Sunday, January 03, 2010

Do I Ask So Much?

I had a magnificent New Year's. Thursday through Saturday were just such wonderful times that they felt surreal. I find myself wishing I had written about it while that dream-like quality still lingered. Instead though, I find myself isolated and upset, trying to recount the best few days I have had in quite a long time. Mom hurt my feelings this morning, and I upset her. Now resentment, anger, fear and guilt taint my mood. I do not wish to hurt anyone. All I want to do is take this precious little drop of time that is life, and try to make it happy. I want to be myself. I don't want my life to be like tip toeing through a mine field, never knowing when some small step or innocent movement will trigger an emotional explosion. I want to be free to run, to dance, to live openly. Why can't people accept me for who I am, instead of being so upset by every little thing I do?

As I said, New Year's Eve and the following day were spectacular. Lisa was kind enough to invite me and several of my friends to her house for a New Year's get together. I decided to ring in the new year in style, so instead of wearing jeans, I decided to go with a scarlet red, cowl neck, sweater dress. After I got ready for the party, I ran out to take care of one of my New Year's resolutions. I had decided a while back that this was the day I was going to pierce my ears. We needed a few party supplies, so I chose Wal-Mart for the piercing job. I thought about changing back into something more casual for the trip, but my friends assured me that I looked great and that everything would be okay.

I decided just to wear the dress. Finally getting my ears pierced is symbolic for me, and it felt as momentous as a Hollywood Awards ceremony. The dress was fine.

I was nervous as I arrived at Wal-Mart. Usually I have friends around when I am in public these days, and walking in to Wal-Mart alone conjured memories from less passable times in my past. Being decidedly overdressed, and in bright red no less, added to the awkward feeling. But everything went smoothly. Actually, many of the men in the store gave me, obviously appraising looks, and none of the women got that annoyed look that says "look at that gaudy, ridiculously dressed tranny. " Instead I just got quick, subtle up and down look, with no obvious emotion behind the eyes.

When I got to the jewelry counter and asked about piercing, the very polite clerk informed me that the girl who does piercing had just stepped away for lunch. It turns out she meant that very literally, as as she was barely outside of the jewelry area. So close in fact, that she over heard us. She turned and explained that she would be back in about an hour if I would care to come back, then asked whether the piercing was for me, and I said that it was. I left wondering "Hmm, did she identify me as a cross dressed male and decide the piercing must be for someone else, or do I just look to old to still need pierced, so that she instead thought I must be bringing a child?" It actually turned out to be the latter, but I had an hour to wonder before I found out. LOL!

I managed to spread out the party supply shopping for the hour. It was actually very pleasant. I ended up in every department in the store. No laughs, no stares. I think the most flattering moment was when I was looking for sparkling grape juice, and a guy came by and tried awkwardly to start a conversation with me, about how Wal-Mart always moves things and makes them hard to find. He was actually kind of cute too! :)

As I checked out with the groceries, I was in a huge line, but again, no one stared, laughed or hassled me in any way. The girl who rung up my groceries chatted away, asking me questions about the New Year's party, going by my outfit and the items I had in my cart. She was obviously very much at ease with me. As the greeter checked my receipt, she complimented me continually. "You look so pretty!" She said at least twice. Also she complimented my height and said she wished she could be tall.

After I got the groceries out, I went back just in time for my ear piercing. The lady certified for the work kept telling me she was surprised I had not had my ears pierced yet, and asked why I had waited so long. We chatted comfortably about the piercing and I picked out tiny silver and cubic zirconium studs. The other girl working the counter had now left for her break, so jewelry customers had to wait through the process. When I sat down for the actual piercing, I must have looked frightened. One of the ladies in line asked if I was scared and I admitted that I was a little bit. She was very reassuring. The clerk also explained that it wouldn't hurt very much. Still, even though I eppilate religiously, and have had 1000s of hair follicles fried out simultaneously with lasers, I waited nervously with my eyes closed as she lined up the piercing gun with marker spots she had placed on my lobes.

Everyone was right though. It was near painless. In a few moments, I was looking into the mirror at two sparkly little dot sized earrings. They looked lovely, and it felt momentous. Like a rite of passage.

Back in my car, driving to Lisa's, I thought over my hour long store visit and how far I had come in this year. I would have been terrified and self conscious, stepping to that counter back then. I would have assumed that no one would have wanted to have me at their counter, much less end up having to have enough contact to pierce my ears. Looking back now, it seems silly that I ever hated myself so much that I made assumptions like that, but I did. At that point I felt like a leper; some poor, unfortunate soul that know one would want around once they knew the truth.

Back at the party everyone congratulated me and complimented my cute little earrings. We chatted and dined right up until 2010 was 10 minutes away. Then we turned on the television to catch the ball drop in Times Square. I can't imagine a better way to ring in a New Year. I felt victorious. My physical transition will be a major part of 2010, but in 2009, there was an emotional metamorphosis. I transformed from a scared, shy, self loathing person, to a happy, sociable, confident woman. I realized suddenly, that the remaining facial hair is the only thing that robs me of the confidence I need to go full time.

Friday and Saturday were also very positive. I stayed in town and had a wonderful visit at Lisa's. Time with my friends always leaves me so happy. Everyone is so supportive, and the conversations are just amazing. Mostly we just got carried away with long chats and the hours flew by as we talked and laughed.

Saturday night I retunred home. This morning, Mom noticed the earrings and went on a tirade. "If you are a woman, I don't see why you need to flaunt it." "You are going to ruin everything for everyone, just to make yourself happy" "I see other young people trying to do things to make this world better, and all you are focused on is destroying yourself."

I told her that tiny cubic zirconium studs are not exactly flaunting anything. And that if another girl feels like carrying a red umbrella, or piercing her ears, or paying attention to her hair that the world is fine with it. I explained that I can not live my entire life pretending to be a man just to make things easier for her. The conversation was heated. I told her again, that I will transition, that it is not a matter open to debate. Then I left.

I cried driving, thinking of how hurt and worried she is. Just days ago we were happily exchanging the presents we bought for each other. Now she is all upset because I did something that most daughters have already done by their teens. I wish it were only the ear piercing. I would take them out, let it heal back and get on with my life. But the reason they can't deal with it, is because they do not see me as female. That is what is upsetting.

There is no sense in me backing down. The earrings are optional, but there are many much bigger things that must be done, which are not. Backing down on this will not save them from any of the pain that will come with watching me transition. Backing down would also make me look vulnerable. If I show evidence that I can be persuaded through guilt, then I'll have to contend with even more of it through my transition.

I'm proud of the earrings. For me, they symbolize the many social and presentation challenges I have overcome in the last two years. They are a milestone. If someone does not want me to wear them, they can pry them out of my cold dead lobes.

Tomorrow, will be my first day at work with them. After that, 6 weeks before things heal enough that I can wear them selectively instead of 24-7. In a bit, I'll drive home. I don't feel like talking to Mom, and looking at me will just upset her anyway. I'll probably just stay in my room...


Renee said...

Getting my ears pierced was the biggest moment for me. Maybe bigger than hormones, or going fulltime, or anything. I just wanted it so bad, and it was the first real, tangible step I took in transition. You're going to love it, I'm sure. :p

I follow along with your blog and it just kills me to hear these stories about your mother and father. I can't wrap my head around it at all. You're handling it about as well as you can, but that you have to at all is sad. Hugs to you.

ms.shandy said...

Thanks Renee. Mostly it isn't so bad. They are both adjusting. Every time I make a change, Mom reacts this way. But its a little easier to stand up for myself each time. Back at one point, I was so afraid that, to her, it was laughable if I became defiant and told her that I will be myself, and that I'm a woman.

At this point though, I realize what matters is not whether she believes, but simply that its the truth. I can look her in the eye and say it now. Since I realized that, it has gotten easier to handle these moments.

It does still hurt though. Really its not her fault. Her reaction makes sense form her point of view, and her point of view comes from a lifetime of experience that doesn't include anyone at all like me. I just keep hoping that someday patience and honesty will prevail and she will start seeing me for who I truly am.

As for the earrings, it does feel like a major step. And I'm very proud. Just thrilled really. :)

Thanks s much for commenting. =)

Renee said...

No problem. I'm trying to make a habit of commenting, and not just when I have some conflagratory opinion to voice. :p

One of the hardest things to do, for me anyway, was to become comfortable asserting my female identity. I was always afraid of the conflict it might lead to (though rarely did). They never really tell us about all these hidden tribulations that come with transition, huh?

ms.shandy said...

After holding back so many years, it was rough for me to open up and be myself as well. I was always self conscious that people would not take me seriously. I've gotten past that with most people now, but with people like Mom who object to my true gender, its still very hard. Hidden tribulations indeed. Transition is such a complex undertaking.

Oh, and you weren't really so conflagratory. I still stand by my post leading up to that, but my phrasing was very overbearing. You have training relevant to the discussion so you weighed in, and I overreacted. The author of that blog is a very dear friend, and I tend to get pretty impassioned about events discussed there. I guess sometimes I overreach. My opinion is still the same, but I'm so sorry I became that combative.

Renee said...

She's lucky to have you as a friend. I don't know why, but I find myself always nodding and smiling as I read your comments and blogs. Okay, maybe grimacing a bit if the blog isn't such a nice, but still right there with you.

At any rate, this is a hard medium to communicate in and I'm no stranger to provocation. I'm working on that though. :-)

Leslie Ann said...

Yes, Shandy, you cannot back down or they will never give ground again. I know it's hard to fight them, but you really have to.

The New Year's party sounds very nice. Maybe next year, Mrs. Leslie would be willing to attend, if we were invited(!). We actually discussed it some as a hypothetical this year. I can't imagine a better way to ring in the new than with one's best friends.

Love the ear piercing tale. Maybe one day I'll be doing the same, though maybe not at Walmart.

Rebecca said...

I just got my ears pierced twelve days ago! It was also a really big step for me, and something I'd wanted to do for over twenty years but had been too scared to do. I can't believe I'm so comfortable with it, because even a year ago I would have been a nervous wreck worrying about what everyone else thought about it. Now I don't even think about having them pierced most of the time. I was a bit nervous about going to work the first time, but no one said a word about them. I'm so happy you got yours pierced too, and I share your excitement! Sorry things were rough with your mom and dad, but hang in there.


Jerica said...

Wow girl! Quite a post! It was very emotional for me to read. It sounds like you had a great time at Walmart and I laugh at your worries partly because they were my own at one point and partly because you are beautifully feminine. =)

Talking about your mother, I can very much relate...I've had crazy arguments with my mom and now of course she doesn't talk to me. It's sad and I hope she can overcome her discomfort at some pt in the future.

As for the earrings...that's exactly what happened to me except I went in guy mode haha. The gal asked me why I was getting mine pierced and I made up some excuse lol. It didn't hurt at all and most people at work don't even notice =)


ms.shandy said...

@Jerica I'm so sorry your Mom is that way. Life is so short and its always a shame to see a family stop communicating over a disagreement. My situation may turn out the same, but so far they have tolerated me.

@Rebecca Congratulations! Isn't it great? :)

@Leslie I never back down. By nature I want to make people around me happy, and its hard, disappointing those I love. I've become a bit more comfortable with standing my ground when its necessary though. Nothing I do in regards to transition is optional, and I make that clear.

I'd love to see you and your wife at our next New Year's thing. That would be such a pleasure.

@Renee I find myself agreeing with you a lot too! Your comment on Jamie's blog about male and female relationship rolls for instance. I dated a guy like that too. VERY briefly. Oh so very. LOL!

Renee said...

@ Ms. Shandy...funny thing, he and I actually became friends afterward. I mean, I do understand what he was going through and I am willing to offer support, I'm just not going to allow him live viscerally through me. We lost contact about two months ago when he made another play for me and now I'm kind of worried about him. He was in a bad way and hasn't returned calls.

Funny ear-piercing story for y'all: My ears were pierced for weeks and still no one at work had made mentioned of it. So finally I let slip to one of the guys that I had pierced my ears and expected some kind of blowback from it; he looked at me quizzically and said: "You got your ears pierced? Huh, I guess so." And that was that. Years and years of sturm und drang and that was the total amount of response it what was I waiting for? Anyway, it still makes me laugh when I think about it.

ms.shandy said...

@Renee LOL! Yes, I think it will be about like that for me. I think people give us a lot less scrutiny than we realize. Whether my ears are pierced jsut probably isn't that big a deal to anyone except me. And, well, maybe Mom. :S

Rebecca said...

It's so true about the ear piercing and how we make such a big deal out of it in our heads and expect everyone to notice, and it turns out the reality is so much different. I'm almost disappointed no one has even commented that I got my ears pierced! I guess in four weeks I'll have to wear some big hoops or some fancy dangly ones to make people notice!

ms.shandy said...

@Rebecca I find that anymore, I'm trying to make a statement, rather than wanting to slip by unnoticed. Right now, I'm wearing my hair down over the earrings, try to limit how distracting they are. But part of me wants to just style my hair the way I ussualy do and let people deal with the rings. I'm proud of them. :)

Maybe if that doesn't get me comments, I'll try giant hoops too. LOL!

Rebecca said...

We'll have to make a deal to both wear big hoops to work once our ears have healed and we can wear any type of earrings!

ms.shandy said...

I'm not sure I'm brave enough. We have a few weeks to think about it though! :P

Anonymous said...

Shandy, I'm so glad you got those babies pierced. This is no small thing. You will find it to be so much fun picking out earrings for EVERY occasion... from eating breakfast to New Years The only problem with having pierced ears is that your shopping options have just grown by geometrical progression. What a great problem to have. :)Suzi

ms.shandy said...

This morning I'm all paranoid about them. I clean them constantly, but my lobes are a bit pinkish, and the left seems to be showing some mild swelling. Except for the very slight pink tint, there's nothing someone else would notice. But when I push then through a bit to clean underneath, its red, and its wet, and there's an indention, like the body of the earring is sinking into my ear the slightest bit.

I'm afraid if things don't look better by tomorrow I'm just going to have to give up, take them out, let them heal and try again later. I don't want to take chances on infection and its starting to look so weird under there. :(

ms.shandy said...

So frustrating being my age and not even knowing what a healing piercing should look like, and not really having anyone I can have look at it easily. I get so tired of having to learn lessons like these in a vacuum. If i were born normal, Mom would have helped me with this stuff when I was in my teens, and I wouldn't now be a 33 year old who is late for work because I just spent an hour crying about earrings.

Rebecca said...

Mine seemed to look sort of pinkish at times during the first week, but it soon passed. Try not to worry, I think if they were infected it would be obvious. Could you go back to where you got them pierced and ask the Sa there what she thinks? Make sure the back is not on too tight and pressing into your lobe. the main thing is to clean them, which you're doing, so you should be fine. It is frustrating having to learn these things on our own, but I tend to think we appreicate these tihngs more now than we would have when we were younger. Hang in there!

ms.shandy said...

Sorry about that. I went a little crazy yesterday morning. If I go that crazy because my ears were a bit pink, can you imagine how irritating I'll be when recovering from GRS? :P

This morning, I'm feeling pretty normal. Thanks Rebecca for helping me calm down and put this in perspective yesterday afternoon. Hopefully some time over the next couple of days I'll get to talk to someone in person who I'm comfortable asking about things like this. LOL!

@Suzi Thanks so much. I'm really glad I got them pierced. After I get past the healing stage, it is going to be so fun trying lots of different earrings. =)

Anonymous said...

Shandy, Don't worry about infection unless it gets out of hand. By "out of hand" I mean extreme swelling, redness, and pain. You have to expect a little discomfort and discoloration for awhile...maybe even a few weeks...everyone is a little different. I noticed that mine were red and slightly swollen at the start. After cleaning the studs and my ears with alcohol, I would rub a thin layer of an anti-bacterial ointment on the stud and on the area around the holes. It'll clear up...don't you dare give up! :) BTW...I pierced my own with a sewing machine needle. Worked great...just had to push it through slowly. Suck it up soldier! It'll feel better when it quits hurting...or so I've been told. Hugs, Suzi

ms.shandy said...


Thanks Suzi! I'm doing fine now. They are a lot less sore today, and the swelling has gotten better. :)

Piercing your own ears takes a lot of courage. I do my own estrogen injections, but somehow pushing a needle through and actually having it come out the other side seems a lot more unsettling. That takes dedication.