May 28, 2012

All Dressed Up…

By In Diary

I originally shared this on my Facebook page (Facebook.com/EleNichols & fell free to add me). This was a reply I sent back to a friend who asked about my story. Oh boy, did I reply back to her. I thought it was worth sharing here too. We all have our stories and this is mine.

The simple answer to the question “How long have I felt this way about myself?” is all my life. I didn’t identify things as male or female when I was a child. I was taught the difference later. I was raised in Arkansas in a very remote area with no children. I was creative, inventive and happy with myself. School changed that. There was just something the other kids couldn’t put their finger on with me. I ended up being ostracized and bullied. That was the beginning of a long pattern of me trying to fit in and be something different.

I moved out to California when I was 10, things got worse for me. My only parent was never home and I received even worse treatment out here by my school peers. I recognize now I really suffered from insecurity and a lack of social skills. This all prevented me from getting ahead with my life and only turned me more inward. There were advantages to this because I became a very thoughtful person and tended not to judge people. There were also disadvantages because I retreated from the world and never really dealt with my problems.

Because I was literally at home alone most of the time, that’s when I really started to crossdress and experiment. For a long time, I thought I was doing all this because of the problems in my life at that point. The need to express this other side of myself had always been there. Before any of the problems started in my life though, I was crossdressing. My real problem was I had no one in my life who understood me and had the ability to really help me. When I say help, I don’t mean trying to stop me from being this way, but rather to guide me.

{ I want to interject here for a moment about my Mom, whom I’m about to speak of. I love my mother. I have a wonderful relationship with her as an adult. While there are still some things I’ve kept back from her, there is very little. People make bad decisions sometimes and she was no exception. So the person I speak of here doesn’t exist anymore. Even then she wasn’t a source of misery for me and never has been. She was a single mother in a bad relationship with a child. She just didn’t know what to do when all of this landed in her lap. }

During this time, my mom had bags of clothing she had never worn in her closet (she did that kind of thing). I would borrow from all that and dress up in my bedroom. Did this for quite sometime, until one day she came to me very upset after she realized the bags had be rifled through. She thought that I had let in one of the neighbor kids and they had gone through her things. She was hell bent on getting a name, but I ended up coming clean with her. Her reaction was anger at first. After a moment, she just wanted to brush it under the carpet and act like it never happened. She had no idea what to do with that info. She chalked it up to some desperate act that was then probably scarred out of my system. That would prove to be wrong.

We started going to church again, not long after that. She felt guilty for not being around for me and for a lot of messed up crap in her own life. She felt better going, but I felt worse. One of the problems was that no one really had something of significant value to share with me. This was a charismatic church and everyone spoke the usual Christian drone speak. You had all these people talking about what Jesus did for you and the debt he paid for you. Then they would say something so contradictory that didn’t sound right and didn’t feel right. All these people standing around saying that they want to help you, but none even able to help themselves. I hated it because it was all so phony to me (my perception anyway).

So eventually we stopped going when things got worse in our lives. She lost her job, broke up with her boyfriend at the time and we ended up living in a motel room for 2 years in the ghetto. It was not pretty. As usual, she was never home, except sometimes on weekends. Left to my own devices and desperately needing to have at least short moments where I felt like myself, not being judged, I continued dressing again, but just a bit smarter.

Things got worse. I moved to West Virginia to live with my grandma and that was hard. She was super religious to an insane degree. I had no freedom, no privacy and no voice. I spent a year there and that was an almost impossible adjustment. I had been very self-reliant for so many years. Suddenly that was all ripped away. Dogma was constantly being barked at me and shoved down my throat. I was sent to a Christian high school, where again I never quite fit in. I was in hell. I don’t want to make it sound like everything was horrible there, because it wasn’t. I have some wonderful relatives who did so much for me and I will never forget that. My grandma was a broken person though and very hard to be around. She was selfish, judgmental and immature. Being again in the middle of no where with no place to run…lets just say I had some very bad thoughts.

One year later, I returned to California (forcibly of my own will) and my mom had been going to a church again. She had made some changes in her life and had really dived in head first into that world. So had my aunt Carol who was now living with us at that time. I felt like a prisoner. Crazy people yelling, nothing of any worth being shared (I felt anyway, personally speaking) and more facades everywhere I looked. First week I was there, there was a sermon excerpt about some gay people and transvestites. Needless to say, very harsh and cruel words were used and at some point during it direct eye contact was made with me (probably not intentional, but he scared the hell out of me).

Really, all the place did was terrify me into a ‘relationship’ with Jesus. It was survival and I was desperate. At some point, I got somewhat lost in all of it that. I started hoping I was possessed by something that could be cast out. After some 100+ prayer lines later, that never happened. I was constantly being reminded of how messed I was and tried so diligently to cure myself of it. To be honest, this was a big reason why I went to bible school in the first place (Yes, I actually went to Bible College for a year…). I thought whatever was wrong with me, it would be taken care of there. Instead, the very opposite happened.

So this pattern of denial and suppression went on for another few years. Around my 22nd birthday, I had a breakdown. I was working for a church at that time and had a private meeting with the pastors. I thought they would listen and try to help me. Instead, they twisted the whole thing into a sexual problem and labeled me gay. Not only that, they had another meeting with ALL the church leadership and staff and told everyone. They also did some other things I can’t share, but I spent 3 months trying to earn back their trust (so stupid). What happened at the end of that was the head pastor sitting me down privately, rubbing my nose in the fact I was a ‘gay transvestite sex addict’ and telling me I needed to work for them for 90 days for free in order to prove myself to the ministry. I left that evening and never went back.

{ Another side not here. I don’t think all ministries are this way. THIS ministry was this way. I made mistakes there, but so did they. I’ll also allow that my memory of all these events may be distorted partially. They did happen, but during this time I was seeing everything though a slightly distorted filter. The emotions of it left a sting to be sure. Any way, I just want to clarify that I am not labeling all ministries to be this way. There are ALOT though. }

So I went back into hiding. Always living half of my life, which really isn’t living. It’s like having a Siamese twin that you’re ashamed of and don’t won’t anyone to see. What do you do? You don’t let anyone ever see you at all. 28 years I played that game. 28 years of misery, sadness, rejection and loneliness. For what? Because sometimes I want to feel beautiful? Not just that, but I’ve always been into fashion and makeup and so many other things that could be considered the exclusive domain of women. I still liked all my nerdy/geeky interests and my creative passions, but there was so much more I was terrified to share.

So more crap happened between here. A very great depression took me over and I bottomed out. I had to start over from scratch. I began working hard, developing my character (which I felt was lacking) and decided to stop chasing the dollar and turn back to my dreams. I’ve done that now and continue too. I’m not poor either, I do okay. I went all in on the future I wanted…except for the part of my life I was determined to always keep hidden.

2 years ago, I was spending a lot of time with my aunt and one night we just ended up talking about this. She really helped me and was supportive. With some encouragement, I started looking at myself not as this messed up person, but simply misunderstood. My thoughts changed, my outlook on life changed and my heart changed. I began to really love myself and embrace the way I was. This changed everything for me. It’s been a process of healing and restoration. I’ve gone from being terrified of people and being socially awkward, to a person who is confident and even relaxed with casual conversation with anyone. Perhaps not impressive to many, but coming from where I’ve been, this was an impossibility for me at one time.

Since 2010, I’ve gone out, made friends in the transgendered community and really restored my identity. The one word that immediately comes to mind is ‘Clarity’. I feel like I have that now. Also freedom. Further more, I’m not ashamed of it, but very happy that I am the way I am. I have a unique outlook on life. I have deep conversations with people and there is this openness that didn’t exist before.

This year, I decided that this wasn’t going to be a secret any longer. Besides, secrets always have a way of leaking out. Did I want it to seep out like it’s something I’m ashamed of or did I want it to come out from my own mouth (or fingers). I’ve also been a member of a few message boards regarding transgendered and crossdressing topics. One day, I read this response from some one that could have been a echo from you childhood. It haunted me and just made me sob. This kid was so desperate for answers and so alone and fearful. He felt like he was the only person like this in the world and I remember having those horrifying thoughts too. I had no idea as a child how many men crossdressed and had a feminine side to them. The numbers are staggering. You would never know though because it’s all hidden and bottled up. There is such an oppressive shame that gets tagged to it.

{ For all my crossdresser friends, the following paragraph is written from my perspective for my own life. I’m not judging or condemning anyone who chooses to never come out or wants to be passable. I’m really speaking about myself and how I honestly felt at the time I came to this decision. So please take no offense. I mean no harm in these words. We’re all free to choose the life we want and no ones ideas are the same. }

Reading that teenagers message, I just felt this fire rise up inside myself to do something about this. It’s wrong, it’s all wrong. The ideas that the world has about us, the judgments that are made and all the twisted things that come up out of ourselves (CD/TG/TS people); it’s all wrong. So there’s not much that can be done if we all stay hidden or we try to blend in and be passable as the opposite sex. I am passable. Passable is a term thrown around in the community for those who want to blend in as the opposite sex unnoticed. This isn’t a bad thing, but for me I don’t want to simply be passable anymore. I want people to know. I have a voice, it’s loud and I’m going to use it. It’s not about some ego driven attention trip for myself. I just can’t bare the thought of someone else going through the pain I did.

So I hate to sound pretentious, but I feel like I’m apart of making an impact. Serving as a beacon to others to let them know they’re not alone. I hope I also change some opinions and rectify some bad info out there. We’re not all drag queens and we’re not all performers. There’s not so much a Why as there is a Why Not. I’ve heard more than once, “Why don’t you just stop? It would be easier.” Of course it would be easier! Do you really think I made a choice one day like, “Gee, I wish I could make my life even harder. I know! I’ll dress like a woman!” Really? It’s mind-boggling to me that people think this is a decision. The only real decision involved is to either bury it or embrace it. Or even more appropriately, ‘Misery’ or ‘Happiness’. I can’t stop feeling this way just like I can’t stop breathing. Actually I guess I could stop breathing, but I would be dead then.

As far as what people think, I couldn’t give a flying f*** anymore. People are going to judge me either way, so why not give them something to really judge. There’s this ridiculous thought that we should live life to be acceptable to others. No, no, no, no, no…We should live our lives the way we see fit (as long as it’s not to the detriment or harm of others). At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be judging people by their outside anyway. It’s only clothing. For those who think I or the like are putting up a facade, well isn’t a woman using makeup cloaking her true appearance as well? The argument could be made that a woman wants to reflect how she feels inside, outside. It’s no different for myself. Sometimes I just have to express that side. I don’t even do this all the time (though by popular demand, I have been dragged out more). I don’t have to be one or the other. I can be both. I’m aware that I was born male physically, but my mind isn’t constrained to that.

If you’ve actually managed to read this WHOLE THING…you’re a real trooper. Thank you. This is who I am. This is always who I’ve been. Not always obvious, but always there. And I am not alone, not by a long shot. It’s a changing world and like it or not, the world is going to have to make way. So thanks again for reading this exhaustively long diatribe. 😉

Escape The Ordinary,
Ele Nichols

15 Comments
  1. Bridgétt Rex May 28, 2012

    This was SO VERY inspiring and even tear-jerking…and I must say YOU WRITE SO WELL!!!! You are a suave writer Ele Nichols. Tip of the tounge teeth and lips. Haha I read this pret-ty quickly by the way. Procrastination reading has taught me well. Bravo!

    Reply
  2. […] elenichols // CATEGORY: Crossdressing, Personal Development No Comments 17 […]

    Reply
  3. Nichole Owens June 18, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your story. I read it all, and though I don’t know you, I’m proud of you for being brave and I love you for it. ♥

    Reply
  4. Thea Maia June 18, 2012

    Thank you for being yourself. It does take a staggering amount of courage – people just don’t understand that at all. And thank you even more for being someone other young people can look up to. Helping others get past the darkness we live through when we are young is vital. I would suggest, that you edit this carefully (you substituted a few words or misspelled some) because it deserves to be flawless as you share it into the future. Society tries to crush those of us who don’t fit in. We need to share our stories of how we survived the darkness to find our light into our future strength. Its always different for each of us. I think that you show your beauty with your words, your art and your photos – and I thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  5. Chela Belle June 18, 2012

    Well, I had this totally inspired, cheesy & emotional thing to say here, but These fine ladies have basically said it all. 🙂 I may not know you, but I love you.

    Reply
  6. Gabrielle Fisher June 18, 2012

    Glad you posted this, I read all of it!

    Reply
  7. Phan2Angel7 June 18, 2012

    That’s one hell of a story. I think everyone in our unique gender spectrum has suffered through a similar experience. Some longer than others. But that you’ve finally embraced it without feeling the need to hide in the closet from people speaks of a grand step.

    Reply
  8. Ailynn Starlight June 18, 2012

    Wow, what a story, Ele! Thank you so much for sharing it with us, and I’m so thankful that you didn’t let all that hate and judgement destroy you as I know it has many others.

    I’m actually a Christian myself, as well as a person still trying to find out who I really am. Ever since I was 13 or so, I’ve often felt like I was supposed to be a girl. There were many times where I would go back and forth between feeling find as a boy and doing “guy things”, but I also had continuously stronger and stronger feminine feelings. This caused me great concern and depression and anxiety for 20 years. I kept praying to be released from this so I could just be a “normal guy”, but the feelings never went away. They just kept getting stronger and stronger.

    Long story short, after MUCH anxiety and pain, I am now still a Jesus-loving Christian, and okay with myself having mixed gender feelings. My wife and I are closer than ever, my family and I are closer than ever…and they all know how I feel. God has answered my wife’s concerns, questions and prayers through the Bible time and time again regarding my gender issues.

    Basically, know this: NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE YOU! God loves you very much, and I’m sure was even angered by the treatment you received by that church. That was WRONG of them to treat you that way. I would even call it evil. You are a beautiful person, outside and in…and I will be praying for you for acceptance and love from all those around you. God bless you, Ele!

    Reply
  9. Ariel June 18, 2012

    i read about half lol but congrats on loving and not denying yourself 🙂

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    • elenichols July 3, 2012

      Thank you! I fookin love ya too! lol!

      Reply
  10. Call me Molly November 21, 2012

    Well done, Ele. This word needs to be spread to the public beginning about the onset of puberty. Tolerance and acceptance are the two-step result of taking all the hidden things about crossdressing
    and laying them out publicly. You’ll not change but a handful of people older than 50. The elderly resist change while the youg are more likely to learn a new trick..

    Reply
  11. Andrea October 12, 2013

    Thank you. Really inspiring words. Thank you (:

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  12. Ericka December 4, 2013

    Hey, Ele! Thanks for sharing! I wish you the best and I’m happy to read how much you love and respect your self. <3

    Reply
  13. Kennedy Sutton June 3, 2014

    Thank you Ele, for someone had to put it out there. I’ve always felt feminine myself but, much like you, I felt that I would be judged in the worst way.I was so lucky to meet the love of my life (who was lesbian for the past 7 years) and her interest in women inspired me to dress for her in private. The female part of my mind is named Vallary and she desperately wants out, but she is still a very crude woman and needs work. My heart is pounding and my mind is screaming as I have no idea who will see this. Although my family accepts my cousin who recently came out as gay I’m am utterly terrified to tell them and have decided tell some of my stranger friends. But it’s still all very frightening letting out what the “normal” world would describe as my dark side. Ele I think that you are quite beautiful and extremely brave. I can only hope to be as extraordinary as yourself someday. Please feel free to email me as I would love to conversate and I admit I may need some guidance, although you’ve already helped me more than you know.

    Reply

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