By coincidence, both Coline and Nikki were in my part of the world at the weekend. We spent a day wandering round town seeing the sights, stopping along the way at my local café for lunch.
Coline took a picture of me, scruffy bloke sitting opposite her. When she showed me the camera screen it was a shock, looking back at me was an unflattering portrait. I looked tired and haggard, and sported huge dark circles under my eyes.
It's not surprising, really. I'm sleeping, but it's as if the benefit of that sleep is not being found. Stress is leaving me finding difficulty in my everyday functioning, and I'm suffering as a result.
My wife has in effect called time. This is exacting a toll on her, and she pointed out that she's more likely to be unable to stay in the long term if things remain as they are than if I move forward. Everything I've worked for over the last few years, and it hasn't really worked.
On Friday my counsellor explored the same thing with me. As a truck reversed into the busy traffic of Fulham Palace Road outside, she laid out my damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't choice. Stay as you are and lose, transition and probably still lose.
Then she asked me if I'd consider a third way. Hormone therapy without full-time transition. Probably the first time in all this I've heard anyone there take my wife's mental state into account. My answer, faced with such a bleak future, was yes - but to then point out that such a path is outside the Standards of Care followed by that clinic. And then there would be all the effects of the hormones. Growing a bust doesn't worry me, but how would I manage to present as a bloke with a set of B-cups? It would be tempting, but I can't see that path as anything but a delayed route into transition.
So here I am, in a bit of a state, still the day-to-day scruffy bloke but having reached the crunch time. I tried, but in doing so I've not succeeded in keeping my wife happy. I am exceedingly lucky that she's the kind of person who can talk about this. But then again if she wasn't I guess she'd have packed her bags years ago. At least I'll never be able to say I didn't try hard enough.
What now? More of the same. See the counsellor again, talk about it. Talk everything over with my wife. I am not going to put her in a position in which she is uncomfortable with me, I can't compromise on that front. But she's not comfortable now, so I've already messed up on that one, haven't I.
One thing's for certain, I feel a lot closer to the edge tonight than I did two weeks ago, and I can't say I like it.