Today is my first birthday.
What a weird sentence. It’s not really my birthday. Rather, today marks the first anniversary of the most monumental day of my life so far. It’s probably going to be the most monumental of my whole life, unless being bitten by a radioactive spider is in my future.
It feels weird. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to feel after one year of turning your life upside down, but I think my current reaction is about right.
I’m very excited to celebrate it (even if it’s alone – boohoo), weirded out that it’s been a year already, and wracked by existential angst.
To be fair, that last one is a constant in my life, and not particularly exacerbated by the occasion. Still. My mind will leap at any excuse to ponder on how bizarre life and identity are.
Today marks one year from the day I came out. One year ago today, I told my parents I was moving out since they weren’t supportive of my gender identity (and promptly left with my most valuable possessions.) I made a post on facebook coming out as trans, and another one explaining very thoroughly what being transgender means, with an honest to goodness FAQ attached to it. That day I went out presenting as a woman, and have done so every day since.
I’ve been using different descriptions to mentally frame coming out. I’m currently fond of saying I merely existed for the first twenty-one and a half years of my life, and have only really lived this last year.
I think I’ve made the comparison before: trying to live as someone I never was felt somewhat like depression. It isn’t quite the same, but having lived through both, I feel I can point out some similarities. (As far as they apply to my personal experience, without the assumption that depression or gender dysphoria affect everyone the exact same way, of course.)
Both of them sap your emotion away. It’s not that you’re constantly sad and upset, more that happiness and joy feel subdued, like going out into a sunny day with dark sunglasses on.
At first negative feelings are intensified, but once it gets bad enough, even they start to feel less potent. Eventually, you go completely go emotionally numb. Happiness feels so, so distant you barely recognise it as your own, and the only break from the monotony is when you feel so sad it almosts hurts physically. You get to a point where you look forward to being that sad, because at least you’re feeling something.
There’s a metaphor for depression that applies just as well to gender dysphoria; living with it makes everything feel dull and monochrome while being free of it, even for a time, makes life vibrant and full of colour.
I’ve sleepwalked through 258 months of dull nothingness, and I’ve had the luck to enjoy 12 months of real joy and pain, and an actual life. It’s nice to finally be free of that suffocating dreariness.
It hasn’t been a particularly great year, so to speak.
I broke my arm a few months ago. I’ve had so many expenses that I’m not able to have more than two meals on most days, even with my decent income. My friends have been either terribly busy or in another country, so it’s been difficult to deal with loneliness. My job, much as I enjoy it occasionally, still brings a ton of stress with it. I barely have enough time to do anything on the 6 days a week I work, what with all the time I lose in my 90-minute commute to and from the office.
It hasn’t been a bad year, though.
|I’ve been getting to enjoy personal liberty to a degree I never had while living with my parents. I’ve enjoyed my job, particularly these last few months that I’ve effortlessly hit all the performance metrics. This blog has helped give my life some sort of personal structure I badly needed. There’s tons of little things that have really added up the positivity.
This is without mentioning how brilliant it’s been to discover my femininity and grow into the kind of woman I want to be.
Even without all the positives though, this year has easily been the best of my life. Life is so much more enjoyable when you’re not alternating 24/7 between fantasising about a future in which you get to be yourself, and wondering what it’d feel like to be dead.
Things are looking up, as well. Should everything go well (fingers crossed!) I’ll be working at a new campaign in a fortnight. I’ll get to work regular office hours instead of a night shift, I’ll have weekends free again, and I’ll even get US holidays off.
Loneliness has been the biggest weight on me this past year, and that’s what seems most likely to improve in the near future.
I’ve discovered a group that meets several times a week to play boardgames. Going to events is a little tricky at the moment, but should I start at the new campaign with the office hours, I’ll be able to attend most of the game nights without a problem.
I’ve only gone to a couple of them so far, but everyone has been friendly and welcoming. Hopefully I can make a friend or two.
On top of that, there’s the weekly football games I mentioned on Sunday. It’ll do wonders for me to have a community that loves the sport and meets regularly to play together.
I was also invited to join a couple other girls at work for a weekly volleyball training session/game. I don’t have words adequate to express the relief and happiness I feel for having sports back in my life.
Hormones have also done their thing, meaning that my day-to-day life is now affected more by me being a woman than being a trans woman.
Plus, you know, it’s quite nice to look kinda pretty.
I’ve been finding myself this past year. Womanhood is complicated enough to define for yourself even when you’ve been raised female, never mind starting to do so at 21.
I’m not saying it’s a terrible struggle. It’s been an absolute joy to experiment with makeup and clothes, with ways of speaking and presenting myself, and with how I think of myself and of others.
This past year I’ve been learning how it feels to have a female hormone balance (emotional, to say the least). I’ve had plenty of first-hand experience on how it feels to be attracted to men, something I previously never though I’d see. I’ve been treated as a woman by men and other women. Now that’s been interesting.
What comes next?
I… don’t know.
If this last year has been defined by a whole bunch of new experiences, maybe the next one will be about building a new support group for myself, and feeling the sense of community I’ve missed so much. Perhaps there will be more changes still. It’s hard to predict.
One thing I do know is that this year has been fantastic. Amazing. Wonderful. Insert your own adjective.
Let’s put it this way: I am as far from regret as George R. R. Martin is from finishing A Song of Ice and Fire.
What a ridiculously excellent last 12 months I’ve had. Looking forward to many more like them 🙂
Thank you dear readers for being a part of my life these 6 months that I’ve been writing this blog. I hope the last year has also been kind to you.
Just because I’m so happy at everything that’s happened this past year, and because I’m oddly proud of the change, here is a timeline of how my face has changed in the last 12 months. It’s… kinda crazy, honestly. Also fantastic. So, so fantastic 😀
Hooray for defining who you are, and getting to choose happiness instead of conforming to what others expect of you.