After almost 50 years of strutting around in my high heels, I’ve learned a few things. First is my ability to laugh now at what wasn’t always so funny back then. I may have only been five or six, but I did wear my mother’s shoes — what kid doesn’t; it’s cute. I’m not sure if being a crossdresser bears a rite of passage, but many of us have similar stories. I have always been able to laugh at my male self, but found more tears in my journey to become Brina than laughter. Today, Brina is mostly put together, better at passing, and deeply rooted in my psyche. She can even laugh at what has gotten us to this place in our lives.
But that one time …
My mother had found three dresses in my closet that I bought at a garage sale when I was in high school. They were buried deep and reason that she was in there at all is something I still don’t know. Sometimes fate just has to bite us. I told her my friend was going to run away from home and wanted a disguise. It sounded good back then, and I thought I got away with it. I was scared, however, for months afterward worrying that my mother might ask me more about it. She never did. Now I laugh at the lie and realize the she might have figured they were mine. I have never have come out to her, or my father.
Or the time …
My ex-wife went to work only to come home thirty minutes later to find me wearing her prom dress. This was during our first year of marriage — back when I thought all I had was a fetish for high heels and slinky dresses. What makes this story funny is not being caught. That was a nightmare and became a wedge between us that never healed. My ex-wife ended the talk by telling me that if she ever caught me again, we’d be through. Twenty-two years later, she did and we were. What is hysterical is the fact that the dress was way too small and stuck on me. I had eyed that dress in her closet for nearly a year. That was just the day that I had to try it on, or should I say, to force it on. I felt beautiful wearing it with the zipper only two thirds of the way up. My ex-wife came home; I raced into the bathroom and could not get out of it. I ended up slipping and falling into the bathtub. She threw the dress away along with my shoes and the pair of her underwear which I was wearing. Did I stop, even after I promised her I would? You know the answer to that; I just got better at hiding it.
And then there was the time …
I had a few other narrow escapes during our marriage. Really, the marriage was over long before I was caught. Thank God for PO boxes and online shopping. Fourteen years ago, I ordered a pair of 8-inch white platform heel stripper shoes and a striped baby doll nightie. I was overweight, hairy everywhere including a beard, and totally stressed out. You know the drill — the more stress the more the need. I still had not come to terms with who I really was, believing that the brief moments when I would buy, wear, and dispose of my girly items were just a shameful part of me that I could not control. I also had a new digital camera. Stupid me thought let’s take pictures and put them on the computer so I could get a better look at them. I even did some naughty poses — you know because you have to. Looking at photos on the computer did not bring satisfaction, only shame. I deleted them, emptied the recycle bin, and hid the shoes and lingerie in my golf bag. Yep, one picture wasn’t deleted, and it absolutely had to be the worst one imaginable for my ex-wife to find. I wish I could have taken a picture of her face, both when she found it and when she told me about it. The first one was probably shock (I wasn’t home), and the second one was gleeful evil as she kicked me out of the house. It is funny now, but it was the best thing that happened to me and should have happened sooner — not the pain of being caught, but getting out of a dead marriage. Brina was born after that and she has been nothing but a blessing since, even when I put her away for seven years to try another relationship. Her voice has always been the one telling me that I’m ok and to take it a day at a time.
I think we all have that one item that we cannot live without, at least not for very long. Mine has always been high heels. With size 12 men’s feet, it has been a challenge, and having narrow feet besides, even more so. I have bought lots of shoes because I had to (they were calling to me), and they did not come close to fitting. Once during my marriage, I walked by a shop in a mall a dozen times before I found the courage to buy a pair off the rack. They had an ankle strap and closed heel and toe, but open in the middle. I made them fit, or should say, made my foot fit. I loved those shoes, keeping them for nearly five years. Over the years, I cut out the toes and part of the heel closure to give my foot some room. I cried when I snapped one of the heels and no amount of nailing and gluing would fix them.
When Brina started her wardrobe, the first pair of shoes she bought had 6-inch heels and no platform. I could sit and wear them, but not walk in them. In fact, I fell and twisted my ankle twice, which led to a couple of interesting stories. I wish that I still had the video of me trying to walk in them — it wasn’t funny. I also would like to have any of the pictures that I took documenting Brina’s arrival and her growth. Why? Perhaps, it is because I would love to laugh at them today. Unfortunately, I only kept my last four years worth. Just as adults can look back and laugh at themselves during their growing years, I am comfortable laughing at my own becoming. This journey has been more important; it’s brought me closer to being a whole person and figuring out what real happiness can be.
Today, I am not alone, and I never will be again. It’s possible that I will not find another person with whom to share my life and who accepts both parts of me, but it will not be that I won’t look. If I don’t, I will be at peace because there are many sisters out there who love to walk in the same pair of heels in which I do. And that is a comforting thought.