Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Book of Faces by: CiCi Kitten

I joined Facebook a few weeks ago. Now for those of you who know me, you know that CiCi joined Facebook quite a while ago. I’m talking about my guy side. My guy side finally joined Facebook, and I was immediately “friended” by many of my friends and relatives back east; Friends and relatives who know nothing of my life as CiCi.

But, as I scanned their profiles – those of my brothers and their wives, my cousins, my nephews and nieces, my old college and high school friends – I began to realize that I know nothing of their lives either.

I moved to California over twenty years ago to pursue a career in the film industry. But I’d be lying to say that I didn’t have other motives for moving so far from home. I wasn’t CiCi then. I wasn’t gay. But of course, I was both. And, at some level, I thought I had to get away. Far, far away. I had to separate myself from my loved ones in order to become the person I really wanted to be. Like I said, I was so deep in denial at that time, that I don’t even think I was conscious of why I was doing it. But now, in hindsight – like a lot of things – it seems very clear.

It probably doesn’t seem very brave or heroic to move 3,000 miles away from home to be yourself. And it’s not. I’d like to say that I’m the kind of person who can look his best friend in the eye and say, confidently, “This is who I really am.” But that’s just not me.

I knew when I left home there would be sacrifices. I knew I would miss out on a lot. But until I logged onto Facebook, I don’t think I realized how much I had missed.

A lot of people who are gay or transgendered have rough childhoods. They often find themselves at odds with their parents or friends. Many feel that their families are either unsupportive or even hostile towards them – perhaps in an unspoken way (in an atmosphere of suspicion or non-acceptance) or perhaps in a very loudly spoken way (in arguments or even physical confrontations). But neither was the case with me. I never came out. So my sexuality and my gender never became an issue. I never felt anything but love and acceptance from my family. (Believe me, my family is far from perfect, but they were always good to me and I have fond memories of a very happy childhood.)

So I did not leave home with a chip on my shoulder. I did not say good bye with a wave of my middle finger and a big “fuck you” to all of the small minded jerks in my backwoods small town. That just wasn’t my story. I loved my home town. I cried when I left.

I sat down today to write something about balance. Because I know how hard it is for the typical crossdresser to maintain a sense of balance in her life. And there are sad stories of bad breakups, messy divorces, and visitation battles that attest to that fact. The typical American male juggles a wife, children, a career, and all the personal responsibilities that come with having a home, a family, relatives, and even pets. Not to mention overseeing investments, insurance, health care, retirement plans, and utility bills. It all adds up. And I’m not talking about financially.

Now on top of that – add crossdressing. Add all of the stress and baggage from the physical details – building, maintaining, and updating a wardrobe (often in secret) that might include wigs, clothes, heels in mens sizes, boots, and croossdressing makeup, as well as the emotional details of working to earn acceptance from others… as well as from yourself. Whether you’re out or not, that is a lot of balls for the average crossdresser to keep in the air; A lot of plates to keep spinning. And the more you do as a CD (going out, dating, having/maintaining relationships), the more complicated it gets.

I sat down to write about balance. But I really have no answers. The easiest answer of course is to come clean to everyone. That removes a good chunk of the stress and drama right there. (“The truth shall set you free.”) But for most of us, that’s not really a good (or safe) option. All I know is that for me, I’m not sure that ostracizing myself from my family and friends was the right answer. If your friends and family are assholes, that’s different. But mine aren’t. They’re pretty cool. But I’m still not ready to tell them. The point is, for me, nobody told me to get lost. So if I’m estranged from my family, it’s because I estranged myself.

So now I see this Book of Faces. And it doesn’t match the Book of Faces in my mind. My brothers and cousins are now older and grayer and balder. My nephews and nieces are now grown, and many have children of their own. My parents have passed away, as have most of my older relatives. (I have one 85 year old aunt who is still alive, and yes, she has a Facebook page!) I’ve missed weddings, funerals, graduations, and tons of birthday and anniversary celebrations. And only now do I realize just how dear all of these people have been to me. How much they all mean to me.

I’ve missed a lot in the past 20 years. But I’ve gained a lot too. The truth is, I just might be happier now than I’ve ever been. And, if I had to do it all again, I’d probably make the same choice. I just wasn’t meant to be a small town guy. The thing is, when you choose a life… any life… even a good life....there are sacrifices. There is compromise, there are trade-offs, and there is loss. Somehow, in the end, I just hope that the people I left behind know how much I care about them, how much they still mean to me, and how, in a very real way, they are still a part of my life. They are still a part of who I am.

Oh, look. My cousin’s husband wants to add me as a friend. LOL. I think I’ve met the guy twice. Oh well, I might as well add him. But I ain’t joining FarmVille. That’s the place I left twenty years ago.

Take care out there.

Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.



Anonymous said...

CiCi, this was such a relatable post for me. I appreciate your honesty with us, and admire your strenght. It does feel like a double life at times. If people only knew. But I do have to say crossdressing does make me happy. Actually I am at my happiest when crossdressing. I'm unsure if it is because it's my "dirty little secret" or because it is just how I feel more comfortable. Either way, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Loved this post CiCi. You are so much more real all of a sudden (not just another pretty face... imagine that! :) My life story is quite different but I still relate so well. Take care sister! XXX Rachelle

P.S. Gay? I just thought you liked boys! :)

Rhonda said...

HI Cici,

I just made such a move. I'm not sure what I'll face, I'm not sure exactly who I'll meet and who I will let into my world. Your help was helpful and poignant and I hope to incorporate some ideas and wisdom into this new world I am evetering. I am hoping not to "separate" worlds..when one has a clean slate...one might as well shoot for "fantasy" results.