By Amanda J.
Back in January, a computer malfunction left me with no option other than to confess my crossdressing to my wife for a second time (see my ‘Matrimonial Challenges’ series of posts, particularly numbers 1 & 6 for the full background to both my confessions). To my surprise, this time round, rather than giving me another ‘cease and desist’ ultimatum she agreed to tolerate my activities as long as they were kept well away from her and our adult children – in other words, a classic DADT ( don’t ask, don’t tell) arrangement. To say that I was, as we say in the UK, ‘gobsmacked’ by her reaction was an understatement – I thought I’d be packing my bags and finding somewhere else to live. But, for the first time in nearly nine years, we talked about it once more. Not to any great degree but enough for her to tell me that she understood that this is something that never goes away but to also voice her concerns about online activities, and particularly sharing photographs, with the result that I immediately deleted my social media accounts and ‘retired’ from posting on Kandi’s Land. I did not particularly like doing this as I effectively cut off my means of communicating with the wider CDing community. But it seemed like a small price to pay for the freedom to be able to live this side of my personality without any of the guilt that accompanies carrying on under the marital radar.
And live this side of my personality I did. The ‘once every 3-4 months’ assurance I gave my wife (who I’ll refer to as Mrs A from now on) quickly turned into ‘once every 3-4 days’ and I’m far further down the trans rabbit hole than I’ve ever been with a number of new purchases and constant thoughts in my head as to how I can take ‘Amanda’ from her virtual world into the real world.
But therein lies the dilemma.
Does Mrs A’s declaration that I can do what I need to do as long as it doesn’t involve her and as long as our kids don’t get to know effectively give me carte blanche to do whatever I want or are there boundaries?
Let’s be clear here – a DADT arrangement is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. At its very core is spousal disapproval; Mrs A and I are not looking forward to a girls’ night out together, she is not asking if I have a spare pair of tights because hers have a ladder in them and she does not see it as an opportunity to spice up things in the bedroom. On the contrary, she wants nothing to do with it but has come to the realisation that it is something that, deep down, I need to do to maintain my sanity and that, despite everything, I am able to keep it completely separate from our marriage.
The problem is that as I started life under the new tolerant regime, I was quickly reminded of something I’ve known for some time – ‘Amanda’ is far more than a dressing up session followed by a few minutes of self-admiration in front of the mirror. ‘She’ is a facet of who I am and that facet needs social interaction with others; I don’t stop being me just because I happen to be wearing a wig, makeup, dress & heels and calling myself Amanda but all of a sudden, nearly all of the vehicles for that interaction had gone and I felt more isolated than I had done for a long time.
So after a lot of soul searching, I decided to return to the Kandi’s Land cohort of active contributors and break the rules by having a photograph on the contributors’ page. It’s in direct contravention to the promise I gave to Mrs A but is the fact that there’s no way that she would recognise the woman on that photo as me sufficient defence? I like to think that if Mrs A did visit Kandi’s Land and see my postings, she’d understand the struggles I’ve had to keep my promises to her and perhaps even admire the support I was trying to give to others in what I’ve written. Maybe she would. Or maybe she’d be unable to see past the blonde floozy wearing too much makeup (and wonder exactly how, where and when I was transformed into said floozy) and be packing her bags in the hope of finding a ‘real’ man with whom to spend the rest of her life. The latter option was a little tongue in cheek but I would never be so self-obsessed to assume that I can do whatever I want because there’s no way that Mrs A would ever leave.
In many respects, that’s the easy bit. Mrs A’s boundary is clear and I’m taking a calculated risk, albeit minimal in the overall scheme of things.
But what about situations where things aren’t as clear cut or weren’t mentioned by Mrs A? What I have found is that, freed of the guilt of deception that once plagued me, I have wanted to experience far more of my feminine life. Spending the day at home dressed is all very well and I do love to do it but I’ve also got this nagging desire to experience the outside world – to hear the click, clack of my heels on the pavement, to look through racks of dresses and try on shoes in the shops without any feeling of self-consciousness, to order a drink at Starbucks and here ‘AMANDA’ shouted by the barista when it’s ready to collect and perhaps even enjoy an evening chat with a sympathetic GG who’ll listen as I’m finally able to talk freely about this side of myself and who’ll gently encourage me to enjoy life on my terms.
But Mrs A didn’t say anything about not going out and this is DADT so no problem then? Well, I can’t be absolutely certain but I’m 99.9% sure that Mrs A didn’t mention it because she would never in a thousand years envisage it happening, not because it wasn’t an issue for her. But she did express concerns about photos, because she didn’t like the idea of her husband dressed as a woman being recognised by others. And let’s face it, being seen leaving or returning to the house en femme, whilst not guaranteeing that I will be recognised, does ramp up the probability to high levels, particular if one of the neighbours emerges at the same time.
Of course, there are ways around this and many of you reading this will have put them into practice. But the mere fact that I’m having to consider alternative strategies just serves to underline that a DADT arrangement is far from straightforward. And to make matters even more challenging, the arrangement only works because I work from home at present. What happens when we sell our business and are both at home all day, every day? How on earth will I release the inner woman without telling Mrs A what I’m up to?
The answer of course is that we have to do what all couples should do and that’s talk. And that may be the opportunity not only to discuss how I’m going to manage my A-time when things change but also the scope of what I do in those times. I am confident that we will find a solution but what that solution is and, more importantly, how it’ll work in practice I don’t know. Despite Mrs A’s 180° turn between my first confession in 2013 and the second at the beginning of this year, her fundamental disapproval has remained constant and I can’t see that being any different in the future.
But let’s end on a positive here. In 2014, I made a promise to Mrs A to quit for good. I thought I could do it and managed it for several years before the urges became too strong to resist. From that point on, I was plagued with guilt, not for being a crossdresser but because I’m a fundamentally honest and decent individual and the shame of breaking the promise I made and hiding what I was doing was all consuming. Every single day, my mind churned over looking for an angle that I could use to come clean to Mrs A and every single day it came to nothing. We’re all individuals but it would take a very hard nosed person not to feel guilty if they were in that position and mix that guilt with anger, frustration, anxiety and all of the other emotions we feel at one time or another and we have a potentially destructive situation.
For me, that is all in the past now. Well, nearly all in the past; I still want more than is possible within the implicit agreement that Mrs A and I have – what I’ve written here lays testament to that – but what I do have is beyond my wildest dreams, even as I felt things disintegrating around me on that fateful day in January. Everything in life has its boundaries that need to be respected and I’d far rather focus on the amazing things that I do have than those things that I don’t. Maybe one day those boundaries will shift a bit in my favour but that’s conjecture. What is fact is that, thanks to DADT, I’ve at last got freedom from the debilitating guilt of deception and I could not wish for more.