By Amanda J.
A couple of my recent posts have summed up where things are with me at the moment. In ‘The Dark Clouds Are Looming’, I talked about the hiatus I was taking from spreading my feminine wings which, at the time it was posted, had stretched to 61 days and ended up lasting 112 days. More on that in a moment. And then, in ‘The Woman in the Mirror’, I tried to make sense of my feelings about the whole trans thing – am I really on the trans spectrum, a few steps away from a point where the urge to make more permanent changes to my lifestyle would be difficult to ignore, or am I just obsessed with the woman in the mirror, a woman I have created and who I strive to make as attractive to me as possible?
[Simply click on Amanda’s name above, immediately under title, for a listing of all of her posts!]
September 8 was a significant day for more than one reason. It was, of course, the day our beloved queen died – with my parents’ deaths a few years ago, her reign was the only remaining constant in my life of 62 years – and it was also the day when, a few hours before The Queen’s death, the hiatus came to an end. The urges had come that morning with a vengeance so out came the loft ladder and I was soon removing the cable ties used to seal the bags and unpacking them, getting dressed and applying makeup before that wonderful moment when I went into my daughter’s bedroom with its full length mirror and once again saw the woman of my dreams smiling back at me, unable to conceal her joy at finally being set free.
It’s almost impossible to articulate how, as someone who’s always hated mirrors & photographs, it feels to look in the mirror and absolutely love the person looking back. How right it feels and how all of the trials & tribulations of life just seem to evaporate, replaced by a feeling of complete and utter bliss. As I said in my last post, it’s an assault on the senses – not only do I love what I see but I’m treated to the unfamiliar smells of the cosmetics, the taste of the lipstick, the softer & smoother feel of the clothes and the sounds of skirts swishing & nyloned legs gently rubbing together as I walk. Even the smallest details delight – the gentle tug of earrings, the transformative effect on hands of deep red press on nails, the lipstick mark on teacups (necessitating, of course, a trip to the nearest mirror to top up the lippy afterwards) and the gentle tickle of hair on the neck. And women complain about male privilege! In fact, it’s so amazing that, I’m surprised that far more guys don’t indulge in this sort of thing!
But, of course, there’s a flip side. Those amazing few hours on 8 September, and indeed on any other day when I have set my feminine side free, were spent in a parallel universe. It’s a universe completely separate from my normal world with no passageways between the two. It’s a universe denied to ‘him’ and to everyone that knows ‘him’. It’s a universe where Amanda can be free to be herself and live her life however she wishes. It’s a universe where she enjoys a full online life with online friends and, like the universe in which we all live, it’s a universe that’s continually expanding. In short, it’s a universe where nothing in the other world that ‘he’ inhabits seems to matter or seems half as good.
Except that’s not really true. Because although ‘her’ world and ‘his’ are separate, there’s a common thread running through both of them – me. As anyone who is in my position (or ever has been) knows, keeping those two worlds separate is exhausting. And that’s because at any moment, they can collide. While Amanda was enjoying her freedom on 8 September, ‘his’ phone is turned off. But when it was turned back on, a ‘where have you been?’ message popped up – not because I was under surveillance but because, no matter how I happen to be dressed, I’m still the co-owner, manager, IT support, HR function and general fix-it bod of the family business. And let’s face it, turning up to breathe life back into a computer or calm an unhappy team member while wearing a dress and heels is not going to go down too well with my co-owner! And I have to confess that there have been a few occasions over the past few weeks that I’ve breathed a sigh of relief that I have not grasped the opportunity to set the inner woman free since to have done so would have resulted in either discovery or a mad panic to change back into ‘drab’ with all the risks that trying to do that in a hurry entails (I’ve learned through experience that you can never have too many makeup wipes!).
But whilst I can breathe a sigh of relief that fate saved me on each of those occasions, it does beg the question as to why, earlier in the day, I had not grasped the opportunity of an empty house to spend a few blissful hours without a care in the world? And the answer is that I’ve been ‘cured’. I’m free of the transness that has blighted my life for as long as I can remember. Those 112 days reprogrammed my brain from one which needed mindless CDing several times per week into one that no longer needs that side of my life. September 8 was a reminder that when I spread my feminine wings and fly high, there’s always something waiting to bring me back down to earth with a bang – that time it was a text message but how long would it be before it’s a key in the door or an emergency requiring immediate action? I loved Amanda – and still do – and am incredibly proud of what I achieved in her persona but the reality is that she’s gone leaving me to leave a less joyful, but much less stressful, life without her. Of course I’m going to miss both her and all of the things that made her who she was but perhaps as she fades into memory, the gap she leaves will be replaced with new found enthusiasm for the aspects of my life that I can share with others in my normal world.
Yeah, right! Time for a reality check, Amanda.
Some of you reading this will identify strongly with what I’ve written. The need to cross the gender divide has blighted your whole life, the continual deception of those you love has exhausted you and you grasp any reduction in the need to express this side of yourself as an indication that you have finally managed to deal with it. And I can say that with 100% certainty because I’ve been there myself. Several times. And what happened then was depressingly predictable for that other group of you who read the foregoing and are now shaking your head in despair. I purged everything only to realise a few weeks, days or even hours later what a mistake I’d made. So I restocked and started the whole sorry cycle again. And that wasn’t a one-off – I’ve gone through that several times.
What the 112 day hiatus did show me was that I had let things get out of control and that I was fuelling the whole thing in a sort of vicious circle. That would have been fine if I’d been on my own or had an understanding family but not when other aspects of life are suffering as a result. As I speculated in ‘The Woman in the Mirror’, the person I saw in the mirror was driving her very existence and breaking that cycle has enabled me to put things back into perspective.
But, as most of you who are reading this already know, the truth is that I’ve not been cured; I’m just going through one of those lulls that we hit from time to time. And luckily, I’m now sensible enough to realise that too. My stash may be sealed with cable ties but it’s not going anywhere because I learned the hard way that it’s only a matter of time before the inner woman is screaming to be let out once more. I could of course try to expunge every last vestige of Amanda from my life but that would mean not only a full purge but deletion of every photo I have, cancellation of forum memberships, a cessation of contribution to the amazing place that is Kandi’s Land and shutting off every connection with like minded individuals that I have ever made, several of which have developed into lasting online friendships. But the thing is that no matter how hard I try to steer clear of anything that will ‘trigger’ me, I can’t shut out life itself. There will always be something to remind me who I am – a gorgeous outfit in a shop window, a woman dressed a certain way in the street or even just an empty feeling that life doesn’t feel half so good when it’s not viewed through darkly lined eyes whilst balanced atop a pair of gorgeous stilettos.
More than anything, though, accepting who I am has been a pivotal point in my life and it’s now more important than ever. Because whilst I do not currently have any need to present in the form that others in her world know as Amanda, I no longer equate that with the idea that she’s gone. She’s more alive and kicking than she’s ever been and if & when she’s good and ready, she’ll be teetering on the heels and trowelling on the eyeliner once more. Maybe that’ll have happened by this time tomorrow or maybe it’ll be months or even years but it no longer matters because I no longer need those to define who I am. Of course, like any other woman, I’m not averse to getting ‘tarted up’ from time to time but like the child who learns to ride a bike without stabilisers, those things are no longer a prerequisite to feeling content with this side of my life.
Because the thing is that I have been cured. Not of my ‘transness’ but of my inability to accept and embrace who I really am.