(I wrote this many years ago when my blog was on Yahoo360 back before they did away with it.)
STOP! Go get a cup of coffee or a drink. This is long. REAL long. You have been warned! If you get bored easily, now is the time to move to something else. Run. No, don't stop and think about, run!
My story started in an itty bitty town called Apple Valley in Southern California. My father was my mothers second marriage. Her first ended badly and left her with my older brother and sister. My mother has been disabled most of her life with spina bifida and had been some where in the middle of 18 major operations when I was born. A doctor once told her at the age of 16 that she would never again walk with out crutches - she threw them in his trash can and walked out, and kept walking for the next 30 years.
My family was shocked when I was born - I was supposed to be a girl! It's not that they THOUGHT I was a girl, they were SURE.
Well, somewhere in the middle of all of these major operations on my mother (most of which I was too young to remember) my father found out that alcohol numbed the fear that his wife wasn't going to make it through one. He apparently needed a lot of numbing because he drank like a fish. To this day I can't stand to see the old yellow Coors cans - they literally make me sick to my stomach. Eventually this marriage too ended, to be followed by several more, ultimately teaching me at a young age that men are unreliable, come and go, and can not be depended on. (Yes, I'm well aware now that this is not true of all, but I didn't know it way back then).
A few snap shots:
Snap shot. A short period living with my Dad and his new family when I was around 4 or 5 because my mother was in the hospital. He had two daughters in this marriage and two sons that were from a marriage before my mother. I can remember feeling so sad and crying because it was so unfair that they got to wear the pretty dresses, and ribbons, and I got worn out hand me downs from my half brothers. I tried to spend my time playing with the girls, and of course my father didn't care for this and kept shoving me at the boys. Not comfortable with the boys, and not one of the girls . . . pretty much don't fit in any where. Regardless of the reasons my father STARTED drinking, he is at this point a full fledged alcoholic and life sucks. Eventually my mother is out of the hospital and recovered enough to try and get me back. I remember my father sitting me down and explaining that my mother wanted me, and it was up to me where I wanted to live. I was five or six at this point and hardly remembered my mother, but I just KNEW it couldn't be as bad as the life I was living - I chose my mother.
Now I am living with my mother and the two children she had from a marriage previous to my father (yes, I know there are a lot of marriages going on here. We're talking red necks here - keep up!) This is my older Brother and Sister that I eventually grew up with. A few catches here - they are all living with my grandmother and my brother and sister have been with them all along. Up to this point we have gown up apart and I am the outsider. Mind you, my brother and sister were in no way responsible for my feeling like an outsider - this was my own head trip because they grew up together and had the same father. They were, and are, wonderful parts of my life, and in every way the best sister and brother you could ask for.
Snap Shot. My mother is in and out of the hospital, in and out of marriages, and we are all in and out of my grand mothers home where we always seem to wind up when things go to hell. Funny thing that children can pick up on stuff you don't think they know about. I always knew my grandmother didn't like me. This was later confirmed by my mother a couple of years ago when she explained that she threw my grandmother out of our house when she looked at me and said "I can't stand that little bastard!" Seems my grandmother hated my father and that carried over to me by proxy. So my mother has now been married and divorced four times with a number of boy friends scattered here and there (She was an attractive woman). My grandmother obviously has a low opinion of my mother and of men. The whole time I am growing up around her, all I hear over and over is "no G.D. good for nothing men", "Men are no G.D. good", "If either of you boys EVER hurts a girl I'll kill you". You know it took me years to learn that "hurt" in this context meant "get her pregnant".
My sister, playfully teasing and with not a bit of malice, telling me "You were supposed to be a girl", "How come you got the pretty eye lashes", "Your the only boy I've ever seen with a waist", "you would have been such a pretty girl". One day at around 6 years old I think, I get home from school and have the house to myself for an hour or so. I find a bag of clothes someone has given my mother for hand me downs for us, and in it I find a number of dresses just my size. This is the early 70's and I know my mother has a number of wigs in her closet. I remember my heart pounding so hard I thought my chest would explode, but I just had to know, what WOULD I have looked like if I HAD been born a girl??!! Off I went, running through the house with the hand me down dress to my mothers room, where I threw the dress on, and VERY carefully got one of mothers wigs down and tried it on. Of course the wig didn't fit right, but I was stunned when I looked in the mirror! That pretty girl was me! Plain, ugly, yucky, no G.D. good for nothing Matthew was really a pretty girl! I'm sure it wasn't as clear as I seem to recall, but all of a sudden I knew what was wrong with me, and had ALWAYS been wrong with me - I was supposed to be a girl! I spend the next few years sneaking every chance I can get to wear dresses, coming SOOO close to being caught SOOO many times that I start to develop a bit of a nervous condition. Every time I know I'm going to be alone in the house and have the chance to "be pretty", I get sick to my stomach and end up sneaking to the bathroom and getting sick. For those of you that are in your 20's you may not understand the depth of the fear we would have had at that age and back then at being discovered. There was no internet, we were alone, and the only other men in the world we knew of that liked to wear dresses were perverts and weirdos. Certainly not normal kids like me. LOL
Snap Shot. Latest divorce has left my mother with far too little income to stay in the house we have been living in for years so she moves us 80 miles away. Now we live 20 miles outside another small town called Yucca Valley. I didn't have many friends when we left, and now I had none at all. Not easy to make friends when you live 20 miles away from everything, have nothing in common in with the boys, and the girls have no idea you think your supposed to be one of them! Get this - we have moved into a one room cabin with no bathroom, and no bathtub. We bathed by heating water in a microwave and on the wood burning stove, putting the water in a great big tub in the back yard. (I swear this is the truth, I'm not making it up). My mother had to just about force me kicking and screaming to take a bath this way. I don't care if the nearest neighbor is two miles away, I am NOT going to bath naked in the back yard!
Snap Shot. My mother buys a small travel trailer that becomes the bed room for my brother and I. Good news - it has a shower. My brother moves out when he was around 17 and it is MY bedroom. I am ashamed to admit it, but I started swiping odds and ends until I had a complete outfit hidden under one of the bunks in the trailer. Come home from school one day to find my aunt and uncle have come to visit. My uncle wanted a shower and so had gone to light the hot water heater - you know, the one that is under the bunk . . . along with my out fit. It is now scattered across the dining room table with my mother, aunt, and uncle all looking at me and asking what I knew of it. I went with the tried and proven - I played stupid. "Damned if I know, I haven't got a clue!"
Would you believe they bought it?! Every one started joking that my brother must have been doing the dirty with some girl when mom drove up, and every one had this delightful picture of this young lady running across the desert naked. We all laughed for a while, then I went into the trailer (my room) and threw up. I could never believe that they bought this and so I asked my mother about this a few years ago - she confirmed that they really did NOT suspect I was cross dressing! It's funny how far people will go to delude themselves when they don't WANT to see something.
Snap Shot. Open campus at high school for lunch. I'm walking down the street and see a number of pretty girls walking up the street towards me. Suddenly I feel so embarrassed that I am such a freak and I just couldn't bear the thought that they would see me or talk to me. I actually crossed 4 lanes of traffic to avoid them. I spend the rest of my teenage years intensely shy and nervous around girls. I thought girls were proud, beautiful, decent and I was so ashamed that I wasn't one.
Snap Shot. 17 and hating my life when a recruiter comes to school. Suddenly I realize this may be an option! Maybe they can make me normal. Maybe this will get me out of the desert. They will take me after I complete 11th grade IF I will promise to get a GED. I go to the MEP station with three other boys where they give you all the tests that they use to decide what jobs you qualify for. After the tests, we are all in the recruiters car. He looks at the other guys "I'm Sorry, but your scores were not high enough, we can't take you. You can do some studying and try again - I'm sure we can help you pass next time". Then he looks at me and shakes his head "Yours were the highest scores I've seen - you can take your pick of jobs". Imagine that - when you live as far out in the sticks as I did, the only past time was reading and I read a LOT!
I plead with my mother but she will not sign the paper work until I explain that even if she doesn't, I WILL go the day I turn 18 regardless of my situation at high school. She argues but eventually signs and I am on a bus the day after I turn 18 and two days before I should have started my senior year.
Snap Shot. Made it through basic and am now a soldier. I now have friends, you just can't avoid that going through basic and advanced training, and I am now up to my neck in macho and guy related stuff for the first time in my life. Also for the first time in my life, I am trying REALLY hard to fit in with the guys. Despite my knowing better, despite the example of my father, I am now hanging out with the guys, going to strip clubs, and drinking like a fish. The guys find out I am a virgin and have a field day with it. In this day and age, outside an Army post, there is no shortage of girls that are willing to solve the whole "virgin" problem - for a price. I probably shouldn't share this, but the guys attempt to "help me out" twice, and both times I am unable to do what comes naturally. There is no compassion, no romance, no tenderness, just "go ahead and take your clothes off and get in the bed". Add to this that I keep hearing my grandmother saying "If you ever hurt a girl . . ". I was SOO messed up in the head over this for years! Bad news, I tired to solve it the same way my father did - with alcohol.
I'm hiding stuff inside the molding of my car and renting hotel rooms every so often so that I can dress. This is dangerous as I have a top secret clearance and work on nuclear weapons so cars are inspected often, though I'd never heard of them removing molding. Can't hide stuff in the barracks room because this is the Army and rooms are inspected OFTEN for appearance and drugs.
Snap Shot. Been in the army for over three years now and have serious drinking problem. All off hours are spent getting trashed. The guys look at me with a mixture of awe and pity - I can easily drink most of them under the table, but some have seen me make a complete A$$ out of myself. I am now just short of suicidal. Hate life, wish it would end, but not quite ready to actively participate in its closure. I'm up in my room, falling down drunk, playing guitar when in walks Jerry - one of my friends. "You HAVE to see the girl downstairs who is on CQ". CQ is Charge of Quarters - the one responsible for making sure every one behaves in the barracks at night. It's a duty we all share and take turns at. So I grab my guitar and head down the steps, and here is this cute little blonde girl who is sitting there writing something. Jerry knows her and introduces us. It turns out she is writing poetry! She shares some of her poetry, and I sing her some of my songs. Cut to the chase, we wind up dating for several months. We get closer, things get intimate, and I am no longer a virgin! WEEEEE. I spend every moment i can with her and suddenly have no desire to drink. Then BAM! She comes down on orders for Europe and she is going to have to leave. I sat on the floor looking at her, and all I could think of was "oh my God, she's going to leave! She can't leave! I finally feel like a human being because of her - I CAN'T LIVE WITH OUT HER!" This is screaming inside my head and I look up at her and blurt "Will you please marry me?" No fore thought. No planning. No ring. No Romance. No getting on one knee after having delighted her with a romantic meal. Just tears in my eyse and "Will you please marry me?" blurted out from the floor of a inexpensive hotel. Would you believe she said yes and that was 20 years ago?
(Almost done - hang in there!)
Snap shot. We're married, and the Army has agreed to keep us together, so now we are BOTH on the way to Europe. Decide to take a train from Ft Lewis WA where we are currently stationed, down to Southern California to meet my family, and then on to Louisiana where HER folks are living. Don't know if you have ever taken a long trip on a passenger train, but it is intimate for a long time. My guilt is killing me, I shouldn't hide this from her. I swore to share it all with her and I'm hiding this. I swore to trust her with my soul and I'm hiding this from her. My legs are shaking so hard under the table that I can barley talk, but I managed to tell her. She wanted to know if I was gay and if I wanted an operation. I was almost in tears as I told her no and no. She took my hands across the table and told me it wasn't a problem! For the first time in my life I have someone I can talk to about it and I proceed to drive her absolutely nuts for about the next year by talking about just about nothing else. When we meet my family, for the first time in my life I feel like a real person, a complete person, and my family is surprised and even shocked - imagine that - Matt has a sense of humor. It goes with out saying that they adore my wife. My sister: "Matthew, she's NORMAL! I thought you would bring home some girlie girl prissy thing". I'm not sure they know she has literally saved my life
Snap Shot. We had a son in Germany. My wife completes her obligation and gets out. The army does away with my career and sends us to the states for retraining. Eventually I end up in Korea where I can't take them for a year! We can't stand being alone so I get out of the Army. Settled in Austin where I was fortunate to get a job with a company based on the experience I had in the military - measurement and calibrations. Found the internet and found others like me! Made good friends with a few and eventually my wife and I met two of them at a local club. My first time outside the house dressed and it was SOO cool!
My wife went out with me quite a few times, but eventually decided she wasn't interested. It's OK if I go out, but she doesn't care to be part of it. Any of you that are part of the community know that you have some people you are proud to say belong to your little group, and there are some . . .
Well, let's just say my wife doesn't want to hang with me anymore! lol
Snap Shot. After about 6 years with my company I move to Field Service where I start traveling the country, and sometimes the world! After another 4 or 5 years (About 8 or 9 months ago) it occurs to me that I should start taking advantage of the free hotels, and being so far from home, and start having fun! Though we have not used birth control since my son was born, we had not had any more children. Of course right after I take a position that has me traveling 80 - 90% of the time, we have two more children! Now I have a 21 year old son, a 6 year old daughter, and a 1 year old son. Funny, in all of the years that I was growing up, I often considered the thought of marriage and a wife, but children had never crossed my mind! Well, it crosses my mind quite a lot these days with three of 'em underfoot!