I am impressing my daughter with my fashion knowledge… a bit too much!

I am feeling a bit sorry for myself. It is August… and I seem to have caught a cold off someone! Isn’t it just typical, lots of Andrea time coming up at the weekend and I am under the weather with the voice a bit of a struggle due to a sore throat… but perhaps I should see it as a challenge and an opportunity!! After all, when I come out, I will have cold and flu bugs! I have a walk on Saturday with my group, but I don’t think I will do it if I am not better.

Anyway, I was out with my dear daughter (DD) yesterday. After a nice lunch, and then a dentist appointment for her, we went shopping – firstly to get my mi-fi hub (which EE have replaced rather than fixed), and then clothes shopping… for DD (Grr). DD went to get some jeans, and I met her outside Primark where she commented on this new women’s clothes shop she had seen… which I then told her the name of (Blue Inc) and said there seemed to be some nice things there (which she didn’t pick up on). So we went to Blue Inc and had a look around… and there are certainly a couple of things I will be going back for, including a pair of smart-casual flowery trousers that I asked DD’s opinion of and she said they were nice – so I have her approval! Well, kind of. Then we went to another womens shop, Exhibit, where I have wanted to go for a while, and spent ages there looking around – DD asked my opinion on quite a few things (which was nice), and I pointed out a few things myself that I thought were quite nice and apart from one item (which she said would suit her mother) she pretty much agreed with me! While in there she asked if I could help her look for a skort for her – she asked if I knew what it was, and I described it correctly. Later she was looking on a sale rail and said there were some hot pants, and asked if I knew what they were – when I told her she said “Dad, that it so weird that you know that”!

Further to above, a few days ago we were in Innsbruck airport (the most amazingly situated airport I have ever been to, with immense mountain peaks surrounding it) about to return to UK. DD pointed out some stewardesses for Austrian Airways that looked a bit ridiculous in so much red clothing – the red skirt suit and shoes were okay… but red tights as well??? Way over the top, we said. So brother said that they’d be better in black tights… and, literally, in unison, DD and I both said “Black? No, nude tights!”. So bro said “Well how am I supposed to know?” (in his I’m-an-ignorant-guy voice), and then DD made the rhetorical observation “So how does Dad know then?”… to which there was no answer.

I thought I might get some Andrea time out today as DD was going to go over to a friend’s house, but I see no sign of that happening now, the BFF appears to be incommunicado. So perhaps I should rest and try and get better for Andrea time starting on Friday… at last!

Depressing, guilt trip to the pool… encountering a pack of wild animals

It is the last day of my Austrian holiday and the weather has been pretty good. This morning brother and I dragged my dear daughter (DD) for a walk to a lovely big lake in the mountains above Söll. As she didn’t moan the whole time this afternoon I took her to the local pool, one with some great slides and an outdoor lake with diving boards.

I got depressed because the more I was in the pool the more women I saw, wearing lovely swimming costumes or bikinis… and whereas a fair few years ago I might have discretely ogled one or two of them now I felt only envy, and SO dreadfully wrong in my baggy swim sports. In Austria I have felt more than ever so distant from the male species and similar to the female in the way I am, and how I feel inside – over here the men generally seem more rugged and stocky, and generally quite, well, macho… and it is SO not me. The national costume says it all – for women it is the beautiful dirndl (with flowing skirts, elegant white blouses, and fitted bodices) and for men it is the dreadful leather liederhausen. So, back to the pool, comparing the men and women they were miles apart, not just in what they wore but in their whole manner at the pool; outside we were in an area near the slides and four late-teen guys blundered past DD and I as if we weren’t there, grunting and yelling like a pack of wild animals – it just made me feel ill, that I was born the same (physical) gender as they were.

Numerous times DD told me to smile, but a few half-hearted attempts were judged miserable failures. DD said she enjoyed it there though, and I let her go on the slides countless times.

Oh, earlier today I tripped in my walking boots because the laces of one got caught on the other boot and ripped one of the top lace-fasteners off. I didn’t particularly care, my view was that this time next year I will be on holiday as Andrea in my girly walking boots. Hopefully my optimism will be justified….

Caged Bird…. or Bursting Chrysalis

Four days of my holiday gone and three nights to go… and this has been the worst one so far, emotionally.

The first part of the title describes how I have felt these past two days, in more ways than one. I am an outdoorsy girl and if the weather is poor, or if I am with someone who refuses to come out with me, then that is how I feel, like a caged bird. It has now been a week since I presented as Andrea, with another week and a half of the same bland, lacklustre persona… and I feel trapped inside of myself… like a caged bird, wishing she were free.

Day 2 of my holiday was the best overall as I went out for a four-hour walk by myself, as brother’s legs were aching a lot after the walk of Day 1 and Day 2 was DD’s choice of activity – she chose the water park, and bro accompanied her, but as the weather was so good I excused myself (I really am not a water babe anyway) and I am SO glad I did as the weather has been dreadful since. I suppose I sound awful saying that time by myself was the best day… but, u see, it was the day when I felt free, when I could walk as girly as I wanted in the mountains, talk to myself in my girly voice, and day-dream without fear of being told off for not paying attention. 

Day 3 I felt caged, but my spirits were not too bad, with some amusing chat with DD… but today, Day 4, has been bad – the weather has been dull and cold but dry, so I did get out for a walk with bro while DD stayed at hotel once I had sorted her with lunch. We were out for about three hours, so I was not physically trapped, but mentally? Unfortunately bro has not yet realised that I just can’t do the historic male routine with him despite me refusing to participate, and I cringe every time he uses a male pronoun – bless him, of course he doesn’t know about Andrea (I think) and so he doesn’t realise the effect it has. But after an hour I got that sensation that has become regular, especially with him, for that reason – Andrea is just bursting to get out, and at any moment I felt like I could burst into tears with him and it would all flood out… and maybe one day I will lose control and that is exactly what will happen.

 

I scared myself, my observant daughter, etc

As regular viewers will have read, I am now on holiday and not looking forward to prolonged suppression of Andrea.

I am in Austria with dear daughter (DD) and brother, see picture for a view from a walk in the mountains on our first day. So far, I don’t feel too bad (early days) even if my daughter tells me to smile sometimes because I am on holiday…. but then yesterday when I was smiling a lot (while writing an email as Andrea to Kirsty) she told me to stop smiling so much…. so I just can’t win. I have been doing at least a semi-girly walk most of the time, after all, if anyone notices then they will never see me again… although DD said I looked like a ballerina when I was stepping over a wet, muddy patch in the forest. I am also trying to use my softer, slightly girly voice with DD and bro… but maybe I am doing it wrong as DD is not complaining about it… unless she is getting used to it. While our day of walking was nice, I of course wished I could have done it as Andrea… and I am totally confident that I could have!

20140817_130006

This morning I woke at about 8.00, tossed and turned for a while, and eventually opened my eyes… and scared the life out of me. Owing to my orientation on the mattress I was facing directly at some mirrors, and the image of my male face was just awful.

I have taken a wardrobe risk this holiday and brought my girly bootcut jeans to wear in the evening – I wore these during my holiday in May with bro, and he didn’t notice… or didn’t say anything. But would DD? Of course she bloomin’ well did! She didn’t notice until we had had dinner and got back to the room when she then said “Dad, they look like girly jeans!”. Oh hell. I came out with some lame statement that some guys wear skinnier jeans just like some girls (for some unearthly reason which escapes me) wear baggy boyfriend jeans. And the trouble was, bro was in the background, listening to this I presume. She didn’t really buy it, and said “What are u wearing ladies jeans for??” accompanied by some laughing, and I just said they were the only ones I had to bring as all others were massive (true, coz I used to be fat) and these were all that would fit, so will be wearing them again. Later on she said that they looked weird on me.

Last week DD also spotted that I have shaved my arms! Isn’t she observant! Again, she said this in earshot of bro…. but away from him I asked if she’d prefer them to be as hairy as bro’s (he has very dark, thick body hair – ugh) and she said no. Anyway, that hasn’t come up again.

I am hoping the jeans won’t be mentioned again. I am also hoping that they will be able to form part of the preamble when I come out to DD, along the lines of “You know the girly voice you kept telling me off about? And the girly jeans you didn’t like? Well…..”.

We will see…..

 

Gender Clinic Contact! (My first phone call asking for Andrea)

I was on Cloud 9 yesterday! And still smiling today. Yesterday I had a phone call at 10.30am asking for “Andrea [surname]”, and I rushed away from my desk at work quite excited, wondering who it could be… and the lady introduced herself as being from the Belfast gender clinic! Contact already, less than 3 weeks from my GP referring me!

The lady was really nice, she asked me how I wanted letters to be addressed (as family/daughter do not know), then she talked a bit about the clinic, then said the waiting list is not long and I could have my first couple of appointments (sometimes on same day, an assessment and a counselling session) in October! Wow!

So I returned to my desk elated, someone commented how happy I looked…. and the rest of the day I struggled to keep Andrea inside – every time I got into a friendly conversation I got all animated (I talk a lot with my hands as a girl) and my voice softened! 

Mood swings

Gee, my mood has been all over the place this week! In hindsight this has been down to work activities and severe lack of Andrea-time. Monday I had a bad day, Tuesday was good and I felt like I could have easily done it as Andrea… and then I woke up on Wednesday feeling like a zombie (lack of sleep and effects of antihistamine) and felt I would never cope as Andrea. I even let Robin Williams suicide cone into my mind and started wondering if my road might ultimately end up there. How stupid! I’ve never done drugs, drink little, don’t have celebrity pressure, etc.

Anyway, Wednesday started to improve when I phoned my new EAP counsellor, she was really nice on the phone, and so I have an appointment on 3rd September. Then I left the office at 3.00 and, once at home at 5.00, had a nap for half an hour to recharge. As usual, no record breaking return to Andrea but I was out just after 7.00, happy with my appearance and SO happy to be me.

Went to a large Tesco supermarket where I bought a couple of pretty tops, one of which I know my daughter likes! (Though not on me, I suspect). Got on completely fine there, no reaction at all, checkout girl was lovely, we had a great chat and I was happy with the voice. Then onto coffee-with-Kirsty, though made a pitstop at a shopping area to go to the ladies loo – I partly did this coz I was bursting, but also to vary my Andrea experiences, and all was fine.  Had a lovely time with Kirsty at Costa, no bother at all there from anyone, then onto support group for some mixed chat… which improved when the CD (not dressed) landlord departed – I feel uncomfortable while he is there, partly because he drinks quite a bit and then drives home, which is utterly wrong. Was good to see the girls, even Pamela…. well, until she changed back, but I understand her restriction.

So, feeling good about moi…. but in 2 weeks I will likely be either tearing my hair out or be way depressed – I am off on hols, and while it will be lovely to get away, not work, and be with my daughter and brother, there will be no Andrea-time at all. Grr…

Employee Assistance Program… and disappointments

Today I rang my company’s Employee Assistance Program confidential helpline for advice on how to progress coming out as Andrea at work. The lady took some general details, then asked me to categorise the ‘issue’. Uh, hmm. She reeled off a whole load and just none of them sounded right, so I just told her about my GD. She put me on hold for quite a while, then came back and is seeing up some free employment-related counselling sessions to help me to decide about coming out at work (how, when… and possibly move).

The other day I emailed my friend Ivan suggesting a little meeting for a walk and chat, and I warned him I had something I needed to talk to him about if our friendship is to progress any further, but that it would likely give him a headache (he gets them after stressful conversations)… and he replied to say he can’t come! Grr! He does want to meet, but I will have to wait at least three weeks owing to hols. He also said not to worry about the headache, and that I can give him a massage and sooth him worth my voice. So I am going to reply that that will be the last thing he’ll want…

Oh, but I think Ivan definitely thinks I am none other than a born-girl. We were taking about eating habits and he said I have less to worry about “as you ladies statistically live longer”! Also,  he referred to me as a mum again.

Yesterday I thought I’d be able to get out as Andrea for at least an hour or two…. but there was confusion over flight times (not all my fault) and it was a lot layer than I thought. So no outing yesterday… though I did have a few hours at home, including an hour in the garden, and despite being fed up when I started to transform I was happy to be naturally me when I had finished. That is a distinct contrast to putting my rain jacket on to go to the airport and feeling physically sick wearing it.

a few random thoughts in a long, highly uneventful week

Oh, it’s been a long week… totally devoid of presenting as Andrea 😦

This is because of school summer hols, so my dear daughter (DD) is spending the week at my house and, since Tuesday night, my brother has been over, “babysitting” while I am at work. Thus I have a bit of a change of routine… and my life without Andrea, while not totally agonising, feels so lifeless and occasionally tearful, with the real me suppressed so much of the time. It feels really odd going home from work and not being able to change into any girly clothes until bedtime.

While it is nice to see my brother, who I love, I have to say it is also an annoyance… and this is purely because he refuses to give up a brotherly routine that has been there for years which is so not me now! It will sound ridiculous, but it involves adopting a jokey, formal-gent manner and calling the other “Sir”. Don’t even ask how it started, I have no recollection. But whenever I have seen him this year I have not partaken in it… but he just doesn’t seem to cotton on… and now, every time he ‘Sirs’ me it makes me inwardly cringe. I just have no idea how to cure him of it, well, apart from coming out!

Meanwhile, my DD is now regularly telling me off for sounding like a girl! I am, almost naturally,  now talking softer, slightly higher, and injecting more tone… but it is not full on Andrea – it annoys her, but I am hoping she will gradually get used to it, or at least make oncoming total Andrea either less shocking or at least when it happens things will fall into place with her. It is quite fun when she tries to teach me how to ‘talk like a maaann’… and usually fails because I just can’t do it! Contrary to her annoyance over my voice, she has recently started calling me ‘Babydoll’! We have no idea what has brought this on!

There is a possibility DD may varnish one of my nails tonight! Here’s hoping! She is really into nail art so wanted to paint one of my brother’s nails, but he refused. My nails are extremely long, alas will have to trim them soon.

While in guy-mode, I do try and walk with a bit of a sway to my bum – just can’t keep Andrea totally in. It feels rather odd at this stage walking with a rucksack and swinging both arms, so if it is not too heavy I tend to put it over one shoulder, hold the strap with one hand and swing the free arm… and I feel so much more, well, right with myself.

I have never understood why people like salt and vinegar crisps (potato chips for our US viewers). Told u I was random!

During this Andrea-less week I have felt lifeless and deflated. What I do find though, if I do even a few seconds of Andrea voice practise, or I write in an email or post recalling an Andrea event I feel like I am sparkling inside and can get a bit tearful, in a joyous way – it is almost like the sun is peeking out from behind a cloud.

 

Why “Ups and Downs”? And an update on admirer email chat.

Perhaps it is dumb to explain why I gave my blog the name that I did – everyone’s lives have ups and downs… but, a recent link to my blog with associated comments has made me ponder, especially when I am currently forced to present for over a week only in the masculine form I am now estranged from… and thus have no fun things to write about!

In my mind, for a TS girl heading towards transition and ultimately GRS, there are rather more ups and downs than I had ever expected:

  • The link to my blog mentioned an ‘Up’ as being my bargain purchase of some ankle boots (see picture). I had not thought of this when I named my blog, but shopping as a girl is SUCH a different and fun experience. Coming across bargains, such as in a sale, in a size that ac20140804_101910tually fits! Another element of excitement is when one buys, to use one example of mine, a skirt in a shop at a point in time and then, MONTHS later, one sees a camisole top in a completely different shop and it is a perfect match! Of course, there is a down side to girly shopping… such as when one sees those floral-print jeans half the price they were when I bought them… but, well, at the time, I just HAD to have them!!!
  • This blog is named the same as my diary thread on a support site, which I started writing in January. I named it as such because, as I started to go out and about, I knew that some days would go better than others… and that is how it turned out to be. In those earlier days, when I was low on confidence – I had some terrible days when almost 1 in 3 people had a problem with me and I’d get an occasional WTF look, or a stare as though the person had just stepped in something rather unpleasant. I had a day when I had two hate-incident events too. And then there would be other days that would go so amazingly well… and, now, well most days are thankfully like that, and because I am so much more confident, I know that the occasional negative stare is the problem of the starer and not the receiver (i.e. moi)… and maybe just some of those stares are because the person is jealous that I have made more of an effort in my appearance than they have – let’s just say, khaki, sack-like dress in comparison to my attire on the day I am thinking of just did not compare! (Oh I wonder if I sound like a big-headed girl here, I do not mean to be).
  • Ups and Downs is also to do with emotions. Holy mackerel, I never thought I would become as emotional as I have done! And I put it all down to my journey and my much increased feminine mind. I reckon I have shed more tears this year than in most of my adult life… but they are tears of joy more than tears of woe. This year I have come across so many kindred spirits as Andrea, have had so many amazing new experiences and such fabulous days out as the real me, and much of this has made me teary-eyed at times. And there have been poor days, both those early days with much negativity, but more recently when every day I reluctantly put on my male, clunky, ill-fitting work clothes which seem so wrong and head off to work… and there can sometimes be the littlest thing on the train from a male passenger that reminds me that people see me as the male I no longer want to be even if I know I am not at all like the male I have heard.
  • The ups and downs I have not experienced yet are the ones to look forward to when I go full-time, from work and from family/friends. I fear the worst, hope for the best, and everything in between will be a bonus… we will see.

Another ‘up’ is when you get a comment, or an email, from someone who makes one feel special, and categorically seems to imply that I am indeed a woman and they don’t know anything different. I have had this a number of times from Ivan, and it is wonderful. One thing us TS girls have a problem with is the voice, trying to feminise it – no matter how good one’s appearance is, if the noise from the mouth does not match then it will give one away. I am slightly lucky in that mine is not incredibly deep and it is not at all loud, but it has still taken a lot of practise (with the aid of only Flickr and Youtube videos) to progress it to its current stage… so it is amazing for me to be told by Ivan in his latest email that my voice is “soft and gentle and sends shivers up his spine”!! So although it still needs work, it has come a long way from when I would wander around a store, summon up the courage to speak a couple of words at the checkout, and no sound come out because everything has seized up!

Oh, Ivan is begging to come on holiday with me too! Lots of jokes around his comments, but it is quite fun – he is having major renovations done to his house, and the place is a bit like a bomb-site I gather. I sometimes wonder whether I should not be using his proper name in case he reads this… but why not, I appreciate his flattery, I enjoy his emails… and he’d recognise me from the photos anyway. I just hope I don’t get into trouble, even if I do everything I can to not encourage him… well, except stop replying to him, because I can’t do that, I enjoy the friendship!

 

Cloud 9 To Teary-Eyes in 20 Minutes

I suppose I should consider myself lucky today – I had not anticipated being able to present as the real me at all today, seeing as yesterday I was due to pick up my daughter… but last night she went to a disco and then a sleepover, and so the opportunity was there for the taking.

So last night I painted my finger nails… and this morning woke up to a very miserable, wet and windy day, almost too wet to be bothered going out. Almost! Took the usual amount of time getting ready… and about 10 minutes from being ready to go out I had a text from my daughter asking me to come and get her as she was bored at her BFF’s house! Oh hell! I thought… so I ended up in the strange position of negotiating with her to come and pick her up later!

So I managed to get out for 90 minutes… and I was on Cloud 9 the whole time – I was really happy with my appearance as I headed out the door (including a new pair of ankle boots from Next for only £6 in the sale instead of £26), and felt SO confident. I got on great while I was out, with no stares or negativity at all. First I went to a charity shop and dropped off another bag full of mixed items, including guy shirts – had a nice bit of chat with them, they were very grateful for me bringing them stuff, and I said that I’d keep on coming unless they told me to stop, and they laughed! Then I went into a local department store and had a good browse around the ladies clothes, and a nice saleswoman came up to me and asked if I wanted any help, and then said to give her a shout if I needed any advice with size and gave me a wee pat on the arm; I didn’t buy anything though, a lot of stuff was very expensive, even in the sale. Popped into another charity shop and tried on a lovely velvet jacket (which alas was slightly too small), then onto Dorothy Perkins for a good browse where I picked up four lovely tops and had a lovely chat with the sales girl there…

…and then it was time to head home, as I was overdue for picking up my daughter. So, rapidement, the nail polish came off, then the outer garments, and then all the make up… and even with all that gone, just with my hair, camisole top, and underwear, to me I still looked like a girl, just a very plain one with a slight facial hair issue. But then the rest of my presentation had to come off and once that was done tears were in my eyes as I donned one of Bob’s T-shirts and track trousers to go get my daughter.

And the next opportunity to present properly as Andrea will probably not be for 11 days, as my daughter is with me for over a week, and my brother will be here for a few days too to “baby” sit while I am at work. Of course, it will be lovely to see them… but as the days go on I am sure it is going to be frankly agonising to suppress the real me for so long. 😦