It’s interesting, as I look back at my life, though the framework of who I now am and what I have become, it is crystal clear all of the things I did to try to counterbalance the inherent push back we all have against these feelings. The feelings may be that we are “women” or the feeling that I enjoy “presenting myself” as a woman, being perceived as a woman. While apples and oranges as many of us know and understand, there are striking similarities. Many seek high risk hobbies or professions to “cure” ourselves, which is why so many transgendered are in the military. I did not chose this route, but I chose the route of trying to bury my feelings through many now obvious life choices.
I spent the significant majority of my life overweight, I clearly ate and drank too much (I still probably do too much of the latter). I always had a belly, probably since my freshman year in college. Still do, not as large, I am just good at hiding it in my presentation. Daily exercise probably kept me from being obese. As many of you have commented and can see in my pictures, that is what my body should have been my entire life, if I would have been able to accept the reality of who I am.
Funny side story. I painted our basement recently. I have some old painting clothes which I pulled out. The pants were an old pair of jeans with a waist six inches too big. They simply fell off me. Time for a new old pair of pants for painting!
Yes, I ate too much, drank too much, no question. A textbook diagnosis of someone trying to bury deep seeded feelings. Not only did I overeat, I didn’t eat that well. Now I might have chicken wings once a year (still love them), but a good dozen along with three or four beers was commonplace. When I was home alone, maybe waiting for my wife to get home from work, two giant glasses of whiskey and ginger ale and a bag of chips (big bag, not the “snack” size) helped bide my time. Then we’d have dinner. I am certain I would have eventually pushed 200 lbs. (now about 156) and become an alcoholic if I never embraced and became Kandi. Yes, I still enjoy the rare plate of now six chicken wings and I do drink every day, but it’s not as much and the bad food, not as frequent. I simply no longer crave them.
I had the worst porn mustache on record and I had it for well over 30 years of my life. What the f#@k was I thinking? I now look back and just cannot understand what I was thinking and I know my wife must really love me to have looked at that damn thing for so long. I don’t miss that at all, not one single time, not one single day.
I have easily taken more pictures as Kandi in any one day than I did as myself before Kandi in any one decade! Not hyperbole, a simple fact. Most pictures of me in my childhood have me ducking behind someone else or are shots of me clearly moving outside the frame of the photo. Now I am a photo whore and readily jump into a picture when not dressed. I have achieved a level of self comfort I never had before.
Having some one complement me, regardless of the reason for the complement, always landed poorly for me. I simply did not like them, always brushed them aside without properly recognizing that I may well have deserved the complement and should have thanked the person giving it. A certain reaction based on a deep self-hate.
My birthday, a day of personal recognition, was never a day I looked forward to, never enjoyed. It was a spotlight on me (a small spotlight, but one nonetheless) and I moved as best as possible to get out of the light. Now…Happy Birthday to me!!
Hugs, like crack to me now, were like poison ivy to me then. A hug from my wife, children, parents, sisters, friends, all bristled off, shortened as best as I could. Avoided whenever possible. Now total strangers, crazy enough to pay me a complement, will get the big hug, conveying a deep appreciation for them and what they said or mean to me.
I’ve talked before about how I always placed a dip of snuff in my mouth when dressing (in the half-assed fashion I did before my self-acceptance). Like somehow this would make a proper man of me, despite the fact that I was in a dress. I generally only dipped when dressing, so it wasn’t a regular habit, but I always had an urge to dip. Always. Now, I haven’t even thought about that and if offered, would quickly pass on it.
My daily workout was me trying to get big, not to be tone and/or in shape. I had pretty good arms, but not nearly as large as I was seeking. Again, I was trying to shape myself into an obvious man’s man, not allowing me to be me.
I now love myself and as a result, am able to better love those in my life that deserve it. I now recognize that I hated myself, any type of dressing created tremendous guilt. What I will do for hours on end now would have driven me to near migraines until I could get “back to normal”.
Remarkable as I look back. It seems so obvious now, but as we all know, this may be the one thing (feeling, urge, whatever you may call it) that is so hard to accept. Rare is the man who immediately accepts this when they realize what their feelings are. Somehow, above all classifications of human beings, gender is so hard-wired internally and societally, so hard for one to easily accept. I wish I could explain it, could probably make myself rich if I could.
Seek happiness always! Please figure it out sooner than I did. Life is so much richer for me now. Yes, I am fortunate to be able to get out frequently and all circumstances differ, but at least get your head around who and what you are. We have all been dealt certain cards in life and we may as well play them as best as we possibly can.
Bonus post: This past Sunday, September 4, 2022 it rained all day and, being the day before Labor Day, had a lazy feel to it. I had wanted to go the church this day, but the church I would have attended had an outdoor service scheduled. I thought about going to the beach, but I felt too fat and the weather wasn’t beach weather. So I got dressed as you see here and went to Planet Fitness.
There weren’t many people there and I selected a fairly secluded treadmill. I walked in and got to work. A five mile run and then 15 minutes at full incline and a number of different glute exercises and strides. I sprayed sweat all over the place, including the treadmills on either side of me. I finished up, wiping everything down and went home. An absolute nonevent as I was most likely perceived as a woman getting her workout. A handful of people walked in front of me to leave. No one even looked at me. I will continue to try and combine my desire to get dressed/be me and do things I need to and/or want to do. This was an outing with very little additional time required to become Kandi.
I wish I had your talent for expressing my inner thoughts and feelings. When I read your articles like this one and the article you sent me not that long ago it’s like you’ve known me for a very long time even though we have been friends for a very short time.
Why is it that it takes us so long to realize that what we are is not a curse but rather a blessing? And that blessing makes us who we are and how it has made us better more caring people. I truly thank those that brought us together from the bottom of my heart.
Love you Trish! The more we interact with those of us who share the same view of all of this (and there are a million variations on all of this), the more we find out we all walked a similar path. Getting to know you has 1,000% been my treat!
Another masterpiece, up there with the ‘open letter’ that drew me here in the first place. Funnily enough, the ‘porn mustache’ featureres in both (although it was referred to as a ‘cheesy mustache’ in the open letter) and without doubt, it is having that in your past which propels you to the dizzy heights that the rest of us can only aspire to!
Joking apart, this was one of those pieces that invites you to read it several times, each time going a little deeper as the layers are peeled back. Your point – ‘Rare is the man who immediately accepts this when they realize what their feelings are’ – is so true and encapsulates both the problem and the solution. It is a problem that can last decades and for many, there’s probably never any resolution. And yet the denial tests us and ultimately leads us, via self-questioning, to self-understanding and acceptance.
The truth is that living the life that others expect us to live is ultimately draining as you so wonderfully illustrated. And hiding it makes it ten times worse. Like you, I don’t understand why life seems better in a dress & heels, the troubles of life seem to evaporate and a nicer person emerges, free of the pent up anger that constantly trying to conform to society’s expectations contributes to. None of us asked to be this way or chose to be this way and things would be so much easier without it. But in the end, we have to ask what is so very wrong about taking a little of the happiness we try to give to others for ourselves? If devoting 5 or 10% of our time to our own wellbeing makes us better people for the other 90 or 95%, there can only be winners all round. The reality, of course, is that message is not yet universally understood.
But Kandi, you serve as a beacon to all of us. You demonstrate that embracing this is life-enhancing, both for yourself and for the people who encounter you and whilst many of us face considerable challenges as far as this side of our life is concerned, seeing that we have little or anything to fear by pressing forward can only be a positive force for all of us.
I Amanda, I love serving bacon to all of you….oh, beacon. Never mind…..
The funny thing about these essays, I never labor over them. They literally pour out of me and I simply have to go back and tweak a thing here or there or fix a typo because my mind works much better than my hands do. Life long hunt and peck typist here.
This always brings me joy!!
I think Kandi we all have to find our way for those of us that are dealt this gender variation in our lives.
For some it takes almost a lifetime for others they just know early on and move towards who they are when they are young, frankly I envy those who do it young.
Yes just being who we are and as you did blending in at the workout place is much where I am these days and I know for me it’s because I’m older, maybe wiser and honestly I just don’t care, I’m going to be me, happy and comfortable and as we read in your other post if we are pleasant and not pushy or any such thing most folks just take us in stride
Just remember, the young ones today has our hard work before them and we had the hard work of our sisters before us and they have this whole internet thing, so some may never have that feeling of being alone. My aged demographic all felt alone, all of us. I would bet there are very few exceptions and that isolation from reality makes all of this even more difficult. Thanks my great friend!
It’s amazing what lengths each of us will do to subdue or deny this part of us. Some join the military to become a “man”, some emerge their lives into sports, even becoming Olympic champions. Many go into so called “macho” careers. I grew a mustache and chops sideburns.
All these things work for a while, but this part of us will never go away. Once you realize this you can stop beating yourself up and start living. Life is so much nicer on the other side once you accept yourself.
Oh, and never purge. It may work for a short period of time, but then you will regret it.
Cali, I think for my generation, we didn’t have the ability through the internet to learn from others like we do now. I am not sure how different my life may have been if I accepted this early in life. I am happy for the journey because it gave me my family, which I cherish.
Kandi – I am older than you – Cali
Then allow me to make one correction: “I think for OUR generation……”. 😊