"Taureau - Le Realiste" laughed Chantal as she read the inscription on the large, black breakfast cup which she had bought as my little prezzie from her holiday with relatives in France.
Grudgingly, I could see the joke. Although Taurean, I could hardly be described as "Le Realiste". Reality --- the here and now of being a married man --- was somewhere my mind simply did not want to be, somewhere that I had to force myself back into whenever the occasion demanded.
I had confided my gender problems to her long before we married. After much heart-rending our solution had been for me to undergo analysis with a Jungian psychologist. In the early days my going there once a week had indeed helped, but recent times had seen me stepping that up to twice a week and still very much struggling to cope.
"Determined, independent, amourous" she grinned as she continued her translation of the silver-painted French words. Now that was much more flattering and maybe just a bit like the real me. I accepted the cup with a smile.
The months passed and my struggle worsened. I could hardly live with myself, let alone anyone else. My seemingly constant state of withdrawal into another world gave Chantal many irritations and much fear. So the rows began. In fact it was only when we were rowing that I fully came back to reality --- and hated it. We no longer made love, not even when we were making-up after the last row, so we never made up properly. I wanted her warmth, cuddles, reassurance and love but I most definitely did not want sex.
Inevitably, neither of us could take our compromised existence any longer and we went our separate ways. Chantal found Colin and discovered in him everything she had ever wanted in a man. I eventually found my courage, "discovered" Dr. Russell Reid and began the long journey towards what I had always wanted.
Chantal and I still continued to meet, just to talk, and we relished every minute of it now that the relationship pressures were well and truly off. And every morning the breakfast cup, "Taureau - Le Realiste", gently eased me back from a state of sleep into the welcome reality of finally knowing myself and where I was going.
But a transsexual woman living alone has her own problems. Who is there to comfort you when your tears come? The answer usually is no-one. Except, that is, for the voice of Mum saying from the grave "Never mind love, have a nice cup of tea" and the memory of a dear, trusted friend as I raise the cup to my lips. Then the rush of warmth as the liquid flows downward, giving me a cuddle from the inside.
I look again at the picture of a big, golden cow with her head up amongst the stars, but with her feet firmly planted on the earth. That's the picture on the side of my cup.
And that's also me --- to a "T".