, but suffice it to say I’ve met someone truly amazing. She is just completely awesome on so many levels. It’s the kind of person that you just seem to click with right away. Neither of you likely understand why it is happening but both of you find yourselves pulled together like magnets and are unable to resist the attraction. Somehow, despite all the warning in your heart and your brain, you put yourself at risk of getting hurt even after so much devastation has happened so recently.

It is then when you realize just how broken-hearted you still are. When someone finds their way past your defenses and you aren’t even sure how they did it, you start to get scared. I, my darling readers, am terrified right now. I’ve only just really met this person but her uncanny ability to get past my defenses tells me that I am at risk of getting hurt, and I feel so uncomfortable in that position. When I am with Rose, I know that she will not devastatingly hurt me because of the nature of our relationship and the quality of her character. I cannot say the same thing with as much certainty about this person or the nature of our relationship. I believe, whole-heartedly, that this person has character and that she has an enormous heart that’s filled with loving kindness towards others, but I also know she has managed to get a lot closer to me in a much shorter amount of time than Rose (or anyone for that matter) has. Add to that uncanny ability to evade my defenses the fact that our relationship is as yet undefined and without boundaries, and you can likely see why I feel afraid.

I set boundaries with Rose before I allowed myself to really trust her with my vulnerabilities. I have done the exact opposite with this new person. I have given her my trust with absolutely no discussion of boundaries. The only discussion we had about anything related to relationships was that she was thinking that she didn’t want to do polyamory anymore and was strongly considering just being monogamous with someone. That discussion happened before we started moving outside of the realm of “just friends” into the realm of falling asleep in each other’s arms and/or making out. We have no label on what we are doing. No clear direction on where this is going. The only information I really have at this point is that she doesn’t regret anything we’ve done and wants to see me again.

This situation would be completely fine were it not for the fact that I feel so vulnerable around her and I feel vulnerable around her for one major reason. She makes me want to open myself up again to the possibility of love. After what happened with my ex-wife, I pretty much convinced myself on a deep level that I would never love again. I vowed to never allow myself to fall in love again, at least not for many years. I vowed to keep everyone at a healthy distance so that I’d never put myself at risk of being hurt the way I had been before. This person undermines every one of those vows I made to protect myself.

I’m not saying that I’m in love with her, (I’m not a crazy person) but I am saying that this is the first person I’ve met since my marriage ended 4 months ago that has made me want to be in love again. I was so certain that I would never want to be in love again. Even as I sat alone, feeling lonely and missing my wife and marriage, I never really believed love would find its way to me again. Even if it did manage to find its way to me, I was fairly certain I would turn my back on it. Why fall in love if the end result could be devastation and heartbreak? Why trust someone that much when they are almost certain to let you down? Why put your heart into the hands of another person when it’s been broken so many times before?

When I went to meet this person, I had pretty much decided that I was only seeing her as a friend. I didn’t expect for anything to happen besides conversation and maybe some good company. I knew where she was in her life and how wounded she’d been by those that had claimed to love her, and I knew she needed a kind friend. I knew that she needed to have her faith in the goodness of people restored, so I wanted to be a resource for her. I had gone through a heartbreaking divorce, and so had she. We had common ground to meet on and having someone else there who understands what it’s like to have your life descend into chaos so quickly, is really wonderful. It makes it seem a little less lonely, even if each situation is 100% a solitary venture. I knew that I was in a better place than she was and I wanted to be the person who could show her that she wasn’t doomed to some miserable fate. I wanted to help restore her faith that her life was not over because of these terrible things and that, eventually, things really do get better.

It says something about this person’s ability to circumnavigate my defenses that me going into this interaction with 90% platonic intentions (I’m keeping 10% because she’s amazingly gorgeous and a total sweetheart, so how could I not at least be somewhat interested in more?) resulted in her falling asleep in my arms and us kissing goodbye when I decided to leave in the early hours of the morning. Can you see why I would be alarmed? I go with the flow, sure, and I’m usually not too quick to turn down the affections of a truly beautiful and charming person, but I also don’t jump into these kinds of interactions on the very first night we meet.

When I had my date with Kate that resulted in us snuggling on her couch and holding hands (before awkwardly having to come out to her) it was our third time seeing one another. We had gotten to know one another and had graduated to that minimal degree of affection rather slowly. When I had a super flirtatious and affectionate interaction with another girl at the bar, that interaction only escalated to a fairly mild point and there was definitely the diminished inhibitions resulting from alcohol involved (not to mention the atmosphere of a very affectionate group of non-monogamous friends). In both of those interactions I was terrified and nervous. I didn’t know how to react to such affections and was honestly afraid to engage in them. I was so afraid of where they might lead and how unprepared I was for that.

It is precisely the opposite with this new person. Let’s just give her a pseudonym… hmm…  let’s call her Lilo (she loves stitch, so it’s fitting). When I am with Lilo, (and we have spent more than one night together as of me writing this) I am not afraid of where things are going. I am not nervous by her affection. I am not terrified of being with her in an intimate way. The fact that she is completely gorgeous and is this totally amazing person doesn’t intimidate me. In many ways it is like she has helped me to rediscover the rhythm I was afraid I’d lost forever.

Not dating for seven years is like not dancing for seven years. Chances are, you are going to be pretty terrible at it, at least at first. I used to be really good at dating. I used to be really good at the beginning stages of a relationship with the kissing and cuddling and the fooling around. I used to have confidence in my ability to be a noteworthy lover in that regard. I had rhythm so to speak. After my divorce and before Lilo, I had lost that rhythm. I had lost that confidence that gave me the poise, patience, and skill as a potential lover. I forgot what it was like to lose myself in the throes of passion and to feel my body move in unison with another’s as we embraced and kissed. Somehow, Lilo has helped me to find that rhythm again, and that scares me.

It scares me because I want to keep rediscovering that rhythm. It scares me because I want to keep allowing her to circumnavigate my defenses. I want to keep allowing her inside where she can see my vulnerabilities. I want her to tear down the walls I’ve built around my broken heart. I want her to help me rebuild that broken heart with affection and loving kindness, just as I want to help her rebuild her broken heart with my affection and loving kindness.

I am afraid because I want to put myself at risk of being hurt. I am afraid because I want to trust her in a way I believed I’d never allow myself to trust again. I am afraid because in many ways I already do trust her to that extent.

I know that the only way I will truly move on from my divorce and the pain that my ex-wife caused me with her actions is to put myself out there again. The only way to recover from a broken heart is to offer it to another person. I can rebuild my own heart with self-love and self-care to a certain point, but before it can be truly healed, it needs the glue provided by the loving kindness of another. The only way to rebuild the ability to trust another with your vulnerability is to do exactly that, entrust them with it. Shutting myself off, barricading myself in, and keeping everyone at arm’s length will never restore what I have lost. Only by trusting someone with my vulnerabilities and by putting myself at risk of being hurt can I finish rebuilding what was broken.

All I can do is trust that Lilo will not hurt me, at least not intentionally. Outside of that, my only option is to push her away out of fear. I believe to push her away out of fear would be a tragic mistake. Even if our blossoming connection fizzles out and we decide to stop seeing one another, the fact that I am willing to even try to open myself up to the possibility of love means I am making progress. It would be a shame, I think, to shrink back in fear now.

No, Lilo both excites me and scares me, and I know that when something excites you and scares you at the same time, it is the thing you have to do.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek” –Joseph Campbell

Letting myself become vulnerable to Lilo by continuing to see her and continuing to put myself at risk of being hurt is the cave I fear to enter, and as such, I know that I must do exactly that. All I can do is have faith that I will find what I am looking for and that I will be able to provide her with the same level of trust, affection, and loving kindness that she is giving me. No matter where our journey takes us, even if we only end up as friends, I know that I will be glad that I did not shrink back in fear by not allowing myself to embark on the adventure ahead.

So, my darlings, as a final word I want to say this: if you are out there, suffering from a broken heart or broken trust, the following is what I want you to take from this entry. It is terrifying to put yourself out there after you’ve been hurt, and while it is truly important to be cautious in the matters of love and trust, don’t be so cautious that you forget to actually live. A life of isolation and mistrust is hardly a life worth living. Yes, you might get hurt. Yes, you might have your trust broken again, but when you risk nothing, you also gain nothing. Do not shrink back in fear. Bravely enter that cave and find that treasure you’ve been seeking. I promise you that if it scares you and excites you at the same time, it will be worth the risk.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’ll check back in soon to write my one year HRT update, so definitely keep an eye out for it. Most of you haven’t seen my face in a while, let alone my new tattoos and nose piercing. What can I say? I’m a sexy devil these days, lol.

 With love and affection,


Monday, February 15, 2016

2-14-2016 Entry: Valentine's Day, Polyamory, and Dating Snafus

Hello my darlings. I know I’ve been somewhat AWOL with writing entries but life seems to just be so busy these days. It is paradoxical how losing my job could actually leave me with seemingly less time to write than before, but what can one do? To be truthful it is the extreme growth of my social life that has filled the time that was otherwise dedicated to working for the man, and with that extreme growth has come many truly interesting and captivating experiences.

Some of these experiences have been awesome. Some of them have really sucked. Some of them have made me feel like my life is a million times better than it has been in years. Others make me feel like my life is the worst it has ever been. Some experiences have turned into what I’m hoping will be lasting friendships. Other experiences have shown me that not everyone will have your best interests in mind, even when they appear completely genuine in their motivations. What can I say, when everything is in freefall around you, it’s a bit of a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and downs.

I am at a point in my life where I have been given (or taken, depending on how you look at it) an opportunity to completely reinvent myself. My marriage ended. My first career path has likely taken its final breath. Nothing that used to be true about me before necessarily must be true about me now. I get to completely, well mostly, reexamine who I am, what I want, where I am going, and how I plan to get there.

Given that today is Valentine’s day, it seems appropriate to discuss how I have been forced to reexamine who I am in a relationship and how I approach love, dating, and sex. I know this isn’t much of a departure from many of my recent entries, but there have been some developments in this section of my new life as Emma that are noteworthy and have not really been the spotlight in some of the more recent entries about sexual trauma, etc.

First, the polyamory. Yep, that’s right, my exploration into the realm of polyamorous relationships is ongoing. In fact, I had a double date today with Rose (my poly g/f), her husband, and his girlfriend, which was lovely, despite some last minute modifications to our previously agreed upon schedule. I was worried when agreeing to this double date that things would be awkward or strange by having the four of us in such close proximity to one another, but my worries were misplaced. In fact, all of the previous anxiety I felt about being affectionate with Rose while her husband was around has pretty much disappeared. Why that is, I cannot truly say.

All I know is that I had a lovely date with those three and was very pleased to see Rose for the second time in the span of a week. Given the nature of our relationship and her busy schedule, I do not get to see her all that often. In some ways that’s truly tragic, because I enjoy her company and we almost always have a great time together. In other ways, it’s nice to have the freedom to go on other romantic explorations when I don’t get to see her, which I might not have were I to see her more often.

Within this exploration of polyamory I have also discovered that when a person throws out the rules of monogamy, one also has the ability (if one so chooses) to also throw out the rules on what a “relationship” has to look like. Let me explain. When you follow monogamy’s rules then your life probably looks something like this (warning, generalizations ahead):

You find someone you like and while maybe you are seeing more than one person in the beginning, you eventually decide to be exclusive with one another. You don’t kiss other people, you don’t cuddle with other people, and you certainly don’t fuck other people (unless you are a cheater… in which case you can’t REALLY claim to be monogamous, IMHO). You likely expect all of those things from this exclusive partner and so your relationship, if it’s going to be called a relationship instead of just a friendship, pretty much only has one path to go down: commitment. In the realm of commitment you may decide to get married, or you may reject the notion of marriage but remain committed to one another. You may decide to comingle money, and you may decide to move in with one another. You are committed and while the abstinence works people might claim otherwise, an adult relationship isn’t really a relationship if there isn’t a sexual component to it. I’m not saying you have to have sex every day, or even every week at that, but at some point in time, there probably has to be some sort of sexual exchange going on (assuming everyone has functional parts or that they aren’t asexual).

If you aren’t getting down and dirty in some fashion in the monogamous world, then your relationship likely isn’t much more than that of a middle school romance where the boy holds the girl’s hand to the sound of super cheesy music. But is the same thing true when you are polyamorous/non-monogamous? Do you have to have a sexual component to your relationship for it to be considered more than a friendship? Truly, it is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak, but I’m coming to find that it doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual to count as not being platonic.

Now, I’m not suggesting that, for example, my friendship with Parker (despite having seen her naked a few times) is anything but a friendship. We don’t kiss, we don’t hold hands, we don’t cuddle, and we certainly do not have sex. Our relationship is strictly platonic. Even if we see one another a lot, go out together often, and have plenty of lunch/dinner “dates” together we are just friends.

What I am suggesting, however, is that it is possible to redefine non-platonic relationships when you become non-monogamous. I do not have to have sex with Rose for our relationship to be more than a friendship. We have had sex, yes, so this may not be the best example to use, but as our relationship has continued to progress the two of us have found that sex doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the equation for us to find our relationship rewarding. We are able to maintain a romantic and intimate relationship with each other while not actually desiring to have sex.

Let me be clear, we do have a semi-sexual component to our relationship. One doesn’t usually sleep in the same bed together with no clothes on with one’s friends. One doesn’t usually kiss one’s friends; although even that rule seems to be up in the air in the realm of non-monogamy, I’m coming to find. We do kiss, we do hold hands, we do cuddle, we do share a bed sometimes, and while the vast majority of our physical affection isn’t sexually (as in intercourse) driven, we have both agreed that we really enjoy the time we spend together. Although I do not expect that sex is forever off the table, the two of us have simply come to an understanding that having sex won’t necessarily improve upon the relationship we have with one another, and that’s allowable because of our non-monogamous arrangement.

If I was expecting all or even most of my relationship needs to be fulfilled by Rose, I doubt this kind of relationship would last forever. My marriage fell apart, in no small part, because of the lack of a sex life; although we hardly had the physically affectionate/intimate relationship that Rose and I share either, so it’s difficult to know if that would have changed things or not. Because I am not expecting all or most of my needs to be fulfilled by Rose and she isn’t expecting me to meet all or most of her needs either, we are able to create a relationship dynamic that fulfills a specific set of needs.

Her husband, when hearing about the morning we shared a few days ago, thinks what Rose and I have is boring, but she and I couldn’t disagree more. What we share, as non-sexual as it may seem on the surface, fulfills a very specific set of needs. Very simply put, we get that pillow talk need met with each other. If my marriage taught me anything it’s that not everyone really enjoys the pillow talk dynamic. My wife almost never wanted to lay in bed together cuddling while we talked and kissed and laughed about random things. She despised it for some reason and as a result that need went unmet for nearly 7 years. Although I cannot be sure of it, I suspect that Rose’s husband is somewhat similar in that he doesn’t really find the same satisfaction in the pillow talk dynamic as Rose does.

In that sense, our relationship is completely amazing and reciprocal because we’ve agreed that it doesn’t necessarily have to be more than that. Because of that, both of us are free to seek out that sexual component in other places with other people. She has her husband and a long list of swinger/poly people she could have sex with on any given day. I may not be as fortunate (yet) to have so many willing partners but I do have the freedom to find someone I want to fulfill that need with on a regular basis should I choose to. Having that freedom allows me to create relationships that meet specific needs.

Hypothetically speaking I could have a handful of relationships at once with each one only really existing to meet a specific set of needs. For example I could be with Rose and have the pillow talk need met, have a primary partner that I lived with and had regular sex with, had another partner that I only had sex with or only had a specific kind of sex with (i.e. in BDSM I could have a Dom partner while also having a Sub partner were I a “switch”), had a partner I only ever made out with (because making out is awesome), and had a group of poly/swinging friends I did things with only at play parties. Each of these relationship could all look very different with me taking on very different roles in them, and all of them could meet all of my needs.

Obviously that is much easier to put down in writing than it is to execute in real life, but hopefully you get the point. Throwing out the rules of monogamy means you get to redefine your relationships as you see fit; assuming there is consent and communication/boundaries, of course. Now, this also means that you can totally create a massive web of interlocking sexual dramas among a group of friends that leaves a lot of people at risk of getting hurt, being angry or jealous, and wanting revenge.

The main difference between creating a lasting set of relationships that meets all of your needs and setting yourself up for a minefield of hurt feelings and broken friendships is openness, honesty, communication, and boundaries. I never said that polyamory meant that there weren’t any rules at all. All I said was that polyamory means the rules of monogamy no longer really apply. Polyamory without those components/rules is really just reckless non-monogamous chaos, in my opinion. I have gotten to see what that looks like as well.

As my friendship with Kate has grown and the amount of time we spend together has increased (seriously, we hung out 6 out of 7 straight days last week), I have also grown closer to many of her friends; friends that oftentimes play the loose and fast version of polyamory that looks a lot like a reckless minefield of interweaving sexual dramas. I have gotten to see how both truly structured and open polyamory looks and how loose and fast non-monogamy looks, and I have to say I prefer the structure. That doesn’t stop me from sitting back and watching the drama unfold with a bemused smile on my face and that old person mantra of, “Oh, you silly kids” in my head, though.

But as I have learned time and again, when you spend enough time paying attention to something, eventually you invite it into your experience. While I’ve enjoyed getting to know Kate’s friends better, and have even had some romantic brush-ups with an extremely sexy and fun person, I have also found myself tip-toeing through that minefield of fast and loose non-monogamy. Specifically, I have found myself in a semi-awkward position more than once with Kate’s (for lack of a better term as they haven’t really decided on one themselves) primary partner, who we will call Cory (since I’m using a pseudonym I will tell you he is a transman). Cory is awesome. Cory is fun and funny and handsome. I like Cory as a friend and find him rather attractive physically and mentally. I believe rather firmly that those feelings are reciprocated, which under any other circumstances would likely be something I’d be excited about.

As it is, however, I am not sure how to feel about it. I don’t want to go into too many details but as I’ve gotten to know Kate and Cory better, I have also noticed that the degree of physical affection Cory wants to give to me has increased quite a bit. Now when we say goodbye to one another it isn’t a simple and friendly hug like it used to be. Now it is a very affectionate embrace and a kiss on the cheek. He often puts his hand on my leg and caresses it the way a romantic partner might, or does other affectionate things one would with someone you are dating… except we aren’t dating. He is dating Kate and Kate is my very good friend. Can you see how this puts me in an awkward position?

Because Kate and Cory have not really set the polyamorous boundaries of their relationship and discussed what they are both okay and comfortable with, I’m left in a very compromising position. I know that they are not monogamous because I’ve seen it with my own eyes and have had discussions at length with Kate about it. I also know that Kate is as new to non-monogamy as I am and she, like me, is coming out of a very long-term relationship (marriage) which leaves her vulnerable to getting hurt. That has already happened a few times before because of this lack of meeting of the minds between her and Cory.

So what to do? Well, the first thing I did when the physical affection from Cory started getting to an alarming point was bring it up to both of them. I told both of them that while I truly did enjoy the affection and really wanted it to happen, I also wanted to be respectful of their relationship (which precedes our friendship). I tried to feel out where both of them were with it. I would happily engage in some degree of polyamorous dating with either one of them or both of them at the same time if clear boundaries were discussed and adhered to, but that’s not really happening at this point. They have not set out their boundaries so I am left in the middle of a dangerous and escalating situation of wanting the affection, having it be offered, and not wanting to hurt anyone or damage our friendships.

I wish it was as simple as consent on my part. If I didn’t find Cory attractive and didn’t enjoy his company or affection, it would be easy enough for me to just say I wasn’t comfortable with the touching/embracing/cheek-kissing, but I do find him attractive and do enjoy his company/affection. It’s like being on a terrible diet and having someone buy you a box of fresh donuts, taking one out, and letting you smell it while they ask if you want a bite. It’s sort of the forbidden fruit. I can’t engage in affection with Cory without risking hurting Kate and potentially destroying our amazing friendship, but it’s right there, being offered to me. I want to take a bite of the fruit. I know how good it would taste and I’ve been that person before who did eat the forbidden fruit of a taken person, but I don’t want to be that person again.  The consequences are too high, but how do I say no to something I really want to say yes to?

I know, on paper it is simple. Just say no. Just say that you aren’t comfortable. Just don’t put yourself in the position where you might be tempted, except I’m not the only person in this dynamic. There is also Cory, who is much more experienced with non-monogamy and is often quite affectionate/sexual within this group of friends, and who I believe legitimately likes me. The point is, non-monogamy can be as disastrous as it can be fulfilling depending on how you go about it. You can have great double dates with your primary partner and secondary partner, or you can put yourself at risk of hurting very dear people to you by not having clear boundaries/expectations.

I do not want this portrayal of this situation to reflect poorly on either Cory or Kate, because they are really just doing the best they can given their circumstances, which I have not (and will not for the sake of privacy) fully capture here. Both of them have their histories and those histories are playing out in the current situation as one might expect them to. I also have a history that is playing a part in this situation as well. This portrayal was simply intended to be educational to show that there are different ways of doing things, all of which have pros and cons. The fast and loose method of non-monogamy isn’t completely devoid of positives, even if I portray it in a less than appealing light. The fast and loose method can be a lot of fun and it can result in some great sex or affection. You can have a group of friends who are all very affectionate and can be very close to one another. You will learn a great deal about yourself and others in that method as well. The thing you must consider, however, is whether the pros outweigh the cons for you.

For me, fast and loose doesn’t have more pros than cons. Perhaps six or seven years ago when I was in my early twenties fast and loose would have been awesome for me. At thirty, however, I find myself not really wanting to invite the potential drama into my life that comes with fast and loose. I want to have stable, mature, open, and communicative relationships with multiple people at once because it meets my needs at this point in my life. You may be at a very different place and who am I, or anyone for that matter, to judge you for your chosen method of non-monogamy?

Okay, let’s take an intermission, because this entry isn’t over yet but we are already over 3,000 words, so a breather seems appropriate.

Cue the lights, everyone go get a beverage or use the bathroom. Check your texts/emails. Chat with friends. Stretch. Yawn, do w/e.

Okay, and we are back. Everyone in their seats? Everyone ready to continue the show? Okay, good. We are going to continue with this valentine’s day theme of romance and relationships, because something happened to me this past weekend that bears discussing together.

I found myself in that most dreaded of all dreaded places when it comes to dating as a trans* person. Yes, if you’ve been doing this for any length of time as I have, then you likely already know where I’m going with this. If you haven’t, then take a sip of your beverage and get ready because shit is about to get real.

Let me break this down for you. I met a girl like a week or two ago. She is gorgeous. Like just beyond cute. For some reason (probably my general state of fabulousness, but who knows) this girl decided to take somewhat of an interest in me. We were at the bar, a friend of mine introduced us to one another, we chatted for awhile and then we danced together. I don’t simply mean we danced in the same vicinity with one another, I mean she was out on the dance floor, I went out to dance in the vicinity and she made a point to take my hand and pull me over to her so we could dance together. It was great, it was fun, it seemed like it was innocent enough. I figured she was just happy to have a friend to dance with and tried not to read into things (which I am SOOOOO prone to doing, it’s just dreadful, let me tell you).

She made a point to hug me a couple times before I left, thanked me for dancing with her, and told me that I should add her on facebook. I was flattered but still trying to temper my excitement. I’ve had so many blossoming flirtatious relationships completely deflate the next day in the last few months that I’ve started reserving excitement for the second or third day of flirtation to avoid disappointment.

I added her on facebook, we didn’t really talk and I sort of figured she would disappear and I’d never see her again. I was wrong. The other night I went to the bar and there she was again, completely unexpected. She was selling roses for the valentine’s day weekend and wasn’t having much luck convincing people to actually buy them. I pointed out that she was off in an obscure corner and wasn’t all that visible, and suggested that she move to a different spot with a bit more visibility. Eventually she conceded and did just that. I sat with her as she tried to sell the roses and we chatted quite a bit. This sales tactic, while generating more interest didn’t really generate too many more sales, and I could tell she was feeling discouraged.

Being the total sweetheart that I am (and yes, dammit, I get to claim that title; you’ll see why in a moment) I decided to do something to help her out. There was a show going on and the announcer was talking a great deal with the crowd, which gave me an idea. If the announcer mentioned the roses for sale to the crowd, then maybe more people would be willing to buy them. So, I waited until she was coming off of the stage area and caught her attention. I told her that my friend (Let’s just call her Yuffie, because she reminds me of my all-time favorite video game character) was selling roses for people to give to one another to give to the performers and asked if she would be willing to announce that when she went back up. She proceeded to talk with Yuffie for a minute and then went on about her business.

You should have seen the look on Yuffie’s face after their conversation had ended. She was so happy and flattered that I’d gone out of my way to help her. At this point I was starting to feel a bit more confident that things were going well because she was wanting to interact with me more and more. Thankfully the announcer made good on her promise, told the crowd about the roses, and it wasn’t long before people started coming over to buy some. There weren’t a lot of sales but Yuffie was so happy that she was selling anything at this point that she looked like she wanted to kiss me. It was at this point that she gave me one of her roses as a thank you, which was probably the first time I have ever been given a rose before. It made me a happy girl.

I, deciding to keep stepping up my game, offered to buy her a drink when I went up to get one for myself. She jumped on that, told me what she wanted, and I was off. A moment later I had three shots in hand, one for me, one for Yuffie, and one for Cory (he and Kate were hanging out with me originally before I ran into Yuffie). The three of us downed the shot after Yuffie toasted me for helping her, and I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was, as I put it to Kate, scoring major points with Yuffie and Kate agreed with my analysis.

A while went by and the flower sales kept coming in until eventually Yuffie told me that I was her lucky charm, because every time she stepped away from the roses and left me in charge of them for a moment someone came up to buy some. Eventually she was so pleased with the sales that this time she offered to buy me a drink as a thank you. At this point I’m feeling pretty confident that things are going well. I have all of her attention, she keeps telling me I’m her lucky charm, and I’m catching hints that she might like me a bit.

Fast forward to the end of the show and Yuffie’s sales have dwindled. She tells me she is thinking about packing up and calling it a night with the roses but I convince her to wait until after the final act is done. She reluctantly agrees but despite my belief that people would want to buy flowers, no one comes up. She decides she’s ready to be done and starts to pack things up when I have what turned out to be a brilliant idea. I was like, “Wait, how about we carry the box of roses to the far end of the bar and then come back again to see if anyone else buys them.”

She isn’t too convinced and says that the box is pretty heavy (which it was), but I offer to carry it for her because again, I’m a damn sweetheart. She agrees somewhat reluctantly but goes along with it. That idea netted her nearly $50 in sales and after that happened, I was convinced that I’d done just about all I could do to make a good impression on her. Except, I was wrong because there was another opportunity that popped up right away. She needed help taking all of her stuff out to her car, so I offered to go with her which she gratefully accepted.

From there, we went back inside and decided to dance. Again we danced together a handful of times but the show had run late and there was only about thirty minutes of dance time. We closed the bar out and we (Kate, Cory, and I) prepared to leave. I made a point to say by to Yuffie and it was rather apparent that I had won her over with my good ideas and my willingness to not take any of the money she made from them, despite her offering more than once. She showed this by not only thanking me like six times, but by hugging me three different times and then asking me for my phone number (and giving me hers).

Fast forward a bit. I haven’t called or texted her because I’m trying to play it cool. I don’t want to come across as needy or anything so I figure I’ll just let her text me if she wants to. Well, eventually she does and we figure out that we want to go to the same event. I arrive at the event well before any of my friends and it becomes obvious after spending an hour or two there that there are just way too many people at this thing. I know Yuffie is planning to come to hang out with me but eventually I decide that I want to leave before she shows up. I call her and we make plans to go to another event across town instead.

I leave the event, go to the other one, meet her there, only to discover that this event is hardcore lame (probably because everyone was at the other even across town, lol). Yuffie isn’t real excited about what’s going on and is like, “Can we go back to the other one?”

So here I am, with this girl I’ve scored major points with, who is totally gorgeous and clearly at least somewhat interested in me, but she wants to go back to an event that I have no desire to even think about going back to. What to do? Well, you will be happy to know that I said fuck it and agreed to go there with her. We didn’t both want to park at the place so we agreed that I’d follow her to her house, she’d park there, and I’d drive us to the super packed event.

We do exactly that and as we are driving together we are talking with one another about things. We figure out that we’ve both been divorced and are just chatting pretty generally. We get to the event, go inside and thankfully some of the people have left, so it’s not overwhelmingly packed from wall to wall. I’m not super excited to be there again but some of my friends are there, so it’s not too bad. Yuffie and I start to dance a little but it becomes pretty apparent that while she does want to dance with me, she’s also wanting to dance with other people. The nature of this event was one where people wear certain colored wristbands to indicate whether or not they are single, taken, or something else. I’m wearing the something else color because I’m poly but I also had the single color too because I wanted it to be obvious that while it was complicated, I was interested in meeting people.

I decide to give her the single band (we’d discussed this before we got there) and she is off seeking out other single-band-wearing girls to dance with. Eventually I get bored with the dancing and just sort of hang out while she is having fun without me. The event comes to an end and they start kicking people out. Yuffie gets her coat, I say bye to some friends, I find Yuffie waiting for me (I kind of did this on purpose because she’d been hitting on other people and I didn’t want to present myself as too available; oh the dating game… /sigh). We leave the place, head back to my car and get in. She thanks me for being willing to take her back when I had already left once before, and I begin to take her home.

She asks me why I had both the single and the complicated bands and I go into an explanation about how I’m exploring polyamory. I tell her about Rose and that we have a date coming up soon. She seems extremely interested to find out that I’m poly and tells me that she has also had a history of polyamory. I tell her that I’m sort of looking for a more primary partner since I only see Rose about once a week, which Yuffie seems to respond well to.

We get back to her place way before I actually want to get there because I’m enjoying the conversation so much. I park in front of her house and we talk for a minute or two before she says, “You could come in for awhile if you wanted to.”

At this point my stomach starts doing backflips because I cannot believe that things are going as well as they are. I’m not positive she actually wants me to come in so I ask, “Do you want me to come in?” to which she replies by saying “You could come in if you wanted to” again. I figure she wouldn’t offer twice if she didn’t really want me to and her body language suggests that she does want me to. I agree to come in and turn the car off. We get out and start walking up towards the door. She says, “My roommates are here but we are just going to take over the living room.”

We go inside to find one of her roommates watching TV in the living room and despite her basically asking him to leave (which I’m reading as a positive sign) he is rather reluctant to give us the privacy she is wanting. Eventually he gets the hint after she asks him once or twice more to basically GTFO so we can be alone. He leaves to head to his room or something and Yuffie suggest that we move over to the other couch. She sits down and I sit down next to her. She boots up Netflix and asks me what I want to watch.

At this point my anxiety is starting to spike. I’ve heard of this so-called “Netflix and chill” thing that single people do, but I’ve been married for so long that this is the first time that may actually happen to me. She picks a movie and fires it up. She leans back and sort of scoots closer to me (keep in mind, my darling readers, that all of this exposition is leading towards that dreadful moment a dating trans* person hates to experience). I’m really very excited and nervous. She’s so pretty and I really like her thus far. I am so happy that things have gone this well despite me not really putting in the typical effort I might to make something like this happen.

She scoots in closer and is basically leaning against me and resting her head on my shoulder while we watch the movie. I’m really feeling nervous because I’m not sure what to do from here. I do not, for the fucking life of me, want to disappoint this girl or fuck this up. I really like this girl and really want things to keep going well. After a few minutes she says that she is going to turn off the lights so we can wach the movie in the dark. What was I just saying about not knowing what to do and not wanting to fuck things up? Now we are going to be alone, in the dark, and snuggled up together on her couch.

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG…. Don’t panic Emma. Don’t panic. Do we want to be here right now? HELL YES we do! Okay, so just relax. You don’t have to do anything you aren’t ready for. Just play it cool and let her take the lead. She has thus far so just keep going with it.

She turns the light off and comes back over the couch. This time she very deliberately snuggles up next to me and puts out her hand, where I naturally take it in my own. Now we are snuggling up on her couch, holding hands, and I am in total bliss. This evening has gone far better than expected with someone I’m really enjoying spending time with, and that’s when it happens.

The movie was rather morose, although quite entertaining. It was about a medical student who drops out of school to become this like underground expert in body modifications (basically for the money). Well this lady asks her to basically remove most of her lady-bits so that she looks like a doll instead of a human. I told you, morose. Well during this surgery you see this med-student gone rogue removing bits and pieces of bloody labia, etc. and Yuffie shudders a bit and is like, “Could you imagine no longer having a clit?”

And that’s when I realized it. This girl, this gorgeous, charming, fun, awesome girl who is snuggled up next to me and holding my hand… doesn’t know I’m trans*. She thinks I’m cisgender female.

FML, is all I can think. How could something that could be so fucking awesome in one way be so terrible in another? She didn’t realize after meeting me a few times that I was transgender, which means that I am pretty solidly passing as female to people who don’t know otherwise. That’s awesome! That’s amazing! I’m so happy that she couldn’t tell that I wasn’t anything beside Emma the girl, because that’s what I want people to see when they look at me. I might be non-binary and transfeminine but when people think I’m a girl, it’s like I’ve succeeded in my transition from Robert to Emma… and yet… this is all so horrible.

This person I am so attracted to and so interested in and so happy to be on the verge of a Netflix and chill with, thinks I’m something that I’m not. She thinks I have a vagina when I don’t; not yet at least. She is holding my hand, snuggling with me on her couch in the dark, maybe thinking about taking things further, and she doesn’t know that I’m transgender. She doesn’t know that I’m not the girl she thinks I am.

And so I start to panic a little. What do I do? How do I tell her? Should I tell her? Should I wait to tell her later? How do I handle this new situation? My anxiety must have been apparent because few minutes later she asked me if I was comfortable, or if I was too cold or hot. I had to tell her. I didn’t want this to keep escalating to a point where it would be more of a disaster for her to not know.

“I’m perfectly comfortable and content here with you, but I’m also worried about something too.”

“What are you worried about?”

“Well, you asked me if I could imagine not having a clit anymore, which tells me that you don’t know that I’m trans*”


/heart sinks into my feet

“I’m sorry, I thought you knew. I though I had told you.” (I truly thought I’d mentioned me transitioning the first night we met, but maybe I was mistaken; regardless she didn’t recall if I did tell her)

“No… I don’t think you told me that.”

/heart sinks past my feet into the ground

“I’m sorry. I understand if that’s a problem… It’s okay if you aren’t okay with it.”

“Well… I’m definitely gay… but… it won’t stop me from snuggling up with you.”

OMG, I might just die right here and right now. How could I have not told her before now? How could she have not known? This is terrible. Maybe I should just leave.

She doesn’t say anything, so there is nothing but the awkward silence in the air. A moment later, she snuggles in closer to me, puts her head on my shoulder again, and starts to caress my hand with her thumb affectionately. And that was basically it. We chatted some more about the movie as we watched it until eventually she fell asleep snuggled up next to me, holding my hand. I decided I should probably let her go to bed. It was getting late and I wanted to go home. I woke her up to tell her that I was going to leave. I kissed the back of her hand before letting it go and got up from the couch. I told her that I’d talk to her later, which she said sounded really nice, and I bid her farewell. She pretty much passed out right there on the couch as I walked out to my car and got ready to drive home. (Little did I know that other things would prevent me from going home right away, but that’s not a story for now or here).

The next morning I awoke to her sending me a text message that read:

Thanks again for hanging out last night! I hope you have a wonderful day!!!”

And so now I do not know where things are between us. She’s gay. I’m not cisgender female and I don’t have female genitalia. We snuggled after she found out, she fell asleep holding my hand, and she texted me a rather nice message that she could have easily never sent me at all if she had a problem or didn’t want to talk to me again. Maybe she will come around and decide that she likes me enough to see if that label “gay” has any wiggle room. She thought I was a girl because I am a girl (mostly), so it’s not like she’d be dating a man, but then again, she might think of it that way. Maybe she will decide we can only be friends and that night of snuggling up together and holding hands will never be repeated. I sincerely hope that is not the case but it’s not up to me.

So, those are my Valentine’s day stories about relationships, romance, sex, and trans* problems. I hope your valentine’s weekend went well, whether you spent it with a spouse, a romantic partner(s), a potential love interest, some friends, some family, your kids, your dogs, or your cats (or other various creatures you may love and adore). Regardless of how you spent it, the most important love to have this time of year is self-love. I bought myself a mini box of chocolates and ate them with a smile on my face because regardless of Yuffie’s ultimate reaction (or anyone else’s for that matter), I know that I deserve to be loved on Valentine’s day. The same is true for each of you. Manufactured holiday or not, V-Day should stand as a reminder that love is always around the corner, even if it comes from yourself.


Monday, February 8, 2016

2-9-2016 Entry: The Unfortunate Reality of Estrangement

I should be here writing about the wonderful things going on my life right now. There are so many good things that have happened in recent weeks and so many exciting experiences I’ve had, yet I can’t think about anything but this rift that exists now between my ex-wife and I.

My last entry was about me dealing with the trauma of my sexual assault and rape as a young child, but what I didn’t really delve into was how that conversation with my therapist even began. You see, all of that unpacking of the trauma I was holding onto about the rape was triggered by an experience with my ex. I have recently cut my hair and in my excitement of the new look I had, I allowed myself to let down my guard with the ex. She had been texting me about money issues regarding our divorce and amidst our discussion of those monetary issues I decided to ask her what she thought of my new haircut.

I don’t really know why I did it except, perhaps, out of habit. She has been the go-to person these past 7 years to ask about my hair, and so, it felt natural to ask her about it. Sure, I was seeking to rekindle some degree of friendliness between her and I after months of frigid and indifferent communication. She had done some pretty nice things when I allowed her to borrow the car while I went to see my family in North Carolina, so I thought that she and I could maybe begin to rebuild the tattered friendship her actions during the month of November had all but destroyed.

So, I asked her what she thought about my haircut. I knew if anyone would give me an honest opinion that I could likely rely on, it was her. She had never steered me wrong when it came to personal appearances, so I felt safe asking her. I was wrong, apparently, in that assumption. Not only did she hardly give me a response to my inquiry about the new haircut but she went on to set a very firm boundary that she wasn’t interested in being friendly. She gave me the same increasingly hollow promise that she wanted us to be friends one day but said today wasn’t that day.

And that’s what triggered it. Her response was so cold and so abrupt that it left me feeling like I didn’t matter. She couldn’t even be bothered to comment on an innocent enough question without making sure I knew how little I meant to her. I wasn’t her friend. She didn’t care about me. I didn’t matter. My need for honest feedback didn’t matter. Even just asking her was me getting in the way of her business about money.

Can you see how all of that brought up the awful feelings I’d been burying for years over the sexual abuse I experienced? Can you see why, when talking to my therapist about this experience with my ex, her question of “Who made you feel like you didn’t matter? You made you feel worthless?” would result in me finally addressing this ancient trauma?

In that sense, I suppose I am grateful for my ex-wife’s cold and somewhat (in my opinion) unnecessarily cruel response to an innocuous question. It knocked loose a rock in the dam of emotions I’d been trying to keep locked away regarding my rape, and that loosened rock created a chain reaction, ultimately releasing those emotions to finally be dealt with. Regardless of that, the experience itself was still quite awful.

This person who I used to love, who used to love me, who I spent 7 years in a close relationship with, wanted nothing to do with me. The most confusing part? She was the one who fucked it all up to begin with. I felt, and still feel like I am being punished for the sins of another person. I am the one serving the sentence for the crime that was committed against me. She’s the one who cheated after 7 years of monogamy. She’s the one who torpedoed our marriage and our friendship because she was too immature to just own up to her desire to get a divorce and yet, I am the one who must suffer estrangement. I am the one who has to be told we can’t be friends? What in the fuck is that shit?

I really need someone to explain this to me because I really, truly, do not understand it. If the shoe was on the other foot, if I was the one who had had a one-night stand with a coworker and did all of the numerous other awful and selfish things she has done to me over the past few months, it would make sense. All of this would make sense. I would be the asshole who didn’t deserve her friendship so it would make sense that she wouldn’t want me in her life… but I’m not the asshole.

 I haven’t been entirely blameless, especially when she was leading me on with false hope that maybe we could salvage our marriage, but my transgressions truly pale in comparison. Wanting to read her messages with the guy she fucked and was continuing to text while she was allegedly reconsidering her desire for a divorce (when all she was really doing was buying time to figure out if she could afford to divorce me AND keep the house) was hardly unreasonable given the circumstances. I couldn’t trust her and I needed to know if she was continuing to two-time me if I ever had the hope of truly forgiving her and one day trusting her again. It’s what the wounded spouse almost always does when they discover an affair. But I gave that up quickly enough when the divorce decision was final. I stopped trying to get into her phone and invade her privacy because it was over and it didn’t matter anymore.

So, why then, am I the one being treated as if I’m the cheater who destroyed our marriage and then torpedoed our friendship? Why, when I graciously offer her opportunity after opportunity to prove that she isn’t the horrible monster I’m afraid she has become, does she so spectacularly fuck up again and again? Why does she think she gets to determine whether or not we get to be friends when she was the one who destroyed the friendship by her selfish and uncaring actions?

In the end, it will be me who decides if she’s worthy of forgiveness after everything that’s happened, not her, but that doesn’t change the fact that this situation continues to suck. I miss my best friend. I miss having her as part of my life. I miss being able to be normal and nice and friendly with her, and I do not understand for a single moment why things have to be this way. Why do we have to have this distant, cold, and indifferent relationship we have now when I don’t want that at all? I don’t want us to despise each other. I don’t want to hate her. I don’t want to think she is some coldhearted monster who only cares about herself and has somehow suddenly expunged any feelings of kindness or love she ever felt for me. I don’t want that to be the way things are.

I am finally happy to be alone. I am finally happy that we aren’t married. I am finally able to embrace my new life as polyamorous Emma with open arms and enjoy all the new experiences I am having. I love going to the bar on a Sunday night only to meet someone new who is totally hot for me (not to mention fucking gorgeous/sexy) and quickly takes a physically affectionate shine to me. It is so fun to kiss someone I met 2 hours earlier and to have them kiss me because that’s just how things go in the realm of non-monogamy. I am happy. My life is great. I’m finally getting to be me, truly me. I am uninhibited Emma!

I got a tattoo two weeks ago. I’m piercing my nose on Wednesday. I’m getting a second tattoo on Thursday. My poly g/f is coming over tomorrow morning to wake me up and spend a few hours with me. I have so many new friends and am growing closer to many of them. I have crushes left and right, and I have a few people crushing on me too. Everything is awesome!!!

Except one thing… my relationship with my former best friend and wife. You know the song that goes, “if you’re having girl problems I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems but a bitch aint one” by Jay Z? Well I have 99 amazing things going in my life, but my best friend aint one.

I don’t want my marriage back. I don’t want our old relationship back. I don’t even want to see her all that often, but I absolutely wish she and I could talk like the friends we used to be. We even managed it once after she moved out. We spent the day together and it was wonderful. We were so easy with one another. It was as if we were still the friends we always were, even if we weren’t lovers anymore. That’s all I want. To be able to talk with her like friends and have it be okay and have it not mean anything. I don’t want her back, I don’t even know that I love her the way I used to. I suspect I will always love her to some degree because how could I not? She was my wife and I would have given her anything she asked for before all of this happened. That doesn’t go away, even if she hurt me and has been cold/distant in the last few months. But even if those feelings of old love will never go away, they don’t rule me anymore.

I finally see our relationship for what it was, a mess of codependence where neither one of us was truly fulfilled. She didn’t want to be with a woman, even if she fell in love with one who just happened to look like a man. I didn’t want to upset her because of old programming caused by past trauma, so I was holding myself back on account of her. Neither one of us were truly happy together, even if we loved one another. I see that now and I’ve made my peace with that. I am so much happier now than I was then. I love getting to be me and taking care of myself. I finally don’t need anyone to validate who I am to be confident in myself. I don’t need the presence of another person to make me feel whole or complete. Nothing is truly missing while I am home alone.

Sure, I still get lonely from time to time and I definitely need human interaction in order to be happy, but I don’t need it in order to feel complete. I’m not trying to fill a hole inside of me with the love or attention or validation of another. I can be Emma all by herself and be as happy as a clam in its shell. It’s wonderful and it’s a first for me. I’m me and that’s enough. I can be me and be beautiful and smart and accomplished and no one else has to tell me that in order for me to believe it. I am those things and being alone has allowed me the room to finally come into alignment with that.

But I miss her. I miss her smile. I miss her laugh. I miss being her friend. I wish over and over again that we could have ended our marriage that Wednesday night before she cheated on me. I asked her to. I asked her if she wanted a divorce and knew that the answer was yes but I didn’t make the decision that I should have. I should have asked for the divorce knowing that she wanted it, but I didn’t. Had I just insisted that we get a divorce, that we just figure out a way to lovingly part ways, we could still be friends now. That’s all we really were anyways, just friends and roommates who slept in the same bed. There was no sex and almost no physical affection that lovers share.

Things could be so different than they are now had I just insisted then that we end things like adults, but the past cannot be undone. I want so much to salvage that lost opportunity at friendship but for some unknowable reason she will not allow that to happen. Just as I try to close the gap between us, as I try to rebuild a bridge that we can meet in the middle on she does everything she can to undermine that effort, and I don’t know why. It’s truly heartbreaking.

She promised me time and again that she wouldn’t do what she is doing now; that she wouldn’t treat me like I didn’t exist and like our 7 years together didn’t happen, but she is breaking that promise, like so many of the ones before. Part of me wishes I could just shut out the love I have for her forever. That I could somehow never want to see her again and not be bothered by it, but I can’t. I miss her. Despite myself, I miss my friend.

I want her to see how happy I am. I want to see how happy she is. We promised each other that we wanted one another to find happiness. We laid in bed that last night she lived here and we told each other such sweet things and I have to believe that she meant the words she spoke to me. I told her I wanted her to find happiness. She told me she wanted me to find happiness. We promised to be friends and to be happy for one another as our paths parted in different directions. I am happy now and I really truly hope that she is too. I just want to see that she is. I want to have the comfort in my heart to know that she has found happiness in her new life as I have found happiness in my own.

That’s what friends do, they are happy for one another when their lives improve. I want to see her and know that she is happy now. I want to share in her happiness like I always did. There were few things in this world that warmed my heart more than seeing her truly happy. I loved when she was happy. I want to know that some beauty has come from all of this pain; that out of the ashes of our destroyed marriage that beautiful flowers of happiness have taken root in both of our lives.

I want her to see that I’m okay; that everything we went through made me a stronger person. I want her to know that it’s okay to let go of the past. I want her to understand that there is no need to lead separate lives divided by a cold barrier of indifference; that it’s okay for us to share in each other’s happiness. Maybe I don’t want to know every detail of her love-life but it would make me so happy if she could just be my friend and tell me that she’s found happiness. I want to see her smile. I want to know she is okay. I want to be happy for her and I want her to be happy for me.

If I could have that, if I could find some peace and some warmth between us, I believe wholeheartedly that I’d have 100 amazing things in my life instead of just 99. I believe that I’d finally be able to let go of the past myself and truly move on with my new life. If I could know that she and I were both truly okay, I could finally close the last chapter of Robert’s life and dedicate all of our time to the new novel of Emma’s uninhibited life.