Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Just Don't Understand

A certain Miss Randall has pushed an idea for a future post to the front burner. It's not really cd-specific and I've been looking for an link. Dressing is such an integral part of me (us?) that I think there's always a link. It's here, so please bear with me.

Halle wrote: "[I]t seems likely the idea that anyone understands another person's behavior is pretty crazy."

I'll go further.

I don't understand "I understand" as it applies to personal feelings. I never say "I know how you feel" because I know I don't.

"My father died."
"I lost my father last year. I know how you feel."

No. You. Don't.

Maybe she had a horrible relationship with him and she was wishing her father was dead for years and now she feels guilty about thinking like that.
Maybe they had a deep misunderstanding and she was about to seek closure and now she never will.
Maybe she lives 10000 miles away and has to decide between paying the rent or going to the funeral.
Maybe they had a shouting match yesterday and she feels responsible for his heart failure.
Maybe they had a special bond that existed nowhere else.

No. You. Don't.

I've met a lot of gurls here. I've heard some back stories, and some ongoing stories. I wish I could say "I know how you feel" and mean it, but I don't. I wish I did. I can sympathise. I can try to empathise (I've been told I'm fairly empathetic). But I can't put myself in your stilettos, as Halle wrote.

I'll just take one aspect: being a married crossdresser.

She has no clue. Every item of clothes has to be hidden ~ in the attic, in a storage area. You don't know what she'll think if she found out, but you can't take that chance. Maybe she'll love it, or maybe you'll be exposed to all your friends and divorced.
She has a clue, and disapproves. You hinted, you casually watched films like Tootsie and To Wong Foo, you played with her clothes in the bedroom, and she thought it was disgusting. If she finds out, it's just a matter of what she'll do after the marriage ends.
She knows and disapproves strongly. You had to swear you'd never do it again, and you're back to hiding everything. Because you can't quit.
She knows and disapproves slightly. I'm here, but that doesn't mean I understand the other women who are in the same little pigeonhole.
She knows and doesn't mind. You can dress in the house, but she'll not only won't help, she'll ignore you.
She knows and shares your enthusiasm. 'Nuff said. The holy grail.

In truth, I'm not dumb enough to believe my "holy grail" statement. That's the theory ~ the crossdresser's Eden. But when there are two or more people interacting, it's never that simple. Your wife might be more into it than you are, and you're going further than you ever wanted to. Maybe she thinks there's a "submissive" component, and for you, there's not. Maybe she doesn't understand that you have a lifetime of shame about dressing to get over. Maybe she tries to understand, thinks she understands but she doesn't and it's hard to tell her that.

I can imagine how people in each category feel. I can't know how they feel.

Each of those categories has sub-categories and that's another part of the problem. I'm in category and you're in category and we're that close and I still don't know how you feel. There's a level of understanding of course. But if someone is opening her heart to you, you want that full understanding that really can't exist. It doesn't mean I won't stop trying. It doesn't mean you should stop trying. We're all in this together, and sharing is important.

I hope you all understand how I feel.


  1. I really must thank you for saving me the time to explore this topic more fully; you have done it soooo well here!

    Of course, you know I agree with every word. I especially like the reference, because it really does say it all, for each way we label ourselves and others, and it is what make the whole pigeon-holing exercise so futile.

    The best way, IMHO is to say what is true for you, and let others do the same. Nod, smile.

    Big Hug and thanks for the credits!


  2. This is why we enjoy your blog. So very in-site-full. Part of the reason there is a problem here is because the Engish language is "not that old". Book translation often have problem with which word to use. I love your blog- but I also love my wife. You have empathy for you friend but cann't truely understand the feelings (or memories). The politician is allway needing to be carefull when making a statement ensuring it's interpretation is not twisted up. We just need to be more careful and considerate with our thoughts and statements. One bad example- Law & Order television- "I'm sorry for your loss" sound like who cares, big woop!

  3. Meg
    Again you are making me think. We can and should sympathize and where appropriate empathize with other people. The courtesy of a 'canned response' such as "I understand what you are feeling" is a common but often feeble attempt at trying to make someone feel better, while it more often simply makes the speaker feel as if they are now free of an obligatory show of emotion.

    As I see it the reason that we can never fully understand how another person feels about anything is that we, very often, are unsure about how we feel about any given subject. How I feel about anything is a combination of past experiences, recent events, my current mood, the weather, the alignment of the stars, etc.

    The wide spectrum of emotions and feelings of those who have some concerns or interest in TG related issues makes understanding oneself difficult and understanding others virtually impossible. First you have to take the person's TG interest (TS, full time TG, regular CD, whatever) and then you have to overlay it with their personal situations. Similarly inclined TG folks may find themselves in never ending permutations of situations based on age, marital status, occupations, religious or political interests and viewpoints, living arrangements, etc.

    Then there is the additional overly of the emotional side with that person's physical attributes. Someone who is 6'6", 250 lbs and in need of a twice daily shave has issues to consider that may not exist for someone who is 5'6", 150 lbs with light or fair hair growth.

    Sharing situations and stories is helpful. While fully understanding yourself and others may never be a technical possibility, the journey for each person in finding themselves and finding out about others with similar inclinations is always worthwhile.


    PS: I was not sure if this was a post about labels. If so I believe I may have more to add. LOL

  4. Nope. No labels here Pat. But I'll be on this theme for the next couple of days. Thank you, my muses, for helping me with these posts!

  5. I had a terrific discussion the other day with friends on the topic of Stephen Hawking. We all had read, at one time or another, A Brief History of Time.

    "did you understand it?" asked my buddy.

    "Not in the way that Stephen Hawking understands it, no, of course, but yeah, I got it in the way I can." says I.

    As comprehensive as your list is above, I cannot find the fit. Mrs. B and I fall somewhere in knows and supports continuum, but in truth, neither of has a completely true set of coordinates.

    I have yet to meet a single person with a completely fixed and true set of coordinates of themselves. I know a small handful who spend serious time trying to figure them out. I know fewer still who have come to peace with the unknowability of these things.

    The best we can hope for in our views of others is to recognize that whatever "understanding" of the other we are able to conjure, it is incomplete, or at best, perfect at another time and place, just not exactly, here and now.

    Perhaps that is the difference between understanding and empathy.

    Loving your musings here this week Meg. Thanks

  6. Petra, I can start listing variations on that short list and a year from now I still won't be done!

    My category has an "internet" subcategory.
    She doesn't know I read cd groups or blogs.
    She knows, but doesn't know how much I'm on there.
    She knows and watches what I'm doing.

    and on and on.

    We're all exactly the same except for the fact that we're completely different.


My day is brighter when I hear from my friends!