I am no longer afraid.

Those of you who know me personally have always known who Sophia was — She never had a separate physical body; I crafted her to help me express the things I feared showing without a mask behind which to hide.  I needed to be Sophia sometimes, the times when I was too scared to be Scott, too scared to be proud of the decisions I’ve made.

That all changed last night.  I had been out browsing books with my parents, and came home rather irritated and embarrassed by them.  I sat down and began writing — I frequently type out my true feelings in little notes, then think again and decide that I would be better off not rocking the boat, and never really tell anyone what I really was thinking.  It’s a release of the negativity in a safe environment, without any risk of a fight or rejection.  Anyway, I started writing, and while the note started off very hurtful and negative, I started just letting everything out.  I began to realize that I was saying all the things I’d been so afraid would end my life, would get me kicked out onto the street and disowned, and I really did intend to finally say all the things I’d been locking away.

I wrote quite a bit, then read and re-read it many times, making small changes here and there, until I finally ended up with the following:

I love you, and I am not afraid.

I’m not sure you know just how much I’ve been downplaying my enthusiasm for getting my computer moved.  I would love nothing more than to finally be free of the “hovering” I feel like I get from you guys, free from code-conversations with my best friends, or having to stop and type to them, inconveniencing everyone in the call so that I don’t offend you…

See, from what *I* remember, the night of August 16, 2007, I came home after an awkward situation and publicly exposed some things that would have been much better staying private, and the line from Dad was, “Well, you *know* what this means you’ll have to do.”  Not a question, not a request, just a statement of what he saw as the only viable next step.  We both understood him to mean that I would be supervised in everything I did on my computer, or at least have the potential to be supervised, and I was told that any electronics under my ownership must be moved down here, and that I was not to do anything unattended.

I numbly accepted my fate; after all, I was the one who had opened my big mouth — but it was one of those decisions that seemed like the right thing at the time and was so horribly wrong in the end.  I slowly grew and realized that simply because your religion tied you down, didn’t mean that I had to live that way, and that I need feel no guilt or shame for choosing to be different than you.

I’ve gone through a number of changes in my life over the past year-plus-change, surrounding myself with good friends, getting out more — away from this little nest where I’ve lived with my sorrows and past, snug in my shell for so many years.  I’ve found interests and hobbies outside of computers and gaming, and developed a much stronger sense of self and personal identity than I’ve ever had before.

Sadly, I’ve felt compelled to hide that new-found strength from you, because one of my deepest fears has always been that of rejection and abandonment, and I haven’t felt safe discussing anything with you for fear that I would be cast out, disowned, expelled from under your roof and find myself completely alone, unprepared for life and being out in the world.

No, just to clarify, I have not developed any sexual interest in men; in fact I find men quite unappealing, sexually — but I do feel much more comfortable presenting my more feminine aspects than I previously have done, and indeed developing more feminine traits where I lack them now.  I’ve already gathered a fair-sized collection of my own lingerie, I continue to occasionally make additional purchases as my finances allow, and on days where I choose not to wear stockings or a lacy top, I will only wear the — quite comfortable, I should mention — white cotton panties I’ve bought.

I’ve been shaving my pubic hair since early October, and began doing so with my legs mid-November.  When it became apparent that my facial razor was horribly inadequate for the task, I purchased a women’s razor and have been irritated that I can’t simply store it in the bathroom for easy access and use.

I haven’t dared to openly wear makeup yet, although you must have noticed my lips being a bit shinier the past few days from the lip balm/gloss I finally got around to buying, and obviously my nail care kit which I’ve made no effort to hide.  When I said I intend to grow my hair out, I don’t mean simply long enough to part to a little above my ears — I fully mean to have hair down to my shoulders which I can style as I wish.

I have good friends who are happy to help me find cosemtics which suit me well, and in addition have advised me on various bits of information such as what size heels my 12-wide men’s feet match up with (I fit rather comfortably into a women’s 11, by the way, and have found several pairs of shoes  that I might consider purchasing when the time and finances are right), and we plan to, at some point in the near future, find a dress or skirt and top I like and determine appropriate sizes in those respects as well.

Ah yes, and the pills… we can’t forget them, now can we?  Actually, we can.  At the advice of Dr. L, and with her blessing, I began drastically cutting back my dosage intake in an attempt to remedy the quite frustrating side-effects I’d been suffering through for years — moderate sexual dysfunction.  When things got to the point that I couldn’t achieve or maintain an erection for more than ten to fifteen minutes, and it frequently took literally hours of manual stimulation to climax, and I was consistently depressed and frustrated by my need for sexual release and difficulty or inability to obtain it, I finally talked to my doctor about it and she confirmed that my difficulties were almost certainly caused by my pills.  The few options available included adding other drugs with many more negative side effects, intentionally missing doses to lessen the side effects, and of course she was (thankfully!) unwilling to consider suggesting amphetamines as a viable solution… which left me with the freedom to leave my pills and finally enjoy masturbating again.  Since I made the decision to do so I have been far happier, enjoying life so much more, and been so much more satisfied with who I am than I can honestly remember ever being — I do not know of a time where I was truly this happy, so consistently, for so long a period.  Of course, this has meant that I’ve ended up doing things like dumping out a large number of my pills into baggies in the trash, telling you that my pills need to be ordered when they’re nowhere near gone, and really going to great lengths to keep up appearances.

To be perfectly clear, it has always pained me deeply to ever have had to hide any of this from you.  I’ve lied to you, I’ve hidden things both physically and figuratively from you, I’ve said things straight to your face that I knew to be completely false, but I always feared the consequences of telling you the truth much, much more than keeping the boat steady with my dishonesty.  I really am very sorry for deceiving you, and hope that your love for me as your child is strong enough to remain despite my choices in life which I know you can never accept or approve of.  I love you both dearly, despite my frequent displays of irritation, my negative comments, and my general rude behavior towards you.  I love you, and I don’t want to lose you or your love simply because I have chosen a different path than the one you might have wished for me.

I’ve told myself many, many times lately the line from Strictly Ballroom, that “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived” — and I know that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, living my life in fear.  I can’t be afraid anymore.  I can’t hide, I can’t run, I can’t pretend.  I need to abandon my fear and be honest with myself and my family, and I hope this letter can be the first step in doing that.  Wherever things go from here, I can at least honestly say that today I stopped running, I stopped being afraid, and that means a lot for me.

I ask that you please take some time to think and examine how you feel about these many revelations before getting back to me — I would truly hate for words spoken in haste or anger to distance us or chill what warm feelings we still share as family.

With all my most sincere love,
Your third child,
Scott

I sent that letter to my mom at 10:40 PM Tuesday night.  I waited until close to midnight for any reply, but I don’t think she had her computer on then, and finally everyone went to bed for the night.  I slept naked last night, despite the chill, as a symbol to myself of newness, of a clean slate, not clothed as a boy or a girl, just me — and I was happy.

I awoke today about 11 AM, and dressed myself with just my cotton panties against my skin, no stockings, no top, and then an everyday white t-shirt and the same typical blue jeans.  When I was too cold still, I pulled out a pair of tube socks — the same ones I frequently used to use to cover my nylons or fishnets around the house, but today I didn’t hate them, I just put them on and they kept my feet warm.

I’m fairly certain that my mom had read my letter by the time I was up and about, but our conversations were just everyday typical bullshit… she didn’t act as if anything were different or unusual, and everything we did and said was friendly and pleasant — not faked niceties, but genuine kind feelings.  At one point she shut herself inside her room for some time, and I sat on the couch listening to music, where I eventually fell asleep and napped for a few hours.  When I awoke, she was just getting out of the bath,  and  when she was dressed again, I tested the waters by bringing her the mail and making small talk.  Still business as usual in our interactions.

A short time later, my dad got home from work — he’d had to stay late for a meeting, so he was much later than usual — and when he arrived, both parents went into her room and closed the door, talking in hushed voices.  I knew for certain that they were discussing my letter, and I think at one point I heard my dad’s voice rising and falling in the characteristic phrasing of prayer.

The door opened a bit after, and they both came out of the room, and went back to their computers.  Then as I was sitting on the couch again, I must have drifted off to sleep for a short while, because I startled awake to my mom asking if I would like to eat with them.  I did so, and after the meal, I stopped at my computer and noticed new email — from my mom.  Here is what it said:

Okay, here’s my reply to your email.

First let me give you an analogy.  Brian [note: that’s my oldest brother] votes Republican.  We disagree with most of the Republican opinions.  But we still treat Brian the same.  However, if he wanted us to contribute to a Republican campaign, or hold a meeting for a Republican candidate here, we’d have to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”  Your situation is kind of the same.  We won’t necessarily agree with your opinions, but we will treat you basically the same.  However, it may take some time to ponder and proceed.

Second, you have asked us for help with various situations in the past.  For instance, you have asked for help in taking your medications appropriately.  You never said that you did not need the monitoring any longer, you just got upset because we were continuing to do the things we had worked out with your input.  So we really don’t deserve a bad-guy rap for those things.

Third, we have been aware for some time that you had decreased your psych meds, because we have seen the differences in your behavior.  And while you may not see any of the negatives in the changes, for those who live with you, they are obvious.  But beyond that, your constant sniffing–which you say is not tics–seems to be something that you could and should control with medication.  If it’s tics, then increase the meds for that again.  If it’s just a runny nose, then take something to control that.  Just don’t think that it’s not noticeable or annoying for everyone else.

Fourth, we honestly do not listen to your conversations.  I know you always hear converations that take place in adjacent rooms, but except for very rare occasions, I do not hear what you say to others when you are at your computer.  And I’m certainly not trying to listen.  The rare times I have heard something, it’s been in a situation where (for instance) I muted the TV and you made some remark to someone about the game you guys were playing.

And finally, too much information!  It is quite possible to be truthful without so much detail.  Most people–and probably most parents–do not want to hear such particulars.

Also, about learning to drive: if you will check out driving schools, I would be willing to let you use the monthly money you give us to help out.  Dad’s schedule doesn’t seem to be very conducive to him helping you learn–at least not until it stays light longer.  So you can check and let me know.

That’s all I can think of for now.  –MOM

I wasn’t sure if I should laugh, cry, celebrate, or what… but I did try to let everyone important in my life know what had happened.  RPJ, my dearest friend, had been waiting with his shoes on so he could drive all the way to my house on a second’s notice to be my anchor if things got stormy; Pouf was delighted and very supportive via text messages; Cantankerous voiced his support in a conference call along with RPJ; Cater and Cog — who hadn’t yet been filled in on all the particulars of Sophia and her escapades — received a Cliff Notes version and sent hugs and congratulations; Baby Hipster sent her cheers and asked for more info by way of this blog, and Martian sent congratulations and is awaiting this post for the juicy details.

When I had fully expected that there was every possibility I would be cast out, no longer considered their child, and find myself homeless… to be told essentially, “We love you.  We don’t agree with what you have chosen, but we will not throw you out as if you were trash — we will continue to help you with what we can, but we won’t assist you in your lifestyle.” was so incredibly much more than I could have hoped for or dreamed of!

I have made a huge step forward in my life today, and whether I consider myself a Daughter of The Mother, a child of my mom and dad, a lovely young Sophia, or Scott who has chosen to adopt a more feminine lifestyle… I am not afraid anymore.  I refuse to live my life in fear, and I will have a full, joyous life no matter what decisions I may make from here.

I will leave Sophia’s MySpace — [note: no longer available, MySpace is long since dead] for those who haven’t yet visited — as a testament to the strength it gave me in a time of need, but I think from here on out, I’ll be telling it like it is as Scott, right here — The mask has come off, and I have no use for the fear I hid behind.

Thank you, all of you — my close friends, the random strangers who have read my words, and most of all, my loving parents, though they’ve never read a word of this — and may you too find the strength to live your lives without fear.

–Scott

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