14 December 2008


During the last few days, the surgery has started to seem at least somewhat imminent. I haven't had time to think about it, or much of anything else that hasn't to do with school, but thought of the operation enter my mind. That's a sign that it's coming closer to becoming a reality.

The other day, Bruce asked me how much time until the operation. I mentioned that just a few days earlier was my seven-month "anniversary." But, I added, I expected it, or the prospect of it, to become more real very soon. In a week and a half, I'll be going to Mom and Dad's for Christmas. Of course, the New Year will begin shortly after that, and a few days after that will mark six months until the surgery. "I expect that one of them, if not all of them in unison, will really make the surgery seem like more of a reality, and my thoughts and imaginings about it will become more intense."

"And they'll become even more intense at five months, four months and so on. Wait until you're just a few days away."

"Oh, I know. I can only imagine it now. But I see it coming."

"You've never anticipated anything so much."

"Right again. What'll my life be like when it's done, when I don't have it to look forward to anymore?"

"You could feel a letdown. You'll wish you could anticipate anything like that again. And you'll move on to something else and live the rest of your life, the way you want it."

In a way, this isn't so different from what people experience after they become engaged. There's the anticipation, which can be exciting and anxiety-producing, sometimes simultaneously, because the life one anticipates with the other is still in the abstract. Sure, people--individually as well as couples--carry images of that their lives with their beloved will be like, but they're just that: images. In other words, those people are seeing themselves in someone else's reality, or in something that's not a reality at all.

Then, as the wedding date draws nearer, they become more anxious even as they're excited. There might be days--say, after a disastrous rehearsal or a misunderstanding-- when one or both say, "What in the world are we doing? What ever made me want this?" It has nothing to do with whether or not they're a "good" couple; it's a matter of the imminence of the moment when the unknown turns into reality.

I have seen this scenario unfold between couples I've known, and my therapist has said that this is normal, both for newlyweds-to-be and transgenders awaiting surgery. In fact, she's said, she'd worry about someone who didn't experience something like this. It's just common sense, really: Anything that will change a person's life, even for the better, should give at least some butterflies to the person who's about to undertake it. And to at least some of that person's friends and family.

Then again, those same people are also the ones most likely to support the one who's about to undergo a major life-change. And they are exactly the people we need at those times.