I am realizing that part of my anxiety is that I’ve barely had a chance to think about what happens after recovery. In my fundraising post (which went $1,804 past the goal!), I noted that there was a price to having surgery at the end of August, part of that cost is that the last few months of the fiscal year (fun fact: the fiscal year for the federal government goes from October 1 to September 30) are often the busiest times. And so even as I’ve been reorganizing my home, budgeting and organizing recovery care, and living under a pandemic, I’ve also been working double time trying to make sure I hit some pretty big deadlines before wrapping up next week.
And that means that I’ve barely thought about what happens after I ditch this penis for a vulva and vagina. I’ve been so focused on trying to make sure I have my basic needs—food, medical support, shelter, covered for the three months after that I haven’t had the capacity to think about what happens the three months after. Or the three years.
But in the moments where my head comes out of anxiety prepping feels good, and those moments are happening more often as plans solidify and I start feeling more settled.
I find myself glancing in the mirror as I get dressed or thinking about how sex may be different. I imaging myself feeling more confident wearing less conservative dresses. I wonder if I’ll feel more comfortable in pants, I think about buying cute underwear.
Staring at the mountain of a climb that recovery feels like, I don’t know what the other side will bring. But as it gets nearer, I find that I am giving myself permission to imagine what it will be like a little more each day. And I know the dysphoria won’t all disappear, that it will always be just around the corner. But when I catch myself in the mirror imagining what the future will bring, I also catch myself smiling.
I remember this feeling when I was leaving for college. There was so much unknown, but I was ready to go. Everything was packed and the ship headed out of the harbor. There was excitement and so much uncertainty. The thing that I didn’t understand then that I understand better now, is how much of the baggage of the old home gets carried along. The dysphoria will never fully go away, the tissues and the nerves that I have now are the building blocks of what my body will be in the future. I will not have a uterus, I will never be pregnant, none of that changes. In the past, I would have wanted to jettison and ignore the painful parts of the past that I carry with me.
Now I am starting to understand what it means to sit with that reality and give it the space it needs so I can also grasp the joy of the new horizon.