It is all becoming quite clear to me now.
All through my time growing up, I was always quite uncomfortable with my body. I grew my hair out to be quite long, my favorite color has always been purple, I have always had far more female friends than male ones. Of course, i grew up in a very conservative, rural area in the 1980s, so the obvious never occurred to me.
Hell, that which I call obvious now was so obscured by the environment I grew up in that I never really understood that what I was feeling meant anything other than that I was weak and an embarrassment of a boy.
And so, for years I struggled with depression ... again before that was "a thing."
When I got older and discovered TG fiction, quite by accident, I fell in love with it. I didn't know why stories of men becoming women had such a strong attraction for me. I felt guilty about it, but I spent inordinate amounts of time reading the stories or chatting online on the topic. I wanted it to be a hobby. I didn't want it to be important to who I was.
So, eventually i understood that I was suffering from depression, and that I could get medicine to help with the symptoms, but I didn't admit to myself what the underlying problem was. And that is how I lived for many years: treating the symptom of depression while remaining willfully oblivious to what the cause was.
I would dress occasionally in female clothing at home, but it felt like a costume ... pleasant, sometimes more than just pleasant, but never quite right. So, I drew the wrong conclusions.
Then, this summer, the stresses of my life, combined with some new medicine I was taking, broke me. I had a complete breakdown. And in the pits of anguish, I had almost an out of body experience. Things started to become clear to me. If I wanted my depression to be non-terminal, I would have to face up to lies I have been telling myself.
And so, I have.
I have come "out" to my family and friends as someone who is somewhere on the trans/non gender conforming spectrum somewhere. I realize now that if I was 18 now, rather than 38, I would almost certainly be looking to transition. However, I am the age that I am, and have constructed the life I have ... which is not all bad.
So now I am embarking on a journey of self-discovery. I am shedding the self-imposed stress of worrying that someone might see me for the gender I truly am. I am embracing bits of fabulous in my daily life because it makes me happy. I am no longer embarrassed by who I am.
I don't know where this will take me. Transitioning may very well be in my future, but I am not worrying about that. I am now getting therapy and spreading my net wide for support from my many loved ones.
I would be remiss if I did not thank the DA community, the artists and admirers, who have inspired me and shared in my art. It is not an exaggeration to say that the openness of our online community has saved my life and given me hope for an even grander one.