Tuesday, 29 January 2013

About Me: A New Afterword

Like the old folk song says, "last night I had the strangest dream, I'd ever dreamed before". In it, my ex from five years ago was settled down with a husband and, somehow, I found myself at her mother's place. Of course, I was now me, not the "old me". Oddly, she did not recognize me. Later, when her daughter and son-in-law came by, my ex appeared stunned, more that I had transitioned than that I was there at all. For most of the dream, I struggled with an overwhelming sense of awkwardness at being there: how did I get there? Why was I there at all? A later scene in the dream had me returning something to a large pet store where my ex worked, in the dream. I remember prepping myself before I entered the store ... confidence! confidence! ... I've come a long way now. And so, I just stood up and walked tall into the store, made my return, and walked through the store out. I had done it ... I had finally moved on.

And The Sun Will Shine

So, over two years after starting HRT, more than a year and a half after starting this blog and nearly a year since finishing my autobio "About Me" section, here I am writing a new afterward.

2011 was a year of revolutions in the world and at home, politically and personally. A great year to come out publicly or to begin transition as I did. To go through so my changes as the old orders everywhere appeared to crumble and topple into the street was exhilarating. After a few years of being stymied on so many front, life and the world both seemed to accelerate. We were all on fast-forward. For me, it was a year of hormone prescription adjustments, tedious, but much needed facial hair removal and a steady process of coming out to more and more people, thankfully, with great results.

2012, almost by contrast, was a more challenging year. Just as people in the post-Arab Spring world focused on the very difficult task of running their new political set-ups and as the Occupy movements ran up against their own limitations, some fading away entirely, the Red Square student movement in Quebec and the various anti-austerity protests in Europe struggled to keep up the momentum of the previous year. And it was also a tough battle uphill for liberal and progressive forces in the US during a nail biting election year (thankfully, it turned out alright).

The day-to-day realities of that personal revolution known as gender transition became very clear to me in 2012. What hormones could and could not do. The huge cost, in time and money, of hair removal. The logistics of coming out everywhere and transitioning at work, in order to live 24/7 as myself. Coming out to my parents, or in my case, not just yet.

One thing became clear to me throughout last year: how much of a ripple effect has been caused by my transition process. Virtually no area of my life has been left untouched by it. In a good way. Once, I was centered, grounded in who I was, my confidence rose significantly. I became more outspoken, more eager to   engage others, to contribute to whatever group I was involved with. I also became much more comfortable with being single (with no relationship) and, even alone (in downtime) when necessary. Gone was the intense melancholy that came with feeling inadequate. It was as if I was now confident enough that I could trust myself to know when I need to be with others and when I needed to be alone.

The summer of 2012 saw many interesting new developments. After nearly two years of taking writing courses, I began work on two nonfiction book proposals. One of my instructors, a book review editor for an academic journal, invited to begin writing book reviews for that publication: all with a local/BC focus. Pride week saw me involved in my first Trans March and marching with the Trans-Alliance Society banner in the general Pride Parade a couple of days later. Finally, I became involved with the sitcom project currently known by the title "The Switch" in late September. I felt that I was boldly entering new turf almost daily.

Down On Me

The fall of 2012 had much bad karma. As we were all reminded all too regularly of the violence and deranged hatred in the world, it was truly a sad season.

With all of this happening, I was also reminded through tense moments with friends and others of my own foibles and vulnerable spots. 2011 and 2012 came with some personal losses also. I lost my eldest uncle  early 2011, he had been seriously ill for many years and died from cancer only days after his seventy-third birthday. I lost another relative on my father's side in early 2012 who had also been battling cancer for several years. Then, the Thursday before Halloween, my surviving grandmother who I had last seen in June passed away after stroke. Perhaps in the long run, I needed to go through my own blue period in order to touch my own basic goodness again. By the time the holidays rolled around, I realized that I was very tired and in need of some sort of break. I decided that I would take a vacation for the last three weeks in January. It would serve two purposes: a much needed break and emotional hibernation, and break from work after which I would return as myself, finally. So, after spending most of the holidays working with only the actually statutory holidays off, I spent the first week of the new year preparing for both.

There Was a Time

Once upon a time, I considered transition a huge chasm that I dared not cross: it was just too much risk, others would hate me for crossing it. Two years later, I almost have to pinch myself to realize that I am alive, awake and that I have actually made it. It has been filled with scary anxiety-filled moments as much as it has been with delightful surreal ones: I am not who I was or am I yet who I will be. Yet, I am who I have been inside since as long as I could remember, and obvious to some people who have known me for many years.

I spent the first week of my vacation getting my name change paperwork in order and filed with the Vital Statistics Agency. The second week, I began (as per my resolutions for this year) cleaning up my suite, getting rid of the very last of my male clothes as well as those that I wore early in transition. Organizing my life, becoming more purposeful and responsible for myself are my currents goals. It is a challenge, but certainly not impossible: old habits can be undone with time and patience.

The rest of my time I spent socializing, writing, napping, dancing, djing, creating and generally, recovering a sense of wholeness. I sense myself being pulled back into a somewhat contemplative life, but a much less deprived one in terms of feeling isolated. A nice way to settle into mid-life.

Both Sides Now

As I spend my last week in hibernation, I am preparing myself for full time real life experience. Part of it scares me, the wildcard of public service and its unpredictable nature, the reality of being fully out and that family conversation getting closer once again. But, I also look forward to it. Double living is now a thing of the past. I am now me everywhere, not just "on my own time". As it should be, of course. A new chapter begins now.


This is a new afterword for my autobio series which I will be adding to its table of contents along with my short series of posts about going home to Montreal last June. In the next little while, I will be giving this blog a much needed redecorating, with a new layout included. Stay tuned.

Love, Vanessa

Last week of January 2013

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