Steppin' Out, Pt. I

Sunday, March 10, 2013

So, I have a confession to make.

I've been holding out on all of you.

No, I don't know who's going to win the World Series.

Although I do know my Mariners won't be winning it.



Anyway, I've been holding out on some big steps (well, big steps to me) I took recently.

Well, OK, not recently.

Back in January.

All right, early January.

Oh, stop looking at me like that! It wasn't that long ago!

I had the flu, got flattened by a van, and had a panic attack in the interim! It isn't as if I was eating honey BBQ chips and drinking creme soda every day!

No. Definitely not every day. ;c)

So, what did I do, you ask?

I had a makeover.

My first.

And I went clothes shopping with my friend and co-worker (and self-appointed wardrobe consultant) S. :c)

Follow me below the fold for the first part of the tale!

It all started before the holidays.

I had a pivotal session with my therapist, M, the week before Christmas.

It would take too long to go into it all here. But in essence, I was feeling very down.

Some of it was because of the holiday season, which is always difficult.

In the past I would be down because another year had gone by living a lie, even if I didn't acknowledge it to myself.

This time it was because I felt as if the entire process was, well, pointless.

It was the day after the horror in Newtown, and I was having a great deal of difficulty with it.

Everything seemed futile.

Including my transition.

Especially my transition.

My therapist, M, in her gentle way, acknowledged the legitimacy of that grief, but encouraged me to dig a bit deeper.

I won't share everything we discussed that day, but I will say that it was the most intense, emotional session I've had. And that includes the session when I realized I had to transition.

As is so often the case, we traced these feelings back to their source: my childhood.

And more specifically, my relationship with my parents.

Again, I will refrain from sharing the details. My parents are flawed, but I'm working to accept that they did the best they could, given their limitations. It's a struggle, but I'm doing my best to come to terms with it.

What I came to learn, thanks to M, is that I can move beyond that.

"For better or worse," she said, "They made their choices in life, and are dealing with the consequences.

"You, on the other hand, have done something very few people are willing, or able, to do, Cass," M said.

"You decided to look inside yourself to finally figure out who you were. That is probably the most difficult, terrifying journey any of us can make.

"But you did it.

"And now you know who you are.

"Not who your parents want you to be, or your friends want you to be.

"But you finally know who you really, truly are, at your core.

"And you know what you need to do to become her.

"And you're doing it. It's long, and hard, and painful... but you're doing it.

"You have no idea how far you've come, and how rapidly you've gotten here, even if it feels endless.

"When you first came in you were so frightened, and lost, and almost totally shut down.

"That was less than two years ago. And now, every time you come in, I see you blossoming into the woman you really are.

"You don't see it. You can't; you're too close.

"But you're SO close to reaching the tipping point. You've worked so hard, and you still are.

"And you're on the verge of beginning to reap the rewards for your efforts.

"It will still be incredibly difficult, and there will be heartache, and loss, and tears.

"But if you keep working, things are going to pick up speed, and you're going to be amazed at how fast the changes will happen.

"You're on a rocket ship, Cass. You just don't know it yet."

I was still skeptical.

"I don't feel like I'm on a rocket ship," I told her. "And if I am, why do I feel so... empty?"

She then asked me the pivotal question.

"What do you need, Cass?"

I just looked at her.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

She looked at me.

"What do you need?" she repeated.

I was flummoxed.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm not sure I get what you're asking me."

She spoke slowly.

"What do you need, Cass?"

I looked at her for an eternity.

I looked inside myself, turning the question over and over in my mind.

And finally I had to tell her the truth.

"I have no idea," I said.

She nodded. I could see the emotion in her eyes.

"I know," she said.

"You've spent your entire life trying desperately to be who everyone else wanted you to be. Your parents, your friends... everyone.

"And now, when you've finally allowed yourself to become you, you have to start from scratch.

"This is the most important, fundamental question you can ask yourself.

"You have a rare opportunity, Cass. Very few people get the chance to ask themselves this question, and even fewer have the opportunity to make it a reality.

"But you do. Because you've worked so hard.

"You don't have to follow your parents' path. You can forge your own.

"To do that, you need to work on becoming comfortable with yourself. I encourage you work on that. You've finally been able to get out of your parents' home. You can begin this work.

"I know your time is limited because of your schedule. But still, when you come home, I want you to start spending that time as yourself every chance you get.

"You deserve that. Think of it as your reward.

"If you work on this part of your transition as hard as you've worked on your emotional journey... well, you're going to be successful. I promise."

And that was the end of the session.


Coming soon in Part II:

The makeover!

It won't be nearly as intense.



Here's a wonderful song from Joe Jackson's classic Night & Day album. I have all of his albums, but I think this is my favorite:

From the same album, a song that left me quite shaken when I first heard it, and even more so after watching this video:

I *was* that little boy. (And I'm sure I wasn't the only one who felt that way.) This song is even more remarkable when you consider that it was from 1982.

Last but not least, another wonderful track from the same album. If you listen closely, those lyrics are certainly open to interpretation.

Off to add his catalogue to my iPod now... :c)


Stace on March 10, 2013 at 3:06 PM said...

It is intense, but it's worth it :)

As for the advice about getting changed whenever you can - do! I got the same advice and it just being me in the evening made all the difference to relaxing at the end of the day.

It's not about the clothes, or dressing, it's about allowing yourself to be you! As the Dutch say 'geniet ervan!'


Becca on March 10, 2013 at 4:02 PM said...

I am so glad you are finding the belief that you can succeed. It's your choice, your choice for a better life

Cassidy on March 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM said...

Thank you both, Stace and Becca.

I haven't finished writing the next two posts in this series yet, but the thing that amazed me was how calm I felt when I was actually doing them. It was truly remarkable, to the point that several people commented on it. I can only take that as a good sign. :c)

More and more I see myself when I look in the mirror. And it doesn't matter whether I'm wearing makeup or dressing as myself. As you said, Stace, it's because I'm allowing myself to be me. And it never fails to make me smile.

I hope I got this right, but to both you and Becca, I say:

Hartelijk dank, lieverd!



Becca on March 10, 2013 at 5:28 PM said...

I am getting sucked into google translator. Very dangerous. I was given a vacuum sealer as a present once and the user manual was via translator. I kid you not it tooled two weeks to understand how to use it.

So if Its to both of us is Lieverd plural ?

By the way, if the mirror image doesn't look like you somedays just go outside and do what you do - everyone else sees you

Cassidy on March 10, 2013 at 10:08 PM said...

@ Becca: lol You have my utmost sympathies.

I work closely with two of our developers in Shanghai. They are both very likable, and I enjoy it when we meet online. (They are both very funny!)

After much effort, I've convinced them to let me draft their use cases. They feel it's their responsibility, but their manager, who works in my office, finally persuaded them I *wanted* to help. It's working well so far, although I've jokingly threatened that to file an excessive praise bug if they keep thanking me. lol

Must have some dust in the air; my eyes were a bit misty after reading your last comment, sweetie. :c) Thank you.

== Cass

P.S. I will have to check with my on-staff Dutch-to-English translator for an official ruling on your query. Stace, I'm digging up another Radiohead live show as you read this! ;c)

Stace on March 11, 2013 at 3:54 AM said...


IIRC It's Lieverds...


Debra on March 11, 2013 at 2:13 PM said...

What do you need? So so so true! How can you be satisfied/happy if you don't know the answers to that question? =) Definitely a starting point hehe.

Cassidy on March 11, 2013 at 10:55 PM said...

@ Stace: Thank you, sweetie! And I *do* have several other Radiohead shows to share with you! I hope to upload them tomorrow night post-electrolysis. Because what better way is there to distract myself while I break out the Epsom salts? lol

@Debra: I really had never allowed myself to even think about it. I thought I would spend the rest of my life alone, carrying this secret that I could never share, and thinking that was what I deserved.

In the weeks since, I've spent a great deal of time pondering the answers to that question. And I am beginning to get a good idea, which I will write about it in a future post.

(Oh, and upgrading my "baby boobies" - as my electrologist affectionately refers to them - makes the list. Hey, they can't *all* be philosophical treatises! lol)

Thank you for the thoughtful comment, as always, Debra! And thank you for your current series of posts. They provide much food for thought.

Hugs to you and Stace,

Jenna on March 12, 2013 at 7:16 PM said...

Each of us that are on this journey are so lucky that we get to figure out who we are and who we really want to be.
I'm still figuring out who I am and who I want to be. I have some ideas and its going to be interesting seeing how they develop.
I look forward to reading about your thoughts on M's question.

In the meantime I'm going to have to find something to satisfy this sudden craving for cream soda. Something I've not had since I was a youngster because it was one of my Dad's favourite soft drinks.

Cassidy on March 12, 2013 at 9:32 PM said...

Hi Jenna!

We certainly are lucky, in spite of the pain it takes to get to this point.

I told myself when I started transitioning that I would not shut myself off from anything. Thank goodness; I've had a few, um, surprises so far! ;c) I'm willing to bet there are more to come. I can't wait to find out what they are!

I will definitely write about them, and I look forward to reading about your discoveries as well.

Creme soda and honey BBQ chips turn out to be one of the many things April and I share a passion for. How we were born on separate continents when we're sisters still baffles us. :c)

Enjoy your indulgence, Jenna!


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