Sunday, 9 August 2009

TLDR, Biography, " For Better or For Worse".

Half a lifetime ago I became friendly with someone I had known of for sometime as part of a joint circle of friends with my then partner. In testing the friendships after my break up this person stuck with me somewhat to my surprise. I had a fairly good education which as it turned out prepared me for absolutely nothing in this life. Here was a woman far better educated with far more degrees than I can remember but almost as unprepared for this life as me. As it turned out she took me in when I was at my lowest point and we have been together ever since.

I was happily unmarried but she wanted it and the tax brakes which it brought back then so we signed up after some years together, twenty sixth anniversary soon. We have had an interesting life together, not exactly conventional but we each fell into our roles quite comfortably. I stayed home to look after home, garden and her mother as she moved between her two daughters on a three month progress. Her mother had far too good a life and kept going for twenty years, luckily staying active almost till the end at eighty nine! We became best friends, she was hardly conventional either!

When asked I always said I was a housewife, perhaps not always the best. Most people’s reaction showed that they thought I was joking, how were they to know. This position allowed me to quietly be myself and within our tight budget do what I liked and be who I wanted to be mostly hidden from the world in our slightly too large old family house which has been in constant need of repair. We are fairly sociable and tend to spend most of our budget on dinner parties, so old fashioned I know but… The rest of the time I have had unmeasureable periods of solitude alone with my thoughts. Julie wanders off to work at a job which she has always called a paid hobby, resisting promotion to administration, preferring to do real and interesting work even though the income was little more than we needed. Time has moved on and before the end of the month my peace will be shattered. Retirement age has been reached and a new life is thrust upon us.

Long before we got together I had a strong suspicion that Julie had some kind of neurological problem. She did not recognize it herself for about ten to fifteen years and doctors took years to diagnose her but having lived with a mother with similar signs I was way ahead of them all. When our friendship started to become serious this gave me a world class dilemma. If you have read previous blogs you will know that I became homeless and jobless by my own choice knowing that my life had to change, in which direction I did not know so I wandered about for nearly a year, often with Julie.

She eventually made it very clear that what she wanted was for me to move in with her full time. It was clear that somehow I had found someone who was besotted with me in a world where no other female had shown even the slightest friendship in my whole period of freedom. It was clear that I could hardly abandon someone whom I adored just because of the fear of future health problems. We have been lucky and so far the problems have been more of an irritation than a handicap. Energy and mobility are reduced and she now walks with a stick but has managed to get to retirement with enough energy to still go back occasionally when her knowledge can be of use.

How have we been as a couple, an odd couple?

Like everyone else she ignored all my non masculine attributes and for most of the time felt that she had a husband, I came equipped with the appropriate male part to give her the thrills she wanted and I have to admit that being able to provide that pleasure was satisfying. She was somewhat puzzled by my lack of male animal lust which popular culture showed her I should have, how was she to know that I was not exactly playing a male role in these games. The real shame is that she would have liked to be the object of lustful desire, whilst I longed for the wooing and foreplay she was not really too interested in providing. What seemed to satisfy her most, always holding her attention as if life depended on it, was just having me wandering about naked! Easy to provide this service, but it was usually enough for her and never seemed to lead anywhere, when we finally spoke of this years later she said she just did it automatically like taking a quick snack and did not think of it as sex.” What idiots” I can hear you muttering!

So much of the web writing is about the dynamics of relationships when one in the partnership decides that they have to make the transition leaving the partner married to someone whose whole physical appearance and probably newly freed mental outlook has changed. They have to some extent been caught in a hurricane and have to decide how to make a life out of the pieces remaining. My story is probably of little use to anyone out there so don’t hold your breath for the answer to the ultimate question, but so far we have survived.

Julie’s condition attacks peripheral nerves causing numbness of fingertips etc. Well etc. Includes clitoral nerve endings in her case which if you think about our intimate interactions did not work out well. She found pleasure more and more difficult to achieve no matter how patient we were. She soon got bored with the effort which provided so little reward and lost all interest in any sexual activity. There seemed to be nothing that she wanted to do to gain any pleasure and least of all any thing like giving pleasure which just sounded too much like hard work!

Sex does not take up a large proportion of the day, well it didn’t in our case! So it just slipped out of our lives as did some of the physical closeness because Julie did not want to find herself in a position of feeling obligated to continue. I could not really demand attention since what I required was spontaneous affection. Wanting to be wanted I could hardly ask! We have agreed that sex is not likely to ever be part of our lives again.

Now, you will think we are completely mad! But life goes on…

Under this new regime I no longer felt any obligation to show any pretense at playing a male role in this relationship and my thoughts started to turn back to my gender unease.

We had bought a computer for some university jobs Julie was doing but I viewed it with suspicion knowing what would happen if we got connected to the web, even when it was changed to a mac in 2000 it remained stand alone. I knew that lasers had been shown to be capable of destroying hair and I had been following their progress to market. As soon as it seemed affordable I started to make enquires eventually finding someone who had just obtained the first “Intense Pulsed Light” machine in Scotland. Soon Dianne was a close friend albeit one who did not mind taking a fairly large pile of money off me to pay for her expensive machine. First cheeks and neck were cleared leaving the terrorist look as seen on my passport but it took a little deception on holiday to shave off the mustache and beard on chin. I said it was necessary to try snorkeling! Having found difficulty the previous year sealing the mask. Julie watched with horror as the face she had never seen began to appear. It was horrible! I looked as if I was smeared with coal dust and it grew to stubble almost immediately and was sore as hell. Naturally I said it could re-grow when we returned home, probably the only time I have ever had to lie to her. On our return I was on the phone to Dianne the first moment I could and got a quick appointment to start this last phase. Close round the mouth was eye wateringly sore despite being almost frozen but I hardly flinched.

At last I felt human with the wind on my face for the first time in over three decades. There was still grey hair to be dealt with by electrolysis which meant finding someone new. The first person I tried appeared friendly enough but brusk, just before I left home for the second treatment I received a phone call saying that she refused to continue with someone like me! To say that I felt gutted was an understatement of world class proportions. We have all had random abusive reactions when out and about but despite being on the phone this was up front and personal. In the past this could have thrown me into a deep and long depression but for once it had the opposite effect. I had not long given in to internet connection and one of the first things I did was start searching the web for local electrologists, I found Aly, she has been fabulous and it has been a joy to visit. When I was twenty a friend who was also trying to loose her mustache told me it was extremely painful, I had little more than her then and had some income and could have stayed on top of the growth but I believed her. With Aly I would often drop off to sleep! It has taken for ever but now there is only occasional odd growth and a few stubborn ones near the lips and shaving is a distant memory.

At the same time I started the facial hair removal I was caught by my doctor for a blood pressure test, it was high! Thought I would have this sorted fairly quickly then get up courage to confront them with a more interesting problem. It seemed to take years to bring under control with ever changing doctors, two died on me! Finally I found Claire, she soon sorted the pressure but kept having students sitting in on the days I had psyched myself up to say the words then one day she was alone. All she said was “why did you take so long to ask me”?

So what did I ask for? Straight out I asked for an orchidectomy, no problem she thought. It took a year of the hospital saying “yes no problem”, “no will not do it”, “perhaps”, “no”, “oh alright!”

During that year I tried to lead a conversation in this direction at home, we watched countless documentaries transition being a current popular topic to educate and amuse the masses. We went to a theatre performance about Christine Jorgensen at the Edinburgh Festival, the list goes on and on, she never showed any interest in a discussion of what we had seen! I was nearing my wits end and eventually nearing a date on the calendar. I said not to accept any thing for that date, “ok”, no questions!

The day before I am due to go in we get to the point! There was never any chance I would change my mind no matter what, it was this or oblivion! Thank goodness it all made sense to her though she was somewhat taken aback by it all. Everything about our life together suddenly was made absolutely clear and finally made sense. A passionate business meeting with tears which slightly realigned our lives and roles and allowed full visibility of the side of me which had been obscured for so long.

A bit dramatic. The operation you want to hear went off without a hitch, no, a bleeder had me back for emergency repair which gave us a perfect cover story for why I was laid up and sore! Could not wear anything but a skirt for over a week, what a shame, so wearing skirts at any time instantly became alright, she gave me that skirt but we are now fighting over it, sounds like my mother and her sisters! We have agreed she can borrow it whenever she wants. We are now physically closer than we have ever been with a fuller understanding of each other and I often get the caresses that I had longed for so much in the past.

Nine months on from the operation I have never been so calm or happy with my life. Have not had a single thought of suicide since the operation. There is of course the endless waiting for further health service appointments but because of this deep calmness I hardly care how long things take so long as they don’t come up with “take testosterone” like last time! Even Claire had to laugh at that one!

Life goes on as my blog hopefully shows.


  1. Caroline, have I ever told you that I absolutely adore you? I was just settling back on a Saturday night, with a bottle of Shiraz, when I came upon your blog. Within the course of ten minutes, you had me alternately wiping the tears that were streaming down my face and laughing my ass off! You are such a sweetheart!

    Melissa XX

  2. I'm so glad everything worked out in your favor... finally! Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. Lost for words, really, Caroline.


    love and hugs,

  4. Julie really is someone special. It all comes together in the end

  5. Hi Caroline, I didn't see another way to contact you, so here I am! Thank you for following my blog :)

    I saw your mention of Koyaanisqatsi in your list of films, I saw that about 20 years ago and was strongly influenced. I had been doing some soul searching, exploring what my philosophies were towards life. I have ended up centering on a Taoist philosophy, and the film was a nice exclamation to that need for balance.
    I'll enjoy following your blog as well :)

  6. Here we are in Koyaanisqatsi Corner!

    You've been commenting on my blog for some time, yet I never looked you up. Better late than never, right? I love a good spouse story. Glad to see that happy endings are possible.


Many thanks to all who ever joined in the conversation and to those who took the time to follow my zig zag to a new life..

I can be contacted on the email found on my profile page.