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Friday, 29 March 2013
When I failed at therapy last year it came at the end of a conversation with a therapist that I did badly in. I was asked how I felt and I avoided the topic, instead talking of orchestral stabs of emotion where a lot happened at once but where it was over just as quickly. It wasn't until much later that I realised that I had used the wrong analogy and should have been using a metaphor. What follows is how I wish that conversation had gone.
Analysis, courtesy of 750words.com (you should go there):
Feeling mostly: Affectionate
Concerned with: Religion
Rating: PG-13 due to sexual content
Timing: Present; Primary Sense: Touch; Us and Them: You
"When you're dressed, in female clothing, tell me: how does it feel?"
"Describe it in your own words."
"It doesn't feel sexualised, if that's what you mean. I mean, I know that there is a connection, no denying that there is an element that leads to and aids masturbation. You know?"
"So you would say that you get turned on by the act of dressing?"
"No. No I wouldn't. I would say that there is a connection but I could get the same sort of feeling for masturbation from most things, pretty much anything really, the dressing is primarily associated with other feelings. I don't really have the emotional vocabulary to describe that fully. It's orchestral. It's the swelling of the woodwinds and the brass at the same time as the overture played by the string section, heavy on the violins but supported by the double bass. Somewhere you can trace the drums and the percussive accompaniment but this is slight. A piano takes the lead, coupled with some of the stronger elements of electronic music.
"It is liberation, it is freedom, it is me. I feel like me. In a way that I usually don't feel anything. In a way that there is usually a hole where the me lives - an emptiness and a longing for something is gone and replaced and sated. The best way I have to put it into words would be to liken it to Divenire by Ludovico Einaudi, where the piano rises against the looping rhythm in the background and there is a vision of a woman in a white dress running through a field in the middle of summer. Bright blue sky, scudding white clouds across it in a stiff wind and the crops still green in a wetness that follows a storm. She is running, arms out and running her hands through the wheat like fingers through a lover's hair. Her eyes are closed, her mouth smiling and open as the music swells around her and the camera pulls back to show us the openness of the world. It is the end of the film, a happy ending, and the credits are about to roll.
"The physical sensations are powerful, they are real in a way that normally life happens at arm's length. In day to day life there is a distance between me and what is happening, like a barrier or a wall that I erect to keep myself safe. When dressed there is no wall, the sadness is diminished and there are other things. It's not as if I am incapable of feeling when not dressed but when I am, or when I am in the mindset that I have when I am dressed, then the emotions are more real and more tangible. I laugh more easily, I smile more, I am open to people being open in return. I can feel happy without doing anything. There are still problems and issues that I am aware of but in being aware of them I can lay them to one side and concentrate on the moment and on the now. Analysis ceases, or is faded and turned down, the world becomes softer and the light becomes less glaring. Everything is less sharp, less harsh, more manageable. It feels as though the world can be weathered and understood, accepted as a friend and taken for dinner."
"I think you are drifting from the point. You mentioned masturbation. Do you find that dressing means that you are excited by your own appearance? I mean, is your sexual desire based on visual stimuli?"
"Being male, yes, I understand that my arousal is aided by having something that I can see, yes. But, no. No I do not find visions of myself any more a turn on when dressed than I do when I am not dressed. I mean, I avoid mirrors at the best of times. The only times that I really look at myself in a mirror are to shave or to do my teeth or to check that my tie is straight. I have been known to sort out my hair in a mirror. But no, I have no real desire to see myself, in a mirror or a photograph. Looking at me is the opposite of stimulation, it is more likely to cool any arousal than it is to bring it. And that is much the same for when I am dressed.
"My wife, now, she is a turn on for she is beautiful and she looks the part. There's something about the way she wears her glasses and looks at the world through them. She has an intensity that seems to cut through everything around her to focus on the main points of whatever is going on. I love her for her analytical nature. But, at the same time, she has a warmth and softness about her that I know I lack."
"And it is this that you try to capture when you dress? You wish to be like your wife, perhaps, to project as a woman?"
"I'm under no illusions. My features are nothing like feminine and what I look like or present as is irrelevant. Put it another way, projection can be done just as effectively without clothing as it can done be with clothing: how it is worn and what one does with clothing is more important than what it is one is wearing in the first place. Two women can wear the same clothes but have completely different outfits because clothes no more make the woman than does the weather - the reaction to them is what does the job. If I wanted to project as female I could do that more effectively online, where there are no physical pictures to get in the way, or I could simply behave more effete in public-"
"But in that arena, do you not feel under pressure to conform to what people expect of you?"
"Exactly! Yes. So if I were to dress in public then people would have different expectations. But they would still have expectations. I would feel no more free in public dressed than I would do if I were in male clothing in public. Man is born free but is chained from cradle to grave by convention. So I would feel constrained to behave a certain way, to behave a way that would be more to do with the people around me than it would be to do with who I am inside. When I am dressed, in private, I feel freer and I feel as though I can do anything. It is why the now is so immediate and accessible when dressed."