Pictures

So, I didn’t end up finishing that Whole 30 I started in July since there was my birthday in the middle of it and then work taking me away from home for a couple weeks at the end and it was nearly impossible to not cheat while I was out of town since I was in frequent situations of going out with a group and being out voted on where we would go eat and such.  All that being said, I decided to go ahead and post comparison pictures from July 2nd to August 31st.  I took the time to take pictures in July and felt like I shouldn’t let those go to waste.  Besides, I haven’t posted any pictures at all yet.  I want to start getting comfortable with the idea of images of me on the interwebs, even when I’m not happy with how I look in those images, since I’ll be starting my physical transition in a few months and plan to be documenting it in a variety of ways, including pictures.  There won’t be any pictures that include my face until I leave my current job, just to play things safe.

Issues with these comparison pictures that don’t make them that great of comparisons: First, the quality isn’t the same since August helped me take the pictures in July so was able to use a higher quality setting than I could use with the timer setting when I took today’s pictures.  Along similar lines, the lighting doesn’t look quite the same, but that could also just be contributed to the settings on the phone.  Finally, I noticed afterwards that my poses weren’t quite the same in any of them, unfortunately.  I’ll work harder on that for future pictures.  So, here you go, pictures of me.

  Front BeforeFront After

Side Before Side After

 Back BeforeBack After

I can see that I did make some progress over the last couple months, but it’s hard to tell with the differences in the pictures themselves.  My stomach is definitely the thing about my body that bothers me the most.  Even at my leanest, I’ve always had that pooch and a never have had much definition there.  I’ve learned more recently that this is probably because of the high levels of stress I’ve had in my early life and the effect that stress hormones have on your body.  I’m hoping that my life being much less stressful than it was when I was younger, along with better eating and more exercise, will help me reach my goals of having more ab definition, but we’ll see.  I do see a little progress, I think, and I’m trying to focus on that instead of it not being where I want yet.  I’m definitely wearing smaller pants now than when I got home from the deployment, so that should mean something, I guess.

On the other hand, I am pretty happy with my back and shoulder’s right now.  It looks like my lats have grown some, making me look like I have a bit broader back, which is nice.  However, that might just be the difference in my stance during those pictures, looking at my tattoo, you can definitely see I’m not flexing quite the same.

Anyway, there we have it, almost two months between pictures.  Any differences are from mostly clean eating, only a few random cheat meals here and there, and working out as much as I can (sometimes my work schedule really interferes, unfortunately).  I’m looking forward to when I get to take these pictures to watch the changes as I’m taking testosterone.  Just a few more months!

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4 Months to Freedom

So, it’s time for me to do a life update.

Since I’ve been back from the deployment, things have been kind of a challenge.  I was having mood issues, much like I did after the first deployment I went on.  I started thinking about it and I kind of wonder if having spent 7-8 months sharing a small living space with 60+ females really throws my hormones out of whack in addition to the normal difficulties of readjusting to being home.  Most things I felt I had adjusted to, changes with August and the way he does things now, getting back to being comfortable socializing again, but my emotional stability was still not there, particularly around my period (oh man, I can’t wait to not have those anymore), which cramps are usually more of an issue for me than my emotions around that time.  However, during the entirety of the deployment and for a couple months afterwards, I was regular to the day.  I’ve never been that predictable, though I got fairly predictable during the previous deployment.  I’m usually very irregular, so that would be a sign that the women around me during the deployment had a significant effect on my hormones.  I’m wondering if it was so much so that it was affecting me emotionally as well and took a couple months to get back to my normal cycle.  Oh well, who knows, I just know I had this same problem after each deployment I’ve been on.

Things have finally gotten better, though.  My mood has improved to nearly normal, if not completely there.  I’m listening to happier songs on a regular basis.  My music choice tends to reflect my deeper mood, even when I’m at a temporary high point, so listening to more upbeat music would signify this is a more permanent mood improvement.  I’m glad to be back to normal, and really glad that I won’t be going on any more deployments so won’t be something to worry about.  Today I realized I’ve been telling people I have about 5 months left where I work, but then stopped to think about it and I really have 4 months.  It’s going by faster than I realized 🙂

As I’ve said before, I’m ready to move on from this job and get to start my transition and be myself all the time, instead of just in my personal life.  One of the songs that I’ve been listening to a lot lately I feel really reflects this desire to stop hiding.  Additionally, I think the song reflects my attempt to revisit and write about my past, which, as I come out of the funk I was in and am in a more emotionally stable place, is a bit easier to approach now.  I’ve already posted the first one, The Dragon, over the weekend.  There will be more to follow, though who knows how frequent they will be with my track record on making regular posts.  I may set up a separate area on my page for these posts later, but for the time being they’ll be with the rest of my posts.

So, couple weekends ago I competed in my first ever crossfit competition.  We did the team intermediate one.  It was so much fun.  I was really happy with how well I did with it being my first competition and competing in intermediate since this competition didn’t have a beginner bracket.  We didn’t place last, which was my only goal for our team, so mission accomplished.  I forgot how much I love competition.  I was a total band nerd in high school and the first high school I went to took their music program very seriously, frequently going to competitions.  I loved it, it was a world I really thrived in.  I felt a taste of that again during the crossfit competition.  I’m really looking forward to doing more of these.

This weekend August and I went stand-up paddle boarding, which is a fun activity.  This is the first time I’ve gotten to do this since I got back home since he was so uncomfortable with the idea of going to the beach before his surgery.  I don’t blame him, I’m certainly not comfortable with it either, until we actually get out on the water away from people.  I need to get some male tank tops that don’t won’t show that I’m wearing a sports bra underneath.  The tank tops I have now show the bra straps, unfortunately.  If I can find some of those, that’d help a lot with how comfortable I feel at the beach.  I wish I could just not wear a shirt like August.  Someday I’ll be able to, though.

Last week I started my online classes.  The first week was a little bit of a challenge to find my pace.  Multiple classes had the regular work load that I can expect to have throughout the semester, PLUS special assignments they wanted us to do to orient ourselves with the blackboard website and to ensure we understand class policies.  I always thought the first week of class should be a lighter load, not a heavier load, but apparently not all the professors got that message.  It’s okay, though, I got everything turned in, even if not the best quality, and have a better idea of how to balance school with work and personal life now for this week.  I think it’ll be easier from here, at least until finals.  When midterms come around, most the people from work will be out of town so my work load should be really light, which will help.

I think that’s all I really have to write about right now.  I’m sure I’ll have more to write about soon enough though.

The Dragon

So, I’m ready to start revisiting the idea of writing about my past. At first I thought I’d just continue where I left off the last time I tried to write about it, but I realized I still wasn’t really telling my story. I was throwing out general ideas and avoiding the details of my experiences, just as I always have. These experiences are hard to share, hard to write about, hard to relive as I look back on the memories. I didn’t know where to begin. It wasn’t possible to just start at the beginning. There’s too many gaps in my earliest memories, and the others come in a flood that is impossible to keep in chronological order. I’ve been reading my friend’s blog as she attempts something similar, and realized she began with a specific memory instead of trying to cover everything at once. That helped me get a better idea of how to approach it, yet where to begin. Then it struck me to reread things I wrote throughout my elementary, middle school, and high school years and to start to tell the stories behind some of these.

This will be a series of posts that I’ll try to do every so often and will be more focused on my family life, specifically my relationship with my mom, and have little to do with my trans story. Looking back, I realize now that my trans identity was always with me, but for so much of my life I pushed it back and buried it in order to focus on what was happening at home. Some that read my blog have read the poem this story is about before, others may simply know I feel very attached to the concept of dragons to the point of having a tattoo of one but don’t actually know why. So here’s how my poem, Imprisoned was born:

____________________________________

She had been drinking for some time now as we sat there watching TV. I don’t know why I kept doing this, I knew it always went the same, and yet I couldn’t leave her alone. If she was alone she’d get even worse and she’d come downstairs to us and then my two younger brothers would be involved. There was also a part of me that still wanted to think I could help, I could make things better, even though at that point I’d learned long ago you can’t help somebody that doesn’t want to be helped. So there I was, sitting on the dark green leather couch watching TV with her as she sat on the red brick fireplace hearth blowing the smoke from the clove cigarettes she was going through like candy into the fireplace hoping it’d go up the chimney. Next to her was a half-finished glass of sprite and cheap whiskey, probably her sixth one by this point, having gotten started early that evening.

Whenever we watched anything she’d always ask me questions as if I’d seen it before or had some insight that she didn’t have. Why are they doing that? What’s happening? Who is that person? It took a lot of effort to not let my frustration with the questions come through in my voice. I just wanted to watch it and all these questions that I couldn’t answer were distracting and making me miss things. If I were careless enough to let this annoyance come out, however, I’d quickly regret it, so I made sure to keep an even tone when I spoke. After all, annoying questions were better than most the things I dealt with, and if that was all I had to put up with in a night, it was a good night.

This many drinks in, however, she was no longer asking questions. Instead, she sat there swaying slightly with her eyes mostly closed, cigarette in her hand, mumbling. This was something that I always found disturbing. Everybody talks to themselves to a certain degree, weighing the pros and cons of a decision before them for example, but this… this was different. Whenever she did this, she wasn’t talking to herself, she was talking with herself. It was as if there were two or more people in there and she’d argue with the others. There had been times in our lives when my brothers and I had been downstairs in the finished basement that served as our rec room and we’d hear her shouting. At first we thought she was on the phone with somebody, perhaps our grandmother or one of our aunts, but when one of us would venture up to the kitchen with its clear view of the living room, we’d find that the phone was on the cradle and she was shouting at nothing, nobody was there but her. It always started with the mumbling, though, the whispered indecipherable arguments just barely audible through the noise of the TV. I tried to ignore it, after all sometimes it never went any further. While disturbing, mumbling is just mumbling.

She opened her hazel eyes and turned her foggy gaze towards me, “It’s all my fault.”

“What?” I felt every muscle in my body stiffen in anticipation of what was to come. I didn’t need to ask what, but every time it was so sudden. Sometimes it would happen when she had barely even started drinking, no mumbling preceding it, just sitting there having a conversation, feeling almost normal for once, fore I was old enough now to realize this wasn’t normal, this wasn’t what being home was like for other kids. I’d be almost happy almost relaxed, but then somewhere a switch would flip and this would come. Tonight the mumbling was first, though, and that usually meant it would be worse.

“Everything that happens is my fault, I’m a bad mother.”

“No, mom. You’re not a bad mother.” I think somehow, after all that had happened, I still believed that. It felt sincere as the words left my mouth.

“If I wasn’t a bad mother, you’d do your homework and the boys wouldn’t fight so much. Why won’t you do your homework?!”

A report card had arrived in the mail the month prior, proving that I hadn’t been doing my homework yet again, and she always had a way of holding anything I’d ever done over my head months, even years, later. I never failed a class, aced every test, and did great work on any assignments I had time to work on in the classroom, but doing any sort of school work from home was something that I had been struggling with since I was about 10 years old. I couldn’t deny what she was saying.

“I don’t know.” I knew she hated that answer to this frequently asked question, but I really didn’t know. I had no answer that she was going to approve of. I always had the best of intentions when it came to my school work. I wanted to do the homework, I didn’t want to give her a reason to yell at me, and I really did want to be the student I knew I was capable of being. When it came to actually doing it, though, I never seemed to quite get there. Any homework I did manage to finish and turn in was done at school, often within an hour of when it was due, and still would get perfect or near perfect scores on those.

I watched as her eyes began to bulge out and her face redden with the rage that was about to be unleashed. My breath was quick and shallow as the fight or flight instinct fought against me, but shouting back or leaving would only make things worse, I knew, so I sat there with the tears building in my eyes. I blinked them away, and told myself that I refused to cry.

“You are evil,” she shouted. “I hope you have a daughter that’s as terrible as you so you know how it feels! I don’t know what I ever did to deserve having you! I hate you!”

“I know,” I whispered, lowering my eyes because keeping eye contact was too much. A tear slid down my cheek, and I silently cursed at its betrayal.

“Are you crying? Don’t you cry!” She stood suddenly, swaying but still able to stay on her feet. She came toward me, her feet landing with a heavy thud with each step she took. “I’ll give you something to cry about!”

“No, please,” I heard myself begging, my voice cracked. I was beginning to lose this battle against the tears. I felt her hand grab at my wrist, gripping so tightly that there was no hope for escape. She pulled me to my feet so hard I almost fell forward, yet somehow in her drunken state she remained upright. Still holding my wrist with one hand, I saw her other raised high. I remember when I was younger I once had the nerve to try to tell her she couldn’t do this, it was abuse. It didn’t stop her, what I got for it was a few extra whacks and her explaining to me that it’s only abuse if it leaves a mark. Even at so young an age I was able to read the undertone of what she was saying, “Go ahead and try to tell somebody, there’s no evidence, they won’t believe you” and she knew exactly how to inflict maximum pain without ever leaving a single mark.

As her hand started to come down and she pulled on my wrist to turn my rear end towards her, I tried so hard not to flinch. If I could just take it, just hold it together, it’d be over with sooner and I would be sent away to my room to think about what I’d done. I knew it was better to just stand motionless, but the instinct to try to pull away took over at the last moment and I turned, her open palm only landing a glancing, yet still painful, blow to my hip.

Her eyes somehow widened and bulged out even further, and in the middle of the chaos and fear, I remember thinking for a fleeting moment that her eyes were going to pop out of her head. When I realized what I had done when I turned away from her strike, I could no longer hold back the sobs and began to cry full on.

“Don’t you pull away from me!”

Again her hand went up, again it came down, and again my body betrayed me as my free hand moved back in an attempt to block some portion of the spanking. Again her anger was fueled and again she yelled at me not to resist her. I closed my eyes, tears now streaming down my cheeks. The next blow hit home on the left side of my butt and I felt the sting of it through my jeans, radiating out through my hips and lower back. I felt three, four, I don’t know how many more strikes, each one hitting with enough force to make me stumble forward a step. She yelled a few more words about how bad of a daughter I was and asked me how I could do this to her. I managed to blubber out “I’m sorry” a couple times between the sobs as she ranted. Finally, with the last I’m sorry, she said “No you aren’t” with a look that told me she would make me sorry just as she had given me something to cry about, but sent me away.

I remember walking out of the room, cheeks moist from the tears, but the crying had stopped. As soon as I turned the corner and she could no longer see me, I flipped her off from behind the wall and let my anger wash over me as I climbed the stairs. I sat on my bed, my body still tense, needing to explode and I glared at my pillow a moment before punching it. Then I sat there for a minute still glaring at things in my room until my eyes fell on the sweatshirt I had left on the floor.

It was brown and in the center was a white dragon. I felt the words form in my head, bouncing around, looking for an exit, needing to break free. Going to my desk, I grabbed a notepad and pen and began writing. As each word flowed through my hand to the pen and eventually to the paper, the anger and tension within me melting away. By the time I finished, I felt completely at peace, as though nothing had even happened.

Trapped
Pitch black
In a room without windows or doors
Where can I go?
What can I do?
And the pain floods over
Immersing me
Seeping into my body
No escape
With each breath I drown
Without the relief of death
No way out
Shrieks of the tortured fill the room
Echoing off the seamless walls
And the sweat and tears,
They drip and shatter upon the floor
Nowhere to run
In the darkness I,
I am the White Dragon
Rage pulsates through my veins
The sole light of this prison
Glowing with purpose
Angered by the impenetrable walls,
The walls built by one who feigned kindness
Who locked me away here when I was young
I trusted them
But the fool will learn
Because I, the White Dragon, shall grow
The wispy smoke flowing gently in my adolescence,
It will become a scorching inferno as I mature
In my glory they shall be taught
Nothing can hold the White Dragon
Nothing
I will escape

Friends, Family, and Uniforms

I always have the best of intentions when it comes to making regular posts on here, but I never seem to manage it and go way longer than I intend between them.  This time I was out of town for two weeks due to work, and unfortunately not all hotels have free WiFi.  I’d like to say that I’ll hopefully be posting more regularly now until the next time work takes me out of town, but given my track record at the moment, I’m not sure that’ll happen.  Oh well, I do promise to continue making posts when I find the time and energy to do so at least.  I do think it’ll get better when I’m done with work in a few months and only have school to worry about.  I’ll also have a lot more to write about as I’ll finally be transitioning then, if all goes well.

So, as I mentioned, I was out of town for two weeks for work.  Where I had to go just happened to be my hometown, though, so it was a great opportunity to see friends and family when I wasn’t working.  I was really unsure about seeing my dad and stepmother after the whole thing in which they sent me a feminine workout outfit.  Overall going out to dinner with them went surprisingly well, though.  We didn’t talk too much about me and how I identify, but it did come up a couple of times.  My dad didn’t really bring it up at all, it was my stepmother that asked a couple of questions.  When I brought up that August and I were wanting to adopt she said something along the lines of “You don’t want to have one yourself?  You still can, you know.”  I don’t think she understands that while I do really want to be a parent, just the idea of going through the process of pregnancy isn’t just unappealing because it sounds like a miserable experience (it doesn’t sound fun at all from what friends that have had kids have said) but the more I come to accept the fact that I identify as male, the more that pushing against it with treating myself or being treated by others as female becomes less and less tolerable.  I quickly decided that trying to explain all of that would be really difficult so just went with the “being pregnant doesn’t sound fun, I’m totally okay with having a kid without the experience of pregnancy”.  Besides, I’ve always wanted to adopt, even when I was trying to push myself to be more feminine and considered having a biological kid, I wanted to adopt at least one.  I had a pretty rough childhood and the idea that there are kids out there in need and that I could save even just one from a bad situation really means something to me deep down.

Later on during the meal I was talking about August’s transition and how he’s recovering from his surgery.  She seemed confused and asked what surgery he had, so I had to explain top surgery to her.  It wasn’t too bad, once she understood what he’d had done, she left it at that.  She did ask me if I still planned to “go through the change”, which I of course said yes to, and she just nodded and that was the end of any trans related questions from her.  Again, my dad didn’t really bring it up at all, and just listened when she asked her questions for the most part.  He did ask how August’s recovery was going when I brought that up, which was the first time he has expressed interest in that, though I’ve mentioned August’s surgery in text to him before.  I get the feeling he just isn’t sure what to do, but isn’t necessarily unsupportive.  I also get the feeling that he is a bit concerned about how my stepmother and her family will respond to the situation, which keeps him reserved when it comes to the subject.  At any rate, I feel a little better about the situation with my dad after having dinner with them, though I still don’t feel entirely supported.  However, if I can’t be supported, I’m glad that they aren’t pushing against me at least.

I also met up with both my younger brothers while I was in town.  One of them, the gay one, is extremely supportive and seems about as excited about me coming out as trans and the prospect of transitioning in the near future as I am.  He asks me all sorts of questions, but more related to what my goals are than anything else.  We talked about fitness and eating right and where we both want to be physically speaking.  He doesn’t really ask any questions about how I identify, he has friends that are trans and friends that are pansexual, so he has a much better understanding of both concepts and the challenges that can come with them at times than most people I’ve encountered.  It’s nice to have somebody to talk to that is more interested in what the end results I’m striving for are than in trying to understand how I work.

The youngest brother doesn’t seem to care one way or another.  One of my cousins was with us when I was spending time with him.  This cousin is significantly older than me and came out as a lesbian when I was still pretty young.  As such, her and another older gay cousin, really lead the way for my gay brother and me when we started coming out to the family.  They had already gotten the more religious portions of our family to be more accepting, at least those that were going to be.  There are still a couple of members of the family that have a hard time with it, I think.  Granted, I think I took it a step further with coming out as trans.  Anyway, where I was going with this is that we talked a lot about our experiences with coming out to the family and how they had made things easier for my brother and me by having come out so many years earlier.  We talked a lot about how I identify and such, and my brother mostly just listened.  He didn’t care that we were talking about it, and I think he was even interested, but he really didn’t have anything to add to the conversation.  It’s okay, when we talked about video games, my cousin didn’t have anything to add to the conversation either.  My youngest brother hasn’t really cared one way or another about anything to do with my or our other brother’s romantic lives or how we identify, outside of whether he thinks our partners are cool people or not.  In fact, he hasn’t ever shown any interest in companionship for himself, though I’ve seen lots of girls try to flirt with him and the other brother has seen several guys try to flirt with him as well.  I suspect, though haven’t straight out asked him to confirm it, that he is asexual.  What are the odds of that?  Three of us and each one is unusual in our own way?

Anyway, I saw my best friend too.  She’s one of the most supportive people I know.  She cares much more about whether you are a good person or not than anything else and is one of those people who just genuinely wants you to be happy.  I went to my aunt’s house for a barbecue, which is when I had spent time with the older of my two brothers, and that was a lot of fun.  This aunt is the one that is the mother of the lesbian cousin, so she’s nothing  but supportive as well.

Another one of my cousins, the younger brother to my lesbian one, was there with his family too.  He has three adorable little boys.  When I was talking about how I felt growing up and every time I mentioned thinking of myself as one of the boys when I was a kid and the things my boy cousins that were around my age and I would do, he would be like “oh yeah, I remember that!” and we’d laugh about the ridiculousness of some of it.  I was a pretty typical little boy with the chasing girls around with bugs and the blowing things up with fire crackers and roughhousing and all that jazz, only I was thought of by all the adults as a little girl back then.  As I was talking about some of it, his wife started asking me questions, though.  Apparently one of their kids, the 8-year-old, has shown a strong preference to girls toys and stuff and has asked her if when he grows up he can be a girl or if when he dies and goes to heaven if he can be a girl.  She’s not concerned about whether or not he’s trans or anything else, he’s their kid and they love him very much and just want him to be happy.  She was asking my advice on how to approach the subject with him or whether she even should or if she should wait for him to come to her.  She wants to make sure that he knows they love him and accept him and just want him to be himself regardless of who that is.  The idea of kids at school possibly picking on him for any of this or him feeling ashamed of himself for how he feels and holding it in really hits both my cousin and his wife hard.  It was very moving to see the emotions play across their faces so clearly.  I really wasn’t sure what to tell her because everybody is different.  August had a couple good suggestions that he texted me and I shared with them, including seeing a gender therapist, that I think they are considering.  Regardless of how the kid identifies, he has very supportive and loving parents, the sort that I know many in the community would kill to have.  I know he’ll (or she’ll) be just fine.

One of the final things I have to write about today is the disphoria of having to be in uniform any time I went out in public (so everywhere but when I went to my aunt’s house) when I was on this trip.  This was one of our dress uniforms, so it is one that is fitted in such a way to make it look like I have hips, despite the fact that I’m one of the fortunate ones that really don’t have very feminine hips.  I also can’t hide the fact that I have boobs, even though I’m very small chested.  I really wish there was a unisex uniform; they are considering introducing one, but it hasn’t happened yet.  I felt like a cross dresser every time I put the uniform on, especially the few times I looked in the mirror to make sure everything was on properly and saw myself.  It was a very difficult experience for me.  I usually get social disphoria when I’m at work since I can’t come out to people there without unwanted consequences, but our working uniform isn’t form-fitting at all so doesn’t cause this feeling that the dress uniform brought up.  Outside of work, since I’m fairly broad-shouldered, have narrow hips, and have a small enough chest that I don’t even need a binder, a sports bra is enough to hide them, I’m often identified as male until I speak and my very feminine voice comes out, so I really don’t experience as much physical disphoria normally, except when I’m naked.  I’m not used to being clothed and so uncomfortable with my appearance, it really hasn’t happened since I came out to friends and family and began the social transition in my personal life.  However, while I was out of town, it was a constant presence for me, which made it really hard to want to leave the hotel room to do anything.  I did anyway because I don’t get up there very often so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit with people I hadn’t seen for a while, but every day it was a challenge to talk myself into putting that uniform on and going out in a public place where everybody could see me.  All I can say is that I’m SO glad to be back home now and dressing in my normal masculine fashion again.  I’m not looking forward to the next time I have to do this, but I just have one more of these things to do before I’m done with the job.

On a brighter note, I did get to go to one of the practice sessions for my hometown NFL team (I may not live there anymore, but I will always be loyal to them) and since I did this as part of a public relations thing with work, I got to be in the VIP section of the spectators.  This meant that when the practice was over the players were there available to autograph stuff.  I got so many autographs, including two of the biggest names on the team!  It was really exciting for me, almost enough for me to stop feeling so self-conscious about the fact that I was wearing my uniform during this… almost.

So yeah, that pretty much sums up the last couple weeks.  It was a great experience to be back there and see friends and family that are still in that area, even though it came with its own difficulties since it was a work related trip.  Not to mention meeting the football players was a once in a lifetime opportunity.