By Amanda J.
The life of a closeted CDer is a challenging one. In fact I’d go as far as to say that it’s full of disappointments, frustrations and constant thoughts about what might have been. More than once, I’ve read the words ‘if only I’d known then what I know now…’. This is generally the lament of a more mature CDer wistfully imagining that if, when in her teens or 20s, someone had told her that those nagging thoughts about being female she had then would never be banished but would grow and intensify, she’d have dropped everything and transitioned on the spot.
She no doubt looks at all of those amazing before & after comparisons which are only a Google search away and perhaps even looks with envy at young TGs whose transitions are seemingly so jaw droppingly good that they will be able to live their whole lives without anyone ever suspecting that they’re anything other than natural born females.
I’ve had those thoughts myself. A quick glance at my profile photo here leaves no doubt that I feel extremely happy in my feminine persona and every time I have the opportunity to fully transform myself, I look in the mirror and see a viable future as ‘her’. If only Ms. X had got to the egg ahead of that pesky Mr. Y. Grrrr, it’s just not fair.
Of course it isn’t fair. Life is often not fair but no amount of lamentation about what might have been is going to change a thing. And the truth is that ‘if I’d known then what I know now….’ I wouldn’t have done a single thing differently. Not one single thing. Because my life has given me a great deal, not least a wife & kids who love me and without whom life could not be contemplated. Granted, they frustrate the hell out of me most of the time but I’m sure the feeling is entirely mutual – in fact there’s more than enough evidence to prove that beyond any doubt!
So I’m happy with who I am and I actually quite like the idea that below the surface lurks an inner woman, the polar opposite of her ‘twin’ brother in almost every respect. She is the answer to many questions that have nagged at me over the years. She is the resolution of all the dislike I’ve felt when looking in the mirror or when I’ve seen a photograph of myself. She fills in the gaps in what would otherwise be an incomplete life.
But for me, and so many others like me, she is constrained. Her world is completely separate to his and ne’er the twain shall meet. No one from his world can ever be allowed to encroach into hers and vice versa. And for the closeted CDer, his world will always take precedence over hers. And because of that, the times when we can spread our feminine wings and bathe in the sheer bliss that overcomes us are precious. And aren’t we mad when our best laid plans to enjoy a bit of she-time get blown out of the water?
When my inner woman is screaming to be let out, I only need one thing – an empty house. My wife goes to work early, my daughter has now left home and, before he left school in June, once I’d dropped my son off, I would have a six hour window of opportunity to indulge my feminine side. I would wake up in the morning and feel the urges and know that they needed to be dealt with. But what would I wear? The stilettos obviously but a dress or a skirt & top? Smart or a little more casual? Full femme with makeup or just enjoy the sensations of the clothes? And a relatively new decision to consider – stay at home or step into the big wide world?
I would feel the anticipation building as I heard my wife go out and close the front door. Just my son to sort out and get to school and then the day would be mine. But then it would happen. ‘Dad, I just threw up’. Yes, fate, in the form of my son, had struck again! Vomiting this time but it could just as easily be a headache, cold, stomach upset or any one of the other ailments in his armoury. A heated debate about whether he was well enough to go to school would begin and it would rapidly became apparent that he was suffering a level of illness not seen since the plague, at least in his mind even if not borne out by physical symptoms. On the one hand we’d have my ‘you can’t keep taking time off school, your education is suffering’ argument and on the other we’d have his ‘I don’t want to infect everyone else’ standpoint. And I’m ashamed to admit that it was normally me who’d cave in; not because his argument was in any way robust but purely because I’d come to the realisation that I didn’t have enough time left on planet Earth to spend time on convoluted debates even if my case was cast iron!
But, of course, the real underlying argument on my side wasn’t anything to do with his education because he was at a decent school and the teachers would have made sure that he caught up with any work that he missed. It’s that if I allowed him to stay home from school, all of my plans to indulge my feminine side that I may have made for that day would fly out of the window and that was just not acceptable. Didn’t he know that my mental wellbeing relied on him being out of the house and his lack of resilience had far reaching consequences in that respect? Didn’t my barely disguised anger not make him realise that, even if he did not know the real reason for my irritation, perhaps he should have made more of an effort and not just assume he was on the danger list because he’d sneezed or sprouted a spot?
I’m sure we’ve all been there at one time or another. A child’s illness, a spouse’s changed plans, a household emergency or any one of the other myriad reasons why our feminisation plans had to be put on ice. At best it’s frustrating but it may mean that we then don’t know when the next opportunity will present itself. And let’s face it, we curse whatever and whoever has ruined our day, either silently or more openly to our online friends.
And once again, we realise that life isn’t fair. It’s bad enough having that wretched Y chromosome but now we’re being denied what little time we can set aside to make amends for it. But two unrelated but intertwined incidents recently hit home to me where my priorities really should lie. Without going into too many details, the very young granddaughter of an online friend recently lost her fight against cancer.
That is a real example of when life isn’t fair and puts my moans into the perspective they deserve.
And then my son had a milestone birthday. One of the things I’ve done for both my kids is to write them a letter looking back at their childhood and forward to their adulthood and the challenges they will face. Challenges that, in the overall scheme of things, are insignificant but which, if they don’t face them head on, will diminish their fulfilment in life. And as I was writing my son’s letter, I remembered three occasions when he could easily have been taken from us had things panned out just a little bit differently.
But he wasn’t taken from us and has thrived & grown into a young man I am incredibly proud of.
My son recently announced that he wanted to go on holiday overseas to spend a week with friends he’d met online. Now that he’s left school and at home all day, I couldn’t believe my luck – that would be a whole week having the house more or less to myself (Mrs. A is normally out at work for around 13-14 hours per day) and was I going to make the most of it?!! Things started well and I was able to enjoy a whole day of Amanda-time, some of which I related in my last post – Go On, I Dare You!. But then, as I was changing back, I received the WhatsApp message I feared – ‘my friends have gone, please can you fly out?’.
There was a time when I would have read that message with abject disappointment and, probably, barely disguised anger. He’d reassured us that he was old enough and mature enough to travel to Europe on his own and fend for himself and I’d made plans as a result. But now, at the first sign of a problem, he expected me to drop everything and go and sort him out. Didn’t he know that my mental wellbeing relied on him being out of the house and his lack of resilience had far reaching consequences in that respect?
Of course he didn’t. But what he did realise was that, in his hour of need, he could reach out to the person he probably trusts more than anyone else in his life. It was his first time away from home on his own and even though he dismissed it with a ‘yeah, OK’, he knew that I meant what I said when I parted company with him at the airport and promised him that if things went wrong, I would be on standby to join him. And he knew that spending a few days with his 60-something father was probably preferable to sitting alone in a hotel room counting the days, hours and minutes until it was finally time to fly home.
But the thought of pushing back never entered my head. Of course, he should have had a contingency plan that didn’t involve the expectation that I would drop everything and spend several hundred pounds to come to his rescue but that was a matter for us to discuss face to face when we were back home again, not via WhatsApp message in his hour of need.
But there was another realisation to come. Was it really my son’s fault that another day or two’s girl time was thwarted? I was discussing the situation privately with a group of online friends and a couple of them jokingly suggested that it would be a great opportunity for me to ‘fly pretty’! What’s not to like about that idea? I get my she-time and my son gets his dad (sort of!) – win-win in everyone’s book! Of course, it was an idea that was never going to fly (sorry!) but that was solely down to me and decisions that I have taken regarding this side of my life. And in that context, my son had no case to answer as far as my thwarted plans were concerned; the culpability was solely mine and he was just proving that whilst he may have reached the age of maturity, he was still my child.
And that’s really the bottom line. Of course it was frustrating in the past when my son thwarted my feminine plans with yet another minor illness and of course I got a little angry but that anger was misdirected. The fact that my opportunities are limited is solely of my making. I am in touch with people who lead a full and happy dual gendered life and people who live what we now refer to as a non-binary life. They have the full support of their families and that life works for them. It would not work for me, not only because I know that it would make life very difficult for Mrs A, another innocent party in all of this, but also because I purely and simply don’t want to live my life in that way. So I really can’t complain when one part of the life I have chosen for myself gets in the way of another part and I definitely can’t blame others for it! All I can do is to be thankful for what I have and have faith that another opportunity to indulge my feminine side will present itself at some stage.
As I was finishing writing this piece, another day had dawned with my son at home and me being resigned to have to once again bottle up all of the mounting urges for a bit of she-time. And then the planets aligned – Mrs. A messaged me saying that she needed reception cover in our business and our son needed money! I didn’t have long between dropping him off and picking him up – barely two hours in fact – but enough to both appreciate the time I did have and to feel that the wait was worthwhile. Of course, it’s never nice to look at the clock and realise that this side of me has to be once again packed away in its plastic bags, sealed with cable ties and returned to its hiding place but I now understand that’s just a reminder that there are things in my life far more important to me – my wife and kids.
But unlike opportunities to retrieve my stash for a bit of she-time which are not time-dependent, there won’t be another day in July 2023 when I receive a message from my son telling me he needs me and I will forever be happy that I not only made the right call when I received that message but that the alternative never even entered my head. Because I can’t contemplate life without him, or indeed without my wife and daughter either, which would have been the case if I actually did ‘know then what I know now’ and acted on it causing my life to take a completely different course or because of what the implications of having a permanently empty house to be who I want whenever I want actually are.
In life, it’s all too easy to lament what we don’t have. But thanks to a young girl I never met and a young man who I’ve known from the second he was born, I’ve learned to be thankful for what I do have and the truth is that I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s not a perfect life – no life ever is – but it’s pretty good and that suits me just fine. And all in all, it sounds pretty fair if you ask me.