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September 2004

As time goes on, I become more and more comfortable with what is on the outside. The angles of my face and curves of my body are different now, changed in ways I love and am proud to own. This flat chest straining against a tight white undershirt feels just like I've always imagined it would. Sexually, I am more comfortable and confident because I live in my body in a way I never did before.

Physical stone.

Before transition, no one was allowed anywhere near me intimately. If I could have gotten away with it, I'd make love with my jeans on. Sometimes I did. One of the biggest surprises after starting T was feeling my physical boundaries go down as my sex drive went up. Layers of clothes came off, my partner's hands and lips were allowed access to places that had been off limits for years. Bit by bit it felt like things were improving and I thought the changes happening to my body were finally freeing me from the shame that came along with how I experienced sexuality. Having chest surgery brought even greater comfort, and the overwhelming gift of being able to lay next to my partner every night and feel her skin against mine in bed.

Explain then why I feel defensive when she tells me she loves my body, this body I have worked so hard for and am more comfortable in than ever before. Why do I tune out her compliments when she tells me I look handsome as we get ready to go out to dinner together, or so often shut down to her touch or advances in bed? I'm most comfortable with intimacy when I am the one to initiate it. Yes, I am a butch and a top but this isn't about that. It's not about feeling overpowered or emasculated or like my boundaries aren't respected. It's about feeling shame that I, with my freakish tranny body, am turning my partner on. It's feeling I'm unworthy of that kind of love or attention and refusing to find out what might happen if I allow myself to accept it.

Emotional stone.

How can I lie here beside you night after night and pick at the lock of your heart, but never once open my own? (Lori McKenna)

This scenario that I've painted in the bedroom is mirrored in other parts of my life. I have historically kept people, especially partners, at an arm's length, all the while asking them to give more and more of themselves for me to hold. I am emotionally present and attentive to their needs, but quiet about the inner workings of my own heart. I have never been one to ask for help or talk openly about my shortcomings. For as much as I love being able to support other people in their weakness, it is only when I have no other option that I allow anyone to do the same for me.

This has been problematic in so many ways. I've backed myself into a corner or gotten in over my head a million times as a result of ignoring small issues until they become compounded and too much to handle. I've sought out new relationships that were more superficial and required less investment rather than putting the work into strengthening existing ones. I've had people's impressions of me shattered when the sense of confidence and togetherness I put out proves to be false.

I am tired of watching this happen and refuse to accept that this is my fate in life but I don't know how to go about changing and I'm afraid of what happens when I try. I'm afraid because opening up more means not having total control of my life. I feel like that's a realistic fear, considering the lengths I've gone to to take control of certain things after years of feeling like I didn't have any power at all. There is something very attractive about the image of the cowboy, the loner, the wanderer, always in the driver's seat and calling all the shots. But that is not my reality and I can't expect to be able to live like that, because more than my own heart hangs in the balance.

I guess you could say I've got issues.

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