I have been traveling lately. It was wonderful visiting my parents on Kauai for two weeks. I thought it would make a great blog entry but really, the trip was quite mundane. Delightfully mundane. Things were normal. First time I have seen them since I started transition. They have embraced and processed my change and well… now I do not think it will make a very good blog post. Hey, I had a normal, great time. The end.
The thing is I have not posted in a while and I know writing begets writing. If I go a long time without posting it can be very hard to get the wheels turning again. So, I went to Facebook to ask friends and family for suggested topics and the requests were all about feelings and/or emotions.
I guess I have not really posted about this topic in a lot of detail and that is partly because it is hard to put my finger on. I will do my best, but know that like a lot of my transition, my feelings have been evolving and have not really seemed to end up where they will be for the rest of my life.
Describing emotions can be like describing a color. If you do not already know what it is, I am not sure I can properly explain it. As for feelings, I will address them as different from emotions like, how does it feel to wear a wig and a dress in public?
The last time I addressed my emotional state in this blog, I was still feeling the overwhelming euphoria that came with starting transition. I really was so frigging happy and it was weird. This lasted for about three months. Then I was hit with an epiphany. I wasn’t happy. Well, I was but I was happy because my extreme dysphoria had lifted and that brought me immense joy. Over time the joy faded but the dysphoria never returned. I was happy to not be constantly depressed. It was an emotional afterglow. I had a lengthy stretch of euphoria simply because I was finally feeling the same way most people spend their life feeling.
I used to be very bitter, snarky and well, a jerk. A jerk you could grow to love but still a jerk. I learned this in NYC, where being rude is often a sign of affection. I found it useful when I was in the closet because if people could put up with me being a jerk, they would likely not mind me if I eventually transitioned. It was a defense mechanism. It was an expression of how ugly I felt. I wouldn’t offend people by being trans but I still practiced being offensive. If people couldn’t handle it, I didn’t need them in my life.
While I can still be quite rude from time to time, and I sometimes wonder if I am on the autism spectrum because I can really struggle with empathy, my demeanor has really softened. As Tori, I am a nicer person. That may be hard for people to believe if they have only known me since transition, but those who have known me for ages really notice the difference. I have no more need to be a jerk to keep fragile people away but old habits die hard. I am making a conscious effort and the lack of testosterone does a lot of the work for me. Testosterone can cause aggression when there is too much of the hormone present, this is much of the reason why men are more violent and we have the term “Roid rage”. Anything higher than female levels of testosterone in me is too much, and while I was never very physically aggressive, I can be very emotionally and verbally aggressive especially when testosterone is running rampant. Good men amaze me because it is not easy with all that testosterone veering you towards aggressiveness and sex. People neuter their pets in part, to keep them docile. Testosterone made me a worse person, and the damage done continues to ripple from me. It is miraculous that I still have a wife.
Oy. This post is tough to write. I feel like it will be more non linear than most.
So, how does it feel now as compared to before emotionally? After nine months, it feels pretty normal. You adjust to change. I remember when my emotions started to feel more female from hormones and it was like switching from black and white to color. I wouldn’t say my emotional range is broader, instead, it is far more nuanced. I am less likely to feel rage, but almost every other emotion is readily available. In fact, I can feel conflicting emotions at the same time which took some getting used to but now is just how I feel. I cry more frequently, and often enough those tears are happy tears or an expression of conflicting emotions coming to the surface before I can logically process them.
When an emotion comes to the surface, I will likely express it… then it is quickly gone. It passes through me faster now because I do not have as much ability to repress it, and frankly, I’ve allowed myself to be feminine so I now allow myself to be far more emotionally expressive.
I am developing what I like to call the, “Awwwwwww cute!” reflex. Babies and toddlers are so much cuter to me now. Same with animals. I really get caught up in the female plot lines of shows now, as if I learned how to understand a new language overnight. It is quite a trip.
Actually, I am finding it harder and harder to slip into guy mode, and when I do, the results can be disastrous. I tend to overcompensate and I am uber aware. It is strange. I frequently feel uncomfortable presenting as female because of the stares and I feel uncomfortable presenting as male because I feel like a fraud. I can play male better than I can play female right now, but it is getting icky. Androgyny is really working for me lately. It gives people around me time to adjust. Female hair, waxed eyebrows, a gender neutral hat, capris and a shirt for example.
It is unfortunate that I have to wear makeup to cover my beard shadow. I kinda have to wear more than most, and that makes me more noticeable. Learning to blend in is a skill I am developing all too slowly.
But I digress. This post is about emotions and feelings.
I am more passionate now. I am much more vulnerable to romance.
When I feel blue, it tends to pass within a day or so, which is by far the most amazing change. I used to slip into depression by default. Now I have built some immunity.
Before transition, I was really down about how terrible of a spouse I was. I was emotionally detached and I didn’t understand what that did to my wife.
Now, I get really mad when people try to meddle in my relationship. It is not easy for her when friends or family try to lovingly steer her away from me. I know my past combined with my transition gives people valid reasons to show concern. That is when I am most vulnerable. It is nearly impossible to explain to someone who cares deeply about my wife, that this transition is perhaps the best thing I can personally do for her because it keeps me much more positive, safe and sane. It is humbling to know and admit that I was abusive, emotionally abusive to my wife and even myself for years. The problem is, that by admitting it, people find out about it and then they offer up their negative opinions about me. They can see this transition as a continuation of the emotional abuse, and I suspect they do so out of the best possible intentions. Still, it sucks to know that my very presence can drive a wedge between some of the people who are closest to my wife. I have asked my wife to leave me on several occasions since transition began but she won’t. I do not wish to be her burden, but she took her vows seriously and so did I.
I have a remarkable capacity for love now. Not just romantic love. The love of friends. The love of food. The love of socialization. The love of love. And my need to express this emotion can be easily misunderstood. I think I repressed it for so long that now with these newly girlified emotions, I just let it bubble to the surface. It can be embarrassing, but I would rather share love than its opposite. It helps me forgive more easily too, and that helps me move forward. It is really hard for me to dwell on a person’s worst qualities.
Overall, my newly developing emotional spectrum is keeping my stress levels lower and my mood more healthy. It is not all butterflies and sparkles, but life would be boring without the occasional speed bump.
I suspect emotional acuity is one of the reasons women tend to live longer. It just seems healthier to feel things fully and then let them pass. On testosterone, I really needed to logically process things. On estrogen, logic is not as important as feeling something flow. It is less important to understand why you feel grief or joy and more important to just experience it as it happens. Feelings of regret used to consume me. They were my Kryptonite. Now I feel regret, forgive myself and move on. I am thankful for this development particularly because I would have been overwhelmed by regret that I did not transition sooner. Also, I continue to make mistakes, and my ability to deal with regret allows me to live more fully in the present rather than in the past. In some ways I had been stuck in 1998 until I started to transition. I was stunted by regret, confusion and unrequited love. By 1999 I was slowly spiraling towards my suicide attempt some fourteen years later.
One person asked me how I handle the excitement of transition. Honestly, it is not too exciting because it moves at such a slow pace. Then one day, you sit down hard on a chair, and your boobs bounce for the first time and you feel proud for a moment, then a little worried… like, this is suddenly very real, and who knows how much bigger and bouncier they will become? Then you feel a kinship to women that you never felt before. Suddenly your eyes start to water, and through tears you start to laugh because you realize you are crying over bouncing boobs. Then you feel your face turn red and flushed. Then you stand up and sit down again to feel them bounce one more time. Then you wonder if this means you need to wear a bra all the time now. Finally, you look to see if anyone was watching you, if nobody was, you cop a quick feel.