Once we register and become a card carrying members of Closeted Cross-Dressers International, a certain level of acceptable paranoia is awarded to us as a welcoming gift. Obviously I am kidding about the organization (CCDI), but not the paranoia part.
It is kind of like the “good stress” I remember an organizational development instructor telling us about in a work related seminar. If I remember correctly, the gist of it was that some stress kept us on our toes, motivated, and with tasks in mind. Too much stress or just plain old bad stress was never any good. Similarly, I think there is a “good paranoia” that we harness and as long as it doesn’t become “too much paranoia” or “bad paranoia”, we just learn to live with it.
A good level of paranoia motivates us to be careful with how we keep ourselves in the closet. The paranoia that if I leave even the slightest clue lying around it will get me caught and outed, or at least arouse suspicion. It may be all in my head, but I put a lot of effort into keeping my lifestyle hidden.
None of my clothes, makeup, accessories, etc. are stored out in plain sight. Our friends and family know my wife’s style and would instantly ask “why do you have this??” Even worse, they might pick up a shoe and ask “when did your foot grow??” In my case, being a 1950’s housewife wanna-be, most of my things are inconsistent with normal day-to-day items you would find in a house in 2014.
That paranoia also causes me to take great care in removing all traces of make-up and nail polish on surfaces that will be visible in public. I have been sloppy about that in my youth and it definitely drew some odd looks from people. A trace of red around a cuticle or a little glob of black in the corner of your eye is hard to explain away, so once I recognized the quizzical look,I would quickly remove myself from the immediate area. Now I know exactly what to double check for before reinserting myself in public.
Since I also get a little over effeminate in my actions while dressed up, I am extremely conscious of my actions and gestures as I come back to plain old guy mode. It is a little backwards, but my conscious thought has to be aimed at acting like a guy for a period of time. I had a coach once who said you have to think like a winner, because the body will go where the mind is. I completely believe he was correct in his logic, because my body (actions) definitely go where my mind is… which is somewhere feminine.
I went from being somewhat cautious in my youth to being extremely careful about the evidence I leave behind. The paranoia does help keep me on my toes. I have talked to some CDs who leave things out in the open and feel that things “hidden in plain sight” are more concealed than things truly hidden. One argument was that if my kids found a locked box, they would probably just have to find out what was inside. Once they found some clothes and make-up, they would question why it was hidden. One thing would lead to another and in the end the CSI agent would point to me. Female clothes and make-up are already commonly found in my house, so nobody would question them. To a degree, this theory is mostly true, except (1) my wife’s shoe size is not 11, (2) she doesn’t wear pearls, (3) she doesn’t have a girdle, (4) she doesn’t have any petticoats, (5) etc., etc.
I’m just cautiously paranoid, not so bad that it becomes a hindrance or what I would call “bad paranoia”. I will know I’ve gone off the deep end when every time someone looks at me I will think they know about Valerie. Likewise I would worry all day long that someone is going to stumble upon my hidden things and that I need to get home to protect my secret. If it ever came to that, I would just give up and come on out of the closet. That would never be worth it.
There will always be some clues out there for the extremely acute to pickup on. I could never eliminate absolutely 100% of the evidence. If I couldn’t live with that, then that would be an obvious clue that I was in the realm of “too much” or “bad paranoia”. If you really paid attention you may notice that even though I wear long sleeves all winter long, I have no hair on my hands and arms, whereas I do in the summertime.
Probably the most obvious clue I leave all year round is my eyebrows. Like other body hair, I can’t stand those hairy caterpillars that guys get as they grow older. Long, wild, nasty eyebrows. So yes, I pluck them and shape them somewhat. That is they look more feminine than the average guy, but not pencil thin and high arched either. Just somewhere comfortably in between. I regularly put hair gel in my hair when in guy mode, and frequently will wipe a little bit into my brows, going against the grain to get a less manicured/wilder look. Helps to conceal and nobody has ever said anything about it. One reason I do it year round is so that people get used to it as my normal look. If I went from bushes to feminine arches one day in November, I know it would get questioned.
So I have that an acceptable level of paranoia that I think most of us have. We just learn to live with it and deal with it, being a cross-dresser in the closet. I was unaware of it when I was young, and but then it became a big part of my consciousness. But as I get older, I think the paranoia is starting to reduce. Actually, I think that is a byproduct of me caring less what others may or do think. Kind of a carefree attitude for us closet dwellers, but I don’t think the good paranoia will ever reduce to a risky level.
However, I do have to put some thought into starting the CCDI organization, as I would like to carry that membership card in my purse…