When I was young, I loved Deborah Harry. I thought it was just a crush, but realized not only did I find her attractive, but I looked closely at what she wore. It was the way she moved and how the clothes moved with her; I was mesmerized. Not having the words for what I was feeling, and yet instinctively knowing it would not be acceptable in my little part of the world, was frustrating. I had already stood out for being different. I was that shy kid who wanted nothing more than to go unnoticed.
The age of 11 was the first time I tried on a dress, pantyhose, and bra. I’d waited for my family to go out. It was amazing! I was hooked. We had a storage area in our garage where my mom kept some of her old clothes. I dressed whenever I was alone, and it made me feel euphoric. I became braver and would dress in the house while they were out. How could I not love the feel of the clothes on me that I “borrowed” from my mom. But the guilt was there for secretly trying on her things and feeling that this was not considered a normal boy’s behavior. Then again, I was never a normal boy.
Finally the day came and I got caught by my parents. I forget why they’d left me home alone, probably something to do with my younger sibling. They came home much earlier than expected. I had no place to hide in our small house. I was fully dressed, even borrowed a necklace and ring. For some reason, I thought if I stayed still they would not see me, alas they did.
I was beyond embarrassed. They placed me in therapy believing that I’d been acting out because of a loss in the family. It seemed like a good enough reason to me, anything to help me escape how horrible I felt. Like many others, there was an arousal and confused feelings about my identity, but I internalized the guilt and agreed that it had just been me acting out and nothing more. I forced it deep down inside and worked hard at denying it.
I was out of work for a long time five and half years ago. I went to counseling. Between the two, I became introspective about my life. One day during a session, I blurted out to the therapist that I had crossdressed a few times as a child. I did not go deeper into details, instead, I talked about it as if I was talking about having dinner or how’d I slept. It was something for him to know, but we didn’t need to explore it further; or so I thought.
As I left that session, I started thinking about all those small moments from my past, like going shopping with my girlfriend and the thrill it gave me helping her pick out things, or seeing a pretty outfit on someone, either on TV or in real life. I masked it as more of an attraction to the wearer and not the outfit. I could never have admitted that I was being envious; that wasn’t something allowed.
I finally admitted to myself that I wanted to dress again. After a little time, I told my wife. We’ve been together for 18 years and married for 12 of those. We’ve had our ups and down, but have always found a way to make it through. I told her about my earlier crossdressing and how those feeling had returned.
Since telling her, I have taken time to think, and to make sure that I don’t push her into accepting anything. Luckily, she has been growing with me as I figure out and learn more about Michelle. I have promised to be open and honest with my wife. She is my rock and my ally in this life; how could I not.
I never thought that my life would change so much again as when I finally accepted what I’d kept deeply buried for so long as well as being able to share it with the love of my life. As things progressed, I found CDH, joined, despite my fears at beginning this new chapter. And what an amazing chapter it’s turning out to be. I could not have envisioned that from May of last year until now that I would become an active member, an ambassador, or post pictures and make a whole new set of friends and family.
I smile every time Michelle comes out. I feel happier when I look in the mirror and see her. I can only say that…
Michelle, I see you!
Every morning as I begin my day, I see you.
I know that you are there even without the clothes, wig, makeup etc.
I smile and say thank you!
Thank you for knowing that I never meant to keep you so hidden away,
That I was too afraid and embarrassed to accept you as part of me.
Instead of being angry, you give comfort and compassion.
I thought you were a memory of a childhood full of awkward and uneasy times.
You gently remind me that you were never truly as far away as I thought.
You guided me unconsciously to be gentle, forgiving, caring, loving.
When I needed to cry or be joyous, you nudged me to both.
Now I have accepted that you are part of who I am, you have given me strength.
You gave me the courage to reach out first to our wife and then to find a community
To help learn how to be and guide us to a better we.
You helped strengthen the bond with our wife.
She accepts you and willing to have you in our life.
So again I say I see you! And I never will pretend again that I don’t.
Much love and hugs!
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