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Lessons Learned

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(@carlyellen)
Estimable Member     United States of America, Oklahoma, Sallisaw
Joined: 4 years ago
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Here's a hearty howdy to y'all. It's been nearly two years since I've written because life got busy. In retrospect, it was a good outcome, and I was able to focus sharply on myself. I've lived 70 active years on this planet, at least 60 of them in denial. It's been four years since starting transition, most of that time on HRT; over two years since going fulltime. I wanted to share some things I've learned.

LESSON 1) Nobody could have prepared me for what transition would be like. For years, I read, did research, observed, asked, and explored what it would be like to live my true life. I spoke with counselors, exchanged letters and emails with other women, and later, watched everything I could find on the internet. I got a fair idea of what needed to be done, and where to find help, and in understanding some of the experiences of other girls. I listened to their highs and lows, tribulations, and successes. As I made my choices, all that research paled in comparison to my actual experience. I learned that this is my life, to be lived on my terms, with outcomes and experiences that are exclusively mine. I must do this on my own. Even though I have the support, help, and encouragement of loved ones and others, this is my adventure.

LESSON 2) It's damn hard being a woman! Gone are the days of 15 minutes from bed to shower, to quickly dressed, and on to work. Yesterday's jeans just won't do. Oh my gosh, everything should be just right. That ornery wisp of hair has to stay in place. Heavens forbid that the skirt slit is slightly off center. Shoot, I chipped a nail! Gotta turn these blouses inside out before washing. Tweezing, conditioning, filing, moisturizing, lip gloss, a missing earring, makeup remover, cotton balls, and don’t forget to exfoliate. An eight am appointment; up at 5:30 and hope I have enough time. At the end of the day, when it’s time to let my hair down, it takes another forever to get ready for bed. I learned that taking care of myself is its own reward and worth every second spent.

LESSON 3) Nobody really notices. I have been from coast to coast since transitioning. I've flown or driven to Vegas, LA, Boston, Cape Canaveral, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and OKC. I have been to conferences, shows, parties, restaurants, motels, airports, and Wal-Mart. In all this, I've met many folks, had a lot of fun, and thoroughly enjoyed life to the fullest. I think it’s remarkable that I’ve not had a bad experience (knocks on wood.) I'm not misgendered, I'm not scorned, and nobody has ever scooted away from me in. I'm not beautiful, nor do I have a femme frame. I don't go around broadcasting that I'm trans. I just be me, and I'm no longer nervous or anxious about it. I swear, nobody really cares.

LESSON 4) I'm more than a survivor. I love to chat with the folks here at TGH. We are so full of joy and gladness, as well as hurt and doubt. We have stories going back to the beginning of our lives. Each of us had to make some really difficult decisions about who we are. I suspect most of us have coped with anxiety, depression, or other social and emotional problems that were never asked for. In my situation, I have a choice to make. I can either regret the 60-plus years that I remained "deep in the closet," or I can enjoy here and now with hopeful anticipation toward the future. I now understand that those 60 years were not a waste. I was not really hidden. I wasn't ready to transition. I had too much to learn; I had to grow. The guy that came before me learned these things for me. I can't articulate the things I needed, but in hindsight, I see that the time was well spent. It made me capable of transitioning when I did, not before. I have not just survived, I blossomed, and I continue to bloom. I choose to enjoy life!

Lesson 5) Popeye's Mantra is true. And therein lies freedom; freedom from secrets, from pretending, from withholding an integral part of me from friends and loved ones, from fear. I simply can't express how much richer life has become since I freed myself from those toxic thoughts and feelings. I am okay—more than okay. I love myself without restraint. I learned that I now love others more than I once thought possible. I learned that life gave me exactly the right skills and mindset to make this transition, and by gosh, I'm doing it. After all, "I am what I am, and that's all that I am."  And that's enough.

I don't know why I finished this article; I just had the urge to resurrect it from its dormancy. Maybe, it's because sharing these thoughts is good for my soul, giving someone else a bit of hope and strength.  Maybe it's because so many of you have shared your lives in chat, and this is my effort to pay it forward. It doesn't matter; whatever the reason, here it is.

I hope some of you can relate.

Love y'all.

Until next time…

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12 Replies
Posts: 18
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(@camboray)
Active Member     Cambodia, Florida, Battambang
Joined: 2 years ago

That was a very fine, thoughtful, and insightful article you wrote. Thank you very much.

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Posts: 1
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(@juliejones)
New Member     Australia, Victoria, DANDENONG
Joined: 2 years ago

Words can't describe how much I relate to this.
Thank you Carly for sharing your story.

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Posts: 106
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(@margprodue)
Estimable Member     United States of America, Wisconsin, Madison
Joined: 2 years ago

Oh Carly, What a wonderful article and thank you so much for sharing it with us. You are so right about "gone are the days of 15 minutes from bed to work"! Safe Journey, Marg

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Posts: 9
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(@reiht)
Active Member     Canada, Ontario, Elliot Lake
Joined: 4 years ago

I definetly relate, I am 69 and didn't start this new journey till about 4 years ago. I didn't know who/what I was, only that I was not who I am now. Not sure if that makes any sense : ) I have been a member here at TGH for quite a while now but very rarely chat. Loved your article as I love myself now. I smile a lot more now and I am happy. I finally found a nurse practioner who has helped another lady in getting her transition started. I live in a small town (1200) and the doctors here are not helpful. I can't wait to get in touch with this nurse and then a counselor so that I can start HRT. By the way I no longer have mens clothes in my dresser and closet and always go out as who I am. A PROUD WOMAN!!

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(@wa2qcj)
Joined: 1 year ago

New Member     United States of America, Alabama, Daleville
Posts: 4

I am familiar with HRT and it's issues. I have something that might help as lot of transitioning women. Transfemme. I have been using their products for about 3 weeks. My estrogen level, "checked by blood test" is 158 in a low-light scale of 40 to 244. Transfemme takes my testosterone and turns it into estrogen. It works. There a only two other sources of estrogen that I know of, synthetic, and derived from pregnant horse pee. Personally, I prefer what my body makes through Transfemme. While I have no idea what estrogen level is normal for cis women, I am willing to bet I an close to it, after 3 weeks. Phytoestrogen estrogen is another source for estrogen. It is close enough to human estrogen to fit into any estrogen spot. For all those people who whine about estrogen like compounds in plastics. They had best stop eating just about any plant on this rock we call earth. Flax seed has the highest phytoestrogen levels.

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Silver - Annual
(@reiht)
Joined: 4 years ago

Active Member     Canada, Ontario, Elliot Lake
Posts: 9

Hi Kerry and thank you for the info on Transfemme. i will be looking into into it. I had a major crash on my computer and finally did a low level format and reinstalled windows and all of my lost data. On an other point, My brother managed a Pregnant mare urine farm for quite a few years. the PMU farm collected the urine to make birth control pills. I didn't know about about the estrogen from horse pee. Anyhow thank you.
Reiht

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Posts: 23
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(@kb)
Eminent Member     United States of America, Florida
Joined: 3 years ago

That was a great read. I truly enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

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Posts: 31
(@jaiymelynne)
Eminent Member     United States of America, Nevada, Las Vegas
Joined: 5 years ago

Hi Carly,
I haven't logged on here in quite a while. But tonight, I felt the need to. I turn 66 this year. The last part of last year I've been "socially" transitioning-going out to a few places dressed, with trans and CD friends. It has been amazing.
And the first thing I see here is your wonderful article. It gives me hope that I can do it. It's been up and down in my mind, that I am even trans. Is it a fetish, or a fad? But it always feels so right to be me. Love your paragraph about how hard it is being a woman: the time it takes to get ready to go anywhere (totally agree). I still have a long way to go, but your words are so encouraging and it helps me not be so afraid of public scrutiny/derision. Thank you for sharing.
JaiymeLynne

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Posts: 98
(@middleground)
Estimable Member     United States of America, Ohio, Ashland
Joined: 3 years ago

Carly,
I enjoyed reading your piece.
For me, it does take me a bit longer to get ready to go out, but I think even when I was a guy I paid attention to trying to look good. Interesting thing was I got to the point of wondering why I was primping and started not to care. I think when I finally decided not to repress my femininity, my primping returned, and I like to dress nicely and try to look pretty when going out.
I like your paragraph about being a guy helped prepare your way for being a girl and who you are. It was interesting to hear that and think about it. I don't think I ever thought about my male time as preparing me, but being male for 66 years perhaps was how my life was meant to be. There was a lot of good things which occurred during that time. But yes, during my male years I paid attention to female things, and I was an ob/gyn doctor for many many years. So, I learned much and I think it has helped me. Besides, I'm not about to be sorry for the years I've missed as a girl. I would have loved, I think, to be a girl with a more youthful body, and I love to dress in more youthful styles now. I think that's because I wish to embrace years I've missed without getting too upset about missing those years. I've said often that I wish to live out the rest of my life in the gender I perhaps was always meant to be, but maybe it was supposed to be as it is, with me only experiencing what I sense as my greatest joy in the twilight of my years.

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