It was suggested by a dear friend on CDH that I tell my story, even though I don’t think but a portion relates to my CD experience. I don’t know if it is interesting or enlightening, but I think it may be something that is at least worth telling.
It had been such a long time between my last real crossdressing experience in my 20s and starting up again earlier this year in my late 50s, that it almost feels like I’ve lived another life in between. A life that included getting married, having and raising children, dealing with the near death of my mother and then the death of my father, somehow getting past my wife’s affair, and finally a suicide attempt – all these emotions almost overwhelming my ability to cope, and in the long run actually doing so as it turns out. It’s a funny thing, the people that love you the most, and that you love the most, are actually the ones that have the ability to hurt you the most – to hurt you so bad that ceasing to exist feels like it would be a welcome relief.
My childhood was rather typical for kids of my era growing up in the 60s and 70s. Not quite “Leave it to Beaver”, but close. Two great parents and a loving household. My father, bless him, was a good man, but a man for whom life seemed to be defined by achievement. Being the oldest, and a boy, of course I was supposed to achieve, to accomplish, to be “better”. My whole life seemed to revolve around being the best, or at least very good, at whatever I was doing, because just enjoying an activity for the pure pleasure it might give me was never really an option. I became obsessed with perfection, and if I wasn’t perfect (I never was) I was a disappointment in my own eyes, worthless, never good enough.
I don’t know exactly why I started dressing, but I was always drawn to the clothes and the makeup – especially the makeup. Girls just seemed to have it so much better and easier than guys. My sister was never pressured at home to achieve. While I was supposed to get As, Bs were OK for her. I was supposed to excel, she just had to do OK. It seemed to my pre-adolescent and adolescent mind that girls just had it so much better. I loved the ability they had to express their emotions and express themselves through their clothes, hair and makeup, while I was kept in the same old boring clothes and the same short boring hair. No flamboyance whatsoever. No expression of who I really was – just who my father, and society, wanted me to be. Now that I’ve actually lived life I know there is so much more to being a woman, and they have their own set of difficulties, different, but at least on par with those of men, however, to my young mind that just didn’t register.
When I came out to my wife 35 plus years ago she wasn’t hostile, but it was apparent she wasn’t interested in having that be a part of my life or hers. And when your life is spent living for others and trying to please them, you bury your own desires deep within, because to give way to them means you might lose everything you hold dear. Instead I put my life into my marriage and my kids, and buried all my CD thoughts deep down. Only now do I realize that it just contributed to my unhappiness, depression, and rifts in my marriage.
When I eventually found out about my wife’s affair I ended up questioning my worth as a husband, a father, and just as a person. When your self worth depends on the approval of others they can destroy you without meaning to. My wife’s affair basically took from me the ability to love and trust someone completely. The hurt was that bad; and I decided, subconsciously I think, that I will never be hurt like that again. We reconciled – sort of, because we really didn’t have any choice financially – but things have never been the same.
It’s funny, but all this “stuff” just percolates under the surface of your life until it just can’t be kept under wraps anymore. For me it culminated in a suicide attempt not all that long ago. Fortunately, my perfectionism didn’t carry through to suicide and of course I failed. I had just wanted to fade away, but then life never works that neatly. After all this though a funny thing happened – I stopped caring about what others thought of me. It seems that after I looked my own mortality straight in the face, I saw this desire for perfection and the approval of others for what it was, nothing but a distraction to living my life – for ME.
I wonder how many of us have gone through our entire lives never doing enough, never achieving enough, never being enough. That was me, and behind all the smiles and appearances of happiness, I actually hated myself. In my own mind I was never good enough. I actually told my therapist just a few short months ago that this was the first time EVER that I can remember liking myself just for being me. That has actually been a revelation to me; that I can like who I am just for being myself, and enjoy my life as it comes to me. What I accomplish in reality means so little compared to how I enjoy myself getting there.
So now all the fear I once had about “discovery”, disappointing my wife or my children, and not being “man enough” is gone. Where I used to fear being seen with long hair, wearing something that looked too feminine, having left over polish on my nails, or God forbid ever going out dressed, now I just don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me. I know not everyone will feel this way, but I am at a point now where I finally feel free to express who I really am – all the male, female and “whatever” characteristics of my being that are within me.
Where this journey of mine will end up I’m not really sure because I am discovering new things about myself all the time. I never thought I would enjoy just “being” while dressed, or that I would find talking about my CD experiences almost as relaxing as actually dressing. And I never thought I would find a site like CDH. People who accept me just for being me.
And that leads me to the most important thing I have learned while on this journey. Be yourself, love yourself for who you are, and let others come to you not because of who you think they want you to be, but because of who you really are, because let’s face it – we are all worthy of friendship and love, and if you’re a member here then you’re also part of a pretty damn interesting group of people.