I feel it most intensely when I look down at my chest when K and I are changing the bandages. I see this disfigured body, that was previously healthy and whole and unwounded. It was perfect, no scars, no wrinkles. And now it is a goddamn crime scene.
I mourn for the unharmed body I had before, and I am scared sometimes of the unknown of how I will navigate the world with this new body.
I don’t think I made the wrong decision, that’s not what this sadness is about. It feels like it is about saying goodbye to the life that my old body would have opened to me, for better or worse. I don’t have any idea, really, of what that life would have looked like, but I know it is gone. We all make choices, one path over the other. This choice being so corporeal and countercultural in nature, affects me in a much deeper way than the choice of going to grad school or moving to the East coast has affected me. (Additionally, this was a drastic bodily change that occurred in the blink of an eye: one minute I had breasts, then I closed my eyes, and when I opened them my breasts, which took years to develop, were gone. I am sure part of this sadness I am experiencing is symptomatic of shock.)
I am saying hello to a new me, and I don’t know for sure who this person is that I am becoming. I look at my flat chest, and I love it, and I am afraid of it, and it stirs up, I think, a lot of old pain, pain I had buried because I didn’t think I could ever have the life I secretly wanted, the life of a man. This new chest says to me, “you can have it, you can have that life you always pined for,” and that scares the hell outta me because I don’t know what having “the life of a man” means entirely to me.
I want to work on realizing each of these manifestations are all me: my history as a female, my future as a trans guy or a trans person. My present as a healing body in-between the sexes, it is all me. My sadness stems from not understanding yet how to integrate the disparate parts of myself into one whole unit. But I also recognize unity in identity may be a futile endeavor. We are all made up of lots of parts, some congruent, some contradictory, but all inherent aspects of our nature, our identities, and these pieces don’t usually fit into one tight package.
I look down at my bruised and swollen chest and I want to cry. I want to apologize. I feel my body is paying a price for the incongruences my mind could no longer abide. I don’t want sympathy or pat answers. Please don’t try to cheer me in the comments section. 🙂 Please do tell me stories of your own post-op emotional trials, or successes. 🙂
I like this sadness, this crying, this sorrow and sympathy I have for my body. This is part of my process and it feels good to be scared and happy and know these emotions are right for me right now. I know this is the precipice of some new part of my life, and I can’t stand at the edge of a cliff and put my foot out and not feel exhilaration and terror–the inherent ingredients of belief. Right now I have to believe in my understanding of myself, in my decision making skills, in my intelligence and intuition. I believe I made the right choice, and I believe the turmoil I am experiencing is natural and necessary. I want the whole array of human emotions. I want a full and fulfilled life. I am struggling with that old insoluble truth that, to be reborn, first I have to die.
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli