Monday, September 21, 2015

Everything Changes

Everything changes when you can be yourself.

This little expression popped into my head the other day and consequently I posted it on my Facebook page.  That simple phrase does seem to sum up most of what I've learned about life in the last few years, and I believe I've learned more about life in these last few years than I had in all those years before.

I'm sure this has been said before and conceptualized by almost everyone who has gone through major changes in life.  It certainly seemed to resonate with many of my friends who liked, commented or shared this brief post.  There is no greater change, in my opinion and experience, than changing one's gender and/or sex, and these are people who for the most part have not been able to live their whole lives as themselves.

The key word here, I believe, is Everything because literally Everything changes.  The part about being yourself is something that I am sure not everyone can relate to because unless you've had to live part or your life denying, hiding and/or repressing who you really are I don't think you can understand how foreign even the simplest aspects of life can be.  It can seem crippling or at least make life a constant, uphill struggle.

When the mask is removed there is a freedom that is almost indescribable.  It wasn't that long ago that I first began to experience this freedom and feel the rumblings of change, just a few years before I began my transition.  I'd finally let myself out of my own box, then out the door into the real world. 

I'd figured out a long time ago that this wasn't something that I could control so if I couldn't be myself (truly), I had to repress myself.  For many years this was best done with a bottle (or bottles) and something (or things) that comes in a plastic bag, along with a healthy dose of self loathing, despair and a sincere belief that it will all be over soon.

I just didn't think that I was the kind of person that could live a double life.  I didn't believe I was strong enough or more likely the real me that lived within was too strong to be toyed with in that way.   I was right ultimately, even though I did attempt to live that way for a little while before finally giving in and admitting I had to become myself in order to survive.  That was right after I realized I was going to survive and after I got over my disappointment that survival, at least for now, was my destiny.

Everything was going to Have to change.

The feeling of being me out in the real world was amazing.  When I began to experience that feeling I also woke up to the fact that Not being myself was something I couldn't stand anymore.  All the alcohol, drugs, fantasy world or whatever coping mechanisms I'd used to get through the course of any given day were not going to be enough anymore.  Change had to come and the more I experienced tastes of what life could be if I could be myself, the more I craved it.  That's when I realized that survival itself might not be tragic.

On the road to my fate I was mitigating the horrible feelings that had plagued me, essentially, forever.  With freedom to be myself came a coping mechanism stronger that any I'd experienced before.  That might be enough to get me by for a little longer.  Having a real possibility of the sex change I'd wanted for so long and now knew I needed, gave me the light at the end of the tunnel to push forward.

Change can take you by surprise.

My journey inevitably took me into a therapists' office one day, asking for help in order to transition.  The next stop was a doctors' office where I was given a prescription for hormones.  I knew this was a necessary step in becoming myself on the outside so I hoped it would bring positive physical changes, even though I was far from puberty and teenage years.  

What I did not expect was what I experienced over the first few weeks and months of my hormone therapy.  Physical changes did occur as expected, but the mental, emotional and possibly even spiritual effects of estrogen on my system were phenomenal.  I was overwhelmed by the way the dark dread I'd experienced so long I had no memory of anything else, floated away very quickly and was replaced by a peaceful contentment that allowed me to see that everything was indeed going to be okay.

The pleasant surprise of estrogen hit me like a bucket of cold water thrown in my face.  It woke me up.  I was alive.  I had first experienced freedom, now I was experiencing the inner feeling of normalcy that most people take for granted.  Maybe I wasn't insane after all, but had just been plagued by a hormone imbalance that ruled my world like a Dark Lord since I first went through puberty.  Combine with that standard gender dsyphoria and it was a potentially deadly situation I was about to escape.

Life wasn't just going to continue and be tolerable, it was going to be beautiful. 

Except for the anxiety of coming out and finally making the transition (my own Mt. Everest), those first few months on estrogen gave me the feelings of being a child again, and it was a joyful childhood at that.  Even as a child I'd felt remarkably different but the pain of that difference didn't truly sink in until I began to feel the chemical effects of puberty.  That pain hit me like a ton of bricks and stayed with me until I started my physical transition with estrogen.

That is when I knew that I was not only going to be myself, a woman, but that being myself was going to be fantastic.  That feeling was not going away regardless of what happened when I came out to my parents and transitioned.  

Everything changes when you can be yourself.

Bolstered by the positive changes they could see in my life and attitude, and me finally giving them an explanation of why my life had been so miserable and messed up, my parents instantly accepted me and actually rejoiced that I was not only going to be alright but finally was happy in life.  My dreams were actually going to come true.  My mind was at peace and now events were lining up for me to finally be at peace with my body. 

At some point when I was a teen I'd heard about a sex change operation.  I remember thinking to myself that I should have one of those although I had no idea how to go about it and didn't think it was a possibility in my life.  It seemed like a great idea though and something that would be perfect change for me, but I thought I'd have a better chance of going to the moon.  It was years later before I found the specifics about it and by then, of course, I assumed it was too late and could never happen anyway because of family, life situation etc.

Well, here in my 40's it was actually going to happen!  Literally, everything was going to change!!  I didn't think I needed other surgeries to be myself.  I guess I was lucky, but I was accepted as female everywhere I went and people treated me the way I wanted and needed to be treated.  Overall, living as myself came very natural to me.  The thing I needed to do no one would see unless they knew me intimately.

I felt at peace within myself but there was still a part of me that very wrong and it was something I could not change myself.  This is something that most people may not be able to relate to, even some people who are transgender and do not feel the need for this change, but this was something I'd physically felt the need for since the first horrific jolt hit me as a teenager in puberty.

2012 had been my great year of change, beginning hormones to start my second puberty, fully coming out to the world and beginning to live as myself.  2015 was going to be the year to make the big physical change. 

You've read some of the details about that fantastic journey here, as it unfolded, and much of what has happened since.  As we come up on the one year anniversary of my physical transition with surgery (GRS), you are about to hear the rest of the story.  Stay tuned, because this is a story of hope......

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