By Amanda J.
Now, before I get onto the main thrust of today’s post, a little recap from last time. In my last post – ‘OMG, It’s ‘Him’ – I talked about the feelings I had looking at a photo of myself following a professional makeover and quite clearly seeing ‘him’ looking back from behind the beautiful outfit and makeup. I received several nice comments on that post and there was a common thread running through them telling me that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for talking so much about seeing ‘him’. But when I said I was seeing ‘him’ I didn’t mean that I thought I looked like a ‘bloke in a dress’ but rather I could see elements in ‘her’ that provided an irrefutable link to ‘him’ – something akin to a family likeness – and that, in turn, is an important part of self-acceptance.
There is of course a flip side, hence the title to this post and the two sides are not mutually exclusive – we can see a female looking back at us in the mirror but still recognise traits that we know belong to him. So I’d like to look back and think about how I came to see ‘her’ for the first time.
I’ve had what many outside our community would probably call an ‘unhealthy interest’ in the trans world ever since the mid 1970s when my mother talked about a book she’d read which had been written by someone who’d had a ‘sex change’ (‘Conundrum’ by Jan Morris). Crossdressing started soon afterwards and so began a 40+ year battle with myself to be the normal guy that society expected me to be. Hooray – marriage cured me, for a while anyway, and whilst I managed to avoid the temptation to slip into something more comfortable for a further 18 years (and, believe me, there were plenty of temptations along the way), it was inevitable that it was all eventually going to go horribly wrong (or probably, for anyone reading this, horribly right!).
But all through those years there was one constant thought at the back of my mind – what would ‘she’ really look like? This wasn’t going to be an easy question to answer as it went far deeper than just a question of what I’d look like in a dress, heels, wig & makeup. It really went to the root of the issue with the prerequisite that, when I looked at my reflection in a mirror, or a photo of myself, I had to believe that I was looking at a female, not just male me in a dress. And, when you think about it, that’s a really tall order because, intrinsic to that requirement are the challenges of that being achieved by a biological male well into middle age!
Now this is the point at which I’m supposed to tell you how one day I had an epiphany, looked at myself in the mirror and shed floods of tears while a choir of angels sang ‘Hallelujah’! Errr, not sure how to put this but I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. Truth be told, I’m not exactly certain when it happened but I can say with 100% certainty that it has happened. But how can I be so certain?
From my earliest days of crossdressing up to about a year ago, it was all about the clothes. I’d get dressed in whatever outfit I had on hand and then spend a while in front of the mirror admiring the outfit. But looking back at me was always ‘him’ and there was no emotional connection. Latterly, I’d also spend far too long faffing around with my phone trying to get photos good enough to post on Flickr (and most of the ones I took never even approached being good enough); that’s another story in itself but, for now, suffice to say that you can’t connect with yourself if you’re constantly worrying about pleasing everyone else.
Purging was also easy because it was only the clothes & other material items that I was getting rid of. Of course, the grief eventually set in and so it was time to restock and start the whole sorry cycle once more.
But then everything caught up with me late last year and, after some emotional difficulties, I realised I had to get a grip. And that’s when I did what would previously have been unthinkable – I got myself dressed up and spent my time pottering around the house without once looking in the mirror. And without the visual cues, I was able to experience far more visceral sensations – how the clothes felt, not just what they looked like. The playful battle with longer hair, on the one hand cursing it for constantly getting in the way but on the other, delighting as it caressed my neck to remind me of its presence. And so on. And apart from no mirrors, I only had one other ‘rule’ that day – I would not spend one minute longer dressed than I wanted to.
Suffice to say that it was a transformative experience and even when, after 5 hours, I had to change back to pick up my son from school, I would have quite happily stayed as I was for a lot longer. Quite simply, I realised that feeling female was far more satisfying than just looking female.
But the inner woman had one more surprise in store. Because having banned me from looking in the mirror, she knew when the time was right to encourage me to do so. And that’s when I realised that I looked exactly like I felt. I was finally able to see what I wanted to see, not what I knew to be there. I saw a woman and everything she was wearing confirmed that. Even without makeup, my face (which causes me untold frustration as ‘him’) seemed happier and consistent with how I felt. And those feelings have come back every time I have let her out to play since!
And that’s when I realised that the answer to my question – what would ‘she’ really look like – was staring me in the face every time I looked in the mirror. I’d just never been ready to accept it. As I said earlier, I don’t know when the switch in my mind flipped. Maybe it happened long ago but my obsession with trying to get photos adequate enough to post just stopped me from realising it. Or perhaps it really did happen during those mirrorless five hours. In the end, I don’t care because all that really matters is that it has happened.
Now, to dispel any fears, I’m not deluded! I’ll never be a contender for Miss Universe or Next Top Model but I don’t care one little bit. My prize is worth far more than anything anyone could win in those contests – I’ve learned to love who I am and whether I’m made up to the nines or just enjoying a bit of no-frills girl time, I can let go of all the baggage from my normal life and experience blissful happiness as a result. And how many people can ever truly experience that?