I won't be going into all the background here. You can find that in my previous entry, "Why I Told Mom"
I'd been advised by my therapist that I should just wait for Mom to contact me. I'd followed that advice until this week. The day after Christmas, I called her to wish her happy holidays. That wasn't all we talked about.
Near the end of the referenced entry, I described call the woman I thought was her best friend in the area. At the beginning of the new conversation, I asked Mom how she felt about that. She'd been shocked that I had told Judy at all. I told her I'd done it only because I'd been concerned that she would be behaving as I would, taking on all the guilt, no matter how undeserved, and beating herself up emotionally. I repeated that I'd called Judy for her, not for me.
I next asked how she and Judy had gotten along. Mom said they've become even closer. I'm pleased. I think I did something right this time.
After that, I explained why I'm estranged from my brother. It's because he is just another bully. Throughout our adult lives, at every opportunity I've given him, he's told me what I should do and how I should live. When we were facing eviction several years ago, my wife made me call him and ask for his help. He didn't agree. Instead, he went behind my back and made an arrangement with the apartment complex. Each month for 4 months, I had no way of believing that we wouldn't be evicted and the stress was incredible. They had also agreed that I was not to be told anything at all and the manager lived up to that.
Eventually, I found a contract and was able to pay the rent myself. Unfortunately, that contract too ended too soon and we were unable to save for the future. Once again, my wife made me call my brother to ask for help. I also checked if he had been the rent fairy before and he admitted he had. This time, he agreed to lend me more money. Thankfully, I needed only one month's rent that time.
Another contract, another job search, another time unable to pay the rent. Another call to him. One too many trips to that well, though. Instead of the help we needed, he was angry at me and yelled that he wanted his money back right then. He pulled a complete 180 degrees from telling me to "pay it forward" to "pay me back!" That was the last time I've spoken with him.
I didn't give Mom all the details I've described here but I made it clear that I feel he is a bully and has been since high school, that I won't put up with that kind of treatment anymore.
She told me that she was going to stay out of what happens between us. Apparently, she figured out that it could do no good. And I'm good with that.
I'm still employed only on short-term contracts, there will come a day when I will need help again, but there will never come a day I will turn to either of them for financial help.
I can't see when I last posted or even what I said. I'm certain, though, it was quite some time ago. Many things were different than before and are different than now.
I've probably said before that I'm an alcoholic, though not recovering. I used it to drug myself into rest for the night. For over a decade, I had no trouble arising and going to work when I had a job. Nor did I drink more while I was looking for a job. Things seemed stable.
I'm sure I've described how stressful my last two jobs were - lodging and money, daily uncertainty that I would still have the job the next day. Each was far enough from home that I was alone in my hotel, which is what I prefer in those cases.
Actually, my last two job searches haven't caused hardships. Maybe I've gotten better or maybe the market for my skillset has returned to the US.
Anyway, I was offered this 9-month contract at a relatively low rate but in an application I hadn't learned yet but that was trying to replace the application I'd been programming with the last 15 years. Since the two programs are nothing alike on the other side of the screen, programming with the "new" app was difficult at first. I needed a few months of intense study before I understood enough to read through someone's else's customization from the past. When I did, I saw immediately that the style that was followed resulted in code that was extremely hard to read, even if you understood every line. IMO, it was unmaintainable and TG it was only a proof-of-concept and didn't have to be used any more.
So, then I learned enough to copy what I needed out of the old code to write my new customization. I've developed a style over my 29 year career by adopting many of the practices I've learned from other professionally developed programs. I, of course, choose only the ones that produce the best results - correct, concise, well documented, maintainable code. Since the client I work most closely with is also a developer and knew the old code, my style was not what he and my employer had used before, and my designs were different that ones they'd seen in the past. Those changes made them uncomfortable, so at first, they added "fixes" using their old style. The mixture was really ugly.
After 6-8 weeks of me writing, debugging, testing and documenting the first feature, they started looking more deeply and doing user-level tests. They found some bugs that I was able to fix in a matter of hours (not days or weeks ) and that fact impressed them as well. The low number of bugs improved their confidence, too. After they'd learned all of what I'd designed and written, they were happy to leave me alone, doing things my way because they were sure it would end up good. The client even said that he'd learned quite a lot from me already that he'd continue doing for the rest of his career.
Although the client manager thinks he is preventing me from "stressing out," by not telling me his schedule, his milestones, his deadlines, I have no clue whether I need to change my plans to accomodate his needs. He receives changes from the users all the time and I have to be flexible, nothing new there. The uncertainty, though, did increase my stress. That added stress cause me to drink more heavily.
I realized just Friday morning that I'd lost my grip on the addiction. It was now risking my work, my job, too often for me to ignore. Friday, I turned off the tap and haven't had anything since. I don't intend to start again, but relapse can happen. Care about me and send me your spare power, please. Thanks.
Del's appearance in the forums and others' posts regarding their treatment at the hands of some Christians and Christian institutions prompts this entry today. Originally, I was going to respond in a forum thread but then realized what I intend to share is much more than belongs there. Some may call this a confession, others a testimony, others still something else. It doesn't feel like any of those to me. I'm just sharing some things that have changed my life.
I suppose I was a skeptic even in my youth. I was a fan of science fiction, a believer in the paranormal, a humanist perhaps. At the age of 12, my mother decided I would be baptized into the Church of the Brethren. I said I didn't want to do it, but my desires carried absolutely no weight, so there it was. I admire the CotB because they are recognized as a Pacifist church and its members can be Conscientious Objectors regarding military service. Being an offshoot of the Quakers, probably the best known "peace church" in America, those beliefs are simply part of the creed.
When I was 17, I informed my mother that I would no longer attend church. Although I liked the pastor and his family as friends, I had developed this "thing" with organized religion. The keyword here is "organized." I'd seen that throughout history, every religion I'd studied had been corrupted in one way or another. The Catholic church was the power of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The Church of England was created for 1 man's own purposes. Martin Luther's Reformation turned into sectarianism, with each group being the "right" one and all others not. The Crusades, so many wars in Europe, the Inquisition, .....
I have lived all my life trying to be good, to be moral, to help others. Those deeds are enough for this life. The only sin I've been charged with has been not being saved, born again.
Recently, during an outpatient alcohol rehab treatment, we broached the 12 steps. Here again, I have issues. Because even my mother could not love me, I couldn't expect an omnipotent deity to even give one tinker's damn about me. I was nothing. I had nothing the Judeo-Christian God needed. I could not accept and adopt the 12 steps' Higher Power. This is how I feel about that.
Instead, my scientific training has enabled my acceptance of another. She is the creator, the nurturer. She created the multiverse, defined the physical laws, set it all in motion and let things run as they would. She is the multiverse, she is Nature, she is Life as we know it to be. She is definitely worthy of respect for all she provides. She asks nothing of me but has given me a peace of mind.
An interesting phenomenom has become a recurrent event. I call it simply "the magic." You may call it coincidence but when it happens time and time again and I have not a whit of control, I feel the odds are against that explanation. Simple, random events, even with selective memory don't account for these, IMO. These small blessings are always welcome. I always thank her for them. I know from whence they come.
This may sound very "New Age" and perhaps the New Age is catching up with me. I haven't sought to fit my beliefs into theirs. I just believe what I believe and my faith is enough for me. Seek your own, anywhere it may be found.
Well, the Boston job fell apart. It turned out that my being hired was conditional and there was nothing I could do about it. The condition? The customer deciding to upgrade the system but that didn't happen. I was there every day, never knowing my status. Stressful, to say the very least.
So, the firm gave me no notice, just told me the customer had chosen to not upgrade, took my badge and their laptop away from me and told me my contract was terminated. No warning.
Now, I've returned to our home in South Carolina and registered for unemployment benefits. The SC government is not responsive at all. I'm searching for new positions, once a week or so I find one to apply for. Bad.
Otherwise, I've gotten my estrogen scrip back and am having the symptoms we so badly desire. My breasts are quite tender and my nipples are sore. My appetite is different. I'm still wearing my hair below the collar though I've stopped coloring it. I've got my acrylic nails, my stretch jeans, my undies.
So, I'm back. HUGG.
I've just completed my first day at the new job. Believe me, the trip to get here was hellacious and not in a good sense. You see, I thought I had a firm commitment to a rental car. It turned out, when I stepped up to the counter to present my debit card, the agency refused to take it unless I showed them I was leaving town; they insisted on a return itinerary, of all things. Since I intend to stay and booked only a one-way flight, I was completely SOL, stuck at Boston-Logan airport with no agency willing to rent me a car.
I tried hard to resolve the problem by searching the web with my Blackberry. Not a single agency had a policy that didn't prevent me from renting a car. In the end, I flagged a cab and asked to be taken to my hotel. The fare, you ask? $92 and change plus tip. Almost $100 down the drain.
Saturday morning, I scoured the local yellow pages for a more local agency, called some, found 2 that would rent to me. Unfortunately, the cheaper of the two had no car available, so I had to get a cab to take me to the one where I'd have to pay twice as much for the same service. Oy!!
Today, the manager started describing the environment, the people, the culture, the problems, the wish list, etc. I was introduced to my 2 junior programmers and we had a short meeting in the afternoon. They started going over the same stuff, but I explained I'd already gotten it from the boss. Next, I started telling them stories from my career, describing how hard it had been for me to learn to work with the product and some of the experiences I've had with customers. I went into the future as I envision it, saying to them that we were to be peers, not manager and subordinates. True, I had more responsibilities but that was because I had more experience. I said I was going to rely on them to learn what they had to know so that we could satisfy the customer and our company in the short term and learn and do even more than that to advance our careers permanently. It was incredible how they relaxed and then enthused. I hadn't known what kind of reception my policy and I would get. It feels good.
Tomorrow, the customer's top dog is going to meet with me and perhaps some others and ask what I can do for him. He give me his wish list, his needs list, his goals, his ideas. He'll ask me if they can be done and when and for how much. I can't prepare real data, so I'll be doing all I can without selling my soul. Wish me luck, y'all. Thanks.
I may have mentioned that I have been working on a military project this past year. Well, that contract is closing soon and I've already been "laid off" by my employer. This comes as no big surprise; I've been treated exactly like this by every consulting firm I've ever worked for and even in permanent positions when the company downsized. It doesn't matter to a business that I sacrificed salary and R&R for this past year, accepting the promise of a raise when this contract was finished.
I was not looking forward to yet another job search. After all, physically, I'm a fat, ugly, 59 year old white guy and age discrimination is just as real as any other. The Tea Party governor here in South Carolina is cutting budgets everywhere, including Medicaid, education and unemployment benefits. We've also just renewed the lease on our apartment and there is a large monetary penalty for early termination of that contract.
Amazingly, out of the blue, I received an e-mail the same day I was given my notice (2days worth, sigh). The subject included the name of the commercial product I'd specialized in for 15 years. Since that product is no longer being sold or supported, I'd been certain it would be difficult to find anyone who would need those skills but this e-mail specified exactly the right program. Since this product shares half its name with several others, I've often been contacted by recruiters who don't know that each of those products is a completely different computer program and experience with one does not mean any knowledge that applies to any other. That's not the case this time.
The message was spectacularly uninformative. The only line was, "Would you be interested in a position where ...?" Of course, I replied, "Of course. Tell me more." The next day, a new message arrived saying, "You didn't answer my calls so call me." Of course, I did. The HR rep and I spoke for a few minutes, establishing terms and conditions for salary, etc. She said she would tell the Technical Team to call me next. The next day, they did.
The first thing these 2 gentlemen said was, "Let's talk for 15 minutes, okay?" That's awfully little time for an interview, don't you think? It ended up that we talked for over an hour! The first real request was, "Tell us what experience you have and what you like to do." So, I pitched my brand -- 15 years with the tool, even guiding its early development and support while only a customer, years of contracting for various companies and industries, years of administering both the product and the computers, databases and web servers it needed in order to work, developing and maintaining a commercial product that interfaced with the program, supporting 3 different releases (versions) on 3 separate operating systems in both English and Japanese!
They kept referring to "the roadmap." I asked what they meant. It comes down to, everyone admits this technology is now obsolete, but there's no easy way to replace it. The roadmap is my responsibility to define how and when we move the data out of this product's database and into its eventual replacement. In the meantime, they will keep using this product but they want its bugs fixed and some features added while it's still being used. Right up my alley. They said they had a team onsite, that I could make use of them as needed, that it would be up to me to mentor them, show them the right way to do things, find the bugs and let them implement the fixes. They called the role the Technology/Technical Leader.
After getting a full description of the job and position, they asked, "Does that sound good to you?" I was a bit stunned but I immediately responded, "Sirs, what you've described sounds like the culmination of my career. Everything I've done the last 20 years has prepared me for exactly what you've told me." They agreed completely. They said flat out that I was a nearly perfect match. They said I'd be given a lot of freedom to do things as I see fit. OMG.
The position is in the Boston area. I have no idea of the address yet. I want to find out so I can make reservations at a motel/hotel that is reasonably close to work and shopping. I'll rent a car, I'm sure. I'll use the MTA where I can, find a coin-laundry, inexpensive meals, generally resume my Road Xena persona. (Road Xena = Road Warrior Princess)
This is not a short term contract such as I've done since 2009. My employer is the customer's selected outsource company for the IT department. They've been there for years already and there's no end in sight. They say they will keep me and use me for the long term. OMG.
The goddess has smiled and the whole world seems brighter and righter.
Because school was closed for spring break, my 13 year old granddaughter and my 17 year old grandson asked if they could visit and stay overnight someday. One reason is that our apartments have a pool and theirs doesn't. Another might be that I have some cool, new games on my PC. We agreed on Wednesday and my wife and I drove to their apartment home to pick them up. In the car, the stereotypical big brother - kid sister behaviour occurred in the back seat. Normalcy reigned.
When we arrived, I checked that my new Wi-Fi network could let my company-owned laptop send and receive before I could let gdau use the office. I went to the master bedroom and began working. It wasn't long before gson came in and asked for a user account on the PC as well. (I had set up up the others' accounts the first time they'd visited, but he stayed home that day.) Easily done, easily satisfied.
Lunchtime. Almost every workday, I'm far too busy trying to keep up with what needs doing so I work through lunch or skip lunch entirely. The gkids were here though, so GMa decided to go to Subway and buy us all a sandwich. Gdau went with her, gson and I placed our orders, so off they went and on they returned. It took a few seconds to sort out the sandwiches but we all sat down at the table at the same time. (OMG!!)
As the 4 of us were eating, I decided this was the "right moment." I came out to them. I told them their mother hadn't wanted me to tell them years earlier. I explained the brain-body dichotomy and that I was on HRT now so I wear some misses and some mens clothing. Neither was fazed. I suspect the my daughter had told each of them sometime before. I said I'd answer any questions, talk about anything, anytime, but it was something their mother might not want to talk about. None then, none yet, probably none for at least quite awhile.
Keep in mind, each of these kids spent their first years in our home. 17 yr old lived with us up to age 5, 13 yr old up to age 3 1/2. My gson was raised by both his mother and us before entering a homeless shelter. My gdau was born while she was there. When she found an apartment she thought she could afford, I found it so dangerous, I took the kids home with me and we became their guardians for the next several years. These kids have seen, have felt, how much I love them and they always returned my love.
I'm very proud of both of them. Gson will graduate next year and he wants to not enter the cyle of poverty. Gdau is 13, just now entering puberty, as far as appearances go; since she's Type I Diabetic, she's been very "lean" all her childhood so onset may have been delayed. Both have done well in school. Both take care with their medical issues, his ADHD and her diabetes.
I'm so happy they still love me.
I knew what I needed to share with you today. That's part of myself. You need to know why I'm exposing this now and not before. That was/is him. You need to know what I'm trying to deal with besides my body. That's about her. Three sets of needs and needs are more than wants, more than desires, more than wishes. Needs are needs and some needs are nearly universal. Because those are, we humans have empathy. Because we have empathy, those needs have been recognized as applying to each of us but in different degrees and different ways.
Each of us also develops a personal way of serving our needs, including our need to serve some others' needs. Sometimes we can satisfy a need, other times not. Sometimes we can heal a wound, others we can't. Sometimes we can suppress a need. Usually that won't last forever while that need increases at its own daily rate under the rug. Eventually, the rug can't cover the mound of sh*t that's under it. Where does it go then? I'm sure you know.
Him. You can guess who that refers to. He's the one everyone else thought I should become. He's the one everyone else said should learn to be more masculine, less sensitive, less angy, less hurt. He's the one everyone, even those who should be the closest to me, expects me to be. He's the one who could never satisfy anyone's need for him to be normal, average or adjusted, perhaps even sane. He's the one who has disappointed everyone but teachers or librarians.
Me. Again, you know who this refers to. I'm the one who is still a child. I'm the one who hasn't experienced real life yet. I'm the one who should have lived if anyone had ever considered my presence or needs more than their own. I'm the one who intends to live the rest of this physical life here in this mortal realm. It's the better of the two realms I've had to live in so far.
You may ask, "Then who is Her?" She's one of those I mentioned a bit ago, one of those who should be closest to me, one who should consider my presence and my needs as much as her own. She is my wife, who has said she doesn't want a divorce, that she will stay with him/me. She'll swear she loves me, but now I can't touch her. She's said only he may satisfy her and only in one way.
More than that intimacy has come into conflict. I'm an addict and my drugs are alcohol and nicotine and who knows what emotions. To follow the HRT treatment plan that my doctor and I have agreed upon, I have to stop using and right now. I've tried to stop before, but when those who you've shared the most of yourself with seem to predict you'll fail just as you always have, it's a whole different ballgame. I have to not only not hear the drugs, not feel the desire for them, I have to ignore the "advice" the distorted perceptions send into my brain. I have to ignore that I don't feel right, that my mind doesn't work as well as it had seemed to. Today, my mind wandered twice during the drive to the restaurant. My wife took me to task. She seems to think that having stopped a few days ago, that I'd be at 100% and she believed that all that time I should have been operating at 50% at best.
Her needs. She fears me attempting to transition. She fears what others will think of her, what they'll say about her, to her, what they'll do, how they'll treat her. She needs to stay married. She needs me to support her financially. She needs me to fulfill his promises to her, promises he's never been able to fulfill to her satisfaction.
How did today bring this out? Pitifully, it was yesterday's "Romantic Comedy Marathon" on the Valentine weekend. _Sex_and_the_City_ was a huge cult thing. Because it's 4 women's friendship and their lives and men and marriage and everything, it's a fully featured storyline. Through all of the turmoils, these friends have their differences. Sometimes one or another can't get along with another right now but this group survives and everyone stays with them, they love each other, they love their men, they love themselves. These ladies have things he and I have never had and that I may never have and I'm crying for that. Last night I was sobbing but forcing myself to not lose it.
Here I am. I need love. I need affection. I need some respect and some dignity. And I haven't had them and it doesn't look like I ever can.
For all of you who aren't like this, be grateful. It's not because it's Valentine's Day tomorrow. It's because you have faith it's there. You can have faith it will stay there, within your grasp and you within theirs. It can't be guaranteed; that's why it's about your faith. That's why it's up to you to deserve it as much as you give it. Do that. Do that for others. And then do it for yourself, too.
First, I'm wishing for your new year to be filled with happiness. I feel respected here. I try to be very thoughtful in every way with everything I write in the message board and here. Many of you have shared yourselves with us. I've offered what I have. Thanks for listening.
Wednesday I took the next tiny step on the journey. I've been letting my hair grow off and on throughout my life. When I had to attend a 2 day meeting in D.C. I donated 12 inches of natural brown hair the day before and got a "businessman" cut. This was the first time I'd be meeting members of our project team and I wanted to make as good an impression as I could. I also clipped the nails and took off the polish. I wore my smallest gold stud earrings; it turned out the the project leader noticed and mentioned it during the meeting. Oh, well, I really don't like meeting with customers, especially when it's critical that I avoid all mistakes.
I regrew my hair immediately after that trip. I'm maintaining it at the point where my first natural wave appears which reaches the bottom of my shirt collar. When I visit the salon for a trim, I get a blow dry and style as well. Barb, my hairdresser, puts it in a bob, framing my face, covering my ears and using bangs to cover my high forehead. The day I took my wife to her for a beauty day, my wife outed me to Barb because she forgets I pass for other people. Barb's okay with it, though she has never known anything about transsexuality before.
About the third visit, Barb said she wanted to color my hair. I resisted. But a few weeks ago, we were flown up to Connecticut for my boss's Christmas party. I was fully en homme at the party. I met a bunch of really nice folks but meeting my newest co-worker was one thing I'd hoped to do. She's a few years older than I but has been a computer programmer for at least as long as I have. We share a lot of history and I joke that we're really clones raised apart. We've had many similar experiences with customers, managers, juniors and all the other people computer programmers have to deal with.
I bring MA into this story because she turned out to be exceptionally cute. She's petite height, has a healthy weight and a terrific sense of humor. Her fair was an auburn page boy cut. It looked so good, I decided I'd get my hair colored too.
I trust Barb so I let her decide what colors we'd use. She described the base color as Golden Blond. She gave me the bundled special, so I got highlights, too. When she brought out the bowls, I got a little nervous. The blond coloring was the brightest yellow I could imagine and the highlight coloring was almost completely white. I could only hope the dye would darken.
We took about 2 hours to color, highlight and style my new hair. We maintained the bob style and since she'd placed the highlights on the crown of my head, they naturally part and land on top of the blond base. I'm very nearsighted so I could only get a vague impression of the colors on my head and I saw a dark blonde with golden highlights. I was pleased and grinned from ear to ear. After we finished the styling and I could put my glasses on, I liked it immediately. Barb was pleased too.
My wife had told me she thought coloring my hair was not a good idea. She tried once to talk me out of it. She'd asked to visit the mall with me and she'd do a little shopping while I was in the salon. There was no seating in the salon so she sat down in a chair around the corner. I approached her and playfully bent over, peering into her face and asking, "Have we met before?" When she looked up from her book, her immediate reaction was, "I like it!"
So, there it is. I'n now a bottle blonde at 59 and happy, very happy. Nice way to prepare for a new year.
Happy New Year, everybody!
I haven't felt that I had enough to share that I should blog before now. Yesterday, everything changed.
I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1973, reenlisted in 1976 and was discharged in 1980. This is also known as part of the Vietnam Era. Until 2004, I'd never investigated the Veterans Administration and benefits available to all veterans. I used the GI Bill benefit to pay for my BSCS because that was a major reason for enlisting in the first place. Moving around the country every few years as I changed employers wasn't conducive to enrolling the in health system and all my employers provided health insurance anyway. My last "permanent" position downsized me in 2004 and when I turned to the county for psychological counseling and psych medications, I was turned away and told I had to use the VA.
Since then, I've been employed about half the time and always in a different location. When I was convicted of OVI, my driver's license was suspended so I had to use shanks mare, the local bus service or cabs to get around. Again, not conducive to accessing a VA hospital or clinic. I wouldn't ask for a day off, either, because each job was a short term contract and I wouldn't rixk early termination. It's unfortunate this also meant my wife had no insurance either but we managed to live through it.
Last April, I became employed again but wasn't required to move to my company's office. Instead, I telecommute daily and that has worked out to everyone's satisfaction. I remain in a bedroom community near Charleston, SC, where a fully staffed VA hospital and several satellite clinics are available. I've been in this system for a few years now and am comfortable with my psych counselor and primary care provider.
I expected the VA could not provide HRT for a MtF. Instead, I contacted each Endocrinologist I found in the region. All but one either ignored me or refused me. Since this is The Holy City and full to the brim with Southern Baptists and other religious and political conservatives, this came as no surprise. That one agreed was the amazing thing. Because I have only VA as health insurance, however, I was made to request a For-Fee Consult from my doctors. When I brought this up, my primary asked, "Why don't you contact our Endo's first?" so I agreed and she arranged a consult.
Yesterday was the day.
I am now fully amazed that a government agency will fully support my transition. My endo explained everything I already know about the regimen, took my history and agreed on one condition, that I quit smoking. Wow! Is that all I have to do? Quit smoking? Okay! Prescribe the patch!!
My wife doubts I will quit smoking. I'm certain I will. I won't let myself think about quitting when finally my life is at stake. I've never not wanted to die while in the closet. For this chance to live as me, cigarettes are almost a no-brainer.
So, this blog will be where I journal my life, my transition, my becoming. I'll still participate in the forums, offering my compassion and advice as I've tried to do in the past. Participation here is welcome. Your comments can add insight to what I write, what I learn, what I need and what I offer. Please, take my hand and walk with me On The Journey.