Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

Category: Introspection (Page 1 of 25)

Eight Hours

Sitting and watching the minutes tick away until it is 8 hours to my surgery (or at least, the start time they’ve given me), when I’m no longer allowed to eat. I am wondering how much I’ll be able to sleep tonight, given my level of anxious anticipation of the event.

A brief aside, though, I installed a fancy new bidet toilet seat today, which will be of great help to me while I am unable to use my arms. It will also be of great help to me in life, because bidets are rad and I have wanted one for a long time. This is as good of an excuse as any! Those of you who are coming over to help, visit, or drop off a meal will be welcome to try it, or at least marvel at it, or ignore it, idk, you do what you want!

I’m certainly scared. The level of certainty around this that came after the pre-op appointment has melted a little bit in the last few hours and all those questions I posted about previously are back in my head. I kind of anticipated this, and also was hoping to avoid it.

As the time creeps slowly onward and I get closer and closer to surgery time, my thoughts are thinking of aesthetics. At the Community Queerituality meeting I attended this evening we discussed a lot of things, including queer aesthetics. Some of the things cited by the facilitator as queer aesthetics were brightly colored hair, piercings, and an undercut, all of which I sport on the daily. My response to this had me contemplating aloud the ways those aspects of my appearance had been constants over the last sixteen plus years and came from other countercultures I have been part of, not initially markings (to me) of my queerness, but certainly of some kind of alternative social affiliation. I also shared about my strong desire for many years to be seen as queer while I was trying really hard to be cis. Definitely these aspects of my appearance are markers of difference, but not inherently (to me) of queerness.

In typical post-sharing-in-a-group anxiety, my brain is going over the things I said in that context and the responses I got. Another participant, not long after I spoke, mentioned disliking the idea that queerness had any particular aesthetic, and I’m not sure if it’s my anxiety that is telling me they were addressing what I had said directly, meaning I hadn’t quite explained what I was trying to say adequately, or if they were riffing off of the topic itself. I agree with them, ultimately, but this is part of the basis for what is coming up in me tonight. The hook that the transphobia is able to get in through, maybe.

The questions swimming around my brain are about aesthetics. This is a procedure that is designed to change my aesthetics, designed to change my outward physical appearance. It is different than a purely aesthetic surgery, however, because it is a trans surgery, because it is about gender confirmation, and yet it is still about aesthetics in the sense it is about what we can perceive and about beauty and reality. It is about what other people will see when they look at me, and what I will see and feel when I am with myself. It is about sensation and senses and perception and we may talk about these things as being superficial, but they really aren’t, they’re about how we experience the world and manifest reality.

Writing this out has been useful for those thoughts so freely floating around. I have never disliked having a large chest, exactly, though it hasn’t felt like mine or part of me in a while. Certainly it has been both inconvenient and wonderful at times. When I was younger and striving/trying/pretending to be cis, I placed a lot of emphasis on my chest and the way it looked in clothing. I was proud of my fat hourglass figure. I hung a lot of my own self-worth and self-esteem on being sexually desirable, and my chest was always a part of that. It was rarely for me, but as a symbol or indicator of something. It took me a long time to unpack that for myself, part of those two plus years of talking and thinking and feeling into this surgery as an option for me was really investigating where my desires were coming from. I’ve said for a long time that my ideal form is as a shapeshifter, being able to play with my form however I like. I’m sure most of us would choose that, if given the option, but not all of us would play with the same aspects of our form.

There is a declaration in this action as well. I am claiming ownership of my body and my ability to declare who I am. I have had other body mods that have functioned as me claiming my body as my own, both in the form of piercings and tattoos, and in some ways this is the same, but in other ways it is completely different. I don’t entirely understand gender, honestly. I don’t think anyone does. My experience of it is something innate, something sacred, something that can also be fluid and changeable. I have been worried that my desire for this has more to do with expectations of what being trans looks like in an AFAB body, or because of the trans narrative that says this is what I should want. I am afraid of a lot of things, but that is a big one.

The more I think about it, write about it right now, and really feel into my body, the more I know my body is done with having this large chest. That’s kind of as much as I can know right now. I am supposed to have this experience, for whatever reason, maybe including because it is part of the dominant trans narrative. But this is not for superficial reasons. This is not for fitting in reasons. I think this is the important part, what was bugging me about the exchange earlier. My appearance has never been intended to fit into any particular sub- or counter-culture, even if it does or has. I am always, before anything else, wearing what I want to wear and looking how I want to look. This is, of course, influenced by cultures of various kinds, but it has to do with what aesthetics please me the most. I am forever trying to figure out how I can be comfortable with the person staring back at me in the mirror. That is the most important factor in all of this for me. The change that surgery marks is both big and not big in this sense. It will change everything and nothing all at once.

Four Days to Top Surgery

I had the pre-op appointment on Thursday. I felt so much better after the appointment, not just because of the information that was given to me, but moreso because the level of care, compassion, professionalism, and humor that everyone I spoke with had. I feel in very good hands. Not sure if I’ve mentioned already in here that I’m having surgery with Dr. Megan Dreveskracht at La Belle Vie in Tukwilla. I’m scheduled for Noon on Thursday, October 4th. Now just four days away (basically three and a half as I’m finally posting this)!

I was pretty paralyzed for a while there… or at least moving very s l o w l y through my days. Basically, I had a whole lot of freeze happen in my nervous system after I scheduled surgery. A microcosm of the macrocosm of surgery freeze I have experienced over the last few years, no doubt. I had a challenging time staying in my own experience for a while, feeling stuck and having to sort out a lot of feelings, preferring to distract myself. I scheduled nearly a month ago, which seemed like plenty of time. I had assumed the year I waited between consult and surgery was enough time for me to have sorted through my myriad of feelings about surgery, but obviously not. Not only have I never had surgery before, making this experience terrifying in and of itself for that reason, but this is a trans surgery, so I also had all that to contend with.

My fear and freeze had to do with the questions that I had no answers to. I wondered what it would be like to have surgery. I questioned how I would be able to let myself be the kind of vulnerable and receive the kind of support I know I’ll need. I felt a whole lot of internalized transphobia come up. It had already taken me many years to come to the decision to have surgery, each movement forward finding a new set of blocks within me. Already wrestling with so many transphobic questions for years, I had paused in my road to top surgery after my initial consultations a year ago because of the way they bounced around my internal landscape. All the questions came back after I scheduled. It was no longer an abstract interest or desire, it was happening. There was a date.

Of course, this transphobia isn’t coming from me, not really, but it is inside me. It’s coming from the culture and has seeped into all of our bodies through conscious and unconscious messages. It is coming from the current power structures and social institutions that we collectively agree to. We can call it heterocisnormative imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy if we want to, but no matter what we call it, it is the water that we swim in and where we get our nourishment (and, coincidentally, why we are all actually starving). The assumptions. The caveats. The questions. The comments reminding me not to rush into anything (my response: I’ve been talking to my therapist about this for over two years. I’m not rushing). The assurance that I’m still loved if I do this (my response: that was never in question! And yet, it is, thanks, transphobia). The commentary on the politics of trans surgery or how it may or may not impact my mental health and my life to have this surgery (my response: too much for a small aside, but I’m doing this for me and the personal is political). Then there are the questions I have grappled with for years, why it took me so long to do this: what if I don’t like it? what if it’s the wrong choice? what if it means people will think I’m a man now? why does it matter so much to myself or anyone? why will it make me a “more valid” trans person (as if I’m not a valid trans person already) in the eyes of so many? why can’t I just be fine without it?

So many questions.

These questions, and more, have been running through my head pretty regularly for years. Those responses are all ones I have received directly. This is all transphobia. It’s exhausting.

It has been a long road to this surgery. I recently looked back over old journal entries to find dates for transness/transition/top-surgery-related milestones: I started binding in 2011, using gender neutral pronouns in 2010 and id’ing as genderqueer in 2007. I’m pretty sure it was also 2011 that I finally began thinking my genderqueerness might be enough to consider myself to be trans. I had previously been told by a number of trans folks that I couldn’t possibly be trans because I’m femme and AFAB, an experience that, no doubt, set me back a bit in terms of my self identity and gender expression. For a few years, at least, I was terrified and anxious any time I tried to express anything other than (cis) femme, certain that someone would realize I was a fake and call me on it. Instead of feeling like I could embrace other trans folks in my process of gender exploration, I was at least as terrified of us as I was of cis folks invalidating my gender.

I first really talked with my therapist and doctor about the possibility of top surgery well over two years ago. It always seemed like something other trans folks got, but not me. Actually, I am sure they both asked me about it prior to when I started testosterone in 2015 (which also took me over a year to actually allow myself to explore, my first appointment with my Doc to discuss T was in late 2013 and I didn’t start T until early 2015), and I have been uncertain about surgery all those years. Questioning if it’s a good idea, if it’s really for me, all those questions above, all the thoughts. I wasn’t regularly binding until a couple of years ago, having previously utilized it as part of my gender expression rather than a central indicator of it. Now, and for a while, I have been binding daily (unless I am at home all day with no visitors). I experience more social dysphoria than physical dysphoria.

Because of my level of privilege, the barriers to top surgery have all been personal and cultural, with a minimal amount of medical and/or class barriers to the experience. Because I have private insurance through my husbear’s tech job, I have a trans-knowledgeable therapist I see every week and a GP who is one of the best trans-related healthcare providers in Seattle, also arguably one of the best places to be trans in the country. My fat body has been a barrier to my choice of surgeons, and I did have to endure some fatphobia in the selection process, but there are still plenty of surgeons in Seattle who would take me as a patient. I met with three doctors to choose the one I am going with. I hit a bit of an insurance snag last year, as we switched insurances in August and again in January, and that was enough to be a factor in my stalling, but not the main cause. I took my time getting to this place because of all the barriers I had built up in myself against surgery, against getting what I want and need, against doing things for myself.

Ultimately, though, I’m doing this for me. Sometimes I wonder if transitioning is the only thing I’ve ever truly done in my life that is just for me. For so many years I tried to be cis. I tried to be happy and content with being read as a woman, even though I’m not. I tried to be content with being assumed to be straight, even though I’m not. I tried to be happy with my body the way it is, especially after so much work to love my fat body, and I will be. Surgery isn’t necessary for all trans folks, but for some of us it is the answer. Even if it eases just a little discomfort, makes our lives just a little bit easier, or makes us a little bit happier, it is worth it. It will not eliminate my experiencing transphobia, either internal or external, that is something we all have to work on every day. It will not mean I will no longer be misgendered, though I’ll be more likely to be misgendered as a man than as a woman, so that will at least be a change. At very least, this surgery will free up a whole lot of brainspace that has been dedicated to the “what if” of surgery. At best, I will feel more comfortable, more at home in my own body and in the world.

20 Days to Surgery

I posted this initially in my top surgery support group on facebook, but posting it on here for archival purposes.

So… it has been 10/11 days since I scheduled the surgery, and I’m finally coming to the point of being able to look at what sort of support I will really be needing.

Tbqh, loves, I’m terrible at receiving.

It is really challenging for me. I’m so used to taking care of myself, acting like everything is okay when it isn’t, and taking care of others. So, it took me a few days after scheduling to even post about it, and then was completely overwhelmed by the amazing and wonderful outcry of support and celebration on here from all of you and the other folks who commented on the post on my wall (not a bad problem to have, let me tell you, but still overwhelming to this queerdo).

I’m so incredibly grateful and humbled by the support, and also terrified of it. I don’t exactly know how to receive it or take it in, except as I have been: in small doses. This experience is already working to stretch me in useful and important ways. It is a practice in taking up space in an uncomfortable and necessary way.

What I have done since scheduling includes a lot of moving slowly and letting myself feel a whole lot of feelings (about surgery, transphobia, self worth, and receiving support, to name a few). I have also begun acquiring items I might need during recovery, so far including a couple grabber hands and an extending back scratcher (extending or lifting my arms for the first few weeks is verboten).

What I am planning on doing, after some advice from friends and reading some surgery prep things:

  • set up a meal train thing (sub tasks include writing out my dietary restrictions, gathering together and/or writing recipes of my favorite meals for ease of making, and writing a list of favorite snacks and treats)
  • writing out a “how to care for the tai” manual of sorts, including many lists of things like comfort movies & shows to watch, activities and things that make me happy or comfort me, best practices for supporting me in vulnerable/emotional states, and whatever else I come up with (suggestions of types of info that would be useful to you as a caregiver are welcome here)
  • continuing to move slow and give myself permission to prepare in whatever ways I need (and can afford)
  • continuing to gather supplies I may need (I have many of the things need already, but currently on the list is arnica montana, slippers, emergen-c, and probably other things)
  • developing a simple surgery blessing & healing ritual of some sort that I will post on here beforehand for myself and any of you who would like to engage in it
  • a caregiver schedule thing for the first week or so post-surgery

I am already counting on a few folks to be support people day of and day after, at least, but also do not want to tax any of them too much. I would especially love in person support/hangout time the first few days after surgery from other trans folks who would be up for that.

20 days to surgery!

I Can’t Sleep Lately

I can’t sleep lately.

Well, I’m having trouble getting to sleep is more accurate. Once I’m also I can go 7-9 hours in a row without a problem if I have nothing else scheduled for those hours (and usually I don’t).

This has been going on for far too long. Over a year. Longer. I’m not even sure when it started, if I’m being real. I’ve structured a lot of my life around not being able to sleep during the nighttime. Onyx used to work nights as well, preferring to sleep during the day and work at night. Now everything is out of whack, still getting used to the new hours that he keeps. I keep slipping in and out of daylight hours, uncertain when I want to be awake and when I want to be asleep.

This isn’t what I really want to write about right now.

I’m paralyzed. In paralysis. Having a hard time seeing past my own insecurities and trauma. I can tell it’s out of time, but also it’s because of current experiences, so it’s confusing and disorienting. I feel at war between what I want, what I have, and what I can handle. None of these things are at the same place, and I’m confused and overwhelmed. As often. As always.

Not Yet Three Years

I don’t track it anymore, not in months, and often not even in years. It’s part of me now in a way I don’t have to think about. If I’m pressed to think about it, as I am requesting of myself now, it’s been 2 years and 8 1/2 months that I’ve been on T. Not yet three years, but that is getting closer and closer.

I’ve had many changes to my body and self in that time. The new way that clothes hang on me is just as comfortable as it was before, but now feels more aligned with right. I got so good at faking before because that was also right for me, but also wrong.

Tuesday night I took my testosterone at the turning of the new moon, as I do every month (weekly on the new, full, and half moons), and I called to Virgo and my highest self. This month, this year, this life has been so full of doing and avoiding, and in my most recent ceremony I requested clarity from source, and that clarity keeps on coming.

I have been stuck in perfectionism for so long it has often been hard to be. Challenging to exist as I am, because of that endless striving drive for the supposed perfect. It has also kept me from appreciating what actually is. Fear of failure and fear of success have run me into paralysis for too long. Indecision was never fearful.

In addition to clarity, I requested to open more to right relationship (with myself and others) and decisive action. We shall see how that goes.

Leveling Up

i.
my vacillating heart can’t decide
if it’s joyous or despairing completely.
the not-so-secret secret is:
I’m terrified.
I’m pushing up against my own desires and fears
(often made of the same stuff),
finding the edges and exploring there.
not what I expect.
never what I expect.
everything feels stolen,
uncertain.
I am suddenly aflame with myself
with desire and the abundance of my fervor.
then I remember. then I worry.
am I worthy?
can I do this? I’m taking risks I’m not sure I can afford.

ii.
it’s chafing me, chasing me,
each breath is labored and I’m straining
I’m failing again,
falling again,
finding myself deep in the pit of my despair
again.
I sink and wallow.
I give up.

iii.
just.
keep.
breathing.
keep breathing.
keep being.
one moment at a time is the only way anything happens.

iv.
let yourself feel it, I whisper to myself,
I do.

Late Night Poetry [Untitled]

You fell in love with my divinity
My priest/ess
My most-best self.
I fell in love with your brokenness
Your dark and trembling
Your wounded vulnerability

I wanted to know how I could be so vulnerable
You wanted to know how you could be so divine
What we didn’t see was they are one and the same.

We work as mirrors for each other
Not just reflections of light, but reflections of soul
My wound, your wound, our wound.
Our task is to remain separate even as we merge
Together, but independent
Taken care of and taking care of
Two and the same.

I Am Here

Onyx and I are currently in Stavanger, Norway visiting his family. We have already been to London, and are heading on to Oslo, Prague, Amsterdam, and Bridport, England.

The following is inspired by Stavanger, mostly. Though all of our trip so far, really. I forget how unusual I am until I leave Seattle, safe in the bubble I have built for myself. Norway is just as uncomfortable with difference as many places in the US, and moreso than many.

There’s a particular kind of conformity that is demanded in a lot of these liberal European countries. I felt it in Amsterdam the last time I was there as well. Once a particular way of being different is accepted it is assumed we will be normal from then on.

I mostly just feel too damn queer for them.

.

I see your side eye
your stares
your whispers to each other that you may think are subtle
when you think I’m not looking
but I can feel where your eyes are lingering
looking a little longer in my direction than normally considered polite
your face unable to mask your emotion
I wonder which part of me is
interesting/confusing/disgusting/disturbing you the most
is it my size?
this girth of me that is lavish and unapologetic
taking up more space than most people think I have a right to
than I have been taught I have a right to
it has been easy to hate myself for this physical expansiveness I have inherited,
yet I am here.
is it my clothes or my hair?
either darker or more colorful than you would like, or at least than you are used to
a morbidly outlandish witchy blend of cloth atop this large body
strange even when I’m dressed my most conservative
and a shocking swath of teal, blue, and purple coming from the top of my head
a blend of long and soft with short and spikey
much like me
and I am here.
or is it the hair on my chin?
this combined with the protruding breasts and curvy frame may have confused you
am I a feminine man or a masculine woman or some other creature, you may wonder
or you may not even get that far.
that confusion and uncertainty is probably the closest thing to seeing my gender without a conversation or known context
so in some ways you are seeing me
and that is both lovely and uncomfortable.
Now I know I am here.
I’m used to being visible in the other ways
my size and clothing have always been a reminder of the body or desires you want to ignore
of the work you do to fit in rather than stand out
giving up the pieces of difference in your own self instead of reveling in them
even though you may assume it is for attention, it is actually for my comfort
I would be happiest if you didn’t see me at all
until you could actually see me and not your projections onto me.
this gender, though, is growing more visible as my body changes
and I’m as uncomfortable with it as you are
for now.
I’ll get used to it, though. Will you?
I am here.

Paralysis

I sunk into myself recently. Stopped remembering how to be anything but internal, to exist in any way but as a hermit.

I wrapped that supposed cocoon around me, but I did not become a butterfly. I just became caterpillar soup. I became mush. Mess. Liquid me, sinking deeper into my bed and disappearing inside of myself.

I sank and I dissolved and I didn’t know what else to do but lie in bed and stare at screens. All of my knowledge and all of the changes and all of the help I can give to others could not keep me from floating away from myself.

My whole world came crashing down on me.

I Want to Be the Lover

As I lie in bed getting ready to sleep tonight, I think of you. Yet again. This is especially the time my thoughts turn to you, when I’m too tired to resist them wandering in your direction, when I’m too tired to stop them after redirecting them for most of the day.

Tonight, though. Tonight my thoughts about you are curious, interested, and sad. They are always sad these days, full of grief over the relationship that never really was. The relationship that had so much potential and so little actual. And yet also contained so much.

I’ve been sad a lot these last few weeks. Going through a grieving process, certainly, and no longer able to hide in the distraction from the rest of my life that you afforded me for a while. Plunged back into the cold waters of uncertainty and fear for a while, and I’m just starting to get out of them now. Hopefully.

Tonight my thoughts turned to the way you often confused me with someone else, mistaking my motives or intentions with your abuser. I’ve experienced that from others in my life as well. I am, at this point, very used to the weight of other people’s projections onto me. Often I run from them, as unfortunately I do not yet have the skill to counter them. Yet. And my chameleon tendencies makes this process extra complicated.

I realized, though, more than I have before, why I keep choosing people in recovery. I realized I was choosing this a while ago, and was worried that means I am abusive or power-seeking. I believe is the opposite. People in recovery allow me to be small, and keep me invisible, keep me unseen. It’s easier to be unnoticed when the other person is taking up all the room. And recovery takes up a lot of room by necessity.

It takes a lot to heal from the deep wounds I witness and am drawn to. Part of my work is to help these wounds heal. Part of my work is to recognize and heal these wounds I have in myself. It is easier for me to be the healer than the human, the priestess than the lover. It is easier for me to be in a role than myself, easier to be helping than vulnerable. And I want to be vulnerable. I want to be human. I want to be a lover.

I was really trying with you. I tried so hard to be vulnerable, to be human, to be me. I still went into that priestess role sometimes. I still tried to help heal you. Those other roles will never not be there, of course, but I really am trying to be me now. Trying to be all of me, or as much as I can handle in any given moment. As much as me will show up through the fear and the uncertainty. Slowly, more and more of me is coming out.

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