It’s the middle of the night as I write this. I’m feeling thoughtful. Let’s get caught up.
So we’ve been here about a month now, down on the south coast in a new city, approximately 200 miles away from where I grew up. So far things are going kind of great.
I still need to get outside more and familiarise myself with the area properly. But by exploring and general day-to-day wanderings I’m starting to get a feel for it and it’s feeling like home. The best part though? The beach.
I love the sea. I can’t tell you what it is about it, but I find the ocean incredibly soothing. A few weeks ago I decided to just wander around the beach for about an hour, alone. It was one of the most relaxing things I’ve done in months.
The banner for this blog is currently a photo I took that day. It was a little chilly and cloudy, but that did nothing to dampen my mood. I was completely at peace, just wandering along by the sea.
Meanwhile, living with friends has been especially great.
I’m incredibly thankful things have worked out as well as they have, I’ve been feeling somewhat along the lines of: “Finally, something has gone right!”
After years of metaphorical sleep walking, going through life numb and letting time pass me by, it feels great to be somewhere I really want to be, and around people I really like being around. Especially after a year that had a few very rough months in it and a lot of indecision.
The future is still intimidating, but I feel like it’s going to be worth it. I feel like I have a goal that’s actually achievable and that I’ve actually made some progress towards it.
Essentially, I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me I’m sure, but my everyday life just feels so much more authentic than it’s been recently.
Christmas In the New Home
Save for a single Christmas at around age 19, I’ve spent every Christmas holiday with my immediate family in some capacity or another. They’ve never given me a bad time, but as with all trans folk there’s that spectre of not quite being yourself when it comes to earlier pre-coming out family gatherings. I look forward to spending a Christmas with my family as myself in future, one day, but this year they’re still very much awkwardly adjusting to the news that I’m trans. So perhaps it’s for the best then that I attended a Christmas Eve party at the family home of one of my housemate’s instead.
Profound is one word I have to use to describe it, and entirely in a positive sense. For the first time since getting here I decided to really take my time with my makeup and actually make an effort at looking nice, which was fun. I enjoy playing with makeup but I often don’t have an excuse to, so I either use just a little or none at all for day-to-day life (truthfully I’d probably use more if I wasn’t so lazy!).
Altogether the evening was wonderfully mundane, I chatted to people, I relaxed, I ate food, it was the same as any party that involves a large gathering of someone’s family and friends. However, having that friendly atmosphere extended to me was greatly appreciated, the contrast between the warm acceptance of these new acquaintances vs. the reality of how uncomfortable my own family would be, if I attended their party in the same presentation, was not lost on me.
It was a significant evening for me oddly because it was so unremarkably normal. Spending years keeping my gender identity issues locked away in a box marked “Do not open, contains weirdness” builds an unhealthy amount of fear and self-loathing. I feel like I’m mostly over those issues now but there are still some lingering cobwebs, ones that occasionally slink out to remind me that what I’m doing is “not normal” and worthy of questions and a raised eyebrow in common company. But the flip-side of that is that whenever I’m met with universal acceptance, or even a crowd who are completely nonplussed, it leaves me feeling fairly happy.
Dysphoria, My Old Friend…
So unfortunately it’s not all good. I did have a particularly bad couple days this week. I have no idea what triggered it, I rarely do.
Physically I felt awkward, clumsy, ugly and tired. Emotionally I could tell something was off early on, before long it quickly evolved into a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. Specifically everything that transition is going to involve, coupled with my other responsibilities, felt like too much for me. I suddenly felt weak and incapable of facing what’s coming.
I then wanted to be alone and lose myself in escapism. I didn’t have the energy to even get out of bed.
I’ve learnt that these moods are a strange beast and although they often go on their own, they can drastically change based on how I treat myself.
Gentle and slow is often what helps ease me out of it, vs. trying to be tough with myself and pushing myself beyond what I feel I’m capable of. If I try ignore my feelings and press on then that generally makes me feel guilty and frustrated, as I struggle to stay productive. Generally the mood will pass without me realising I’ve moved out of it, just by taking it easy and relying on music, food, reading, writing etc. some combination of those generally helps me get through it.
I feel guilty for those around me when I get down like that. I feel like a burden or even just a bad person. I feel like I’m being childish and I should be beyond these slumps. I know logically that it’s not that simple, but at the time I can’t rationalise away that feeling. Amusingly I always know that I’d never expect the same level of emotionless persistence from others when they’re feeling vulnerable, but that never stops me from expecting myself to be able to just shrug it off.
If there’s a good side to this it’s that I’ve learnt dysphoric slumps normally come with a bizarre surge of positivity and energy once they’re over. I reach a kind of energetic high once I get out of them, I feel indestructible and determined. Sure enough, the day after it passed I felt great.
I don’t know if starting HRT will change how these dysphoric moods affect me, whether they’ll be worse or better I don’t know. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see.
Altogether the last few weeks have been a nice and easy time, I’ve still been easing into my new home and getting used to things.
Now we’re into the new year it’s time to actually get going. I want to make 2016 a good year, but to do so I’m going to have to work at it.
Wish me luck, I’ll let you all know how it goes.