The last couple of weeks have been a pretty exhausting ride - I feel like I’ve hit my highest highs and my lowest lows in such a short space of time and it’s left me feeling confused and worn out and just so very “blergh”.
I keep looking back and thinking how strange it is that I only started coming out just over two months ago, and how much things have changed since then. When I started this journey, I was 100% sure I didn’t have the strength or courage to ever transition, and now I’m 100% sure it’s all I want to do. The few days I’ve had where I’ve woken up early, done my makeup and hair, and gone out into the world wide-eyed and feeling like a new person, have felt so much better and more incredible than I could imagine. Every day I’ve had to return to boy-mode has been so much worse than I thought it would be. This constant cycling between awesome and awful has been such a strain on my brain that I’m pretty sure I’m going crazy.
Thankfully I had this last week off from work, so time not spent in A&E with a busted-up knee was spent being lazy at home. Not having to put on a suit and spend 8 hours a day in boy-mode at work was helpful in reducing my anxiety and crazy-feelings. But waking up in the morning and looking in the mirror and seeing only “him” is still the toughest part. Every morning I waste a few minutes before getting out of bed scrunching my eyes up and hoping against all hope that today’s the day I see myself in the mirror and not the ugly, plain-wrong face and body I have to paint over just to look and feel like myself.
I hate that I only feel beautiful - hell, not even “beautiful”, just real - after 90 minutes of work. I hate that, as nice as my wig is and as much as I love the way it looks, I know deep-down that it isn’t my body. It’s just some plastic hair on a mesh cap that covers me up. I hate waking up and knowing I have to spend the whole day with a five o’clock shadow because I shaved yesterday and I can’t shave 2 days in a row or else I’ll get a massive break outs and razor bumps. I hate having to look at myself without makeup. I hate my square body covered in gross, unwanted hair. I hate my big feet and rough hands. I hate that there’s no amount of hormones or surgery that will exchange my Y chromosome for another X.
I’ve tried to stay so positive - I really have. I don’t hate myself, I just hate that I’m trapped inside a body I never asked for. My therapist said the other day that it must seem really unfair, and all I can think of when I hear that is the voice of every adult who told me “life isn’t fair” and to just deal with my problems because “everyone else has them too”. Fuck that. It isn’t fair, and as much as I feel like a Veruca Salt throwing a tantrum when I say it, it’s the truth. It isn’t fair that I have to work so fucking hard just to look like myself. It isn’t fair that my partner can roll out of bed with no makeup, throw on sweats and a plain t-shirt, and go out and have the world treat her unequivocally like a woman. It isn’t fair that I have to make appointments and go on waiting lists and prove myself worthy of spending time and money on just to be a “normal” woman. It isn’t fair that sometime in the summer of 1991 some quirk of nature or environment or destiny made little embryonic me male instead of female - that somewhere fate decided to shut me out of everything that feels right and natural and normal to me.
My lowest point came last Tuesday night. We were watching something on TV and during the ad break this commercial for Facebook came on. I’m already a sappy sucker for montage ads with that soft, swelling instrumental music (Google does the best ones, I think), but this hit me in the very core of my being in a way few things can. It’s called “Girl Friends”, and, as you can guess, is all about female friendships.
Can you imagine watching a minute-long quickfire montage of every memory you wish you could have made for yourself but never had the chance? A powerful visual distillation of the childhood, adolescence and adulthood you’ve been locked out of? No, I don’t want those specific memories like being in a rock band or whatever - I would have just liked to have had the chance to make any memories at all. Not to be reminded by Facebook on a Tuesday night of the twenty-three wasted years I have behind me.
I try really hard to articulate myself and my feelings well. I try to find some elegant phrasing or obscure metaphor just to make my mind work a bit harder. But this just fucking sucked. It felt like being stabbed in the heart over and over again for 60 agonizing seconds. I just kind of stared blankly at the TV after it finished, trying to fight back tears and the urge to scream. My partner asked me what was wrong and I guess I just buried the feelings somewhere inside and put on a flimsy smile and said “nothing, I’m fine.”
I thought I’d been such a clever girl by screwing those emotions up into a little ball and stuffing them away. I was proud of myself for avoiding a meltdown - proud of myself for hiding how I feel.
So when I went to therapy on Friday, I guess I thought I’d be able to talk about it calmly and rationally as though it hadn’t felt like having my heart ripped out. Instead I was a blubbering mess, apologizing over and over again for daring to cry in my therapist’s office. I said I felt like I should get used to dealing with that feeling of loss, because how else am I going to function? My therapist said “I completely disagree. You’re grieving the loss of something you know you can’t get back - you need to let yourself feel it so you can get past it.” I don’t know why but I guess I needed that permission to actually feel my feelings, you know? I feel so guilty for thinking my problems are worth complaining about, like I should just be able to put up with it all and not inflict my emotions on other people (sorry). I guess it put in perspective how messed up it is for me to bury my troubles and act like it makes me a big girl to ignore things that are upsetting me.
So I’ve been kind of stuck in that place for the past few days. Coming back to work today was especially tough. I feel like a traitor to myself because I still have to put on boy-mode most days, and I feel like a coward for not doing anything about it.
But you know what? Some days I feel just fine :) Thursday last week was the best - my partner and I went to a lovely town called York, which is kinda like taking a trip back to the medieval era - it’s a gorgeous old city with big stone walls around it and all these beautiful old buildings that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. We both got a little dressed up and just spent the day wandering about the town and exploring. We went into this little cafe for lunch, and as we walked in the woman behind the counter said “Hi ladies, just have a seat anywhere and I’ll be right with you”. It was the first time I’ve ever been explicitly referred to as a woman by a stranger! All the rest of the day I noticed people in shops and stuff doing the same thing - calling me “darling” or saying “if you ladies need any help just let me know”. By the end of the day I was almost 100% sure it wasn’t some coordinated effort from the people of York to take pity on the poor t-girl :) I even took a selfie in the shade to share with you all!
(Please excuse my horrendous messy eyebrows!)
I’ve been trying really hard to hold onto these moments where I feel strong and confident and comfortable in myself, especially when I have so many negative thoughts swirling around in my brain. To go out to a strange place and interact with people knowing that they see me the way I want to be seen, without the constant fear that if I move the wrong way or open my mouth to speak they’ll be able to clock me, was really liberating and I guess just confirmation that I’m doing everything right.
I’ve been doing 30 Days of Yoga with my partner this week (busted-up knee be damned!) and I think having some time each day set aside to care for myself and just get my mind and body in tune has helped with a bit of my stress and anxiety. I’m a complete yoga newbie (I can’t even touch my toes!) and I think Adrienne’s videos are a really great introduction (she’s also super funny!). I really recommend them if you’re looking for something very fun and a bit challenging to do for the next month :)
I purposefully wanted to start with the negatives and end with some positives today, so I can send my thoughts out into the world with good vibes and happy feelings behind them. I feel like I’m still in a good place despite my worries, and where I am now, with a long but meaningful and positive journey ahead of me, is still so much better than the dead-end I used to see when I looked into my future. It’s only been a little over 10 weeks since I came out and already I’ve come so far - where will I be in another 10?? The summer is just arriving here, and I’m sure it’ll be the best one yet!