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Thank God It’s Almost Over!

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In my hotel room in OKC, earlier in the month. ~Stef~

This has been a shitty month, it really has! I haven’t had a chance to relax all month. Basically Stefani has been put on hiatus for the duration of the month. I’m not at all happy about it. I’m glad this month is almost over.

It almost all revolves around my job. At the beginning of the month, I had a trip to Oklahoma City to make a presentation for a class. Basically, it’s a workshop for department supervisors who at least show the potential to be assistant managers. It’s a way to get ourselves seen by the district team.

That was on the 8th of this month. The following week, on the 17th, we had inventory. Now, all retailers go through the inventory process once a year. It’s to account for what we have in inventory, and to see how much we shrank. It determines a stores and company’s profits for the year. Needless to say, it’s a stressful time, and we worked long hours to prepare for it, up to the day before. We left at 1:30 in the morning, only to return at five, three and a half hours later, so work another full shift. We were allowed to leave at three that afternoon, when our part of the process was completed. I fell asleep until after six, then drove home, and slept until eight the next morning.

The following week, which would have been this past week, was all about getting ready for Black Friday. Fuck my life, lol. Two of the worst weeks in retail, back to back. There was no time to rest and recover. We went from one process to the next. Another round of long hours and fatigue, all for one day of shopping madness. The only good thing was that we did have Thanksgiving day off, so we all had a chance to recuperate slightly before the mayhem of the biggest shopping day of the year. Our sales reflected it, too. I’m glad for it. I would have hated to have suffered all that for nothing!

This coming week, I’ll end the month as I started, by going to Oklahoma City, this time to walk a store and evaluate how it’s doing. It’s part of our training, and we’ll have to do another presentation on our findings in our class. That means it’s another four hour drive to OKC, walk the store, and then the drive back. At least I get paid for the drive. I’m going to rent a car this time, the company pays for it, so why not?

Next month will be hectic, but maybe not as much. We have our Regional Vice President coming in for a walk, which will make our management team a waking nightmare for the next few weeks, then the week before Christmas, our TOM (Territory Operational Manager) will be in the store for three days. The last thing a store wants is to have a TOM digging in to the store’s operations. They only visit if somethings not right. Not good!

I’m hoping to have a chance for some Stefani time soon. I might carve out some time on Monday. I’ll still have to finish up NaNoWriMo. I’m on track to get my 50K words by the end of the month. On top of everything else, I committed myself to this madness, and I’m stubborn enough to muscle may way through. I’m almost done, the month is almost over, then I’ll collapse in a heap on the floor, and sleep until 2017.

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Day out

20161024_130905I spent the whole of this past Monday out and about, enjoying the free air. Freedom is such a sweet luxury. Away from responsibilities, away from that which confines me, enjoying the world without sans the need to hide myself. It was a blessed relief, and a much needed tonic to soothe my frayed nerves. If you can’t tell, I enjoyed myself tremendously!

I asked for a few days off, five in total, to go down to a town south of Bonham, Texas, northeast of the Dallas Metroplex. The occasion was a Halloween party at my best friend’s house. That was last Saturday. On Sunday, we went to the closing day of the Texas State Fair, and again, another enjoyable experience.

But as fun as those two days were, I had to enjoy them in boy mode, which was a bummer. It wasn’t until Monday that I had the opportunity to head out. Part of me almost decided against it, dressing up being such a pain in the ass, but I knew those days don’t come around as often as I would like. It took me around an hour to get ready, and though we didn’t head out as early as I had wanted, we left, my friend Amy and I, and went to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

I was hoping for a slow day at the gardens, but unfortunately the place was packed with mothers and their children. I’m not too confident en femme, but I knew I had to confront my fear of public spaces, so we went in. Interestingly enough, most people didn’t spare me a second glance, and my friend said that the few old women who did look at me, didn’t do so with the appearance of malice or hatred.  I fit in enough, my excursion in OKC helping me relax out in public.

It turned out that my only issue was the Dallas heat. It might me late October, but the weather often doesn’t cool down until mid to late November, and sometimes even later. My face felt like it was melting, and I was dressed way too warmly for our day out! I managed to survive, however, and in spite of the way too crowded venue, and the way too warm day, I had a blast. We had lunch and enjoyed the gardens for almost two hours, until we decided we were ready for air conditioning.

After that, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for some avocado eggrolls and a slice of cheesecake. I’ve been going there for over fifteen years, so how have I never had a slice of cheesecake? I don’t know, but I had a slice, which was way too rich and fattening, before leaving to shop at the Container Store, and later at Barnes & Noble, buying more books that I don’t need, including  Being Jazz, by Jazz Jennings.

But, like all good things, our day out had to come to an end. I was getting tired, my body still struggling trying to adjust from my three weeks working overnights at work. I changed in the car on the way back to Amy’s house. Though her husband knows about me, we didn’t think he was ready to see me in all my fabulous glory. By the time we drove into the drive way, I was Joe again.

I’m considering making the move down to DFW soon. I’ve come to accept that I have to reason to remain in the Amarillo area. Though I have my family here, They neither know, and I’m certain they wouldn’t accept me were I to try to be out here. Also, I have no romantic attachments or even the prospect of one. I never meant to stay here as long as I have so far. Maybe I should say goodbye and open a new chapter in my life’s story.

Regardless of what the future may hold, I enjoyed my day out with my best friend. She has a calming effect of me. She’s the first I told about being a crossdresser, the one who urged me to come up with my name, and accepted me for who I am. The more I think about it, the more I think my days in Amarillo are numbered, and I don’t think I’ll miss them all too much.

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Snape, Snape, Severus Snape….

Halloween is coming up, and it’s time for costume parties. Whoopty-freakin’-do! I’ve never been one for costumes, even as a kid, so I’ve made it a point not to ever go to parties, much less Halloween parties. It’s not all the difficult, especially when you consider that no one ever invites me. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Regardless, my best friend is hosting a party this year, and being the ever supportive bff, I’m going. I didn’t know what to wear. I thought about going as Stefani, or maybe having Stefani go as someone else, like a queen or a princess, or Minerva McGonagall. I think I might have been able to pull off Bellatrix Lestrange, but no. I’m going as Professor Severus Snape.

It was a brilliant idea, I thought, until I started to look for a Snape costume. I quickly discovered that it wasn’t going to be easy to find, or cheap, and that I would have no choice but to make my own. There again, I couldn’t find a decent pattern. I ended up going to Jo-Ann in Lubbock, found a pattern for a jacket that’s similar. I’ll have to make a few alterations, which means I have to learn how to make alterations to a pattern. Oh, and I have to be done by the 20th. I’ll leave for my friend’s house on the 21st, and the party is on the 22nd.

I’m looking forward to making the jacket. I’ll have to figure out how to do the cloak Snape wears over the jacket, but one thing at a time. I enjoy making and creating, and it’s been years since I’ve sewn anything. I’m still wanting to make a Steampunk inspired dress, so this will be perfect practice for that.

Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I could do a gender-bending Snape costume. Wouldn’t that be fun? No. I mean it would, but I’ll stick to the Severus we all love to hate. My friend promised to go as Trelawny. I’ll let you know how it goes.

And another one finds out

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At Myriad Botanical Gardens. Forgive my crazy eyes, lol! ~Stef~

It seems like I’m being found out all too often lately. A few weeks ago, my ex-wife called me to tell me that my step-daughter saw my pictures on my ex-wife’s phone. Okay. No problem. Not what I wanted to happen, but she’s okay with it, and we can live with it. Then last Monday, a co-worker hinted that she found my Facebook profile and asked if that was me.

Yikes! I thought I was being more careful, but I also knew it was inevitable. I pulled out my cellphone, opened up my profile, and asked if that was what she found. She nodded excitedly before berating me for not telling her. She has two gay sons, after all. Not that being transgender and being gay are the same thing. Still, she had a million questions, which I tried to answer discreetly.

We tried to talk a little more on Friday, but again we couldn’t say much. Too many prying ears, so I said we should have lunch sometime to discuss my crossdressing even further. She did ask if I was gay. I am no. Bi? Well, not really, but I have fooled around a few times. Does that shock you, my readers? It freaked me out. I almost had a panic attack the following day after my first time.

But back to my co-worker. I wondered if she wanted to hook me up with her son. He’s currently in a relationship, so I doubt it, but what if? Is that what I want? I don’t think so. I mean to say that I’m attracted to women, but the thought of being with a guy no longer terrifies me. I’ve kissed one. I’ve given a few guys a blowjob – but not at the same time, mind you – and I enjoyed the experience. I’m keen to do it again.

But what about a real date? I wouldn’t mind going out on a movie date some time with a guy. Maybe go to a nice restaurant, or an art gallery, a musical, opera, etc. What I want are experiences. I’ve closeted myself for far too long, especially to myself, that I have no true idea of self. I’m only a reflection of who I think people want me to be. Isn’t that horrifying? The me that exists is merely a mask I wear to please those around me.

As I write this, I’m forced to conclude that I don’t know who I am. Which one of my identities is my true face and which one is the mask? Is it even fair to ask the question? Can’t both be part of my true self, different halves of the whole, man and woman made one in me? More importantly, can I have both a boyfriend and a girlfriend?

I read Alice in Genderland by Richard J. Novic, M.D., and he found himself in a marriage that allowed him the opportunity to live as Alice on the weekend, and as her was in a committed relationship with a man. I admit that I was fascinated and a little jealous when I read that. Isn’t that the fantasy I have, of having a wife and a boyfriend with their respective blessings?

I don’t know, but truth be told, I have to admit that it is. It feels like the moment of truth is circling ever closer. It’ll be soon that I’ll be outed at work, and what then? Some will be intrigued, some few maybe even excited, but I suspect most will be repulsed. I’ll become the laughingstock of my coworkers, the butt of their jokes. I’ll be mocked and made to feel less of myself.

I hope I’m wrong, of course. Sure, some will mock me for sure, but I pray that it would be as bad as I fear. Part of me just wants to be done with it, to let the world in on my secret. It would simplify so many things. I’ll no longer fear being discovered and outed to a hostile world. I’ll be able to just be me, and let the mask slip from my fingers.

I’m supposed to have lunch with my friend, hopefully this coming week. I believe she wants to go out with me as Stefani next weekend as well. I’m not committed to that, but I’m thinking about it. It would be nice to have more friends in my corner, should the worst happen.

Stefani Adventure: OKC

Driving to OKC

Driving down the highway. I-40, to be exact. ~Stef~

I didn’t know if I would have the guts to actually do it. I almost didn’t, chickening out before I got out of work, running later than I had wanted to, but in the end I did. I left work almost an hour late, drove to my friend’s apartment to pack my things, get showered, dressed, and put on my make-up. I drove in as “Steve,” and an hour later Stefani emerged, ready to embark on the my first trip en femme.

That had been my plan from the beginning, to enjoy a full day dressed up, to go out and mingle with the world without, leaving the mask I wear daily, and enjoy the warmth of the sun. I wanted to explore a new city, visit the sites, go shopping, and have lunch. I wanted a day instead of a few stolen hours. I wanted to know what it would be like to live a woman’s life.

This trip to Oklahoma City was the closest I could get. I had one day off, Tuesday, to fulfill my dream, so I did. My friend rode with me, and I drove the four hours until we got into town. I stopped once for a bite to eat, not having time to grab anything before we left. The people at the drive-thru didn’t bat an eye at me. Same goes for when I stopped for gas about an hour from OKC.

I thought for sure the people at the hotel would look at me funny, especially when they asked for my ID. No. They gave me my keycard, wished me a pleasant stay, and that was it. I unpacked the car, then headed for a convenience store for a snack. After the late-night snack we fell asleep.

***

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At the OKC MOA. I forgot to switch out my glassses!

We woke up a little later than I had wanted to on Tuesday, but the day before had been a long day, what with a full day’s work, then a long drive. We got up and readied ourselves for a long day. I stopped at Payless Shoes to start the day. I needed a pair of walking shoes. My heels weren’t going to do it for the long day ahead. Afterwards, a quick stop at Walmart was in order to buy myself a decent purse. The one I was borrowing just wasn’t up to the task.

After a quick lunch at The Olive Garden, my first meal out in public as Stefani, we headed out to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. We discovered that there was an exhibit entitle Maltisse: In his time, featuring works from Maltisse, Picasso, Renoir, among other contemporaries. I got to see a real life Picasso! It was so close I could touch it! How exciting is that?

We walked the Maltisse exhibit, which was on the second floor, and which was incredibly crowded, and the headed upstairs to discover a gallery featuring Chihuly‘s glassworks, which is all kinds of amazing! On the same floor, there was an exhibit of modern art. Back on the first floor, here was another gallery of art, which was worth seeing, but nowhere near as impressive as Maltisse.

From there we headed back to the hotel. It was hot, and I was feeling tired. We took a short nap before heading back out.

***

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Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Feeling refreshed, we talked about what to do next. We settled on driving to the Myriad Botanical Gardens. The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory closed at five, and we didn’t arrive until almost six, but the grounds were open, and it was free to look around, so we did.

We looked at the fauna, and the beauty of the grounds. We saw several people walking around, their noses pressed to their phones, playing Pokemon Go, but at least they were out and about.

We spent almost two hours looking around, looking at the planets, enjoying the water features, gawking at some of the buildings surrounding the park in downtown OKC.

All the while, walking around the park, people greeted me with a smile, never remarking that I was clearly a man wearing women’s clothing. They were polite, if the acknowledged me that is, which really boosted my self-esteem. Soon I took off my this sweater and allowed myself to walk around in my sleeveless blouse, which I had been too self-conscious to do before.

We made out way to the bottom level, where there was a pond filled with koi and ducks, before making our way back to the car, and ultimately to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. We made a quick stop at The Home Depot before heading back to the hotel, getting ready to settle in for our last night in town.

***

We woke up on Wednesday and got dressed quickly, packed, and took everything to the car. I check out and then headed to gas up, and then we hit the road. I left OKC as I had arrived, dressed up as Stefani. I wanted to end the trip, enjoying the whole experience en femme. It was a bittersweet experience to arrive back in Amarillo, having only enough time to wash the trace of my identity from my face, and my nails, and put on my mask so I could go to work.

It was quick depressing to dress in drab again, and as I tried to get to work, I felt the depression weighing down on me. It may have been the exhaustion of the trip bringing me down as well. For almost 48 hours, I enjoyed my time as Stefani, reveling in the experience, wanting to do it again

Next time I want to go to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. A co-worker is wanting to take a trip to Taos, which may or may not happen, but I hope it does. She’s okay with me going as Stefani, so I pray it does. There’s so much to see and do, and I can’t wait to go out on another Stefani Adventure.

If you care to scroll through my photos of the trip, please visit my Flickr.

The one with a lot of maybes

3I had a stay-in last night. I got all dressed up, and then lay on the couch, playing on my phone, all night. That’s it. Nothing more. Of course I would have gone to Club 212 had my checking account been a little more favorable, but baby needed new tires, so baby got new tires. I’m baby, by-the-way.

Most of my money has gone to my car lately. I had to buy and replace the water pump and the water outlet the paycheck before that. My A/C had been on the fritz, and after several attempt to fix it, I ended up buying a new hose for the A/C system, and installed it. A/C works great, not meaning to pat myself on my back.

*waits for cheers and applause to die down*

Thank you, you’re too kind! And now I replace two tires. Hopefully I’ll be able to stop spending money on car repairs and start spending money on me again. Baby needs new shoes. Something comfy, walking shoes or the like. All I have are heels, including my boots. I love them, but I need something more casual to wear. That would be nice.

I also want a tattoo. I never wanted one, but Stef does. This duality in my personality is confusing sometimes. Male-mode is straight, Fem-mode is a little more fluid. Okay, maybe a little boy crazy. Curiosity is a bitch, I must tell you. Er…, maybe I shouldn’t.

I’m all over the place today, which I wasn’t last night. I firmly planted my behind on the couch, with the air conditioner on full blast, feeling chilly and comfy with the blankets pulled up over me. It was heaven. I dozed and then played on my phone, and then dozed again. Rinse and repeat.

Usually I get cabin fever locked in all night, but I think I needed a time out. I would have liked a margarita or a Dos Equis, but that’s okay. That can wait. My tires couldn’t. Safety first.

I hope to have a chance to dress again this week. Maybe tomorrow I will, after work. If the opportunity presents itself, I may go to the club this weekend. We’ll see. It’s still an entire work week away. I hope I survive. Or maybe not. Maybe I need a sugardaddy and/or momma. Maybe I should just go to bed.

 

Reintroductions

IMG_20160603_210251I’m about set to take another road trip down to visit a friend of mine next weekend. I can’t wait. I’m working to get my car ready as my air condition decided it no longer needed to work. I think I’ve located the leak, I’ve ordered the part, and I’m hoping it arrives before I leave. The Texas heat has begun to settle in, and I’m not looking forward to making that drive sans air conditioning.

I’m also looking forward to it because I’m planning on making the drive as Stefani. I did it last time, back in March, but I pulled over before I got to her house, changed back into boy mode, so that her husband wouldn’t see me. He doesn’t know, and as macho, right-wing man, anyone that doesn’t subscribe to traditional gender roles is to be ridiculed.

So I’m leaving early Friday morning, around five in the morning, and I asked my friend to be off that day. I want to introduce Stefani to her, even though she already knows. I send the occasional photo, but she hasn’t seen me dressed yet. At least not since 2000. I can’t believe it’ been that long.

She was the first person, back in ’97, that met Stefani. In fact, she’s the one that asked if I had a name. Back then, I dressed in secret, and though I came out to a friend even before then, it was still more of a fetish thing, one that filled me with shame and regret.

I came out to her as a joke. We worked at the same place, a Burger King on campus of the university we were attending. I kind of fell in love with her, which is strange to say now as she is my best friend. Then, I didn’t know her, but I thought she was cute, and we had that awkward banter that two people who are into each other fall into.

I would joke how I probably looked better in a dress than she did, as I recall. She laughed, but then she called my bluff. She told me where she lived and invited me over. To my everlasting surprise, I went over. I’m not sure if I actually put no a dress on that occasion, but I eventually did. I remember her pulling out a short, black dress. That I could have put it on is nothing short of amazing, considering how thin she was back in those days. Come to think of it, I was a lot thinner, too. Ugh, I feel fat!

Back to my story. She’s the one who helped me accept myself for who I was. She exhorted me to stop feeling guilty and to embrace the woman within. She taught me how to dress, showed me who to do make up, and encouraged me to leave the house, which I did. We went our during the day, me in short shorts with hose, and a sleeveless blouse. I totally rocked the look back then. It helped that I actually wore my hair long back then. We even went to Lubbock once and shopped around, if I recall correctly.

A lot can change in over the years. I’m no longer a thin wraith, and I don’t pass as well as I did back then. We dated for a while, broke up, but remained friends. She married, and I did as well, before divorcing five years later. The only constant is our friendship. And though I hid Stefani away for years, she never wavered in her acceptance of a person I tried to deny.

So here I am, ready to reintroduce myself to the woman who helped create my identity all those years ago. I can’t wait to make that drive, to step out of that car, and have her see me again.

My day not quite hiking

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Looking down onto the canyon floor. I love this place. 

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Enjoying the sun, or rather the cloud cover, at Palo Duro Canyon State Park . – Stefani Lara 2016

 

On Tuesday I did what I said I would never do in town, I went out as Stefani during the day. The sun was out, people were going about their business, and I had had enough of my self-imposed confinement and ventured out into the day, fully aware of the risk of being discovered by someone I know.

At that moment, I didn’t care. I knew I had to get out. It was off that day, and I hadn’t made it home the previous night, having stayed at my friend’s apartment where I store my things. The next morning, I debated whether or not to get dressed up, but I had no plans, and I was wanting to experiment a bit with my new eyeshadow palette, so I cleaned up, dressed, and nothing.

I hadn’t come prepared for a day in. I didn’t have a book, nor had I packed my laptop. There was absolutely nothing to do. Finally in desperation, I looked over at my friend and asked if she fancied a drive. Of course, she said yes, then was surprised that I meant at that moment instead of after dark, as had been my habit.

We drove from Amarillo down to Canyon. I used to be nervous driving around, even in the dead of night, but now the novelty has worn off. No one knows it’s me, nor do they care. They are too busy paying attention to what’s in front of them to pay attention to a another driver cruising the streets during the day. It’s absolutely freeing.

I drove to my Alma Mater, reminiscing about going to college, my first forays into crossdressing, and how far I had come from those days more than twenty years ago. I could never have gotten in my own car and cruised around back then. I could now, and it was okay.

Next we made our way to Palo Duro Canyon, paid the fare to go in, and continued to drive. I finally worked myself up to stop and step out of the car. I didn’t go prepared to hike, and I don’t think wearing heels and strolling the trails is advisable, so I contented myself  to taking a few pictures and enjoying to brisk, drizzly day.

We stayed down in the canyon for over an hour, wishing we had had the foresight to at least bring something to snack on at the picnic tables. Finally we wound our way back up the canyon walls, stopping a few more times for me to take more pictures, and drove back to her apartment, relishing my time in the sun.

It wasn’t some grand adventure, to be sure, but I stepped out during the day, and I survived. I enjoyed myself tremendously. The fear I felt even as recently as a month ago, has begun to lessen with each subsequent outing. I have become emboldened with each successive trip, waiting excitedly for my next foray outdoors.

Check out the rest of my pictures on Flickr!

 

Bared Soul

IMG_20160426_213221I bared my soul a little last night. It’s one of the hardest things for me to do, to let someone in. It’s a side effect of being an introvert. Couple that with the fact that I’ve kept me a secret all my life – for years even  from myself! – and you’ll understand that I’ve become adept at building walls. While there are those who have succeeded in scaling those walls, at least partially, I’ve hesitated with giving them free reign.

There are those few friends with whom I feel free and safe to let them see me for who I am. I’m not talking only about being a transgender woman, but of being free from the labels inherent in gender and sexuality, of being true to my most honest essence of my soul. Were you to ask me if I believed in soulmates, I would give you an unequivocal yes, with one caveat; that true soulmates are not necessarily romantic in nature. My best friend is, I believe, the truest soulmate I could ever ask for.

So imagine that I’m out in drab mode, out with a woman with whom I may have feelings for, and with whom exists a glimmer of possibility of something existing – not that I believe it likely. It’s only an post work drink with another coworker. We had gone on one date the previous month, though circumstances made it almost impossible for a repeat. I had told her then, under the influence of several beers, that I should have been a woman.

Last night I summoned my courage, took out my phone, and showed her this picture. Her face betrayed a brief look of shock of amazement, saying that I was actually pretty. We talked a little about gender and sexuality, but there was no hint of rejection, only acceptance of who I am.

IMG_20160426_213548Now, I have no real hope that I’ll ever find romance in my life, even with her. I’m too open and upfront with my being transgender for romance to be a real possibility. For all the brouhaha  over acceptance, it’s just that, brouhaha. It’s fine in theory, but in reality something someone else will have to practice, at least in my experience.

But I’ve let someone else into my confidence. I have a lifetime’s worth of experiences yet to be shared, but this, my most private secret, is out. I will not hesitate to share this side of me if there’s a chance of something more, for I will not go for a relationship founded on secrecy and deceit. I have before, always to my detriment.

What it will cost me, I know, is the same price I have paid time and again, a chance to find someone with whom to make my life. I may be giving up forever a chance to realize my most deepest desire, that of a wife, a home, and a family to call my own. It breaks my heart a little more whenever I think about it.

It pains me, you must understand, that being Stefani brings me little joy. It’s a burden that I’m learning to make peace with, but not a gift I can treasure. The ironic truth is that to find peace and happiness, I have to give up the illusion that Stefani doesn’t exist. I am Stefani. To deny her is to deny myself, and to deny myself is to live a lie. The truth, in all its agony and glory, is magnitudes more desirable than to live behind half-truths and complete lies.

But I will admit this, being Stefani does make me happy in one way. I do love the feeling of feeling pretty. I just wish I would have been born true to myself, aligned in mind, body, and soul, instead of being born into a prison of lies from which I have no true escape.

40th

20160409_183517Happy 40th to me! God, I feel old. I look it, too, when I look in the mirror. I can see the gray beginning to show, and the pain – Oh the pain! – in my knees, my back, and everywhere else. I still feel young. I feel like I did when I was a youngster in my twenties. It’s my body that has betrayed me!

The great thing about age is experience. I still feel that I’m lacking a bit there, but looking back on my life, I’ve made many major life transitions. I’ve quit and been fired from jobs, and I started new jobs. I’ve been married and divorced. I’ve been broken and been mended whole by the passage of time.

Through it all, I’ve come to my current standing crop, overlooking a live that I have lived, and I can see the footsteps that led me here. In a few places, I can see where I crawled on my hands and knees. I think I was dragged behind someone during 2011 and 2012, and into 2013. Some hardships leave you broken, and I’ve never been as broken as I was during those few years. I’m still amazed I’m alive.

The biggest change in my life, and the one that has brought me the most joy, is when I finally stopped running away from my self and my truth, and accepted the fact that I’m transgender. It’s a scary thing to accept, a dangerous truth to admit, but I did. I’ve let a few friends in on the secret, but at least it’s out there, and in here, now that I think about it.

Letting Stefani out of the proverbial closet has been a gift. It’s not easy, and it’s not something a readily put in public. I live my daily life in drab, but I life for those few stolen moments when I can fly and be free. I’ll probably never let my family know, and I may never find a steady relationship again, since I refuse to deny myself ever again, but I know my truth. I was born broken, and though I’ve done my best to live with the pain of my knowing this torture, I’m a broken human.

I know there are some who would advise me to transition, and I’ve considered it, but I won’t. The cost is too great. I would risk losing my family, and my family has been the only constant I have, the only reason I feel that I’m alive still today. I understand others feel differently than I do, and have sacrificed their family for the freedom to be themselves. I envy them, but I have to do what’s best for me. Life is full of uncomfortable compromises.

Now that I’ve started my 4th decade, I’ll nurture my feminine side, allowing my true soul to emerge. Maybe I’ll make myself a liar and out myself someday. Who knows? I never thought I would let Stefani out of the confines of my being, but She has emerged, and I’m richer for it. She’s more confident and open than my male ego, and I enjoy being Her more than I enjoy being Him.