Shields   I was recently listening to one of my favorite radio programs, The Focus Group, on XMSirius Radio.  It’s a business show and the hosts were interviewing a guest who had recently come out as transgender.  One of her comments about never being discovered was she always had her “shield” up.  This reminded me of something my lady friend said to me a number of months ago.  She told me prior to coming out to her, she never saw one indication of anything in my behavior that was feminine.  She then asked, “How can you be a woman when I never saw it?”  I told her all my life I had always been a pretty good actor.

Bullies   I was that kid growing up who was different.  I didn’t like sports and spent a lot of time alone.  I was short and plump.  This was a small Ohio town where farming and football were the two most important activities.  I played music, was active in theater, hung out mostly with girls and was quirky.  I started being called queer and fag and homo from junior high on.  I was the target of the occasional shove or slap to the back of the head during class breaks.  I was bullied and I hated high school and I hated my home town.

My shield   I quickly learned I could be funny and the class clown and I would be mostly left alone.  I still played music and hung out with the same people, but around school, I was the goofy, funny guy.  The last two years of high school passed quickly.  I worked and played music, had a girl friend and kept away from everyone.  I excelled in writing and literature and theater.  I was also a band kid, so between the band, rehearsals, working and performing, I became invisible.  No more physical violence, very little verbal abuse, so I discovered my shield and plotted my escape from my home town.

More shields   I ran off to the service, then moved away as soon as I could.  I left all the pain behind and built a new life in a place I was unknown.  I was still funny and occasionally goofy, but I also became good at working with customers, selling software and flirting a lot.  Everything geared to fitting in and excelling and never being bullied again.  My wife didn’t know, my friends and associates had no idea what was constantly going on in my head.

No peace   I continued to keep my shields up until I was in my mid 50’s, but nothing I did gave me any peace.  The more I hid and denied, the more confusion and unrest.  Finally all snapped and I crumbled into depression.  Only once I was at the bottom, did I drop all pretense and begin accepting and embracing my authentic self.  Then I began to find peace and freedom.

Peace at last   After eleven years out of which three were gruesome, my truth has been explained, and to a lesser degree understood, and accepted.  I am living authentically and I have grown to really like who I am.  Do I wish it hadn’t taken sixty years to get here?  You bet!  But I made it.  The moral of the story is I finally embraced who I was.  When I did that, life got very rewarding.

5 thoughts on “Shields

  1. I am so enjoying this blog, and after reading one of the more recent posts, I recognize myself in so much of it. It was about 60 years ago that I began wanting to be more like the girls and women in my life. Fortunately, i was not subjected to any sort of shaming or conversion therapy (did therapy even exit in then?), but I was gently redirected, because it seemed appropriate growing up in the rural south. This went well until puberty, when I did not develop as fast as my peers, and my true self was apparent, even as much I tried to hide it. I avoided sports, as being the locker room was a nightmare, and became a musician during the sixties, which afforded me a level of popularity I had never experienced. It was music that helped me to have a little self esteem, and gave me an excuse to have long hair. Music became my drug of choice, and helped save me from probable ruin. It provided a distraction, although temporary, from the constant torment of having to conform to a self I was not comfortable with.
    Fast-forward to the late sixties, still running from myself, I joined the military, thinking that would solve my gender identity once and for all. I thought surely, running around with a gun and shooting the enemy would finally release my inner male, but releasing something that isn’t there was like blowing out a candle when you are out of breath. There was nothing to be released. My military career was almost ended, when my secret was discovered. I was unfortunate to be subjected to the threat of a courts martial and being discharged with dishonor, and the loss of all hope in life so I sucked it in, surprised all my feelings and managed to survive by convincing a shrink, that I was not a transvestite.
    I managed to hid all of my internal feelings for many years, involving myself in one male-dominated activity and profession after another, quite successfully. After a failed marriage, and a lot of time alone, I began to finally come out of my shell about 12 years ago. Very slowly, the woman inside emerged, and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to rediscover her. What a disappointment it would be to never get to spread my wings.
    Once I came out to my wife and closest friends, I was amazed at the level of acceptance. Many years of male activity are hard to unlearn, but I would have never been able to unlearn my true authentic self. It is never too late to be who you really are!
    Hugs Carla

  2. I noticed you said you were from Ohio a small farming town football and farming don’t mind I’m over here in Florida St Petersburg wanting to Gurl

  3. Wow After reading your last post I guess i never realized how much out lives paralleled . I to put up the shields. Not very good a sports I was pushed into playing.. football, baseball, basketball,etc. never excelled at them. I was awkward and always different. I to was bullied. Became the class clown, told jokes, became a big flirt . I’d flirt with other guys girlfriends just so they would get mad and want to fight me. To prove myself a man..However I had excelled in karate as a teen which I kept very quiet. A Shield. When provoked by others I would strike out . I got kicked out of school many times. All this was just to prove I was a man?!. Tried to enlist in the Marines. Would not take me for medical reasons. Went to College and excelled in Environmental Eng, Keep up the good work Cate. You have done well. I enjoy your blogs.

  4. I have to agree that so many of us led similar lives. We went about our business being good sons, husbands and fathers, getting through school and into a career but we always had certain inner cues that just seemed a bit out of step with our outer persona.
    I sometimes think of myself as a crossdresser with the longest coming out in history but it certain seems that I am not alone and surely not as unique as I may have one time thought.

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