19 July 2009

Walking In, Walking With

Today was another sunny, warm, and dry day. I imagine I would have encountered daytime weather like this in Trinidad had I gone a few weeks earlier. The nights would have been much cooler, though: The between day and night is much greater than it is here.

I'm still walking slowly, as it is still very early in my healing process. And I'm staying within a few-block radius of my apartment, in deference to two aspects of my current condition: my decreased strength and my seemingly-reduced bladder capacity. I know that my stamina will return, eventually. I hope my bladder capacity--such as it was--does, too. I'm not hoping for what I had as a male, but I at least hope it will be what it was while I was taking hormones.

Other than my physical fatigue, I really have no complaints. This may be one of the few times in my life in which no one will expect me to rationalize the fact that I'm not doing more than I am doing! Really, all I have to do during the next five weeks is to recover.

If you asked most people, "What is Justine recovering from?," most of them would say, "The surgery, of course!" (Some might end the sentence with a ruder expression than "of course," but you get the idea.) However, I get the feeling that I am also healing from things that are much older and deeper than the scars from my surgery.

A couple of the trans people I met in Trinidad have suffered cruelties of fate and human caprice that I cannot even imagine. My story cannot compare to theirs. However, I have experienced all sorts of meanness at the hands of people who hated me for, well, simply being. Some thought I was a guy who had to "butch up" a bit more; others didn't want me to because, as I was, I served as their punching bag. And I'm not talking only in a physical sense: Some of those people could feel superior to me because, well, they weren't me.

But even worse than anything anyone did to me were the things I did to myself, all out of self-loathing. That includes, of course, the alcohol and drug abuse of my youth.

It's interesting, at least to me, that this recovery from my surgery coincides, almost to the day, with the very first days of my recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. On 14 June 1986, I spent my first day since I-couldn't-remember-when without drugs and alcohol. I very quickly realized that I wasn't recovering only from what those substances did to my mind and spirit; I was also healing--or, I should say, I was also beginning my process of healing from rapes, abusive relationships and all sorts of other things.

In that sense, this time reminds me of those early days of my sobriety. The recovery from my surgery is the bird-dropping on the tip of the iceberg of my healing. Now I am not only in recovery, I am recovering--who and what I am. I am only beginning to rescue the "beautiful" person Marilynne and others say I am from inside the wall--one that corrodes, from within, the very things it protects from outside intruders--that I constructed, day by day, brick by brick, around what turned out to be a rather flimsy bastion (Is that an oxymoron?) of maleness.

That is the reason why a simple walk to the park, as I took today, fills me with the sort of confidence and light that conquering mountains never could give me. Probably 90% of the women out there were easier on the eyes than I was: My hair was a mess, I wasn't wearing any makeup, except for lipstick, and I was wearing a rather loose sundress with a rip on the side. (So that's what all those guys were looking at? ;-) ) But I wasn't thinking about how I looked: I stepped, I moved with a confidence about who I am. I knew exactly who I am and what I'd become--female and woman--and no one, not any person (not that any tried) or any city, state or country could deny me that.

Fortunately, the ones who've tried weren't anywhere near me today. But even if they find their way back to my life, they no longer have (if they ever did) any power over me. I may be weak and flabby, but I have never felt the strength of who I am as much as I did on that two-block walk to the park today.

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