Saturday, 20 December 2008

Letting go

Christmas thoughts by a humble work in progress:-

Christmas can mean many things to many people. For some its great joy for some its heartbreaking. For me, I count my blessings. I have had the most amazing year of spiritual & personal growth, in my entire life. I appreciate each & every one of my friends. This year has been a really big challenge. All of my friendships are going through a process of realignment. Like me a work in progress. Maintaining all those friendships is something of a juggling act perhaps more like plate spinning at the circus at times. Along the way some friendships have crashed & broken, others are just hanging on. I am trying with all my heart to repair those fractured friendships. I just cannot bare to let them go. I have a deep ingrown fear of losing people I care about. Thankfully most are all still intact. It takes two to make a friendship. I feel along the way I have neglected some dear friends this year. I have certainly screwed up more than once this year. They have all made such a difference to my life. I want to reach out to all of them especially those who may be going through difficult times at this season of great emotion. There seem to be so many memories of those we have loved & lost that seem to flood through me, more & more, as each year progresses & our own mortality becomes more apparent. Crazily these feelings are colliding head on with the almost puberty/teenage stage I am experiencing at break neck speed as I transition into my new life. I feel so fortunate to still have my beloved little family & will treasure every moment especially over Christmas.

I have been inspired by so many truly brilliant gifted creative intelligent kind people this year, who have kindly given & shared so much of their lives. I have learned so much about the human spirit & inner strength. I appreciate the simple things in life so much more. I love to read about my friends successes. I share many a tear at their difficult times. Cyber hugs make a big difference when we feel so alone & isolated but as humans there are so many occasions when we need some one actually physically alongside us.


A Christmas success story with a very spiritual ending:-

I so enjoyed reading a post about the Christmas office party a dear friend of mine attended recently. I could imagine her there, just one of the girls having fun. I was selfishly just a little envious, as of all the challenges I have faced I had previously failed to be true to myself when I lost my job. I had on the very same day, she had posted her story, failed to attend my now ex companies, Christmas lunch, in the town I used to work in. I had been invited by my old colleagues who ironically have been very supportive now they know about me. It was just the cruel memories of what I went through there, that I just could not face. I wanted to chase those demons away, & find closure on this part of my life. In this case I think I really needed to let go of the past & think of the future. If this is all I have to worry about I have been very lucky.

I am so pleased for my friend. She always tried to do the right thing for her family, & for all concerned. She put so much effort into planning & preparing for her transition but that is by no means always a guarantee of success. Acceptance is perhaps a gift from another person. Above all else you have to accept yourself, & be true to your soul. It is a very painful lesson but we also have to accept we cannot be responsible for other peoples feelings. I continue to blame myself even now for hurting my beloved elderly parents. How you begin to deal with a wife & children is something far more difficult to contemplate. Missguided love with the best of intentions can hurt any or all of the family. A parents love ideally should be unconditional & for ever. It is certainly something that should never be let go. Life is sadly not always this idealistic. My friend also managed to keep her successful career as well. Miracles can happen, out of great advesity. My thoughts & prayers are that those less fortunate can receive the greatest gift of all for their Christmas.

I wrote the passage directly above regarding my thoughts & prayers only to read the blog of another dear friend http://brilliantgirlgenius.blogspot.com/ I had been thinking about on Sunday evening & my prayers were answered. To think only a few years ago at one dark point on my journey I had let go of my religion & questioned in one of my self pity moods "why Lord do you make people like me, what is the point of all this?" Her "giving thanks" post captures so beautifully what God is all about. If a persons success is measured by what they have had to give up to achieve it, my brilliantly gifted friend who has a heart full of love has a great future to look forward to.


A Christmas wish:-

I wish I had a magic cure, an answer to ease the pain that so many may be going through at this time of the year, what ever the source of their anguish. For many we eventually know there is only one person here on earth who can do that. May all their prayers be answered. My heart goes out to all those who are suffering. May true Angels be looking after you. I may well have ended up swapping one set of problems for another but for me so far it is so worth it. Time will tell if I am right. Some pathways in life are after all a huge leap of faith. At this time of the year our emotions get pulled in all directions. It is such a busy, busy time we can sometimes forget some of our friends. Everyone see's how you seem but it takes very special friends to know how you feel.

A very Crunchy Christmas:-

The credit crunch is effecting so many families this year. The true meaning of Christmas perhaps seems to have been lost. May be some good will come out of adversity. It would be so easy for me to blame everything on my gender issues but that would be foolish. I still have many of the issues I had before. I am still the same person but I feel so much more comfortable with my sense of self. I feel able & sure I am giving my honest best to everything I do. I am not devoting so much energy on all my insecurities. The weight has lifted. My depression is in remission. My anxiety is still a disability which can cause me to get things wrong, even with the best of intentions. I am back to this crunchy existence called life that everyone seems to be experiencing. I am no different to any one else. No better no worse. Just as it should be in an ideal world.

Trying to live your life for all those that depend on you what ever your situation causes unimaginable stress & strain. It is no surprise we can end up feeling tired. "Dam it, my sisters! Men have it easier. We have to multi-task at Christmas & when we do things we normally do them with a lot more thought & feeling. OMG I sound like my Mum! That does not mean we always get things right, certainly not in my case & besides who am I to say what a man feels?" I write all this in slight jest but...... That's for me the crux of so much angst that people assume too much, often based on a gender specific stereo type. It can be done in fun but for some of us there is not much to laugh about.

A sacrifice well worth paying for Christmas day with all my family:-

For people who are suffering from extreme gender dysphoria & assumed to be a gender different to that which there heart & brain tells them, living dual role can be so difficult. I found the more I lived the life that felt right for me, the harder it became to continue having to disguise myself as a man. I worried that I may perhaps crack under the pressure, things may come out wrong & once said can never be unsaid. I have to drag up as a man one last time, just for two hours on Christmas day afternoon so that our small family can be together, when we visit our relations. I have been living full time in my true female gender role since January. All of my family know about Debbie except one. We have a dear Auntie, my Dads sister, who is suffering from dementure & it would only confuse the poor love & make her worse. I am dreading those few hours like never before. She with her illness unknowingly may become abusive & I will turn the other cheek. I never ever want to hurt my loved ones. It's a small price I am more than happy to pay for family unity & my dear Auntie. There came a point when I could no longer sacrifice my life for my family but I still want to try to do the right thing for them. There are all kinds of different paths. No one is right or wrong. No ones T is bigger or smaller than anyone else's t. There are often stupid labels wars within the trans community which is why I have such great respect & high regard for all of my friends who recognise this so well.

We all have different lives but possibly share a similar dysphoric often very emotional heart. Everything happens for a reason although sometimes its very hard to see why. I am going to thank God for all the wonderful things that have happened in my life, especially my new life. That very much includes having the friends I have made here. I am going to concentrate on what I am blessed with & not what I have lost or indeed never had. I say this on a day when my GD is under control & life is being kind to me. Life's not always that kind but I hope & pray it will be for those who are struggling with their emotions, one day very soon, where ever their life takes them.

My news in brief. (Well it started off that way, honestly).

I am so happy, like never before. I am just me, with that thankfully now ever decreasing but ever present white rabbit (my GD) still occasionally perched on my shoulder to remind me of life's cruel trick.

I had a set back regarding funding for my realignment surgery a week ago. I can no longer fund all my own medical needs. I may be poor but I feel like a millionaire compared with the days when I actually had much more money, as strange as that may seem. Hopefully the funding will eventually get sorted. I have waited nearly 6 months for a response to my request to be considered for funding from the NHS for my gender realignment surgery. I knew that asking to be considered for an extra contractual referral (ECR) with Mr Thomas at Brighton was never going to go down well with my PCT. I was beginning to fear I had been deliberately lost in the system. They wanted to know why I do not wish to go to Charring Cross Gender specialist unit. ChX used to have a very bad reputation as gate keepers rather than care providers but they are not like that now. I have nothing against the excellent service they provide now other than the time it may take to go through the whole process. My reasons which would probably cause a flame war on the forum I am a member of. My reasons were:-
1. CONTINUITY OF CARE, basically 12 years of specialist gender care & treatment under Dr Read & Dr Curtis together with my GP & ongoing counselling. My real life experience.
2. READINESS FOR SURGERY, my qualification to Mr Thomas requirements in February next year so that he would be willing to operate on me there after subject to funding.
3. My legal rights of PATIENT CHOICE to chose the consultant/surgeon I would like.
4. Financial Implications to my PCT. I am only asking for the cost of surgery. If I were to be referred to Charring Cross the costs would be considerably higher as they would involve payment for psychiatric assessments and evaluation that I have already undergone as well as the costing for surgery. It will all take time & there is only a limited budget & many more urgent life threatening cases which are rightly prioritised but I will get there. I am not taking this for granted. If I have to even in a housing slump I will try to raise the funds myself by selling my home if I am forced to wait too long, which would only make me ill again.

Work wise. I have done some volunteer admin work at my local tourist attraction & applied for a job there. I do not expect to get it but I may get some more much needed work experience there. I have attended my first interview in thirty years & my first ever as Debbie. It was only a mock situation but it felt real to me & was of great benefit for possible future real ones. I am so grateful for all the help I am getting. I am also going to apply to work in admin at the local hospital. I may end up stacking shelves. I do not mind at first. I just want to earn some money to pay the bills & pay my way in life again. I miss the buzz of working life but not the hassle. It will be so good for my well being if I can achieve that next year & find an employer willing to give me a chance.

I have been to four wonderful Christmas parties this month. I used to loath parties. I felt so self conscious dressed in men's clothes in that other life I used to exist in. Magically I am still the same person, still quite shy but the sense of self is so heavenly different. The gender stuff just seems to have melted away & I am accepted as a female, just little me, being true to my heart .

I went for some more voice therapy in London last week. The therapist was as lovely as ever. I still have great problems with my voice, I need to practice so much more. In truth I would still like to have the operation to permanently increase my pitch, that she recommended. Like & need are two very different things. I am not going to risk my possible funding for GRS by confusing the issue by asking for more. Sorry I digress. After the voice therapy I met my counsellor. I had bought a bottle of wine as a Christmas present for her to say thank you for the most amazing year of my life. I had not really intended to have a counselling session at all. Just a nice friendly chat. We are friends as well as counsellor & client after all the years I have been seeing her. We talked about all kinds of things. She has been with me for so long on this journey, for much of which I seemed stuck in a kind of stasis. Unable to move on. Not ready in truth. This year has been the most amazing of my life. I became a little emotional as the wine took effect. I am almost teetotal now & one small glass was one too many for me. I could be a very cheap date! LOL. I have been blessed. I have so much to celebrate & be grateful for. I have found acceptance & love from all my small family & nearly all of my friends. So we delved into the way my life had changed & I talked about my inner most feelings. The totally sober, honest & candid but probably still incoherent lowlights of that conversation are below.

Realigning friendships:-

Transitioning seems on the surface to have made very little difference to my many friendships with my female friends. They had always accepted me. Now I appear to have been further welcomed into the sisterhood. I am simply just like one of them. I cannot express how heavenly that feels. It has if anything bought us closer. To most of my married male friends who knew me before, I am no longer their mate but I am still their friend. Just a female friend which is great. I cannot possibly imagine their wives could ever see some one like me as a threat but somehow I feel I may get less invites to smaller gatherings than before. If that happens I guess I may never know the real reasons why. Being single in a couple dominated world has never been easy but it had never bothered me before. The social rules & etiquette are all so new to me.

For my few unmarried male friends who I have known for over thirty years it is so complicated. I have to face up to the reality I am going to probably lose them. They have known me from my teenage days when I tried to play the part of what I thought a man should be & hid my feelings behind a male looking mask, washed down with occasionally way too much alcohol. They all kindly supported me when I came out to them as TS & they said it would make no difference to our continued friendship. Since I transitioned I have spoken to them on the phone & they appeared ok with me. We have never met in person since I started living full time as a woman. One in particular who is/was my best male friend, a guy I have known since I was eighteen appears to have started to distance himself from me. I actually tried to date his current long term girl friend but only after they split up in the early stages of their relationship. I had been too drunk to realise it was wrong of me at the time & could never ever happen. I would never cheat on a friend. I cancelled the date. We go back a long way. We have been on holiday together just the two of us, platonically, several times. I think he & probably most of my long term friends thought I was simply a closet gay. I am a virgin & sex has just not been a part of my life. I some how shut those feelings down as a teenager, actually very easily. Being referred to as trans-sexual when my condition has nothing to do with my sexuality is a source of frustration which I feel has never helped people like me, as the media use it as some kind of smutty club to beat us with.

Distant dreams of possibly one day having a fulfilling relationship:-

Those feelings were too painful too confused way back when I was young & going through the hell that was my puberty nightmare. Well now those feelings are re-emerging. I am allowing myself to think about them as my dreamed of life becomes an achievable reality. I have always thought of myself as heterosexual, if I really pushed myself to delve into such thoughts. At the confused time we had became mates/buddies I liked/loved/wanted/needed to be a woman. I miss my male friend. I miss having men friends particularly him. He knows I have many more creative friends now & so I will not be lonely but he gave away something to my Mum in a phone conversation in May. According to my Mum it was like he was checking I would be ok & not be on my own. By his tone & unspoken words he was preparing the ground to say good by. I am crying just writing this & it is not me being tipsy this time. I have not heard or seen him since, apart from one call I made to him & he was cold & distant. I believe with all my heart he is still my friend but the dynamics of our friendship have changed so much now for obvious reasons. I had assumed he had been afraid of how I may look as a woman. I thought perhaps he may feel threatened or at risk if he thought I looked like a drag queen. How would people perceive us. A gay couple, an illicit affair or just friends. If I looked like a normal'ish woman (which I hope I do) what then? Would his girlfriend/partner wonder what our friendship was all about. As my counsellor pointed out "what if he fancied you?" I doubt this but... Can men & women just be friends? It seems like we are destined not to be. Letting go is so painfully difficult.

As a single female I am finding it is interestingly very different, very liberating but also very frustrating. I need my deformities corrected a.s.a.p. because of the way I was born with a female brain not because of my sexuality but................... Relationships are too complicated now & who knows for me may always be. I am just tired of having the wrong body & knowing as I am now, I may at best have to either lie, which I do not want to do, or tell the truth & probably see them run away or worse. I am a heterosexual woman & would like to be accepted as such although realistically this may never happen. Could I live with that knowledge? That is a really scary thought. I miss my men friends like I never ever dared dream of! Letting go of these friend/relationships, is proving so hard to do but is a price I should have realised I was likely to have to pay. It is hurting me like crazy but all my friendships are adjusting & it will just take more time. Moving on is so difficult. At least I have hope in my heart, that one day just may be, there may be some one out there for me.

I have let go so much random thought here, perhaps way too much. I hope & pray you all have far more enjoyable things in your life to do than to have read this far in my humble blog. You have all been special friends to me at such a dramatic time in my life & so often your own. Bless your hearts. There is no place like home. I may be gone for quite some time, my beloved family are calling me, something specials going on! Debbie's first Christmas, yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

May Christmas be kind to you.
May all your hopes & dreams come true in 2009.

Lots of love
Debbie

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The spirit of Christmas

Christmas is for me a time for family & friends, full of memories & emotion. It is also often a time for reflection, what ever religion you may be. How I wish mankind could all live together in peaceful acceptance of each other.

I have been thinking a lot about my dear friends recently. Some are doing really well, some are going through unbelievably difficult times. They all are blessed with a wonderful spirit which is pushed to the limit due to circumstances beyond their control. My thoughts are with you all but particularly at this difficult time with dear Jo, Julia, Teri, Katy, Linda & her beloved friend Sasha, to name but a few.

Dear Jo they say everything happens for a reason but my heart goes out to you. You are in my thoughts & prayers. I hope you get the all clear real soon.

I am finally taking Dad to see the specialist again on Monday to discuss his scan results & find out if there is anything they can do to help with his hearing loss. Waiting & not knowing was the worst bit. I just hope PALS got their information correct.

When I first began this journey in 1996 I was captivated by the words of a song. The name of the band escapes me but the words still hold true. In life, you never know what may happen next. Plan for tomorrow but live for today.



This is your life


Where is the purpose in your life?
Where is the truth?
Do you remember?
Your hopes, your dreams?
They may no longer be your own!
*
Each day is for living your Own Life!
Do not let this world capture your Heart!
Your passions lost to a thousand themes.
*
You possibly acted like a child playing games.
Played pretend & the art of disguise.
Alone & lost for too much of your life.
*
There is no rehearsal!
No second chance!
No thoughts are better!
No circumstance!
This is not a story!
This is not a hope!
This is your life!

I have had the most amazing year thanks to the support of my wonderful family & friends. The experiences we have shared, the kind words & love that's been given, from all over the world, makes such a difference. I never knew blogging could be like this. Bless you all.

I have always known my true self but until this year I have never known if I can live that life. I still have days of doubt but they are few. I am a work in progress, still learning, still eradicating the ravages of testosterone poisoning from my body, but so grateful & happy to be alive.

Tomorrow I am going to my Art Societies Christmas lunch. My first ever Christmas party as Debbie. Shy quiet little me. I was so scared to be me. I used to be terrified of parties & social occasions. This year I am so looking forward to meeting up with all my creative friends. I am far from confident now but I feel so unbelievably different. Spiritually in a completely different place, which seems quite appropriate for this time of year.

You have all touched my heART. It is a bit early but for the first time in my new life I just want to say to Jo, Nicky, Jessica, Julia, Doris, Kate, Katy, Anji, Alan, Denise, Rebecca, Alex, Lucy, Lori, Karen, Teri, Heather, Julia M, Dee, Michelle, Chloe, Shauna, Jenny, Veronica, Debbie D, Fran, Paula, Chris & Jackie.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Good health & happiness. May all your dreams come true in 2009.
Lots of love
Debbie
x


Sunday, 23 November 2008

Remembrance

My thoughts were rightly shaken from their comfort zone as the Transgendered Day of Remembrance came to pass.

I have been focused wholly on my own little world, my family in recent weeks. That precious safe little bubble I live in. The loved ones I am so lucky to have, the memories of days gone past & thoughts for our future.

My thoughts & prayers are with those dear souls who are no longer with us & the families they have left behind. The innocent victims; who have been so brutally killed, simply because they were courageous enough to come out to the world & be true to their hearts.

What must these dear brothers & sisters have experienced as the precious life they had gone through so much anguish to live is suddenly plunged into darkness? We must never forget their spirit. Their tragic sacrifice at the hands of evil prejudice must never be forgotten.

How do the families of these poor souls cope with their grief & sometimes their guilt? Every day they worried each time their loved one set foot outside the door if they would come back safely. Every time we disappear from view during bouts of dark depression they worried we may become a victim of our own hand. How do they cope? How do those families survive mourning for the second time, the person they may have tragically believed they lost & chose to reject, when they transitioned? How do they cope with not being able to say good by to their loved one?

I have been so moved by the stories I have read, the heart felt empathy filled words on the blogs of my dear friends from all over the world. I am grateful to the extraordinary eloquent people, out there who are pro-active, who endeavour to ensure the world should remember these people. Who could possibly forget the cruel way poor "Ali" was treated. My thoughts are with those people who are unable to have the option of living in stealth, who live in fear 24/7. The dear friends who we have never even met who have touched our hearts. The lonely & the isolated brothers & sisters out there of which there are so many who are going through such difficult times at this emotional time of the year.

I have not been able to tell my parents about TDOR because it would only play on their already deeply ingrained fears that any person like me faces losing their friends, their families, their jobs, & will be chased out of the village by people with blazing torches. They were fears from a different generation although sometimes I wonder if perhaps they were right all along.

Every time I go out with them as the person I was born to be I take extra care to try not to give the minority of evil people out there any opportunity or reason to have a go at my family. Is that stealth, is it cowardice, and is it necessary? I am so lucky, I feel so humble, to have my live, to have a future. For so many that fear, that prejudice is tragically real life 24/7!

Every day, anytime, anywhere, any person regardless of gender, sexuality, race or religion could be the next innocent victim of prejudice.

My thoughts & prayers are with you all.

Take care & please keep safe.

Peace & Love
Debbie

Monday, 17 November 2008

My Dads Scan "Good News"

The Best of PALS

We had some wonderful news today. My Dads scan results came back all clear.

After what we had expected to be a routine hearing check up my 84 year old Dad was shocked to find he needed to have am MRI scan. He had only recently been given a hearing aid for the first time in his life. He had been becoming more & more isolated & missing out on so much social interaction. Even when he was fitted for the hearing aid he was reluctant to use it because he felt it made him seem old. Bless him. When he went back for a follow up appointment we thought it would just be for a bit of fine tuning. My Dad was shocked to be given a scan on 16th October because of a rapid increase in the deterioration of his hearing.



We were told he should get an appointment to see the consultant again in 3 weeks time to discuss the results. The NHS are brilliant with emergency treatment but none emergency care can sometimes take a very long time. We waited & waited without any news. Mum & I wear our emotions on our sleeves. My Dad put on a brave face but we were all very worried. "Anxiety" should be our family name. We had the results hanging over us right through their Diamond wedding celebrations which was a shame. 8 days ago I phoned up the hospital & eventually found out the reason for the delay. A locum consultant had been called in to reduce the waiting times at the ENT department. He was able to see a few patients including my Dad & was then taken away from the department. A meetings was due to be held with management to decide the way ahead. In the mean time we just had to wait. With still no news last Friday I contacted the hospital again & they still could not confirm anything. The locum may be back next month but it was still up in the air.

Its amazing to look back on the silly things that we can worry about. Being so insecure about my voice was getting all out of proportion. Raising my pitch & trying to sound more feminine had probably made it even harder for my poor Dad to hear me. I had started to dread using phones. Suddenly with my family in trouble, I just got on with it. It did not matter how I was perceived I was my Dads daughter & how my voice sounded was just not relevant.

A few of our friends had mentioned about PALS an organisation who might be able to help us get some answers. At this point I contacted the patient advice & liaison service PALS. They were ever so understanding & promised to chase things up for us. True to their word they phoned up while my Dad was having his afternoon nap today. I took the call & gently woke him explaining the lady from PALS at the hospital had some news for him. He took the phone rather sleepily & with his usual rather abrupt telephone manner asked her "what are you selling?" OMG he nearly put the phone down on her. Thankfully we stopped him & then his face lit up into a broad smile. The results were all clear.

We had been praying he would be ok. We are sooooooo happy & relieved. All our friends have been so kind & concerned for us. Our family is so small & so close. The support we have all had from our friends during this difficult time has made such a difference. Thank you so much.

Thank heavens for PALS.

Love
Debbie

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Challenge of trying to return to the workplace


The surreal painting/cartoon image was painted way back in 1996 & depicted my future, my transition, my challenge & fear of rejection.

My real life experience has been an incredible journey of self discovery. Just recently it has felt like I have been on a tightrope similar to the one in my picture trying to balance everything & keep moving forward with my health, my transition & my progress towards getting back to work. Balancing this with my responsibilities as a carer, my dysphoria, & my financial situation is difficult. Our family’s healths are the most important priority. I have the same doctor as my Father & he assured me the types of scans for hearing loss usually only require follow up treatment in approx 4% of cases, which was of some comfort to all of us as the wait continues.

I am really excited I am now at the stage where my health allows me to attempt to get back to some kind of employment. To be able to do this in my correct gender role is both a tremendous joy & a rather large challenge.

I cannot go back into my previous carer for reasons of both my health, my responsibilities as a carer & logistics. Due to its specialist nature my core skills are of limited use & so I am seeking an alternative carer. In the present climate I will just be grateful to get a job of any description which pays the bills & does not leave me open to discrimination or bullying.

I still feel insecure about my voice but not my transition. Thankfully my new found self belief has enabled me to bounce back from a series of events which, only a year a go would have completely swamped me. I am going to continue with more voice therapy & will just keep practicing. Now is not the time for me to have voice surgery. I am pushing ahead with work experience & doing all the things asked of me to get back to the workplace.

On the positive side I have managed to do some voluntary work in the admin department at a local organisation. I have attended a 2 day “Goals” confidence building course, which was a deeply moving shared experience. Both uplifting & humbling, which gave me new found belif in humanity. I will shortly be attending an interview technique session & my first interview in thirty years.

I have been so grateful for the kind support I have been shown & the opportunity to gently gain some work experience in a friendly environment. It has been just what I needed. I would very much like to continue gaining work experience in any way I can. My doctors, family, employment facilitator & I are all very pleased with my progress. I have taken advice from them all before proceeding with sending the lady I work with at the administration job an informal request for her honest advice regarding a full time job oppertunity.

I have been considering applying for a role as her assistant which was advertised recently & would very much appreciate her thoughts on my suitability. I am really interested in the position & keen to have the work experience. I would be very wiling to be trained up for the position while they advertise the role. I am passionate & dedicated to any role I undertake to support them. It would also be of great benefit to me both on a work & personal level. Budgets at the organisation like every where are very tight so in view that I am not able to work full time, I would be very willing to job share the role should the opportunity arise. I would be willing to work for free to gain the experience which may perhaps in the future lead to a permanent position if they were happy with my performance. In the current economic climate the situation could help both of us.

My career break was due to unique circumstances combing, causing me stress & depression which is now being successfully resolved. I would not consider applying for the role if I thought I was not capable & would not like to let anyone down. All I wish for is a chance to prove myself both to an employer & for my own self respect. I have come a long way in a very short time & have a lot to be grateful for even though my transition seems to have taken soooooooooo long. I could only get here when I was ready!

I am having quite a dilemma & feel anxious yet again to ensure that my request for advice does not make any difference to our friendship or my willingness to continue to support her/the organisation as a volunteer. My hearts in the right place even if my thinkings a little muddled.

I hope I have done the right thing. There is an overriding fear of being rejected both by a friend & for a job. Sadly "Rejection" is something I might have to get used to quite a lot with my new life then again perhaps I am now better equipped to deal with it, just like anyone else?

Love
Debbie

Monday, 10 November 2008

Reflections


I needed some time away. Some time to think & find some clarity. For the first time since I transitioned in February this year my demons were taking over, my life out of control, my head full of negative thinking & awash with self pity. Self doubt was fueling my anxiety & my mental health was in danger of becoming unstable. My Dads well being is our biggest concern. My family & I are still awaiting news on my dear Dads scan. My little family are my world & mean everything to me. External circumstances had conspired to cause a maelstrom of emotions which I struggled to cope with. Through my enmeshment & gender dysphoric eyes my judgement became clouded & probably selfish. With the onset of the dark & grey days of winter I had lost my way. I needed to remember just how lucky I am. They say elephants never forget. On reflection I can now see how much I have to be so grateful for.

How grateful I am to all those courageous people who sacrificed so much in all the wars past & present all over the world.

I will never ever forget them or the debt that we owe them. In a rat race of a modern world where we as civilians living in peacetime/relative safety appear to lead stressful lives, we have a lot to learn from the brave people who have lived & died during conflict. Certainly in my case, I do not seem to cope very well with the day to day stresses of life, I am truly humble & have the utmost respect for those brave souls who risk their lives for our freedom.

How wonderful it was to see Barack Obama inspire a nation & give hope both to them & the world that dreams can come true.

How precious life is.

How lucky I am to still have my family & to treasure each moment we have left together.


How lucky I am to have the love & support of my wonderful family & friends.

How lucky I am to have the opportunity to be true to my heart.

How lucky I am to have my health & refound my faith.

How grateful I am to my dear Auntie Peg who tragically committed suicide on the 1st November 1979. She had no choice she was in so much pain due to kidney failure & the experimental drugs she was given as a last chance to save her. Witnessing the anguish & grief her death caused my dear Mum helped keep me alive during my darkest hours of turmoil. I visited her grave on the anniversary of her death on a rain sodden day to offer my prayers to her & lay a wreath in her memory. My beloved Mum has never found closure & the pain she still feels is too great for her to continue visiting the cemetery. She never stops thinking about her, such was their great bond & love for each other. For years I have mourned for my dear Auntie. For years I have apologised to her for all the sadness I have caused her sister, my Mum. I have always promised to look after the sister she had to leave here on earth. November 1st 2008 was the first time I attended her grave appearing as the person I have always been in my heart. Through the tears & the rain I gave thanks to her for keeping me safe & enabling me to live my dream.

How grateful I am to the Samaritans of this world.

How my heart goes out to each & everyone who has suffered such mental anguish they felt the need to commit suicide & to the dear grieving families they have left.

How lucky I am to so far not be the victim of a hate crime.

How lucky I am to have friends & how important it is to keep in touch.

How lucky I am to have been able to face my fears & get this far towards being my true self.

I thank the lord for giving me this life.

I will try my best to never ever forget how lucky I am.


Peace & love

Debbie

Friday, 31 October 2008

How do you react to a possible online crisis?

How do you react if you think an online friend is possibly having a crisis? What is the right thing to do?

I made the wrong judgement & lost a very inspirational friend today.

Sometimes I am perhaps guilty of caring too much. I cannot switch off. I have many faults but I care about people. I like to think I am compassionate & empathise with people. My empathy is not always right but I mean well. My natural anxiety can get the better of me. I am vulnerable & still healing. Some days I feel like a human sponge. Sometimes like a monster full of self pity & need. I have enough problems dealing with every day life & perhaps this is a harsh lesson to not care so much about my online friends but I cannot change how I care about people online or not.

I have great admiration for people who survive great crisis & come out the other side stronger. They face their fears, their challenges & when Knocked back they get up, to keep fighting. On this journey you meet a lot of inspirational people & also sadly some tragic situations. It really can be that old cliche of a "rollercoaster of emotion" very easily. I guess Life can be like that for everyone, from all kinds of backgrounds living all kinds of lives.

I have been strongly advised by my counsellor to not attempt to find a career in the caring professions until I am able to cope with my own challenges. If I take on too much too soon it will not do anyone any good. I find myself out of genuine concern becoming anxious about other peoples lives, feelings, situations. This applies to every day life & my on line friends. Things I cannot possibly be responsible for, yet I beat myself up trying.

I learned a very sad lesson today. I caused a great deal of professional embarrassment to an inspirational friend based on concerns for them which were without foundation. My naturally high anxiety during what has been my first very wobbly week health wise in an emotional time for me, resulted in me making a very serious error of judgement.

Sometimes I am guilty of projecting my own insecurities on others. I was afraid my cyber friend was struggling & having noticed they had stopped posting for an extended period & not replied to emails & a couple of phone calls over a period of time I panicked & totally misjudged the situation. It is sometimes difficult to judge from our online lives what the bigger picture is in our real lives. Suicides have touched my life & are sadly often a feature of people with my condition. They had writen nothing to suggest they were in turmoil but sometimes silence can be a sign somethings wrong.

Through anxiety blurred vision because my anxiety got the better of me I managed to track down a possible place of contact just to make sure they were ok & not had a crisis. I tried to emphasise I may have been worrying needlessly when I made contact with the organisation they worked for. I did what I thought was the right thing but got it totally wrong & caused my friend great distress. Out of genuine concern I was afraid for my friend. Rather than do nothing I took a risk stupidly thinking the worst I could do was to do nothing.

When I finally received an email from them this morning I was so relieved that they were just very very busy getting on with there new & successful life. How I wish I could turn back time. How I wish my ex friend could have just sent a quick message to say they were ok which would only have taken a second to do. I was very upset & deeply regret that I had caused them great professional embarrassment & that they no longer wanted me to contact them or be their friend. They have now removed their blog which provided great help to others. I am so pleased they are alive. So sad I have lost them as an inspirational friend.

They probably will not read this but if they do I sincerely apologise for any hurt or distress I caused you. I wish you good health & happiness always. Good luck with your new life.

Perhaps I should never ever work in the caring professions for my own health & for those I would like to have cared for?

My concerns were genuine but without foundation but what if they were right & my friend had been in crisis or dead & I had done nothing?

I have learned a very hard lesson, harmed a friends reputation/career & ruined a friendship.

Peace be with you
Love
Debbie

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

True Love

On September 30th 2008 my dear Mum & Dad will have been married 60 years. They met during the war at Hursley house where my Dad was an electrical apprentice & my Mum worked in one of the offices. I gave them this painting to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary 10 years ago. It is based on an old sepia photograph my Dad still carries in his wallet of his true love. They were both in their early twenties when the photograph was taken. I added the background of Hursley house from a postcard. The building still exists today & from time to time I take them there to remenis & revive sweet memories.
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None of us knew what the next ten years would hold for us. We are so lucky to still have each other. For my dear Parents who come from a different generation to have to go through & try to understand my condition is just too much to ask them to fully comprehend. Together we have survived a Tsunami of emotions made all the more stressful by their advanced years. How I tried to live to their wishes that I never transitioned while they were alive. Even last year they were pleading just one more year, let us reach our Diamond Anniversary. If I could I would have done. Blinded by love we all naively tried to do what we thought was the right thing for each other. Nature was always going to take its course & we were powerless to stop it.
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I have never had a relationship, never mind the opportunity to marry some one. I have never dared let anyone get so close to me for fear of them discovering my truth, the real me. I was terrified of losing my loved ones from a very early age & the thought of losing someone I cared so deeply about, for living a lie was for me too much to bare. I could never have consummated a marriage not that I would ever have had the opportunity. You have to like/love yourself before there is much chance of anyone else truly loving you, I would imagine. I have been a coward as far as love goes. With my confused thoughts it was all too painful & just not an option in my case. My heart goes out to my sisters who have fallen in love & gone through my biggest nightmare & lost the family they dearly love, through no fault of their own.
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Tonight I spent much of the evening comforting my Mum as she could not stop crying over her fears of losing my Dad. We are still awaiting the results of the scan. He appeared frail & weak while they were out shopping together for items for the party they are hoping to have with their friends to celebrate the anniversary this weekend. We have to treasure every moment we have left together & just pray he will get well.
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In this day & age to achieve their Diamond Anniversary is a wonderful achievement.
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The greatest Happiness in Life is to know that you are loved.
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Peace be with you

Lots of love
Debbie

Monday, 27 October 2008

Spit Fire Day

I feel like a crumpled wreck this morning. I deserve it I guess.
Why do the people we love think it is ok to say the most vilest disgusting most hurtful comments about our gender condition?
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As a devoted carer I am powerless to deal with it when it happens. I cannot walk away. I try to turn the other cheek but it hurts like Hell.
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I am no angel but why over the slightest difference of opinion over absolutely nothing does the cruel trick nature played on us have to be thrown in our faces?
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My Mum & Dad met during the war when spitfires dominated the sky. Why now in peace time am I seen as the enemy, an easy target & shot down in pieces?
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We have travelled so far. They have both come to accept me & tried so hard to understand. Then out of the blue my Mum cruelly lashes out. So cruel, so manipulative & unnecessary. I must be evil to deserve this. We are all hurting & worried about Dads scan. This is such a special week for them with their Diamond Anniversary coming up. I so want them to be happy. I love them with all my heart. I am so lucky to still have them. Do I care too much? Do I smother them with love?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Silent Scream

I am feeling really vulnerable just now. I am sure I am not alone. I guess we all are with this world wide credit crunch & recession looming.

My life seems out of control once more. Different voices are pulling me in all directions. For so long this wonderful year since I transitioned it has been my upper voice, my heart & soul that has been guiding me. The chatterbox of self doubt has been diminishing. Just now its screaming!

Please forgive me this is going to be one of my rambling therapeutic posts where I just unload my crazy feelings.

We still have no news yet as to the outcome of my Dads scan. That is causing my Mum & I the most worry & of paramount concern.

This post is about my insecurities & inner most fears.

Perhaps a warning as to How easy it is to dwell on our failings & not our successes!

I have been very tearful today after a sleepless night. The conflict of emotions of being a carer & all the T stuff are colliding again. My heads spinning. I feel my life & my transition, is no longer in my control. Financially bills are mounting up. Doors to me continuing to fund my own transition, in particular surgery are closing fast. My chatterbox is telling me I am not quite ready to attempt a return to paid employment. I must not let my demons win.
Dam it, I will not let them win!

I started the day well yesterday. I had a lovely walk with Dad & the dog. I then got myself ready for my day trip to London for a counselling session & voice therapy. On the way I had to go to our local mental health unit to see my consultant psychiatrist's secretary, to try to establish what has & has not happened with all the paperwork for my referral for GRS. Nightmarishly I had appeared to be lost in the system & ending back right at the start where I had been twelve years ago. She thankfully proved to be a true office angel & retraced all of the paper trail to establish as best as she could that everything was in place. My depression is in remission, my anxiety clearly is not & I was close to a full blown panic attack. It was all I could do to hold back the tears. Traveling to London looking like a bedraggled Panda is not a good look. I was so relieved but my anxiety was going into overdrive at the time & I was very emotional.

My day picked up from then, it was during the night that my demons started chattering. The rest of the day I felt great. Totally me. I had a lovely journey, totally relaxed. I felt good. By my humble standards I looked good. I was conscious thanks to my chatterbox that my voice still let me down a little but I was not going to let it spoil my day. London as a commuter can be a fairly unfriendly place. There seems little opportunity for human interaction & everyone seems to keep there own space & understandably have their own lives to think about. Its always fun to people watch & enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Just to be able to go about my day & be accepted & respected as the woman I have always been is now both totally ordinary & unbelievable joy. To not be jarred constantly & reminded of natures cruel trick, by the understandable inability of humans to have telepathy or appreciate there was a woman trapped inside my shell of a male body, is simply beyond comprehension.

I was due to see my counselor mid afternoon in Fulham & then go on to voice therapy at Charring Cross hospital with the lovely Christella Antoni. I had not been to see her at that Hospital since last November. OMG how much my life has changed since then. Absolutely wonderful changes. Unbelievable changes from the shy scared timid totally zero confidence person who had visited back then. I had so many unresolved issues with my dear parent’s conflict with my need to transition then. We have all changed so much & come so far.

This was also the first ordinary counseling session for many months as I have been either having surgery or attending consultations for half the year. A lot of the T stuff now is a case of going through the processes & various treatments required. My condition is being resolved it’s a case of dealing with the life changing stuff, the social & work related aspects.

Changing genders does not make any other problems go away. I never expected it to. Where my gender dysphoria issues are largely improving my enmeshment issues with my parents are not. I love & care for them so much. We are devoted to each other. We have a wonderful close relationship which we are very lucky to have but.................. in some people cases like mine it can become too close. We have never separated. We are too dependent on each other to the point it can become unhealthy. I am aware of this but have not been able or in truth wanted to find the will to break that situation. The nightmare we have been going through has actually pushed us closer. Trying to break that cycle now & attempt to find a balance is incredibly difficult. Emotionally we are so entwined. I want to go back to work. I need to go back to work financially & for my own well being. At the same time I cannot go back full time now. As an only child & carer to my elderly parents I have responsibilities to them. It’s about time the poor loves enjoyed their retirement instead of looking after me. We tried once more to delve into resolving some of these issues which is quite a painful experience as counseling so often can be. It can also leave wounds open & perhaps yesterday in hindsight that happened to me.

We discussed employment issues in some depth. I have not had a job interview for over thirty years. How best to approach job interviews should I be lucky enough to get that far. I may unwittingly appear too nervous & withdrawn if I freeze or equally as you can see with my blog offer too much information. How best I could attempt to explain my career break, which was due to unique circumstances combing, causing me stress & depression which has now successfully been resolved. How to explain my reasons for applying for what may be considered a more menial position, due to my responsibilities as a carer & the current economic climate. How to deal with questions on job application forms, what you legally need & need not disclose e.g. for medical reasons or CRB checks. There is a lot of useful information on the press for change website. They give details of an official contact at the CRB office who has experience of people like me & the complications of legal name changes etc.

After we finished, she kindly drove me to the hospital fifteen minutes away. On the way we passed by the supermarket above which we believe the Charing Cross Gender unit is situated. With the uncertainty of my future this landmark bought a lump to my throat. I so scared of ending up there. Previous regimes from yester year appear to have been very cruel & obstructive to some of their patients. Times have changed & they appear to have good people there now, doing very good work but it still frightens me. A primal fear perhaps going back to childhood memories of hospital appointments, for ever associated with pain & anguish with my deformed lower regions.

I have now had 5 sessions with Christella & she knows enough about me now to asses my vocal situation. My voice has become slightly more feminine but because of my anxiety issues I freeze sometimes, too often in truth. I literally cannot speak. I am so conscious I have the same voice box as my Dad & have been constantly reminded of our similar sounding voices. I can sustain my new voice for only a short time & then "Bob" seems to buts in to my conversation, if that makes any sense. I need much more practice & I am prepared to go through the mental pain of pushing myself to use it. I get on with my life now regardless but it is a psychological problem which causes a physical reaction. It can undermine my self esteem quite badly when interacting with people. I have always been quiet & very shy about speaking, particularly with groups of people. Sorry I digress.

After a few minutes of the session she dropped a bit of a bombshell on me. She advised me I was an ideal patient for vocal surgery. Pitch elevation surgery (Crico Thyroid approximation). She recommends I ask my Gp to refer me to Mr Guri Sandhu ENT consultant ENT Department at Charring Cross. She assured me the operation was low risk but there is always a risk I may end up with a worse voice or no voice at all. 75% of patients find a significant improvement. As I have hardly any Adam's apple & not a very deep voice she believes it would be very good for me. She was trying to help & I totally trust her. At the same time this verdict enhanced my deep routed insecurities about my voice. It costs approx two thousand pounds. I had already asked my GP about funding for voice therapy & been told they no longer funded it. She explained this is not a cosmetic issue it is debilitating for me & comes from a surgical need so I may qualify. All of a sudden my return to health & the pace of my recovery which has been critical to me is suddenly out of reach & beyond my control.

I have waited what feels like a thousand years to transition. I have actually had over twelve years of counseling & hormone therapy, under the guidance of gender specialists, a dozen laser treatments, voice therapy all self funded by myself. I have nearly killed myself twice. Lost my career, my mind. Gradually recovered from a very dark place thanks to wonderful family, friends & medical staff guiding & supporting me. I have tried always to do the right thing. My dear parents have enough to think about with my dear Dads big health worries & them knowing I need more surgery will only add to their worries. My finances are dwindling rapidly. The countries in recession. It’s not a good time to be out of work or selling my home to pay for surgery. I hardly slept a wink last night. It feels like the walls are closing in on me.

I have to stay strong for my parents. My Dads well being is of prime consideration. I am also awhere that any wobble health wise on my part will distress them & may also give them false hope to attempt to try to convince me to stop my transition. My guilt is weighing heavily, my GD is twitching violently, my financial worries like everyone elses are growing. I have many insecurities about my body the same as half the population or more. I am doing all I can to hold myself mentally together but I feel very vulnerable & susceptible to stress because of my recent life history. I have to keep going for my loved ones, to impress the doctors who approve my referrals but above all because I know this is so right for me. I have to stay silent.

My crazy brain works in flashbacks. Certain places, situations, trigger emotions & memories yet what I was doing ten minutes ago can go right out of my head. So much of yesterday's visit to London opened up poignant memories largely positive but also some icebergs I would have preferred to have navigated more successfully or better still never encountered.

All my life I have never been able to speak up for myself. How I wish I had a voice. An adult woman's voice to go with my female brain would be nice, please God if you are listening to my wittering. How I wish I had the courage to stand up with some of our brave sisters. Where am I at the demonstrations against transphobic people & attitudes? Silent like so many others like me.

All I have to offer is a SILENT SCREAM.

Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my life is back on that dammed out of control roller coaster again. It is all too easy for some one like me to spend far too long self analysing every small detail instead of just living. I thankfully walked away from my computer dump of woe. Ten hours later I feel therapeutically cleansed after writing this post. Thank heavens for the save button because if you think this was mad if I had posted this rambling dribble first thing this morning you would know for sure I am one crazy woman!

Sweet dreams & peaceful thoughts
Lots of love
Debbie

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Scared

I am all mixed up today. We are all getting really nervous about my Dads MRI scan at 6 o'clock today. He does not want to go to hospital. The poor love is frightened about what they may find. We all are.

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He is our Lion Heart, the leader of our family.

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I took him to hospital to get a hearing aid fitted a month or so ago & he went back for what we hoped would be a routine check up only for the consultant to inform my Dad his hearing was considerably worse & needed an MRI scan to establish if there was anything that needed to be looked at. He tried to assure my Dad it was just a precaution but............. My Dad has a large number of moles on his back & has been exposed to asbestos quite a lot during his working life.


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I have been privileged to have some truly courageous friends who cope with the most traumatic situations so well. They have the most incredible, selfless spirit & positive attitude to life. They are inspirational & make me feel so very humble.
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I want to be there for my Dad. To stay strong for him but I feel close to tears just thinking about it. How must the poor love be feeling today? I shudder to think how we will be when we actually get there. I love him so much. All I want is for him to be well.
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My biggest fear is that something should happen to my elderly parents while I transition. My poor Dad ended up in hospital a year or so ago where he was in so much turmoil over my need to transition. Some how he survived. I feel so guilty. I have dragged him through hell to selfishly get where I am today. I have just had the most wonderful uplifting period of my entire life this year. I had actually managed to start to change my negative thinking from always being a glass half empty to a glass half full. Now that glass feels broken & I am so scared.
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As a family we have been through many great challenges in recent years & we may be about to face the biggest of all.

Love
A very tearful Debbie

Saturday, 11 October 2008

God.Com

One of my lovely artist friends emailed this to me. It captures perfectly how I feel about the special friends I have made here.
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TO: God.com
Dear Lord,
Every single evening
As I'm lying here in bed,
This tiny little Prayer
Keeps running through my head:
God bless all my family
Wherever they may be,
Keep them warm and safe from harm
For they're so close to me.
And God, there is one more thing
I wish that you could do;
Hope you don't mind me asking,
Please bless my computer, too.
Now I know that it's unusual
To Bless a motherboard,
But listen just a second
While I explain it to you, Lord.
You see, that little metal box
Holds more than odds and ends;
Inside those small compartments
Rest so many of my friends.
I know so much about them
By the kindness that they give,
And this little scrap of metal
Takes me in to where they live.
By faith is how I know them
Much the same as you.
We share in what life brings us
And from that our friendships grew.
Please take an extra minute
From your duties up above,
To bless those in my address book
That's filled with so much love.
Wherever else this prayer may reach
To each and every friend,
Bless each e-mail inbox
And each person who hits 'send'.
When you update your Heavenly list
On your own Great CD-ROM,
Bless everyone who says this prayer
Sent up to GOD.com
Amen


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You have all touched my heart.

Lots of love

Debbie

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

My Hero

My wonderful Dad is 84 years young tomorrow. I love him so much. He is my hero. My rock. He is one of life's gentlemen.
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He is from a different generation yet he is still young at heart. He is everything I can never be. He was a brilliant amateur sportsman, good at running, football, rowing & .....darts! He grew up in a pub. His parents were always busy & not really into touchy feely emotional stuff. When the war started he was unable to serve because of a major stomach op & bad injury to his leg sustained while playing football when a flailing lace from the old style ball opened up a gaping wound on his shin which became badly infected. He worked with his Father helping to build Spitfires. Several times they narrowly escaped the blitz at the factory they worked in. He meet my Mum when he was an apprentice electrician. They celebrate their "Diamond" Anniversary next month, which is an incredible achievement. There love remains undiminished. He has always been faithful & never strayed.
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He worked on Power stations, Trains & Ships, what ever it took to look after his family. He loves people & was renowned & respected for his approach to his team when he was a foreman. As a Dad he was second to none.
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He loved to make me toys. It was his brilliant gift for painting cartoon characters in the steamy windows of our kitchen & dining room that bought out the artist in me as a child. Bugs Bunny, Top Cat & Yogi Bear came to life before my eyes. It was such a shame that he was some how robbed of having a "normal" child. He tried & tried to get me interested in sport. Hid Dad loved sports & he so wanted me to share his passion. Eventually he gave up on me actually playing anything remotely to do with team sports or running. He was always quiet & thoughtful at home but he seemed to come alive when we had company. Our relationship was cemented by his eventual success to take me along to watch our local football team. At last we had something in common. Emotions were a subject you just could not go near but Footy was a whole different thing. These shared experiences are something I will always treasure. I wanted my Dad to be happy & proud of me. I did not do man stuff terribly well & at the time this was a positive development to our friendship. We still share this passion now.
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I love him with all my heart. It tore me apart to hurt him by telling him my truth. Until that day of disclosure we had never had a crossword together. I was no Angel & he had to tell me off from time to time although not that often, but we had never argued until then.
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We never talked about my condition for ten years. It was impossible & not open to discussion. When I invitably became so ill at trying to live to my parents wishes of not transitioning while they were alive & had to tell him what the consultant at the hospital thought of my situation he took the news very badly. They had only tried to protect me out of missguided love. They assumed I would lose all my friends, my job & be chased down the street with burning torches, such were their fears. He had been in denial for all that time. How could some one from a different age possibly come to terms with a child/adult like me, bless him? He ended up in an ambulance the same week such was his own turmoil. We had for the first time in our lives leading up to this hiatus, had several blazing rows which were completely out of character for both of us.
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That was two years ago. Now we have both changed & our relationship is as strong as ever. My hero now protects me & loves me for who I am. The turning point came when I went away for surgery. He knew then my transition was real & going to happen. If there had been any other way that avoided hurting him I would have taken it. He went from denial to acceptance the weekend before I had my operation. We went to his friends together & told them one by one in person or via letters & he found the same love & acceptance from his friends, just as I had been so blessed with nearly all of mine.
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While I was away he told our neighbours & mutual friends just to make things easier for me. It is not easy for him but he is trying so very hard. He now always calls me Debbie which has taken a huge effort on his part & if anyone else gets it wrong he politely puts them right. He tries to do some of the heavy jobs he really should not be doing now rather than ask me because I simply cannot physically do them now. Thankfully we have very good neighbours who keep an eye out to make sure he is not doing too much while I am away from home.
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Tomorrow we hope to go out for a family lunch together to celebrate his birthday & then at his own request we are off to the cinema to see
"MU MA MIA"
My Hero, my wonderful DAD is 84 years young.
God Bless Him.
What an incredibly sweet choice of film he made, what a wonderful, wonderful man!
Love
Debbie

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The doors to my destiny

This is taken on top of the hill overlooking Itchen Valley Country Park.
A place where I have found great comfort & solice in my prayers.

Yesterday I had an appointment with the surgeon Mr Phil Thomas at the Nuffield hospital Brighton http://www.nuffieldhospitals.org.uk/az_hospital_home.asp?hid=29 He is one of two surgeons in the UK who do gender reassignment surgery for both NHS & private patients.
I had previously visited the other surgeon Mr Bellringer in London on 27th June 2008 http://beingtruetomyheart.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html By the end of the day I would know where I would prefer to have my GRS.
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My appointment with Mr Phil Thomas 16th September 7.15 :-

I arrived two hours early but unfortunately 40 years too late for the consultation. My lovely counsellor of many years Fran accompanied me. I was & still am quite emotional over the whole experience. I could write & write for ever exuding praise for the hospital & its staff. The standard of care, the cleanliness. The friendliness of the nursing staff of whom the leader of the team is a sweet lady called Liz Hills. A marvellous nurse who reminds me very much of my best friend, a guardian Angel, who has been guiding me & even saved my life. The expert & very honest surgeon Mr Thomas. The luxurious rooms with sea views & Kestrels nesting in a box 50 yards from your window. The closeness to my home. That Fran used to work in the previous hospital before this one was built ten years ago. The surgeon Mr Thomas was taught by Mr Royal the very same surgeon my counsellor used to work with. That Mr Thomas was very impressed with Frans background & happy to take her word that I was a genuine case & ready for this life changing surgery. The only awful bit was the examination. If I felt great sadness at my deformity before I transitioned that sadness has manifested itself into total horror & hatred of that cursed organ. I so desperately want it gone. Enough, I am sorry that is too much information, please forgive me.

Did I mention the brilliant nurse Liz? Well she is worth another mention anyway. She was so completely understanding & sensitive to how someone like me feels going to something like this. She was full of 110% genuine compassion. To know she & her team would be there before, during & especially with the aftercare is very reassuring. She actually worked with Fran as a junior nurse in the original gender clinic part of the old hospital. So she has a lot of experience to offer.

For my fellow sisters & I GRS is often the Holy Grail but it is not always achievable. We sat just outside the main entrance afterwards & I had trouble holding back the tears. I was shaking with emotion & could not really comprehend what had just taken place. It took about 20 minutes for me to come down & try to make sense of all the emotion. Then a mixture of shear elation & anxiety took over. From where we were parked I could see reflected in my driver’s mirror, the doors to my destiny beckoning. So close yet so far. It took an age for me to compose myself & drive us home.

I know how anxious my beloved elderly Mum & Dad will be for me when I finally have this surgery done but if they had seen this hospital & its incredible staff they would be so much more at ease. One way or the other I am going back through those hospital doors & coming back out a new woman. Hopefully with the NHS in the new financial year April 2009 possibly before 2010. April 1st would be appropriate after nature’s cruel joke. Realistically Oct- Nov 2009. If funding is not in place by February at the latest my flat will be on the market at a knock down price & possibly even sooner.

"Yesterday was beyond my wildest dreams, so close yet so far".

I never ever thought someone with so little confidence until I transitioned & found my self belief, could ever have got this far. I still cannot believe it.

This life is a journey & the GRS not an end. Some less fortunate dear sisters are not always able to have any medical treatment or even begin to experience what this life is really all about. In my moments of elation I will always remember these courageous sisters. I have known since a very young age that I am a woman trapped in a male body but it is only since January when I begun to live as a woman full time did I actually find that special feeling, that magical self belief that actually comes from that final big leap of faith.

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The wise words of two dear friends far more eloquent than I, sum up how I feel about my life, my very real life, experiences of recent months, quite perfectly:-


From my dear friend Kate regarding my brave friend Jo & her brilliant debut in the workplace, for the first time in her life:-

“It is so Not A Big Deal but until you've experienced that yourself, it seems impossible to believe - and I suspect some people never do reach that. We don't dress; we don't present en femme; we don't become women; we don't change sex; we don't transition. It is so much simpler than that: we just drop the male masque, the disguise we have worn for so many years. It's not a step forwards - it's rewind. And from there, you can now move forwards.
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Welcome home hunnie,
Kate
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The novel I'm just reading had a lovely phrase about 30 pages ago, "still young enough to enjoy a new life but old enough to have banked the lessons he'd learned from the first one." Enjoy, dear, enjoy!”

My dear friend Jo’s memorable thoughts, on a memorable day for both of us:-

“This has been, and is, one extraordinary journey. Yesterday's insurmountable barriers fall away like dust when you realise who you truly are - and that your responsibility is simply to be that person. Nothing else. The world sees you doing it, and responds to that (though what the world does or doesn't do recedes from your mind rapidly..it seems a paradoxical accident that the more irrelevant others judgements of you become, the better and more supportive they become too). The dropping of the male mask is exactly how it felt yesterday - the jettisoning of something painful and interfering and unnecessary, to reveal the reality within. What was vaguely astonishing (in an unastonishing way) was how utterly easy it was, how unremarkable, how I realised all the assumptions and fears were mine - and mine alone to deal with.”
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Bless you all, my inspirational & supportive friends, each & every one of you.

Love
A tearful happy Debbie.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Brave new beginnings


I decided to add the thoughts below as a further explanation of the previous post in another life:-
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What is brave?
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I am shy & vulnerable & the last thing I am is brave. For brave just think of the people in Zimbabwe.
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"Brave" the definition of brave used in reference to people like me is difficult to explain. I feel embarrassed when my friends have kindly called me brave or courageous for transitioning. I cannot claim to be either & feel very humble to be thought of in this way. Brave to me & many of my sisters is something that involves a choice. I am one person not schizophrenic yet now I can appreciate looking back that living as Rob may have been a courageous part of my life. I kept running & running away from my soul, refusing to accept my truth could actually be true. Pressured by my own insecurities/fears society & family pressures to try to conform to what I guessed was a masculine sterotype.
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My mental state had started to crumble quite badly by 2005 when the walkies with lions photo was taken. I had become rather reckless & numb to my feelings. In reality even on a trip of a lifetime I was unable to quieten my gender dysphoria. It roared like a lions call, inside my head. I was the only one who could hear it. If you look into my eyes in this picture they are dead, there is no sparkle. Look behind me & you will see another lion basking in the sun. I was beyond caring for my safety. There were guides around watching our every move but they rightly carry no guns. All they carry are small sticks to distract them. Only last year things went wrong & a tourist got mauled on the same trip. I chose to put myself in this situation. These are real wild animals & if anything went wrong it was me who deserved to die not them.
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In such an incredible place, experiencing true wonders of this beautiful world, I felt dead inside, nothing except that dysphoric roar tearing my heart out. I felt totally lost in a wilderness. This trip in retrospect was finally the beginning of the end of me masquerading as something I have never been in my life. If you cannot enjoy life in such incredible surroundings with such lovely friends what life do you have?
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Sharing what may be considered a macho image (see in another life) is very distressing for me. My dear Mum & dad bless them, would cherish this image, of the person they thought was a son. It tears me apart to show this facade, this person. Doing so for 46 years nearly killed me. Even now I cannot really look at it for more than a second or two. I guess seeing this brings back all the pain. In hindsight the bravest thing I ever did was to stop running, listen to my heart & stop to face my fears, my inner beasts my lions.
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This photo above has captured my creative imagination & one day soon I hope to paint "New beginnings!"Is that Lioness being welcomed into the pride being accepted as she is another sister? Why are those two lionesses looking so contented. Is the lion king dead or just sleeping? Did she actually find the strength to kill him herself or could it just be natural causes?
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For true bravery you just have to look at the population of Zimbabwe
Lets hope it really is
A Brave New Beginning for all the people of Zimbabwe today
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For all the poor people there to just have access to the basic necessities of life, is not too much to ask.
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Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe signed a historic power-sharing deal with his long-time rival, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai today. The two smiled and shook hands at the ceremony in the capital, Harare, which was attended by African dignitaries. Mr Tsvangirai said the agreement provided the best hope for Zimbabwe and called on President Mugabe to work together to implement the deal. Mr Mugabe said he was committed to national unity and would do "his best".
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My thoughts & prayers are with them all.
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Lots of love
Debbie

Sunday, 14 September 2008

In another life


In another life, so my pet corgi informs me, this is a picture of him with his assistant Rob.
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This image has honestly not been photo shopped. That really is a welsh mountain lion & the person behind is actually a real ghost on a holiday of a lifetime!
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At 3 o'clock this Monday morning a lovely group of wildlife artist friends of mine are checking in for a flight to Tanzania. They will be seeing Kilimanjaro amongst other incredible inspirational sights both fury, feathered & fauna. This is a new destination for most of them. I am so pleased for them all. They are also stopping in lodges for the first time. A bit more comfort as the bones grow a bit older. We used to always camp out in the wilds on our previous trips to Africa. Camping proved quite a challenge for some one like me. Sharing a small tent, showers etc without the changes in my body being detected by my friends before I disclosed my condition to them, was really tricky. Baggy clothes & a safari jacket were a constant requirement even on blazing hot days. At least any lion with any sense of good taste would refuse such a badly packaged free lunch. On Wednesday a smaller group of roughy toughy Botswana buddies fly out to the amazing wilderness of Botswana, camping far from civilisation. Not a car nor a mallard in sight & certainly no mobile phones!
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I am so pleased for them all to be having such a fantastic adventure. I have no regrets or envy at not being able to join them. It is a wonderful experience & a real privilege to visit such a beautiful land. I was told "once you go to Africa, it gets into your blood & you just have to return" . For me & many of my friends that has proved to be so true. I will be with my friends in spirit this year. I have been so very very lucky to travel to Botswana three times , 2002, 2004 & 2005 all trips of a lifetime, with such delightful company. You become life long friends to many of the people you share such a life enriching experience with.
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The photo is from the African encounter/rehabilitation/reintroduction into the wild programme at Antelope Park in Zimbabwe in 2005. There were 250,000 African lions in the wild now there are only 20,000 & they are regarded as vulnerable. The reason for the reduction is man ,human habitation which drastically reduces their habitat, hunting, poaching & disease such as anthrax or Bovine TB. This lioness is only a year & a half old & was one of a pair we were so fortunate to walk with on a very hot day only hours after arriving in the country. You are given a lot of safety instructions before you set off. You must not stare at them or approach them with eye contact. Running is not a good idea. That's why they called it walking with lions. By now she should have been integrated back into the wilds & you certainly would not be able to walk with her now if she has survived. The ethics of the need for such a programme is open to debate but their principles seemed genuine. The need for a pure bred gene pool of African lions in the event of their numbers decreasing still further.
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It is not just the wildlife of Africa that is endangered. The people we met in Zimbabwe were extremely friendly, polite & helpful. The political situation was just on the verge of changing dramatically a few months after we left. It is heartbreaking to see the scenes on the news of this once great country, the "bread basket of Africa" is no more. You cannot help but think, would the rest of the world have stood back & let so many people be killed if Oil was involved?
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One of the new artists to join our art society is Zimbabwean. She & most of her family have tragically had to leave their home land. How sad it is that they have had to leave such a once beautiful country for fear of losing their lives. They have lost everything but they are some of the lucky ones, they have at least escaped torture & still have their lives. I cannot begin to imagine how the poor love has coped. Her brother is still out there trying to look after what is left of their farm.
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I am so grateful for my new life & could never go back to my previous existence.
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I hope & pray that one day the dear lady I met can return with her family to the far away land of her birth.
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One day we will return. Once visited Africa becomes part of your soul.
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Love
Debbie