What’s Next?

Yesterday’s name changes were inspired by a couple of factors.

First, I was looking at the search topics that people used to find my blog and one in particular caught my attention.  I won’t mention what it was exactly, but you’ll get the idea.  So out of curiosity, I entered that search term into Google.  I was pretty disturbed at the images that popped up on my screen (at work!).  Let’s just say, there was a lot of skin on my screen.  And amidst all these pictures of naked people doing things I don’t want to see were the two pictures I posted recently from my wedding.  Oh hell NO, I thought!  This has got to go.  Since it was my username that was used in the search that got my pictures lumped in with porn I decided that the name had to change.  It hadn’t felt right for a long time anyway, so I was happy about that.

The other reason for the changes is that, basically, I’m done with my transition (at least for now) and I’m running out of things to talk about it.  I’m also getting bored with the topic in general.  I’ve been obsessed with gender for the past 5-6 years now and I’m ready to move on to something new.  There isn’t much that I read these days that really speaks to me anymore or that I haven’t heard before.  I do still really enjoy supporting others who are coming through their own process so I have no intention of just dropping off the face of the transgender blogging world.  I just want to go in a new direction.  Problem is, I’m not sure what direction that is yet.  I have some irons in the fire that I’m working on professionally as well as personally, but I’m not sure if I want to blog about them here.

Another, less important, reason for the changes is that I’m feeling like I want to pull away from leading with being transgender.  In other words, I’m at a point where I don’t want the first and primary thing someone finds out about me to be that I’m transgender.  It will always be a part of my identity, but I’m just really exhausted from having that be front and center all of the time.   It’s really refreshing to meet someone new and I’m just Shawn now, not Shawn who used to be Dawn who is trans but used to be a lesbian.  Ugg, right?  Just Shawn.  A middle aged guy.  Married now, no kids.  Business owner.  Just Shawn.

That might sound boring, but honestly, it’s liberating.  I’m not talking about living “stealth” where I hide my past from people.  In the small community I live in that is practically impossible anyway.  I won’t hide my past.  I’m proud of it.  But this transgender dance is tricky sometimes.  Deciding who to tell, when to tell, why to tell is always in the back of my mind.  I’m not one to draw attention to myself, so going around telling everyone or flaunting being trans is not something I’m interested in.  I have other fish to fry.  There are many people other than myself who are much better prepared to advocate in public for our cause.  Of course, I will speak up if needed, but it’s not my focus.

Which brings me to what am I focusing on right now?  Short term, work is getting busy again, so I’ll be focusing a lot of attention on that for the next couple of months.  Additionally, I started a program to become a professional intuitive counselor.  I’ve been learning a lot about astrology along the way as well.  In the end, I hope to be a Life Coach.  I’ve been working with a coach for the past 6-7 years and he has been instrumental in helping me in my transition journey.  I’ve also worked with a therapist over the years (actually, several) and have not found them to be as helpful as my coach.  Coaches are results oriented and help you come up with action plans that help you move forward in life.   I have nothing against therapy.  I just find the coaching more helpful for me personally.  At this point, I see Life Coaching as a side job.  I’m not closing up my business to become a coach, at least not yet.  I’m a person who needs a lot of variety and challenge or I get bored and stagnate.  I think my dream job is actually several part time jobs.  Also, I have at least one book I want to write and some travel adventures I’m looking forward to, so I think there will be some things of interest to talk about as all of this unfolds.

So the answer to the question “what’s next?” will evolve over time.  I don’t have a concrete answer at the moment.  I’ll continue to write when I have something to say.  I enjoy writing the inspirational pieces and I would expect to see more of those in the future.  As I’ve said in the past, transitioning is never over and we’re always transitioning from one thing to another anyway, so this blog is no different.  It will change and evolve and if any of you have questions or ideas to share with me, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  Probably the thing I enjoy the most about blogging is the interchanges with other humans going through, or contemplating going through, similar situations as myself.  So don’t be shy and I look forward to continuing this conversation soon.

Lesboi: Dawn to Don

Ok, so it was harder than I thought to change my username.  Everything I could think of was already taken and WordPress has gone to only allowing lowercase letters and number in new usernames.  So I finally settled on shawn512.  I started this blog in May of 2012, five years ago, hence the 512 after my name.

The blog’s name is now Mid-Life Musings.  I’m not 100 sold on the name but it is an improvement until something better comes along.  If I decide to change it again, I’ll definitely let you all know.

Thanks again for indulging my metamorphosis and for reading.

Change is Good

Well, change sometimes is good, but it is always inevitable, even if we don’t want things to change.  So, at this point, I’ve decided to change, not only my user name on WordPress but also the name of the blog.  My reasons for doing this are mainly that the names fit well when I started my blog but now they no longer fit well.  It’s time to overhaul the blog’s image a bit and make it fit better.  I picked the username Lesboi back at the beginning because I felt like I was part lesbian, part boy.  But now, I no longer identify as a lesbian or a boy, so the name just doesn’t feel right anymore.  And then, the name of the blog is Dawn to Don.  At the time, I did think that I would pick the male name, Don, as my new name when I transitioned.  If I transitioned.  I was not certain of anything when I started the blog.  After much angst and trial and error I ended up changing my name to Shawn instead.  My regular readers already know this fact.  And, at this time, I feel so far removed from who Dawn was that I no longer feel like I’m moving from Dawn to Shawn.  I feel that I’m firmly entrenched in my new persona as Shawn.  I want to tell you what the new names will be but, honestly, until I try to change them here I can’t be sure that what I want to use is actually available.  So, I’ll get all that straightened out in a bit and post immediately with Lesboi: Dawn to Don as the title so you all know who I am.

It’s been fun being Lesboi and it’s going to continue to be fun as whatever username I pick and I look forward to continuing our relationship here on WordPress.

Thanks for following!

Shawn

Every Day Carry, or My Favorite Things

I’ve never been one to carry a purse, but nevertheless, I fill my pockets every day with essentials that I need to get me through the day.  There are basic things that I carry every day no matter what and then there are a few items I might add depending on the situation I’m going into.

My basics include a pocket knife, a flashlight, lip balm, a pill container and my wallet.  I might add a handkerchief and/or a pen.

Let’s look at these items and why I carry them:

My pocket knife is a Buck 290 Rush in blue aluminum.

buck knife

I noticed that the new models of this knife don’t have the serrated section near the handle like mine does.  Personally, I find this feature very handy for cutting through thick rope or cardboard and wouldn’t own one without it.  This knife has an ASAP opener that flips the blade open very quickly and locks it into place.  I think of it as both a tool and a self defense weapon.  My knife has come in handy more times than I can remember for a multitude of tasks.  It has opened Christmas and birthday presents, boxes, cut rope, apples, steaks, fixed watch bands, made holes in belts, sliced cheese, opened many a package and is always in high demand wherever I go.

My flashlight:

flashlight

I carry the Nebo CSI Edge 50.  It’s small, very bright at 50 lumens and is a tactical light for self defense.  The rounded edges on the lamp end are very sharp and can be used to collect skin/dna (and cause considerable pain) in case of an attack.

Again, this little flashlight comes in handy almost every day.  If I drop something in a dark area it’s there to find the lost object.  Can’t read something, the light helps a lot.  Getting my mail in the dark.  Keeping an eye on the dog in the dark.  This is both a tool and a weapon under the right circumstances.  It will blind someone momentarily if I point it at them and I already mentioned the sharp edges around the light head.  Also for under $10 it’s a great little light.

Carmex Lip Balm.

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I’m addicted to this stuff and always have one in my pocket.  Haven’t had chapped lips since I was a kid.

Pill bottle.

pill box

I used to keep this on my keys but I’ve simplified my key ring and now carry it in my pocket.  I keep ibuprofen, anxiety meds, benadryl, immodium, whatever I might need in it.  The benadryl comes in handy when I eat out with my brother who has weird allergies and people are always asking me if I have something for a headache.  Yep, I do.

Speaking of keys, here is my cool and flexible key system I’ve been using for several years now.

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The Nite Ize S-Biner Key Rack is an awesome system for your keys.  The little S-biners can be color coded and easily snap off so you can give a key to the shop or put it on a different ring, exchange keys around if you have multiple cars in your household, etc.  Very flexible.  And the big hook at the top easily clips onto a belt loop or a case strap for easy stowage.  I’ve gotten down to just carrying three keys around these days (car, home and work) but with multiple cars at our house I can easily switch the car keys out depending on what I’m driving that day.  I opt not to put this in my pocket most days because of the bulk, but it has been known to end up there on occasion.

My wallet is nothing special.  Just a bi fold leather wallet, either black or brown.  I wear them out usually within a year or two so I just buy another $20 wallet when I need one.  So far I haven’t found a favorite wallet, but I am on the lookout for one.

I rarely carry a handkerchief, but when I do it’s a white cotton one.  I bought a pack of 10 at Men’s Warehouse a while back and they will probably last me a lifetime.  When I wear a suit I always put one in my pocket.  I keep one in my briefcase just in case I can’t find a kleenex and need something.  I really should carry one daily because they could come in  handy for a lot more than blowing my nose, but I’m just not in the habit of it yet.

My pen of choice to carry on my person is the Zebra 701.

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It’s very sturdy because it’s made of steel, writes well, and once again, can be used for self defense and also to break a car window in a pinch.  It’s not quite as good in the window breaking department as a tactical pen like this one:

tactical pen

but it’s a lot cheaper, lighter and won’t get confiscated by TSA at the airport.  Speaking of airports, I never carry my knife or flashlight through security because they WILL take them away from me.  Usually I leave them home, but if I want to have them with me I will pack them in my checked luggage.

The last thing I want to mention is my watch.  I have a pretty serious watch fetish so I own quite a few different ones.  Up until recently, I’ve not spent much money on watches, usually opting for a Timex instead of a more expensive brand.  I’m moving away from the cheaper watches though, because they are made of brass and once the plating wears off of them the bare brass tends to give me an itchy rash and I can no longer wear the watch.  Before my wedding I wanted to get a nice dress watch to wear with my tuxedo.  Being small in stature and bone structure I needed a watch that didn’t have a huge face.  This is fairly hard to find these days as the trend is towards super huge watches.  Those just look stupid on my wrist and are uncomfortable.  Seiko makes quite a few watches for men with smaller bezels and they’re actually quite affordable compared to other brands, especially if you purchase through Amazon.  I ended up buying two watches.

I got this one for my wedding and to wear for nicer occasions:

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Seiko SNE124 Dress Watch

And this one for every day wear:

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Seiko SKX007 Diver’s Watch

I also have a Timex that I change bands around on for really casual fun wear:

timex

Timex Expedition Indiglo

These are my main watches that I wear and I really like all of them a lot.  The Seiko Diver watch is probably the manliest thing I own.  It’s heavy and a little too bulky but I love it and I love the way it looks on my wrist.  It makes me feel very masculine when I wear it.

As you can tell, I try to get more than one usage out of most of the things I carry around with me on a daily basis.  Multi functionality and portability are important to me.  I like things with clips so stuff isn’t rattling around and pooling at the bottom of my pockets, creating uncomfortable and ugly bulges.  My knife and flashlight both clip onto my pants pocket.  When I carry the pen, it clips on as well or goes in my shirt or jacket pocket.  I clip my keys to either my belt loop or my briefcase.  I don’t carry change around in my pockets often and usually dump it somewhere as soon as I can.  I don’t like a lot of stuff in my pockets and hate making noise when I walk.

I read something the other day that asked “if you were a car what kind of car would you be?”  My first thought was that I’d be a classic muscle car (in my dreams of course), but after thinking about it more realistically, I realized I would probably be exactly the vehicle that I currently drive: a Toyota 4Runner.  It’s dressy enough to take out on the town but capable of getting you out of any predicament you might find yourself in.  I like to be handy and prepared for anything.  My everyday carry items come in handy every day and often help others as well.  This is how I like to live my life.  Ready for any adventure that comes my way and prepared for the unexpected.

 

 

 

Tied the Knot!

Soooooo…….

It’s been a while.

Sorry about that, but I’ve been crazy busy with life stuff and just haven’t had the energy to sit down and write lately.  So here’s a little catch up post to let you know what’s been so much more important than writing my blog.

Back at the beginning of the year, Candace and I decided to get married.  Our 20th anniversary was coming up in July of this year and we thought about how to celebrate that milestone.  With the new president taking office and things being somewhat unknown we thought it might be the right time to get married and almost did a really quick impromptu ceremony on a friend’s property.  But then we decided F*** that!  We’re not letting that a$$hole make us do anything we don’t want to do and we re-thought the whole wedding thing.  We decided that we wanted to go all out and shoot for the moon with this wedding.  White dress, tuxedos, big reception, dj, the whole nine yards.  And we did.  So for the last seven months we’ve been planning our wedding.  We had a blast!  It was a ton of work and an even bigger ton of money, but it was also a labor of love (double entendre intended!).

And then Candace decided that we needed an extra bedroom for all of the house guests that she was expecting to stay with us so sometime in late April/early May work was started on our house to finish off not one, but three, unfinished areas of our home and a multitude of needed repairs that we’ve been putting off.  For two months we had strange construction guys in our house starting at 7am.  Every. Day.  Except Sunday.  Everyone that lives here felt the impact of the work being done.  The dog, the cat and both of us lost a lot of sleep, time at work, and peace and quiet while the work was going on.  To say it created chaos in our home is an understatement.  Adding to that, we were up late many nights working on our wedding plans.  Also, Candace had three surgeries during this time frame and couldn’t drive herself any where for about a month.

I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I will tell you that everything got done on schedule and the wedding went off without a hitch.  Hooray!

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Here we are celebrating with a cool drink together after the ceremony.

End of story, right?  Not really.  That’s just sort of the surface story.  The story any one from outside looking in would see.  I’m only going to talk about what all this meant for me, so this is a one sided story.  I can’t speak for Candace.  For me, this was all HUGE!!!!  HUGEMONGOUSLY HUGE!!!!  I know, getting married is a big deal for everyone.  I know.  I’m not just anyone, ok?  Well, first of all, I never thought it would happen for me and I really never thought in my wildest dreams that I could actually be the GROOM in a wedding.  In fact, up until the last week before the wedding I was still having a hard time referring to myself as the groom.  Second, only a couple of years ago, I was pretty sure that my relationship was doomed to fail and I was trying to figure out what Plan B was going to be.  A lot has changed since then to bring us to this point.  And thirdly, this was like a huge coming out party for me because a LOT of people who came to our wedding, including a couple of folks who were in it, had not seen me since I started to transition.  Some didn’t even know that I had transitioned at all.  And the icing on the cake was the fact that I have serious performance anxiety and I wasn’t at all sure I could stand up there in front of 80 people, in my transgender glory, and marry the woman I love without having a full blown panic attack.

I had a lot of emotions and anxiety around the actual ceremony.  I had no reservations whatsoever about marrying Candace.  I knew I wanted to do that.  And I wasn’t worried about the reception at all.  I just wanted to get through the ceremony without freaking out.  I started meditating every day.  I watched tons of wedding ceremonies on YouTube to try and desensitize myself.  It worked quite well.  When I first started watching them tears would stream down my face as the bride walked down the aisle.  I would become a blubbering fool at the sight of a bride.  But eventually, it started getting easier and I cried less and less until I could watch them and not really have any strong emotions.  Excellent!  I also started making myself do things that scare me a little bit and pushed my anxiety limits some.  That helped too.  I did past life clearings and energy work to clear out old negative and stuck emotions.  Sounds like hocus pocus, right?  Well, maybe it is, but I gradually started to feel stronger and more confident in myself to stand up there.  I worried less about what anyone thought about me and more about focusing on staying in the moment during the ceremony.  I knew that the key was to control my mind and emotions and I did everything I knew to get my head in the right place.

And then a funny thing happened.   I realized that the groom usually gives a speech at the reception and I actually wanted to do it.  Now, you should know that, besides heights, public speaking is probably my biggest fear in life.  And I actually WANTED to give a speech!  Who am I??  Candace even told me I didn’t have to do it because she knows how I feel about speaking in public.  I wrote a great speech and read it to Candace.  She was blown away and told me not to change a thing.  I printed a copy of it and put it away until the day of our wedding.  I had planned to practice delivering the speech, but never found the time or energy to do it.  We also never practiced our first dance like we had intended.  Oh well.

This last bit is going to sound crazy to a lot (all?) of you.  On top of all this other craziness, I’ve been doing a program called Automatic Intuition to learn to give intuitive readings for myself and others.  Part of the training entails developing relationships with your Guardian Angel and Spirit Guides.  Whether you believe in this stuff or not is really unimportant.  I often carry on conversations with my Guides while I drive because it’s usually the only peace and quiet I get in my day.  I always ask them to use my voice to communicate with me.  One day, about a week before the Big Day, I was chatting with Peter, my main Guide, and suddenly I started speaking in a very thick Irish accent.  I asked if this was a different entity that I was speaking to than normal and he said it was.  I named this Guide Ian.  Ian talked to me at great length about how I had been a warrior in past lives and he wanted me to know how strong and brave I really am.  He really pumped me up.  He talked about me being a King and I was claiming my Queen.  Incidentally, I refer to Candace as my Queen quite a bit in real life.  I joke that I am her Jester.  But Ian was really trying hard to convince me that I was a King and a great soldier, not a lowly Jester.  His speeches riled me up and made me feel strong and powerful.

I know what you’re thinking.  Poor Lesboi/Shawn has really fallen off his rocker and has some screws loose.  Maybe you’re right.  Truly, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that Ian and the other Guides made me feel strong and safe and I got through that ceremony feeling like a King, feeling confident and not giving one damn what anyone in the audience thought of me.  When it came time for my speech I stood up and delivered it like a BOSS and got a standing ovation from the crowd.  I danced with my new wife/Queen with reckless abandon and had an amazing evening.  Whenever I felt even the slightest bit shaky or nervous I listened inside my head to hear Ian shout, “YOU ARE A KING!!!!”  I just smiled and carried on.  The result was that everyone treated me great, with love and respect, and I think we all had a memorable evening.  If anyone had a problem with me I never picked up on it at all.

For me, the wedding was so much more than just a wedding.  Yes, I married my beautiful bride and we celebrated our love and devotion to each other.  But even more than that, I stood in front of all of those people as my true self, proud and strong, and celebrated the journey I’ve been on for the past 55 years of my life to get me to this moment.  Every bump in the road, hill and valley, had led me to standing in front of these people in all my transgender glory finally able to claim my bride, my Queen, and feel like a King, a Conqueror.  I had won the war and I claimed my Victory.

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We finally were able to steal a couple minutes at the end of the night to get a picture in our photobooth.

Girl “Friends”

I think about my childhood a lot.  I don’t really mean to, but it seems to be something that a lot of trans people talk about.  When did you know you were really a ___________ (pick a gender)?  This question always takes me back to my earliest memories and no where in there do I think I knew that I was anything other than different.  I’m not even sure if I knew that.  I just knew that what I wanted was at odds with what the authority figures in my life wanted.  I grew up in the dark ages, before the internet and reality tv.  No one knew anything about being transgender and no one ever said anything positive about gay people.  All of this was way too taboo and exotic.  My small town upbringing did not prepare me to live 30 years as a lesbian who is now living as a man.  I was ignorant about all of this stuff growing up and so was everyone I knew, even the authorities in my life.  How could I have known I was transgender at 4 years old?  I knew that I liked boy stuff and wanted to be like my brother and uncles.

I was a flower girl in my cousin’s wedding when I was about 7 years old.  I had no idea what that meant until the day of the wedding and they put me in a little light blue dress and stood me next to my male cousin who was the ring bearer.  He was wearing a black tuxedo.  Suddenly the difference in us just smacked me in the face like a wet dishrag.  I wanted to wear that tuxedo and I was so jealous of him.  It was experiences like this that I can tell you about where I felt jealousy because the boys got to do or wear things that I wanted to do or wear.  But I couldn’t tell you why that was.

And then there are friendships.  Friendship, for me, was complicated.  From an early age (5 or 6?), I got crushes on girls.  But I was expected to play with girls and develop friendships with them and get crushes on boys.  I tried.  Really, I did.  I could play with a girl as long as we could do what I wanted, but if she wanted to do really girly things, like play Barbie where I had to be one of the girl dolls, I was out of there.  I could deal with being Ken, but not Barbie.  Luckily, there weren’t all that many kids around for me to play with when I was young.  I lived on a short street with big houses on it that a lot of old people lived in.  We did not live in a big house.  We lived in a tiny bungalow that belonged to one of the big houses.  There was a seedy apartment building up the street from my house that mostly had single people who could barely pay their bills.  The place reeked of cigarettes and booze.  I hated going in there, but my one friend lived there.  His name was Scott.  I liked Scott because he was a real boy’s boy and he made me feel like a boy when we hung out.  We did boy stuff, whatever that was, and I didn’t have to worry about being the Barbie with him.  Occasionally, my mom would force me to play with his little sister because I really shouldn’t be friends with Scott.  I guess the adults were worried that we would end up having sex or something.  I don’t know what they were worried about, but I hated playing with his little sister.  Usually I managed to wiggle myself out of it after just a few minutes of torture.  I remember, one day being over at his apartment and his grandmother was there.  She gave me the most hateful look I had ever seen anyone give me.  I had no idea why she hated me so much, but every time I saw her she looked at me that way.

Scott moved away after a few years and I really never saw him again.  I didn’t really have friends until middle school.  I met this girl in band class who was new to me.  She was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen and I was immediately infatuated with her.  We became best friends and hung out together all the time.  We had sleep overs and participated in three-legged races and shit like that.  I would do anything I could to be near her.  This “friendship” of ours grew into a circle of girls who hung out together and did the sleep over thing and all that goes with it.  There was another girl in that group that I later developed a big crush on as well.  This circle of friends endured throughout high school and college, even though we all went different places.  Today, we are still friends and I’m out to all of them.

What I wonder about today is whether we were ever really friends and how different it would have been if I’d been born with a penis.  I mean, I was in love with two of them and what I really wanted wasn’t just friendship.  Of course, they had no idea how I felt at the time (or now, for that matter).  This was my big dark secret that I never told anyone.   I almost kissed one of them one time and I did tell her that I loved her, but you know, she just interpreted that as friendship love.  Life got really complicated when they were dating and going steady with boyfriends.  God that sucked.  I was so jealous of the boyfriends, yet I had to be nice to them and be happy for my “friend”.  I had crushes/feelings for these girls for a long time.  All through high school I was still obsessed with that original girl, even though she always had a handsome boyfriend.  And, to complicate things even more, I dated a couple of boys in high school on a semi serious basis.  It was, for me, way less serious than it probably seemed to my friends.  It was really just a cover for who I really was.  The boys I dated were nice guys that I liked as friends and had zero interest in as a romantic partner.  We never did anything more than kiss occasionally.

The fact that I’m still friends with my high school group is unusual and awkward now that I’m awake and knowledgeable about who and what I am.  Since they know I’m transitioning, I wonder whether they ever put pieces of our pasts together and truly understand why I was part of their group.  There’s a part of me that feels like I did something wrong all those years ago.  I know that I understood on some level, even back then, that I was not like them.  I feel like our friendships were built on a lie, or at least a falsehood.  It makes me feel like my whole life was built on a lie, like every relationship I had was false.  I was always just doing the best I could to pretend to really be a girl, but deep down I knew that I wasn’t.  I didn’t understand any of this at all, so I don’t blame myself.  And I don’t blame the world I grew up in either.  We were all navigating in the dark without a map or compass.  We were all ignorant.  Still, I wonder.  What do they think when they see me becoming my true self?  Do they realize that the thing that drew me to them was that I had a crush?  Do they wonder if we would have been friends if I’d been recognized as a boy?  Would we have dated?  I know for sure that I wouldn’t have been invited to the sleep overs.  And then I think that there was attraction on their part too, because, even in friendship, there is an attraction that brings people together.  I can honestly say that I did and do feel true friendship for these women and I cherish our long standing relationships.  I enjoy visiting with them and even like their husbands quite a bit.  Of the five women in my circle, I only had a crush on two of them.  One of them I don’t even really like at all, but the others do so we make nice with each other (it’s mutual).  I give this group of friends a lot of credit for helping me through my weird and awkward childhood and adolescent years.  They were my lifeline.  I don’t have any idea how I would have gotten through high school without them.  Still, I feel like I deceived them and that eats at me, even today.  I don’t still have those feelings for any of them and haven’t for a really long time.  At some point in high school I made a conscious decision to disengage from the notion of them as romantic partners.  It was too difficult to see them with their boyfriends and not even be able to tell them how I felt.  That’s probably when I started to date boys a little bit.

Unfortunately, I thought my story started and ended with my physical attraction to girls, so when I finally kissed a girl my freshman year of college and declared myself a lesbian, I thought that was the end of the story.  It took 30 years for me to realize that that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Unraveling my past and discovering who I really am has been like peeling the layers of an onion.  It’s taken a long time to get to the core of my onion and I’m not entirely sure I’ve arrived there yet, but I’m pretty close.  Processing through my relationship with these women, some of which I’ve known since kindergarten, has been just a small part of it.  Small, but vitally important.