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Monday, 31 August 2015

The road not taken

Have you ever made a decision, or shied away from one, that you have regretted the rest of your life?

Thirty years ago I was given the perfect opportunity to discover the person I wanted to be. Unfortunately it came at exactly the wrong time. Through a combination of cowardice and self-hatred, I rejected it at the time, and what I lost has haunted me more and more over the years.

In December ‘83, my first serious head-over-heels in-love relationship ended horribly when my girlfriend finally decided that she couldn’t live with someone who wanted to cross-dress and moved out while I was away abroad on a business trip. I rather went to pieces. To cap it all, my landlady decided this was her opportunity to ask me to leave and gave me notice to be gone by the New Year. All in all, it was a pretty miserable Christmas.

I moved into a flat that might best be described as a half-way house for trans-people. It was accepting, private, and, I thought, the perfect place to sort myself out. I could be who I wanted and no-one would judge me. I overlooked the fact that I was my own worst judge. I was a freak and a failure. The thought of dressing would bring back the memory of those devastating last months of our relationship when despite all our promises, everything went rapidly downhill. And so I chickened out. I threw or locked away my femme clothes. For the next five years that I remained there I stayed resolutely in male mode, while trying to quash the fantasies in my head. I even entered into a rebound relationship, largely platonic, with one of the T-girls there, a confident, striking redhead (I used to help her dye it every month). I helped out with the domestic chores: shopping, cooking, cleaning. When someone commented once that I would make someone a nice housewife, I brushed it off with a glib reply, but secretly I realised I so wanted that.

During that time, there were frequent visitors and parties. I particularly remember one young TV in her late teens or twenties who borrowed my room to change and then sat shyly in a print dress and blonde wig though the evening. I was desperately torn between wanting to put my arm around her and to be her.

Then, as things do, that period came to an end. Relationships started to get a bit strained and it was time to move on. This time it was largely my decision; I had already met L and we had an offer of somewhere else to move into.

For a long time after, when I thought back on that place, I thought about it as a refuge, a place to hide and put myself back together. In recent years, as I start to worry about the future, and what it is I really want when I will no longer be able to distract myself with work, I have started to regret it more and more as a missed opportunity to find out who I really wanted to be.

6 comments:

  1. Susie, I appreciate posts written from the heart, like this one. I featured it on T-Central.

    It can be sad, thinking back to what could have been. I certainly have my own stories. I hope your future is bright.

    Calie

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    1. Had I been braver, this should probably have been the post that started this blog. It's been sitting around in draft form for a month or more while I dithered about whether it was too downbeat and confessional.
      I am still a little embarrassed about some of the things it says about me, even thirty years on. But maybe this is part of letting go.

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  2. I think, and for what it's worth, it's best to try avoid having regrets. Maybe what you did was right for you, maybe it was too much too soon. Who can really say? There's always time for some change, even when you think there might not be. Go as far as you need to go, and no further.

    L x

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  3. You are the person you are Susie and that's fine. Its never too late to discover a balance that works for you and respects your insides as an individual. Transition is not for everyone nor should it be and there are those who regret it afterwards. If you are in a relationship now with someone who wants nothing to do with that part of you I can completely relate as it ended my marriage. I am now alone again but at least I can be the person I want to be without compromise and that is better than the alternative

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  4. We can all regret things with the clarity of hindsight and wonder what might have been but I am sure you acted as you thought best at the time and really feel you should honour that now and not regret. The break up was traumatic enough and anything more definitive than dressing even 30 years ago would have been way more difficult and far less commonplace then than now, would you have survived what you now regret? Is it fair to lament when you have 30 years more experience of life and the far greater acceptance of today? I think you might delight that Susie is able to relate such things that 30 years ago she would not have dared and be proud of yourself then and now?

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