It has been over 1 year since I wore any women’s clothing.
It has been a very long time since I have posted here and there is a very good reason for that. Sometimes I find it is just too difficult to force myself to take even more time than I already naturally do in my own thoughts or in conversations with others, to then think more about and the write about things. Quite simply, I think about and discuss how I am doing, what is working and what is not, how I am feeling, what I am thinking, my temptations and desires more than plenty already with myself in my own internal thoughts, with my therapist, with my 12 step group, with my spouse and with other supporters. Very often it has just seemed completely overwhelming to increase that frequency or add on top of that the need to have a schedule, an obligation, or even a goal to frequently write about it. It becomes too much and reaches a point where I feel it fixates my focus on my challenges and feelings of difficulty more than I want it to be, instead of moving my focus to where I want it to be, my successes and how to get there. Repeated, relived, and reviewed analysis does not always mean benefit, only if it is helpful, and I have found there is a point where it is too much.
I have mentioned this before either here or in talks with others about the driving near the edge analogy where you tell yourself “Don’t go over the outside line in the lane, and then fixating attention on that line”. The result is you are drawn to what you focus on. Instead in the same analogy it has been suggested to focus on the inside line. I.e. where you want to go instead of where you don’t want to go and then you will naturally avoid the outside line. I have been trying that, but it means in a lot of ways I am not looking for other things that directly relate to overcoming crossdressing which is the subject here, because the purpose is not focusing on avoiding crossdressing, my purpose in thought had been to focus on living my life. I view crossdressing challenges as that outside line in the lane that then seems in many ways to deal with itself because I am focusing on the inside lane.
I will admit and warn though, that in my earliest stages of recovery this approach of looking for the inside line rather than the outside line or edge would never have worked. Returning to the analogy, if your car is already on the line or flirting with crossing it or on the edge then at that level of crisis it certainly makes sense (in “panic mode”) to be working on the smaller but more critical goal of getting away from the edge and back to that outside line, or getting on the other side of that outside line or getting even a little bit more on the inside of the line. In my earliest stages of recovery, looking for the inside most line that is on the left side of the car (in the U.S. anyway) was too far away. When you are panicked in the intense situation sometimes you have to start by focusing on what you are not going to do, and then get some experience and confidence with it before looking further.
I find great value in the calm and peaceful times when I don’t have to think about and analyze and focus on this aspect of my life. I find great value in focusing my attentions on the things I do enjoy in life, on my kids, on my other enjoyments, etc. In short, I do not want to give this blog, crossdressing and my difficult thoughts more attention than they deserve. It does not define me, and I will not allow focus on the subject to give it more time than I feel comfortable with or want. Those aspects get plenty of attention without this blog. If more attention and focus via blogging is useful to me, then great, I will post here when it feels helpful or when it feels not overwhelming, or when I feel I can handle the addition and believe it will help others to post here.
I had wondered for many many years why it was so hard to find information or people who were recovering from crossdressing or striving to quit. I am now very strongly starting to believe that what I have explained above is the great reason that it is so hard to find people who talk about success in overcoming crossdressing. It is not an easy path, and revisiting, repeat thinking, and fixating on things too much, makes it a lot harder. I now believe from my own experience that there may be many people who are succeeding at overcoming crossdressing addition, but the path and choices they must take does not leave easily searchable and discoverable evidence for those of us who are looking for how they do it.
I also believe another key to why it is so difficult to find is that so much of the effort is intensely individual. It is internal and involves me taking my own personal responsibility, with me as an individual making decisions, discovering why I think things, discovering what I think, and wanting and then deciding to think differently and then working on changing how I think. I am not talking about will power or having firmer resolve. I tried that for years just believing that working harder or being more committed would work. It has nothing to do with that. I am talking about me questioning myself about why I think or feel or do things. About me questioning what I need. About me questioning what I can do that is a truly valid compromise and then trying it without fear of falling and without fear of leaning too much to the desires of my two sides of thinking (female/male). For example, I have a flower on my cell background image. I like to use prettier towels. I have lost a lot of weight. I have decided that these are small things I can do that my male and female aspects can both compromise on and collectively as a whole person I can feel good about. It reduces conflict between the two without having to fully give over to the demands of one or the other and without having to choose to dress. I am talking about questioning my own assumptions, about if I think or feel this do I have to do it? About questioning my own assumptions about the meaning of my thoughts and feelings and self-worth from them. About questioning my needs. I am talking about learning to feel ok about myself and how I feel, but choosing what I do. I am talking about questioning my own logic and reasoning and assumptions and presenting different ones and then trying them. I find it difficult to work in that highly internal realm and then go external and explain it all. It just seems like too much to put to words and explain sometimes. The challenges with therapy and discussions with others and even the process itself is enough to make me tired.
I am finding that very often if I am working on it, over focusing on crossdressing recovery is just too difficult to give time and attention to and still succeed. I will do what I am able to show what is helping me, but please do not fault me for not posting regularly here. I will not make that promise. That method of giving so much attention to the issue does not work for me. And searching the internet for additional support, or overthinking about my challenges can so easily lead to other temptations. Not a formula for success long term. I do hope there are therapists and others like me, or others involved who will share what helps, but it is not my duty to do this. My first priority is my own recovery. If as I suspect with others, it leaves little evidence, I apologize. But I am starting to believe that is part of how the path to this personal recovery works.
So, with that long preface, I am going to talk about some things that have been helping me. I mentioned already rethinking things and some small compromises that are not crossdressing. The flower background on my phone. My wife asked about it and we talked about it. I told her I like it because I think it is pretty. She agreed it is. There, was that so hard or problematic? It was. And that’s ok. And it’s not a threat. The towel. I think they look nicer. It is ok for me to like pretty things and be a man. And those ones do not carry the same consequences as crossdressing for me. I have been learning that total denial of wanting something pretty leads to fights and stronger conflicts and stronger actions by both my male and female aspects of thinking. I have been suspecting that some of this may have been learned from my childhood. Some of it not. As a child, my family struggled financially and we were not well off. I often could not get things I thought were cool, or looked nice, or were neat, or were pretty. Crossdressing presented a very radical form of protest where I could feel that very internally and personally. It is not my parents fault that I didn’t get everything I wanted. It is not their fault we were poor. It is what it is. It is not their fault I found the outlet I did. But I have realized that coping with our financial situation required a focus more on basic needs than I liked. It also ended up leading me to a mindset that things like that (pretty, neat, fun) are not needed or are ALWAYS unimportant and should be minimized to survive and even to succeed. Look at that sentence, there are a lot of flaws in that thinking. It is not “always” the case. I am not always forced to just look at how I survive. I am often, but not always in other situations where I can think differently. It does not mean they are unimportant. There is a time and place for their importance. Some things like that are needed for me to feel my emotional or personal needs of what I value are met. I don’t think my parents intended me to think that way, but I know I developed that way of thinking and it led to me suppressing some aspects of my life as unnecessary, or excess when in reality they have a place even if limited or situational. This is just one example of many flawed thoughts I have. Also about what is and is not masculine and feminine.
I am learning to choose what I can incorporate and not let my male side panic at allowing anything “non male” at all. I have been starting to think that perhaps it has been that overreactionary hardliner stance that has caused many problems. It comes from fear. It comes from fear that if I give any ground to what I associate in my mind as a more female desire then the male me loses. I have been learning by experiment and experience that that fear is not grounded. There are aspects I associate with femininity that I can incorporate as some levels without problems. And it gels more with the understanding I have been developing that everyone (men and women) have different levels of what our thoughts associate as “masculine” and “feminine”. I have been learning in therapy that setting up extremes and absolutes does not resolve things when I have a mix of both needs. The result is swinging hard and exaggerated between the two and hard protest by the losing side in its moment of rebellion, and even harder counterstrike and silencing retribution when the normally controlling side regains power. It escalates conflict and reactions. It does not fix things.
Even if one (male/female aspect) is far stronger, it cannot live at an extreme level all the time because I (the central me) am not either of those extremes.
I have lost a lot of weight. Nearly 50 pounds. There have been multiple driving forces for it. The more female associated thoughts and feelings like my thinner body shape. That aspect of me feels better and prettier being thin. That aspect of thinking associates fat as male and despises it. Admittedly that side looks at a thinner body shape and admits how much easier it would be to dress more convincingly and aesthetically and pass or more closely resemble a female figure and how much more easily the right clothes could create that shape. Yes, those very thoughts send my male aspects of thinking and feeling into a feeling of panic sometimes, and I want to reach for the “total annihilation” button and call in all the armed forces to unleash a mass death extinction of them. But I have had to rethink and reevaluate based on what actual actions and results my weight loss is leading to, not what fears it creates to my male aspects of thinking. Decisions based on fear and panic are not always the smartest. And I know what overreaction leads to. I cannot cause extinction…the thoughts come back and if suppressed and smothered will boil and resurface like an angry violent volcano fully ready for any fight with any army.
So let’s look at the hidden agenda/thoughts of my male aspect of thinking on the same subject. Here is one that bothers me from that side. For a long time as a youth I was a highly accomplished athlete and in the prime of physical health. After high school and college I stopped playing sports as much and lost a lot of interest for many reasons. I got fat. There is a male aspect of me that has always wanted to return to better physical shape and to not feel fat. There is a male aspect that looks at things though and says, yeah, being fat is not really what I want, but it is tolerable for me as a male. Then there is the “I refuse to get what I really want because she will get what she wants” thought. My aspects of thought do not get privacy from each other. Sometimes one drowns out the other for a while. Sometimes one is naturally quieter for a while. I know what all my thoughts are. All aspects of my thinking male, female, central know what all the others are thinking. So, when my male associated aspect says I refuse to lose weight or be healthier because the female associated aspects will get what they want and I can tolerate being fat as a man….what happens. Does either side win? No. Both lose. I am fat and don’t feel my best as a man either. How does it make me feel? Neither aspect, male, female or central is happy. In fact, the more female aspect feels attacked because it knows the male aspect is not doing this of its own desire, but rather merely to spite and suppress and hold down the female associated aspect. What results? Anger. Resentment. Can you see where this is leading? The volcano. A fight. Many fights. A war without any possibility of negotiation or peaceful end or even of either side fully destroying the other. It may seem a simple thing but the realization that these female aspect desires and thoughts are not going to leave me has been very important. You fight, compromise, and negotiate differently if you believe you can destroy your enemy than you do if you believe you might not be able to. In fact, you look with a lot more interest at the negotiating table, because you realize the war will not end. You don’t want to surrender and will not. But you realize that the extreme dual devastation of the conflict and war is leaving destruction everywhere in your life. You start to think, maybe there is a way to reduce the fighting or its impact. Maybe I don’t have to win everything, maybe I only have to win certain key things. For the first time you start to think…if I don’t have to win everything what is it that I do need to win? What is it that I can trade off? What might I need to try and see and reevaluate. What will we still disagree on but disagree peacefully until possibly at some later time a less conflictful method of dealing with it can be found. On the weight aspect I have realized that I don’t have to be spiteful. I can feel happy losing weight for both reasons. It does not mean I have to dress though. And oddly enough the female associated thinking aspect has not pushed for it, in fact has felt less need to push for it. What I am finding is that there are some things that I can agree on, I can satisfy both aspects on, and now here is the key. Both sides are learning that by reaching agreement on my losing weight, the more female associated aspect actually feel a sense of fulfillment in how my body is. And guess what so does the male. Now what about the male aspect fears? The female aspects’ sense of improved satisfaction with my body not being fat has actually felt fulfilling to where having some success on that aspect makes me feel less of a need to take other actions (like dressing) to deal with it.
Something is working here. Does either side like the other sides thoughts? No. But can either side change the other’s thoughts, desires and feelings? No, each can only speak louder or try to suppress the other for some period of time. But they cannot eliminate or change the thoughts feelings, and desires. Here’s another odd thought. Are they really sides? At some point aren’t my thoughts feeling and desires (central)? Well. Yes and no. At some level in between yes. At both extremes no. Hmm. Now here is a key question I have come to grips with. Can either side change the other’s ACTIONS? Interesting. Yes. Yes they can. How? By agreement and compromise on aspects that will work for both, and by cautiously and carefully judging based on actions and results not on feelings/thoughts. What actions changed? The extremes. The feelings are able to exist without extreme behavior and extreme actions. I don’t have to dress but can still feel some sense of fulfillment. I can also feel better about overall health from the other point of view and don’t have to forego being in better health and losing weight. Do the actions do anything to solve the conflicting thoughts/feelings/desires? No. But they change how much impact actions from those thoughts can have. They also change the frequency of conflict. The disagreement at a thought/feeling/desire level still exists, but it is not ruling my life as much, it is a less frequent conflict. It is not leading to drastic actions by either side. It is not ideal to either side, but overall it is better for both and the real actions and results are better for both.
Is this giving some insight into what I mean when I say I am learning to rethink, learning to revalue, learning to question my assumptions? It is not easy to explain. But I can tell it is real. My wife gave an interesting analogy she has derived from her own thoughts and reasoning while attending her SAnon support group. She was telling me she views my challenges as similar to a disease like diabetes. Now, before readers start jumping to conclusions and misinterpreting let me explain fully. She is not saying that I cannot do anything about crossdressing because it is a disease. She is not saying that because I have a disease there is nothing I can do and it is just a fact that I will have to dress. Focus more on the diabetes part of the analogy. Someone with diabetes has it. They can’t make it go away. It is there whether they like it or not. But they can adapt how they live their life to make their life manageable in spite of the fact they have diabetes. Diabetes does not have to define them. But they can learn to eat differently and in some ways live differently. So let’s compare. My thoughts/feelings/desires may never go away. I can accept that. Just as someone with diabetes has to eventually accept that they have it and it is a reality. They cannot change the fact they have diabetes. I cannot change the fact that no matter what I do the desires/feelings/thoughts always exist. But they can eat differently and live in a way that the negative consequences of diabetes don’t hurt them. I can have those feelings/thoughts/desires but I don’t have to act on them. Or I can express them in ways that don’t hurt. Diabetics can choose substitutes that work with their diet and meet some of the cravings they might have satisfied differently. I can do the same with crossdressing. I can seek other nonharmful means of expression. Does a diabetic still want and crave those things they can’t have? Sure. But it is a decision with multiple aspects. Would the food still taste good? yes. Could it cause problems and also taste good. Yes. Same thing with crossdressing. Does it always hold appeal for me? yes. Could it cause problems and also be appealing? Yes. Do I have to do it? No. Will I choose to do it? Don’t have to. I can live differently. People with diseases, diabetes or other unchangeable conditions in their life do learn to change how they live. Not because they don’t want what they had before. But because the mix of good and bad results those previous actions provide changes to the point they want to make different decision in spite of the appeal aspect
I think again some of this comes back to thinking. I grew up in a highly right/wrong religious environment. I have spent a lot of time thinking more later in my life what right and wrong mean. I have also been learning that a very common mistake in environments that teach right and wrong is what I like to call “oversimplification”. Let me explain. Is it right or wrong to jump off a cliff at the grand canyon with no parachute heading straight down to solid rock? Very clearly and very “oversimplifiedly” the answer is a blatantly obvious WRONG. It is Wrong, duh, obvious. Ok, that is an easy one. I gave it on purpose to show in even an extreme case how the oversimplification principle works. Instead of quickly stating its wrong, and saying duh, let’s look closer. And here is where people miss. Most people don’t look closer and ask why. Why is it wrong? It will lead to pain and death. There. Case closed. Very easy. Duh, I can’t believe we are even wasting time on this. Oh really? Is it that simple? No! It is not. We have oversimplified by focusing only on the biggest outcome…pain and death. Is that the only outcome? No. For some people like me there would be a rush and thrill to the falling aspect. There would be a rush and thrill to the courage aspect of trying it. There would be a curiosity aspect of hmm wonder what it’s like. Does what I say sound ludicrous? Oh really? Then why exactly is it that people skydive? Or Bungee jump. Or cliff dive into water? To some people like me there IS an enjoyment and thrill and curiosity and nuance aspect. Oh, that’s different you say? They have a parachute, or water, or a cord to stop them. Baloney, I say. In both cases the thrill, enjoyment, and curiosity is there. The difference is that in the falling into solid rock example there is a second and much more prominent aspect that accompanies those feelings. That is fear, pain, and death. All of those exist. Thrill, curiosity, enjoyment, pain, death, fear. We tend to ignore the ones that are not fear, pain, and death though because in the falling into solid rock case, the fear pain and death are so immensely weighted and important that the other thoughts/feeling get drown out. Now I will point out, that yes I will agree it is wrong to jump off the cliff into solid rock landing.
But the difference in how I am learning to think vs. how I used to, is that I am not doing a 1 sided analysis as to why. It is not because there is pain, death, and fear that it is wrong. It is because those aspects are far more significant than the thrill, excitement, curiosity aspects….even though the latter still exist.
Now translate that back to my thoughts on right and wrong. I have been learning that it is not about oversimplified comparison. Almost every decision I run into in life has a combination of feelings/thoughts/outcome and consequences that result. Some are much larger than others. But there is almost always more than just one to look at. And I don’t have to limit myself to looking at just the biggest to reach the “right” decision. Let’s go a step further. Sometimes you get presented with several good options to a choice. Or with a few good options all different in mixture of consequences, and a few bad. And you can pursue any of the several paths, but will have different mixes of consequence.
What is right and Wrong then? We are not always in “either or” binary decision. Sometimes you get 2 scholarship offers. Or 3 job offers. All of them good. Which is right? Which is wrong? Job offers could vary in salary, in benefits, in hours worked, in commute time. There are multiple tradeoffs in what is desirable with once vs. what is desirable with another and what is undesirable with one and what is undesirable with another. One may have great benefits but lower salary. The other might have decent salary, decent benefits but an awful commute. The mixture may not always be EASILY comparable. But in the end we decide which one is best and call that one the “right” decision because it had the best overall mixture and combinations of outcomes. Guess what? Life is like this. It is rarely the oversimplified right/wrongs. It is tougher in comparison and usually involves sets and combinations of multiple consequences association with each choice.
I don’t have to oversimplify. I am good at comparing mixtures. I can look at the consequences of crossdressing for me and realize that it causes me some feelings I enjoy, others I don’t. It creates problems with my marriage and family and other aspects of my life. It has mixed results some I like, some I don’t. I don’t have to have rose colored glasses and say that there is nothing I like/enjoy/feel/desire about it. That’s simply not true. That is denial. It is suppression and it will sneak up and bite me if I ignore it. I can look at it and say, yet there are parts of it I like/crave/want/feel/desire/enjoy. But as a whole there are other options I want more because the mix of consequences and feelings as a whole is something I like more. Does it mean I stopped wanting/feeling/enjoying the idea of crossdressing? No. It just means it is not what I am choosing to do. I don’t have to go into denial of the wants/feelings/enjoyment just because I choose not to pursue that path. And now returning to what I said earlier….I can acknowledge that yeah, I like it, want it, it does give some feeling I like, others I don’t. I can acknowledge that – not suppress or deny – and then make my decision to do something else that I feel is a better mixture, and move my focus to that. I hope what I am saying makes sense. You don’t have to oversimplify. You don’t have to deny that another choice is appealing just because you didn’t choose it.
Now returning a little more to right/wrong. What makes something right? Here’s a lot of questions about what it means.
Right is whatever everyone else believes is the best choice?
Right is what society tells you is the best choice?
Right is whatever academic “experts” and “scholars” tell you is the best choice?
Right is whatever people who you are closest to and value believe is the best choice?
Right is what your doctrine tells you is the best choice?
Right is what God believes is the best choice?
Right is what you believe is the best choice?
Right is what proves in retrospect to have been the best choice?
Don’t look for me to say which one it is. I’m not always sure myself. It begs the follow on question of Right for who? Best for who? I will openly admit that sometimes others have recommended choices that were better than the ones I made in retrospect. So I know that there are certainly times when what I believed was the best choice was not. But there have been other times when I have chosen better than what others said. I have found many experts and scholars to have great papers on their walls, more ideas and better ideas than some uneducated or inexperienced people. However my experience has also taught me that they don’t always make the best choices in retrospect either. Certainly not always, even though perhaps a little more often than others. Is God’s choice always the best choice? Some will say yes absolutely! I often find that those choices often benefit others and not me though, or benefit others and me less. Sometimes they benefit people I care about, sometimes complete strangers. I like to believe that God’s is the best choice. However as with many things in that realm….very often I have to take that on faith….which means quite simply that I don’t know if it is, or I hope that it is but honestly I don’t 100% completely know for sure. Sometimes God’s will benefits multiple people, but me less than others or less than following other choices. Is my benefit more or less important than other people’s? That might seem easy to answer and you’d say you matter first before others. If you have kids though, or really love someone deeply, you might think harder. I love my kids and there are many cases where what is best for them matters far more to me than what is best for me. Sometimes even to me I will take negative consequences to myself because I truly want something better for them. I believe there are best choices, and I know some ways to not measure it. I don’t know that I need a full answer to the “right” definition to live my life though. Isn’t that a recursive loaded question? The “right” definition of “right”.
How do you know it’s right. Honestly I often find I don’t get all the information, don’t see all the good and bad results. It is often hard to know, because perfect information and perfect insight is rare. Even retrospect often gets clouded and oversimplified.
What I need is a definition that works well enough to get where I am trying to get to. I know that I don’t have to always make the “right” or best decisions to progress, but it helps when I get better at it. I know that over time and with experience I am able to get better at making “right” or best choices. I also know and have been learning that living for guilt/fear/duty about always making the right choice is rather futile and pointless and does not do anything other than make pretend progress for me, but really not move me anywhere, or perhaps move me forward but I can’t tell or benefit from it. I am not capable of ALWAYS choosing best. I don’t know anyone who is, or who always does. Luckily I don’t have to ALWAYS make the best right/best choice. But I have learned that if I want to progress, I have to ALWAYS TRY TO make the best choice, even if I don’t succeed in actually arriving at the best one. And I have learned that obsessing about it, or feeling guilty and bad about retrospect does absolutely nothing for me. I have also learned that in the relationship with me and God things work and feel a lot better if I can myself arrive at the point where I desire/want/and would choose the same choice God would make, rather than forcing myself to submit to something I don’t believe in. Can I do that and go on faith? Sure. Do I benefit if I go on faith? Sometimes, sometimes no, hard to tell, perhaps I do and can’t tell, honestly it is often hard to know. Do I have to ONLY choose to go on faith and refuse and avoid ever trying to learn how to make and arrive at the same decision as God and have the same desires driving the decision on my own? No. I don’t have to choose to always be ignorant and reliant. I think God wants us to go on faith, but also expects us to learn, grow, and figure a lot of things out for ourselves. I refuse to believe that God wants mindless slaves. I refuse to believe that God wants his “children” to forever remain incompetent and useless and dependent on him and in a perpetual free handout state of living. I refuse to believe that a “loving” God wants his children to remain uneducated, to remain forever inexperienced, to remain forever ignorant, to remain forever blind compared to him, or to remain forever incapable of reaching best decisions on their own. That sounds like a power-hungry prideful supremacist vision of God to me. I don’t buy that. I have to believe that God wants us to become more capable, more able to do things on our own, and able to make the “right” decision, see what he sees, understand what he understands, and arrive at the decisions with all the information he has in the same way, even if it takes infinity to reach that point. Perhaps someday I’ll reach that point or closer to it. For now, all I can honestly say when I blindly surrender my will, is that I get mixed results, that I don’t often understand, and I remain by definition somewhat blind in my ability to tell if it is/was the best decision, though I hope so. I hope that changes someday. I find it much more valuable when he and I are able to arrive at the same decision either for different reasons, or ideally for the same ones. That’s not an easily repeatable feat. I don’t have to feel bad about when I don’t reach that point. I am what I am at any given point in time. I don’t have to pretend or satisfy others, or be something I’m not.
Sometimes I have reflected back on my life and wondered how it could have been different. Or choices I might have made differently. Would I have made the same decisions? If I had not gotten married and did not have kids, would I have chosen to accept and embrace crossdressing and wherever it led? If I did not have the religious beliefs and belief in God I do, would I have chosen to live differently? If I had not been raised in the home I grew up in would I have chosen to embrace crossdressing without the same issues? I don’t know, but sometimes I really wonder if I would have. Retrospect is sometimes such a hard thing to look through and derive any value. You can only look back and see what did happen and imagine what would have been different. The fact is you don’t know what would be different, or all of the information of what did, would, and wouldn’t happen. If I had been born into different circumstances, physical, family, nurture, upbringing, genetics or whatever would I have even had the same feelings and desires? How much is part of me, how much became part of me? Don’t know for sure. How capable am I at being able to tell? Don’t know for sure. Why did I choose to be where I am at? I was single at one point and did choose to be married and have kids. Why? Because I want that. Is it possible I would choose to be married and have kids and go through the same thing all over again? Seems very possible, even in different circumstances. I don’t know. If I end up alone at some point later in life does that mean I’m destined/doomed to embrace crossdressing? I don’t think so. Maybe I would? Maybe I would remake the same choice I did before and choose not to be alone, and choose to seek out a marriage partner, and choose to pursue the same things I have now and simply choose not to be alone and not to follow that path. I can learn from retrospect and ponder, but it does not seem to give me sure answers. It also does not change anything in the life I am now in.
As you can tell I have been trying to rethink a lot of my thinking not just about crossdressing but about life and everything else. I don’t have to be perfectly successful at rethinking things to get where I am trying to go. I don’t have to even always know how to do it or what to do. Another analogy that has come to mind is heroes and what they do. I enjoy playing The Legend of Zelda with my kids. Now admittedly it is a simplified game compared to real life. But I still think there are some things you can learn from it. When you start the game as the hero you want to be able to win. My kids of course on day 1 immediately wanted to be able to find and defeat the bad guy immediately right then. Guess what? Not possible. You don’t have the right equipment, don’t know the right moves, techniques, or where to go. Some things you need are beyond your own power or require help from others. Some things take timing at the right time, and some things lead to others that finally get there. I have noticed that sometimes my kids get discouraged when we cannot do what they want to be able to do…like immediately go find and confront the bad guy. Or even figure out how to get to that treasure chest over there. Or how to find someone missing. Or how to beat an enemy that is very hard. So what do we do? Give up? Admit defeat because we can’t even find the enemy let alone have what we need to win, let alone use it right, let alone win? No. We do what we are able to do with what we have and see where it leads to. Does that mean that to get to the “mystic realm” I have to first go to that forest I didn’t plan on, then to the volcano, then to the desert than back to the sky, then back to the forest, then to somewhere random, then help some random person who gives me something unexpected that helps. Yeah. It means that. It means that the path that gets me where I want to go is very odd, windy, back and forth, and hard to see how going here will get me there. But, for those of you who have played these games you find that gradually with experience you start collecting new items (shields, swords, ropes, horse, jars, secrets, info, etc.) that make you more able, more capable, more knowledgeable, to handle more things. And while I work on the things I AM able to do, after a very long and circuitous path, gradually I start to find that closer to the end, I do know where the enemy is, but not how to cross that 1000 foot drop to his castle that has no bridge. Then later, I get new abilities, knowledge, experience and something new becomes possible. I figure out how, I get what I need to be able to win, I am able to use it right, I get to the right place at the right time. And finally we win the game. It is not a direct path. It is not a clearly visible path where I know that what I am doing will lead to what I need. Sometimes there are side quests that are nice but that really don’t get me to the end of the main quest. sometimes what seemed like a side quest actually turns out to have been critical to me being able to finish the main quest.
I have decided that I think that is how my crossdressing challenges are going to be in life. I do not know the full path to get where I want to go. I don’t completely know how to do it or if I have everything I need to be able to get there yet. But here is the key. I am working on what I am able to do with what I have and seeing where it leads to. I know where I want to get eventually. So when opportunities or new things that help along the way show up, I am able to recognize them, collect them and add it to my arsenal of knowledge, assets, abilities, and things in general. Here is another key. Even though the path my not be visibly direct and is circuitous and takes me back over ways I feel I have crossed before…I am able to see that I am learning things and progressing. I can tell that I have more things that are helping me towards my long goal than I did 1 year ago or 5 years ago or 20 years ago. I can see that I am getting more capable. I would love to be able to stop the desires/feelings as well as the behavior. I do not completely know how to do that, and especially the first part. I don’t even know if it is possible in this life to lose those feelings/desires. But I do know I have been able to see changes in my behavior. I have been able to see changes in the frequency of feelings/desires. I have been able to see changes in how often the inner conflict leads to extreme behavior from either side or direction. I have been able to find support, therapy, and ways to live more manageably and at peace than before.
How well are my results at not having the desires/feelings? Negligible at best. While behavior wise I have felt successful in compromising and reducing the extreme warfare actions, the feeling linger. There are aspects that have not been related to the behavior. Some feelings enjoy the anticipation or fantasy. There are more aspects than just wearing clothes to this. Sometimes I feel that the feelings and desires are more present just less potent at leading to actions. Sometimes I feel that the feelings and desires go through cycles where they feel even more intense or more fundamental to me as a person that they ever did when I thought it was just part of the behavior. When you stop doing something, you realize there are feeling/desires that are not just behavior related. It is tough to deal with. Why do I feel this way? Not sure. Will it ever change? Don’t know how. Do I often feel jealous of women. Absolutely. Do my own feelings bother me? Yes and no and both at the same time. But you know what? I am doing what I can with what I have. Seeing where it goes. Recognizing helps/assets as I encounter them. Knowing what I am trying to get to. Realizing what progress I do have and what new abilities I am gaining. I am not going to let what I am not able to and don’t know how to solve yet get me down.
Other things I have learned. I need to find more interests and hobbies. Yeah crossdressing has for much of my life dominated that. Online strategy games did too. I have given both up. Do I miss them? Sure. I’m not going to lie and only point out half the truth remember? I’m going to be honest about the good and bad, the desirable and undesirable in the mixture. There are aspects but both proved a mixture of good and bad things that I have decided I don’t want in the end in spite of how much the pleasure/enjoyment side had. The mixture is not one sided – the full honest look at those 2 “hobbies” has led me to look for other things. It is hard to find them sometimes, which is discouraging. But at other times it makes me realize how strong a grip those “hobbies” had on my life in terms of keeping me from seeking out other things that interest me as well, and from spending time or developing better and more meaningful relationships with those I love and care about.
I have also learned that feelings matter a lot to me. Especially feeling close to someone else. Emotional Intimacy matters much more to me that physical intimacy. But when I lack emotional intimacy, physical intimacy seems to try and step in to provide validation and “physical confirmation” that I should feel emotional validated, or a physical substitute to try and say since I feel physically validated it must mean I am emotionally validated. Flawed logic. But I think it is some kind of defense mechanism/coping mechanism within myself that tries to kick in. Is that why I create a different me? Not totally sure. Does it create a perception of being close to someone else by being someone else? Not sure, but I have wondered a lot. I don’t have to let it kick in. I don’t have to respond to it when it does. And more importantly, I don’t have to sit back and allow circumstances to proceed to a point where it triggers the perceived need to kick in. I have been trying to learn how to be more emotionally open with my wife. I’m not talking about sharing my feeling on crossdressing. Honestly for her that is not helpful. I am talking about sharing my feelings about everything else in life. I am also trying to learn how to deal with my emotions on my own when I am alone or can’t talk with her. Learning to acknowledge they exist has been a big step…i.e. not going into denial about significance of noncrossdressing feelings from normal life. Recognizing when I feel sad about other non crossdressing things, or frustrated, or lonely. Recognizing when I feel crossdressing feelings/thoughts too. Not going into denial about it. I can work within things that I acknowledge exist. If I pretend it does not, then I get blindsided (amusingly, blindsided by myself, by my own denial).
I feel overall I am succeeding so far. My life is feeling more manageable. It is not a “Cure”. I still struggle often and a lot with my feelings and desires. But so far I am living in a way I feel good about and that is working with me and those I love. I still really wish the desires/thoughts/feelings/wants would go away or become a nonissue. Their ultimate impact has been reconciled in many ways to a way I can live with. I also feel I am learning to understand myself better, and accept who I am, and not live in denial, or in all out inner conflict/warfare. But the thoughts/feelings/wants/desires are still a very real and regular presence in my life, even if the actions are not.
I don’t know if that can change. And to be honest, I don’t know what it would feel like if they did. I cannot remember a time other than early childhood when it was not like this. But early childhood is so different even for people who don’t struggle with crossdressing or my desires that it hardly seem like a valid reference point to look at to think how adult life, sexuality, and feelings would be. As a teenager and then adult I have to admit I do not know what it would be like to feel differently or never have those thoughts/feelings/wants/desires exist. In some ways it seems strange to want something that I don’t know what it would be like to actually have or feel like. Seems very theoretical. By definition of not having the thoughts/feelings/desires/wants then in theory I wouldn’t even miss them or be able to miss them? They would not have appeal right? This theoretical state seems very beyond my understanding of how it works or even how it would be accomplished.
Perhaps there is a different state that is reachable. Knowing the feelings/wants/desires/thoughts. Knowing their appeals. Comprehending, Knowing, understanding and even remembering how it “felt” (notice the past tense). But having that comprehension of feeling, even though the feeling is no longer existent or potent like that. Perhaps the best way to describe this is the idea of “fading”. Having those feelings/wants/desires/thoughts become faded simply through time and choice and through other desires. Not becoming ignorant of what it was ever like or what it is like or could be like, but instead becoming immune to the potency because of some sort of change. I would like to believe this is possible. I remember when I was far younger what some of my interests, hobbies and passions were. I have mentioned earlier that sports were of great importance to me. That passion has faded. I remember how passionate I was about it then though. I know how that feeling felt, what it was and can recognize how it would feel even now, but it is not the feeling that is in me any more like it was then. Some people say it’s like riding a bike though and that if you get back into it the feelings and desires I had for sports back then would return. I am not so sure. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe that is true for some things and maybe others really do permanently change and simply lose interest that will not renew by re-immersion. Either way, I don’t have to choose to re-immerse myself in sporting competitions even if immersing myself in it would restore the feelings. So whether it could be re-ignited or not doesn’t really matter so long as it is a choice, and I can decide if I take that choice. I can always still decide to let sports passion stay faded and not revisit it. I hope that something is possible like this for crossdressing feelings/passions/wants/desires/thoughts.
The idea of fading desires/wants/passions/feelings is mystic and hard to grasp to me though. How does it happen? Passage of time seems to matter. Overshadowing of other things seems to matter. Memory sharpness over time seems to matter. Involvement in other things seems to matter. Change of circumstances seems to matter. The only thing I am sure of is it seems to take a lot of time. Does trauma or life changing events play into it? Maybe? Does it have to have a life changing or traumatic event? I don’t’ know, in fact I suspect not necessarily. I would like to learn more how this fading and letting go works. Of course it would be nice if there was a fast way, but this sound like another one of these things that is not.
Wish I had more insights to share. For now this is all I can give. I welcome thoughts and helpful experiences that anyone else can share.