By Amanda J.
As I am almost totally closeted, writing has been my feminine side’s sole means of communicating with the outside world and, before becoming a contributor at Kandi’s Land, I occasionally wrote TG themed fiction which I posted on Fictionmania. What follows was written in early 2021 and, to a degree was autobiographical dealing with a particular concern I had about operating under the marital radar and discovery. I won’t say any more now to avoid plot spoilers but will add some more comments at the end. I hope you enjoy.
As she sat down to open the envelope, her hands trembled. What had drawn her to the two black plastic dustbin liners in the darkest, furthest corner of her attic, she did not know – she’d only gone up there to check what was up there as she sorted through various belongings in anticipation of a forthcoming house move. But in those bin bags was an Aladdin’s cave of dresses, high heeled shoes, wigs, makeup and all of the other items you’d expect to find in any well-dressed woman’s wardrobe. And on top of those was the envelope, addressed simply to ‘Anna’.
She opened the envelope and removed the contents, unfolding them to reveal a typed letter. Still shaking, she started to read.
“Dearest Anna, The fact that you’re reading this now means that my secret is out. The contents of the bags you’ve just found belong to me but I think you already knew that. As I write this, I really don’t know where to begin; of course, you knew that I cross-dressed but you also believed me when I promised you all of those years ago that I would quit for the sake of our marriage. And, for several years, I did quit but slowly the urges to explore this side of me returned, stronger than ever and to the point where I could no longer cope. So everything you’ve just found is my belated confession that I betrayed your trust for which I am truly sorry”
Anna thought back to the dark November evening several years earlier when Robert had confessed his crossdressing to her. After over 20 years of marriage, it was a bombshell and she went through every conceivable emotion as she tried to come to terms with it – disbelief, incredulity, anger, scorn but most of all, grief. Raw grief that the man she adored not only liked to, as she envisaged, prance around the house in women’s clothes but also that he had kept this a secret from her for so long.
She had tried very hard to accept this side of Robert, even encouraging him to dress in front of her. But, ironically, seeing him in a wig, dress and high heels made her realise that she could never accept it and, as a result, she gave him the ultimatum – stop or leave. And, for the sake of her and their marriage, Robert agreed to stop.
But things were never really the same again. You can’t undo what’s been done or unsay what’s been said and the marriage, while persisting, became one in name only. Anna could never bring herself to be as close to Robert as she had been before his revelation despite his continued efforts to be the perfect husband. But now, she was seeing first hand the consequences of her distancing herself from the marriage. She continued to read.
“So why do I do this? Why am I prepared to risk everything we have built up together? The short answer is that I still don’t know although I have a much better understanding than I did when I made the promise to you.
How do I begin to explain the anxiety that comes from wishing I was a different person? Sometimes, those anxieties are just an annoying rumble at the back of my mind but other times, they engulf me. It’s almost like there is someone trapped deep inside me that is screaming to get out. So what do I do? Do I ignore her cries – and I use the word ‘her’ deliberately because she most definitely is female – or do I give her the freedom she obviously craves? I tried ignoring her but her cries just grew more intense and so, in the end, I just gave her what she wanted and, in return, she rewarded me with a calmness that I can’t begin to describe other than to say it felt wonderful.
I remember that you told me I looked ridiculous after I dressed in front of you and, to you, I probably did. Of course, that comment hurt but it also made me realise how little you understood what I was going through – but why should you? How can anyone who has never questioned their gender understand what it feels like to be this way and that dressing is an emotional necessity, not just a deep-seated perversion?”
Anna well remembered telling Robert he looked ridiculous. But, there again, how could a man in his 50s wearing stiletto court shoes, a dress and a wig but devoid of makeup look anything else? And now, as she took his things out of the bags and laid them on the bed, there was a real sense of déjà vu. But what struck her most was how different the smart businesslike outfits laid out in front of her differed from the jeans and T-shirts that Robert normally wore.
But those outfits were also very different from the clothes she normally wore. She’d loved high heels and dresses when she was younger but they’d been slowly replaced by far more sensible clothing – flat shoes, trousers and minimal makeup. As she considered this, she started to wonder whether her slow metamorphosis into the down at heel, dowdy woman that she was now was responsible for Robert’s desire to dress in these outfits – was his female alter ego filling a void that she had created?
She read on.
“You may now be wondering whether you’re to blame for all of this but let me tell you for once and for all that you’re not. This is something that lives within me and always has done to a greater or lesser extent and is nobody’s fault. It’s just the way I am.
But maybe you’re now starting to wonder why I wasn’t ‘man’ enough to confess again. Why I returned to the secrecy that caused so many problems last time. Well, the fact of the matter is that I feel guilt every single day. Guilt that I’ve had all of these clothes hidden up to now and guilt that, even when I’m not wearing them, I wish I was. And most of all, guilt that I couldn’t be trusted to keep the promise I made to you. I could have dealt with that guilt in an instant by confessing all and accepting the consequences.
The truth is that I knew that confessing again would have just moved my troubles onto you. My conscience would have been clear but at what cost? Unimaginable pain for you and the reality is that that would have played far more heavily on my conscience – does anyone have the right to cause another pain just to ease their own? The reality of the situation is that being found out this way enables me to explain myself in a much more compassionate way than an unsolicited confession. ‘I didn’t want to just shift all of my problems onto you’ is a lot easier to say if it’s not delivered in a way that appears to have no other purpose than to do just that.
Not a day has passed when I have not wanted to be honest with you but I hope you can now understand why I chose the path that I did”
Reading Robert’s comments, Anna wanted to dismiss them as just another manifestation of his cowardice but, as she read them, she started to understand what he had gone through. She thought back to his first confession when she could not shake off the thought that he had only considered himself as if confessing would all of a sudden make everything alright. But of course, it didn’t and she had been determined to make him pay emotionally for the hurt he’d caused her. Yes, the renewed discovery of deception hurt but as Anna reread Robert’s explanation she started to understand how he must have felt keeping a secret and living in fear that it would be discovered.
And as Anna thought about it more, it was her conscience that started to make its presence felt. Deep down, she realised that she’d actually enjoyed punishing him for what he’d done and yet his love for her had not wavered. He was the best husband she could ever have hoped for and lived in fear, not of discovery – the fact that he’d written the letter indicated that he more or less expected it – but of causing her emotional pain. And how had she repaid him? Intolerance, insult and threat. She returned to the letter but as she read the next sentence, tears welled up.
“I like to think that when I return home tonight, you’ll be waiting at the door for me to arrive. You’ll tell me that we need to talk but that everything’s going to be alright. I’ll apologise for all the hurt which ‘this’ has caused, promise you that there are no more secrets and hope that you’ll understand and perhaps even agree to turn a blind eye when I feel the need to express this side of me.
But I’m a realist. You never, ever go up into the attic and even when I’ve been up there you made me change my clothes straight away because of the dirt and cobwebs. And if the thought of you going into the attic rather than sending me for whatever it was you were looking for is barely believable, the thought of you going to the far end and finding my hiding place just stretches the imagination too far.
So the reality is that by the time you read this, I’ll no longer be here and you went to the attic because you needed to but had no one else to ask.
I can only ask for you to understand and not hate me too much for what I have done. Believe me, if there was anything I could have done to get rid of these feelings for good, I would have done it in a heartbeat but the reality is that there’s no cure for this so I just had to struggle on as best I could.”
By now Anna was in floods of tears – the date on the letter, around six months ago, was just one day before Robert had complained of severe chest pains and asked her to call an ambulance and two days before she’d received a call from the hospital to say that he’d died. Did the stress of hiding this side of him from her for so long contribute to his early death? Did he realise that the end was near and wrote the letter before it was too late? She’d never know but what she did know was that acceptance would have been a small price to pay to still have him.
But moreover, she began to realise that having a feminine side made Robert who he was. He was compassionate and considerate unlike the husbands of her friends who always seemed to prioritise sport and drinking above married life and, in a couple of cases, had been discovered having affairs with work colleagues.
At that moment, Anna would have given anything to make things OK for Robert but it was too late. Or was it?
Through her tears, Anna returned to the final paragraph of the letter.
“I know you said I looked ridiculous when you saw me dressed all those years ago but I hope you can give me another chance. First, though, I need to make one more confession.
A couple of months ago, I went for a professional makeover. I know it was wrong to do it behind your back but I just needed to know how good ‘Sue’ (the name I give myself when dressed) could really look. The results blew me away and, when you’re ready, I’d like you to meet her too. At the bottom of one of the bags, you’ll find a plain sealed envelope which contains a few photos of me on that day. I have to warn you that you’ll be shocked at the transformation and I can only reassure you that ‘Sue’ is only a part of who I am and I’m quite happy being Robert for most of the time.
So, to close, even though I could not explain everything to you in person, I hope you can understand and even forgive me for what I’ve done – if I’d told you when we first met, I know it would have been a dealbreaker as far as our marriage was concerned. It’s easy to say that if I’d known at the outset what I know now, my life may have taken a different path but if I’d known that that path wouldn’t have included you, it’s not a path I’d have wanted to tread. So I have no regrets. It’s not been easy and it won’t be easy for you but if you can look at the photos and accept Sue as part of who I was, I can draw this letter to a close in the knowledge that I can rest in peace, whenever that day comes.”
Eternally yours,Robert xxxxxx”
Anna continued to cry and held the letter close to her chest. ‘I forgive you’ she sobbed over and over and just wished that she could have been tolerant of this side of him while she still had the chance.
Finally she reached into the first bag, then the second where after a lot of digging she found the sealed envelope. Should she open it or just try to move on? She held it for five minutes before finally slipping her fingernail under the flap and opening it.
She removed five photographs inside and looked at each one in turn. They could easily have been photographs of an attractive woman in her mid-40s, glamorously dressed in a red cocktail dress with matching high heeled shoes and immaculately made up. Certainly, to the untrained eye, there was not a hint of what lay beneath the surface.
Anna looked closely at one photo which was a close-up portrait and started to see Robert looking back. But he looked different and not only because of his feminine exterior; happiness was radiating out from him, happiness that Anna hadn’t seen since his first confession and, when she thought about it, for a long time before that too. And she realised that that happiness was far more important than anything else.
She took the portrait and reached into her dressing table drawer where she removed a picture frame. She carefully inserted the photo of ‘Sue’ before placing it alongside the photo of Robert she kept on her bedside table. And as she looked at the two photos, she just hoped that Robert could finally rest in peace knowing that he was accepted for who he was, not for who Anna thought she wanted him to be.
This is clearly a difficult issue to consider but one which faces our loved ones after our inevitable demise and it was apparent from the reviews and comments left when I originally posted it that it had touched people to a far greater extent than I could ever have envisaged.
As I said at the start, some of this was autobiographical although things have moved on since I wrote it (and, unlike poor Robert, I’m still alive – at least at the time I’m writing this!). I hadn’t had a makeover at the time I originally wrote the story but had one before the year was out and, ironically, was photographed in ‘a red dress with matching high heeled shoes’ but whilst the photos are stored on a USB stick in my stash, they’re password protected. There is no letter in my stash, primarily because Mrs A now knows that I’ve continued to CD, but there’s every likelihood that one of my kids will find my stash after my demise so it’s by no means a resolved issue.
This still plays on my mind and so, for my next post, I want to do a deeper dive into this whole issue and open up the discussion in the hope that at least one of you comes up with a winning idea!