I found myself staring into the mirror one night. I hated the reflection that was staring right back at me. Behind him, I hated the walls, the floor that I couldn’t see that I knew he was standing on, the world beyond him, the world before me. The thing is, to most other people in that world I appeared to have a lot going for me. A wife, two wonderful children, a career in which I was successful and well thought of by my supervisors and colleagues alike. But, what the world did not know, what they could never know, was how much I hurt inside; how twisted I felt, but thought I could never express.
The thing about hating who you are is that you often don’t only take that hatred out on yourself, but also on those who you most love. This was true for me. I would criticize my wife, yell at my children for the smallest things, ignore my mother, go weeks without talking to my father. I wanted so badly to be a good spouse, a loving father, an appreciative son. But, as I knew more than most, what I wanted and what would be were two very different things. I also wanted to be a woman. This desire was so strong that it was in my mind almost constantly throughout my waking life. While I slept, I would dream of it. During daydreams, I would picture it. I knew, with absolute certainty, that my deepest and darkest desire, the dream that I’d had since I could first remember dreaming, could never come true. It was too late, I would tell myself. It’s too expensive. Too many people depend on me the way that I am. I would lose everything that is good in my life. I don’t know the first thing about actually being a woman. I had an excuse to give myself every single time the thought crept into my head.
I had crossdressed periodically throughout my youth, sneaking into my mother’s closet whenever I knew that she would be out for an extended period of time. I would feel happier than I ever possibly imagined; right up to the point when the feelings of guilt would creep in. I’m such a freak. What would people say if they saw me? I look absolutely terrible in these clothes. This is just wrong. I would tear the clothing off, put it back exactly as it once had been, and then retreat to my room and hate myself even more.
When I first set out on my own, I finally purchased some of my own clothing. I remember buying a pair of heels that were way too small for my feet, a dress that was much too tight for me, and a few other incidentals. I would come home, escape to my bedroom to avoid the prying eyes of my roommate, and put things on and just sit on my bed. At night, I would sleep in a nighty. Those nights were some of the most restful of my life, and when I awoke each morning, for a split second, I imagined that my childhood wish of waking up female had come true. But alas, it had not.
I got married, buried my desires as deeply as possible and attempted to live a male life. With the birth of my son and then of my daughter a year and a half later, I felt further from my true self than ever before in my life. My only outlet was the internet. Reading transgender fiction, finding pages of transwomen who had successfully transitioned and living through their experiences would have to do. This was just not a life that I would ever be able to achieve.
Years would pass, and as I continued to suppress the woman that I was inside, I continued to grow angrier, more resentful of a world where everyone else seemed to be living the life that they had desired. I fell deeper into depression that I ever knew was possible, losing myself in a world of video games and routine. But, I had reached a breaking point. I could no longer continue to live this life.
After attempting to make that thought a reality, I spent some time getting help. For all of the good that therapists and psychiatrists did for me, it was the other patients who served as the source of motivation to take a hold of my life and, for the first time, make it my own. As much as I hated hearing it at the time, my wife, demanding a divorce because she knew that our marriage had reached an end, also gave me that push that I needed.
Coming out as transgender was never a choice; not, at least, in my eyes. I didn’t choose to become a woman. Instead, I accepted the woman that I have always been. I chose to stop fighting her, to stop hating my true nature. I let her free.
Transitioning certainly has not solved all of my problems. I still have issues to deal with, just as much as anyone else. But, for the first time in my life, when I fight my demons, I’m doing it as me, not as a character of my own creation.