For some crossdressers, its our secrets and lies that cause the shame and guilt we feel. This destructive combination impacts on any relationships we have, whether it be with a loved one or just with oneself. The negative feelings that are created can be debilitating and linger in the subconscious, influencing everything you do. For me, these emotions would leave me feeling totally unworthy of anything and send me into a state in which I was hating everything to do with my need to dress up. My thoughts, actions and emotions were tainted with a deep shame and a burning guilt, as I felt like I was projecting a fraudulent version of myself to the world. It’s these feelings of unworthiness that hang like an albatross around your neck, eroding the very core of who you are. Unfortunately, these feeling stay there, until YOU break out and totally accept in a positive way the complex, but wonderful person you are.
When I was in my pre teens and growing into a teenager, its was my secrets , which then became lies that I used as a shield to protect Jenny. It was an important survival skill that I used. I had to do this because if I ever fooled my self into opening up to someone, it usually ended in my humiliation. I would never tell anyone of my secret visits into my mothers room to put on a dress, or of borrowing my cousins school tunic and of the other numerous “private events”. I was too afraid to share these magical secrets with anyone. Then as the family around me noticed things were not quite right, the awkward lies flowed to cover up my deeds. Accusing questions about visits to my mothers room were answered by a lie explaining how I had to get the dog out of her wardrobe. Small “white fibs” soon became standard responses to cover my covert dressing-up adventures.
The more I lied, the easier it became to deny to others what I was doing. Reinventing the truth became a habit, which as we all know becomes impossible to break the more you do it and the older you get. All kids tell white lies and most, I am sure, do it just for something to say, without any malice. Mine were active tools of deflection, which I felt guilty about, pretending that I was covering up a “normal” activity.
Once I realised that my miracle physical sex-change was not going to happen, (and I must admit I was slow in accepting this reality,) I felt cheated and angry that life was being totally unfair to me. This would have been around the age of 12-13, at the time when my male hormones were getting active. Maybe to counteract these changes I was feeling, the drive to dress up got stronger and so did the reactions from my body. I would sneak on a dress and that thing between my legs got bigger and would leak. A wave of euphoria would pass through my body and I felt as high as a kite. Then just as quickly a massive surge of guilt would replace the joy and I had to get undress as fast as I could. I hated myself, I felt SHAME. Then throughout my teenage years this ritual of being a girl, became a love-hate conflict that made me loath every part of my being. I was isolated with my shameful and guilty secrets.
It was in my late teens, that I saw television show that changed me. Two women were being interview and it made me cry. They were men, calling themselves transvestites. Finally I knew I was not alone and I was not a crazy person. Luckily, I was watching from the back of the room, so no-one saw my tears of joy. During the show the rest of the family started to make derogatory comments and laughing, using words like sick and pervert. I was in awe at their bravery and openness. This was before the days of the world wide web, so the next day I was in the library gathering as much information on the subject. The books available were limited and sometimes not very useful, but it was giving a meaning to who I was. Then I saw and heard about the tennis player Renee Richards and I had a heroine. There were other people in this world who had/were experienced what I was going through.
I then saw the word crossdresser and thought, this had to be me. Then, labels were so important to me. They gave me a slot in life. This tab did not make the shame or the guilt go away, but it let me realize I could co-exist between being male and dressing up as a woman. I entered my university days with a real purpose to overcome this affliction I was born with and at worse treat it as a “fun hobby” or pastime that would not over take my life has it had in the past. I began dating and soon found my soulmate. I married early, madly in love, (and still am), confident that this act of bonding would cure me.
I now know there is no cure, just a lifetime of compromises, secrets and lies. As I had not told my wife before we got married, how could I tell her about something that I thought I had dispelled. The ceremony of matrimony did not exorcize my female demon living within. I would dress in secret, feel guilt and live with my shame. Nothing I could do could break the cycle. The NEED was so strong some months and then it would hibernate for periods of time. I would see a dress in a shop and it would trigger Jenny, and she had to come out. Once out, a peace and calm would take over and I felt whole. Then the fear of being caught, or the guilt of having to hide would cloud my mind and Jenny would rush back to the safety of the subconscious. I would be ashamed at my lack of control, of my dishonesty and my weakness.
I would buy a dress from a charity shop and later I would feel guilty. I would read forums on the net and felt this wave of shame. Believe me, this is no way to live. On top of that, there were the bouts of dysphoria which would zone me out for weeks. Although I never said anything about how I was feeling, this would caused a great deal of tension in the household. My life was one big continuous compromise, not just effecting me, but also everyone who I loved.
It took years of living with my lies, that I eventually accepted the responsibility of doing something about who I was. I had to ACCEPT who I am and that involved sharing my secrets with those who they impacting on. Some will say this is a very selfish act, as I was dragging my wife who knew nothing into my crazy world. The problem is I can’t go back in time, but the truth should have come out right at the start of my relationship.
I felt I had only 3 choices:- 1. Do nothing and slowly go mad destroying everything around me. 2. Meet my maker, as my turmoil and conflict was getting toxic. Or 3. Accept who I am, and be honest with those around me for the first time ever, and then trust in the future.
I chose the third option, first seeking help from a therapist to get my mental health in shape before I talked with my wife.
The conversation with my wife went better than I hoped for. Together we were able to work through my issues without making them hers. We tackle the horrendous burden that I had just placed on her shoulders head on. Co-operative compromises were worked out, as both of us wanted this to succeed. We now have a shared secret, that is not crippled with shame or guilt. The lies have stopped and we talk freely about our issues. It’s slow steps forward. Very few people know Jenny in person and we are both happy with this. The main thing is that Jenny is accepted by those who matter most, including myself.
If I had a message to my younger self it would be. “Accept who you are and don’t spent your life living with LIES, GUILT, SHAME and SECRETS. Only make positive compromises and seek out support as often as you can. Be around people who accept you for the beautiful person you are and avoid those who seek to destroy your dreams.” It is so hard making the right decision, especially when you are cripple with fear.