Orientation

  • Reading time:5 min(s) read

A thing I didn’t account for about transition is, okay, it’s one thing to have myself figured out more or less. But one forgets, so easily and so quickly—especially with this addled neurology I’m rocking here. Old habits are hard to break, even when they’re clearly wrong. One begins to doubt one’s self, often one’s basic sanity.

Having physical reminders? It’s amazing. It’s so helpful. It takes away such a cognitive, emotional burden to be able to look down and see, oh, right: boobs. Or feel them brush against my arm when I reach across. To mutter to myself, and for my voice to come back… well, closer anyway to how I want, without my thinking or trying. Having a daily routine, maintaining myself, doing my hair and makeup. Getting dressed properly.

All this grounding, it’s like writing a list and realizing, oh, I don’t have to carry all that in my head anymore and work myself up out of fear I’ll drop one of the balls. All this tangible aspect, it offloads so much burden, and at the same time confirms it’s not just imagination. I can relax.

I am so unused to anything in my head mapping to the world around me that I didn’t know what it was like or how much of a fucking relief it is to be able to just have reality taken care of, so I don’t have to hold it every moment of every day, afraid that it may shatter. I am so used to living exclusively in my head because there has been no interface. Now it’s like reality is spilling out of my skull into my waking, sensory world, and it’s so weird and trippy and makes me feel drunk. If this is reality, and it makes sense to me, what was that world I was living in before? This is why I say it’s like I’ve woken up. It really is. It’s everything before that’s now in question, fading into the cobwebs of a decaying dream.

It’s so strange to rewire my sense of being in the world on such a basic level. Like, this is what it feels like to be alert and aware and to feel things and know things and for all this to be confirmed instantly, viscerally. Is this what it’s like for everyone else, always?

I had no idea how much burden I was holding at all times, and how much space and power and resources that ate up. How it left no room for me to just exist, and breathe, and feel, and want, and be an actual human being. I didn’t know what it meant to be alive.

There’s so much overlap among PTSD, ADHD, autism, gender and sexual dysphoria. It’s common for them all to be… I don’t love the term comorbid, but you know. You’re toting around one of these disorientations, the chance you’ve got another one is that much higher than if you didn’t have any. And each one just adds another layer to the yergh.

There’s this sense of carrying around one’s own reality all the time that doesn’t match the models provided, which one has to learn to entertain and navigate while translating all the way. And until the disjunct becomes clear, there’s just this continual knowledge that something, everything is wrong, nothing is working, your ideas never seem to match the physical world, and you don’t know how or why. And it’s such a fuckery. It’s so isolating. Nothing makes sense.

For decades I’ve made the analogy that my waking life, it’s like watching a TV screen. If I fell hard into identifying with videogames as a medium, that’s because that’s basically what life was like. Sitting apart, pushing few limited buttons, hoping they do what’s intended. You want to take these other actions that aren’t pre-programmed in? Step over that police tape, see what’s up that hill, talk to the creature instead of stabbing it? Tough. Those aren’t the rules of this world. Learn to play the game right if you want to get anywhere.

It’s no accident that my reckoning with all of the above pretty much has happened in one rolling wave. It’s all tangled up, intertwined. And letting it out…

There’s also this anger, that I’ve never been allowed to feel. Like, anger is one of the Bad Feelings, right. Except it’s not, of course. Emotions are neutral. They just are what they are. They’re signals. What isn’t neutral is one’s behaviors; how one acts on them. Denying the feelings, that’s basically the first step to major dysfunction.

There’s a lot to be angry about. And it’s fine.

One of the overwhelming narratives of the last month or two is, how dare they keep me from myself? All of them. How dare they. And that’s really what it comes down to. This is what I could have been this whole time. It didn’t have to be the way that it was. I lived through that for no reason.

I barely can wrap my head around what I dealt with, for so long. It’s a lot. There’s so much that I’ve accepted as normal, that’s just… clearly not something a person should have to put up with. But it’s getting better. I’m finally putting together this world that I guess comes pre-assembled for others. Becoming human.

It turns out, reality is intoxicating. And I want to feel it, encourage it, declare and define it as an ongoing work. I need to keep this moving.