Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Becoming Jen (Part 3)

Pretty Poly ?

I continued to cope with my gender uncertainty with the strategy of closet dressing and intermittent self-loathing, which often manifested itself in purging my secret wardrobe from time to time. By the time I went away to Liverpool Polytechnic (I miss Polys, now they are all "universities") I was much more confident about buying my own clothes, so my wardrobe was in a state of constant flux rising and falling between the shoppings sprees and purges. I can't really say that I was a success as a student, managing only 2 years of a Physics degree (I still insist to Vicky that I was breifly a Physicist, because I owned a lab coat and had a pencil behind my ear!). Indeed, my attendance was so patchy, I once turned up to my Quantum Physics exam, and was asked who I was. I still maintain my 16% earned in that exam through a mix of bluffing and guesswork is one of my greatest achievements.
"Anyway Jen focus, this is not a Physics Post".
I was still very much in the closet. I had never spoken to a soul about my confused unhappiness. I did make a very good friend in Simon at Poly (see post Past Friends, New Me, below), and once very nearly opened up to him. However as usual I bottled things up and just tried to get a move on with life. During my second year I lived in the front bedroom of a house. I remember sometimes when I was dressed I would stand at the window hoping that someone would look up and at that distance think I was a girl. I also recall a screening of "Ther Rocky Horror Picture Show" where all my friends went dressed in stockings and heels. I funnily enough, couldnt bring myself to join in. It would have felt too close to home to me. I never liked looking tarty then as I wanted to be a plain boring normal girl. It is a paradox that someone like me who has spent so long dressing up, would run a mile from any fancy dress parties.

I left Poly after 2 years with only a large debt and disappointed parents to show for my "efforts". I had to find work so I started what was to become my NHS career as a Kitchen Porter at the now closed Stallington Hospital for people with a Learning Disability. I ended up living in the nurses home partly due me paying for board to my parent with a check that bounced. the Nurses home back then was mostly deserted so I had much more opportunity to hone my dressing. I started to feel a bit more comfortable with myself. I developed a good balance between work and after work, dressing as soon as I was in the safety of my room. I even started wearing a nightie to bed. My only fear was of a fire and I would end up running out screaming wearing my nightie. The nursing home closed so I moved on to sharing houses. Firstly with my friend Pete, we shared a cottage on the hospital grounds. My dressing was then confined to when he was out. Luckily he was a hit with the girls and went on loads of dates. I was managing to function quite well socially by then and had built up a good circle of friends. I became closer to my female friends and felt much more comfortable in their company. It was at this time I met Vicky, who has beceme my closest friend. Of course, none of then suspected a thing. . I moved on to sharing a terraced house with a couple of friends. I lived in the downstarirs front room, so if you opened the front door, there was my bed. Sharing with 2 people meant dressing became well nigh impossible. This caused me to feel very low at times, but I carried on dreaming. I was at this time I met Caroline who I eventually married!

I have to admit I loved the company, security, intimacy and sharing of being married, and I genuinely loved my wife Caroline. She of course had no idea of my inner confusions. For the first couple of years my secret dressing faded to almost nothing. I wanted to make a real effort to have a successful marriage. I was of course still haunted by those persistent thoughts and dreams of living as a woman. At that time however, I was nothing if not a logical and pragmatic being (not sure I still am). How could I ever step outside as a woman? I felt such a big lumbering scruffy lump. I never seriously entertained the idea that my dreams could become a future reality. I hoped my marriage would last forever. I tried my hardest to be a success as a married man and to do my duty to my wife. I still maintain that our marriage was good at times, and those are still some of my happiest years, and I hope hers, even though I had my gender frustration. For that period I felt almost normal, and that I had a place and purpose in the world.
...That continued for about 8 years until I discovered the UK Angels internet site....Things were going to get interesting!


brad said...

I hated those quantum physics exams. They were either open book, which meant they took days to finish, or we had them in the evenings, even though it was a day time class, so we could spend HOURS into the night working on them. No fun.

brad said...

Oh, I would think that being married with that confusion would be in the category of "no fun" as well, but apparently you were happy with it, so that's good.