AM I JUST BEING HORMONAL?

What in creation is wrong with me? I’ve cried more today than I can ever remember. I’m not sad. I’m not depressed. Matter of fact, with one exception (employment) my life is just about everything I’ve dreamed it could be. So, why the waterworks?

The day started innocuously enough.

I was wearing my plaid pajama bottoms and a tank top and went into the bathroom to put myself together…just like every other day. I pulled my hair into a messy ponytail and got ready to wash my face, and I stopped…and looked. There “She” was. The girl I always knew was there. She was beautiful to me. Unadorned, un-made up just rolled out of bed all girl. Small breasts, slender at 6 feet tall and although I’m nobody’s Miss America, my face is looking more feminine all the time. I just looked. Then I took a hand mirror and looked from the back. All girl. From the side? Girly me. Every angle provided the same answer.

It’s funny how hormones work. Nothing happens overnight. Then suddenly, everything seems to have happened overnight. I’m 9 months in to my hormone therapy as I write this.  Many changes have occurred, all of them slowly, imperceptibly over time, then, suddenly I wonder – “When did THAT happen?”

I’ve been seeing glimpses of “Her” for quite some time. Mostly when great care has been paid to hair and make-up. But only recently has she been peering back at me every time I look.  Please take my word when I say what a satisfying and profound experience that is.

That peek in the mirror didn’t set me off, but I can see now, it did set the table for it.

My monthly therapy appointment was this morning, so I got ready to go. I tried a little something with my make-up using more purple shadow than usual because it was “Spirit Day” a day to wear purple to show support against bullying, especially against LGBT people, of which I am one! So I wore a pretty black A-Line dress with a purple sweater that I belted at the waist. I wore high heel wedges and black tights. I looked adorable if I do say so myself! 6 foot 5 inches of 100% girl. (5” of that were heels)

A chunk of my therapy appointment was addressing the emotional issues I’m dealing with. I am doing well protecting myself now and working through issues that made me feel so worthless no matter how much I gave or gave up.

I had brought my laptop with me, for another reason, but on the spur of the moment, I asked my therapist if I had shown her my montage of pictures that are spaced roughly a month apart and started before transition – full boy mode and the latest is just days old. She said “no” so I pulled it out and hit play and the slideshow started with music I selected playing along.

The first few pictures elicited smiles and relative surprise seeing me fully as a guy, then the first clumsy attempts at looking feminine. But about half way in – seeing these in close proximity to one another you can see what a difference the hormones have made, my hair moves from wigs to my own hair, at first short, then longer, now shoulder length. My early attempts at make-up morphing silently into a presentation that is more polished and appropriate…and skilled.

Then it hit, a series of pictures starting with a close-up of me taken a month or two ago. It is my favorite picture so far. It is clearly of a girl who is unabashedly happy, followed by a photo of my new drivers license with my name, Leslie, on it, along with the gender marker of “Female.” Followed quickly by more pictures, this time in dresses that are really put together well. I just couldn’t handle it and the tears started, slowly at first. I noticed my therapist was now crying and that sent me over the edge. She reached over and held me and I just sobbed, tears streaming down my face and my carefully applied make-up now hopelessly smudged!

It wasn’t sadness that brought this on. The best explanation I can come up with is this:

I have been waiting for this moment my entire life. For much of it, it was Don Quixote’s “Impossible Dream.”  But that started to change 15 months ago when I summoned the courage to actually move towards transitioning and no longer sneaking around in the closet. No more secrets.  But the difficulty of this is beyond anything I could imagine. I have had to be tougher than I ever thought possible. Along the way, it has cost me nearly everything. My marriage, my home, my job, my savings and at one point, it nearly cost me my life. I have had to fight so hard for this.

These pictures scrolling by represented ALL of that in a compressed time and the enormity of it all coupled with the sudden realization that the hard part is done and I have my dream just opened up an emotional floodgate the likes of which I have seldom experienced.

That pretty much ended the session and after a few more hugs; I left my therapist’s office feeling happy but exhausted, a stray tear or two leaking out from time to time.

At home, my roommate, Katie, could see that I had a Kleenex at the ready and asked if my allergies were bothering me. I said “No, I just had a “moment” with my therapist.”  She said she didn’t want to pry but did I want to talk about it? I have no secrets from Katie so I started to try and explain it, but it was still pretty raw and I couldn’t, I just started crying again as those feelings lurking just under the surface burst forth again in a torrent of teardrops. I was a mess! What in the heck was the matter? Like I said, I wasn’t sad or depressed, I was actually quite happy. Were these tears of relief?  A catharsis of sorts? That’s what it felt like.

I eventually stemmed the flood and pulled myself together enough to go to the store. My eyes were still stinging and a stray tear would occasionally form but I was fine, mostly. Back at home I made sweet & sour chicken for dinner and gave my roomie a back-rub. She then went to bed and I put a football game on but paid no attention to it.

My Facebook friends are a rather diverse group. My kids are there, lots of people from CBS and Clear Channel and other radio groups spread across the U.S. But I also am a good friend with several transgendered girls. We are a super supportive tight knit group. Heaven help you if you mess with one of us, because the rest of us will be on you like a mama tiger! One of our group, Karen, had been going through a particularly tough period. She is ordinarily an upbeat positive cheerleader who loves life. Her last post was chilling. It simply said: “Remember me.”

Then she deleted most of her Facebook page and disappeared. Nothing. Nobody could reach her. We hoped for the best and feared for the worst. We were worried sick. So many messages were posted to try and reach her, telling her how much she was loved. One piece of conjecture was that she was being pressured by her family to “de-transition” (Revert to living as male) Personally; I’d rather not live at all…seriously. Timing was everything they say…after having the full weight of the long and difficult road finally reaching a smooth place for me and all it took to get there, I could not imagine the pain Karen must be going through if she had to give up her fight and I absolutely had a breakdown.

I was sitting in a darkened room with the sound off on a football game I didn’t care about, sobbing uncontrollably because of a friend in pain that I couldn’t DO anything to help. I don’t think I’ve ever needed more to be held closely in someone’s arms in my life than I did at that moment, but that wasn’t going to happen. So there I sat. I fished out a fresh box of Kleenex and after a bit dried my eyes and went to bed. I reached out to Jamie, a girlfriend on FB and chatted with her for a while. Her support although long distance, meant a lot. The tears still dampened my cheeks but the flood had abated.

The hormone regimen I am on is called “The Wiley Protocol” (Sounds like a good name for a spy thriller) The Wiley Protocol doses hormones trans dermally and on a dosage schedule that varies identically to a natal female. The levels cycle up and down with the lunar cycle. I don’t have a period, but just about everything else. Today is my peak of Estrogen. If I was a natal female, my period would likely start tomorrow. So, can I chalk this episode up to a little good old-fashioned PMS?

Or is it something more? It may well be a combination of both. On one hand an intense appreciation for exactly how hard this journey is and how rewarding it is when the results you’ve dreamed of for 50 years suddenly appear in your mirror. On the other, I’m finding that the hormones don’t, by themselves, create an emotional state. But I believe they DO heighten or intensify whatever state you are in.

Perhaps the best news is that Karen was OK. She is back to her beautiful, positive, uplifting self and that is the best mood lifter of all.

So, long story short – I’m sitting here sipping herb tea in my pajamas at 2:30 in the afternoon listening to a thunderstorm outside my window. I glance into the mirror on my dresser across the room, “She” glances back. How am I doing?  I’ve never been better.

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