When I was in high school I drove a 1973 Gremlin X. It was a rusty hard driven three speed and every now and then, for no particular reason, it would just pop out of gear. This was a bit distracting for a new driver, but over time I learned to anticipate the pop, calmly shift it back into gear, and never miss a beat. It was a combination of sound, vibration and motion that only I could detect – sort of like Radar O’Reilly’s uncanny ability to hear the helicopters before anyone else.
Getting top surgery, taking testosterone and getting fit has put me in a similar space with my body. It’s like I’m coming out of a fog – a protective fog I’d put between myself and a body I could no longer relate to after puberty hit. This is all a bit disorienting, like the “pop” out of gear, but I need to keep moving down the road so I’m learning to anticipate the the shifts. Some shifts are physical (new hair showing up, a visible vein, a bicep). Others are emotional (more comfort with solitude, less fear walking alone in the dark, more calm).
Sometimes this all gets disorienting. When that happens, I try to ground myself in the moment and stay present. If I start thinking too far ahead or dwell on the past I freeze up in anxiety or regret. I’m slowly learning to take care of myself and nourish a body too long neglected. I’m finding my voice and saying no when I need to to put me first. It’s freedom and fear intertwined – exhilarating and painful.