Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Settling into Myself

I wrote a few weeks back about springtime being the time of new beginnings for me. I've been thinking since then about what that means for me, this spring, one year after my universe exploded. It's not the second big bang (or third, or whatever) this time around. But as the new leaves have unfolded and the bees have started cruising around the neighborhood, and the flowers have been blooming and the MacCool household has been sneezing, I've felt a certain subtle shift, or set of shifts.

One shift is about gender. (Oh, I sense the shock. Try to contain yourselves.) When I started accepting & claiming masculinity last year I wondered what exactly that meant, when I'd want to get off the ride, as it were. If I just kept opening the next door, would I transition, in other words? And somehow, over the last few months, that's just been fading for me, and being replaced by the sense that, nope, that's not where I'm heading, at least not until or unless something pretty major changes for me. I've been thinking about this partly because of my good buddy Jess, who's being incredibly brave in sharing his own process in this connection. But also it's related to experiences and people in my non-bloggy life.

One thing I've heard from Jess & others is the sense of profound bodily wrongness. Jess mentioned looking in the mirror and not recognizing himself. And heaven knows I know that feeling. I spent years feeling that way. I was so out of touch I couldn't even picture myself in my head. But I don't feel that way now. There's plenty of things I'd like to change and I'm not trying to deny that there's some real body dysphoria going on at times, but mostly when I see myself, I look like myself. I feel like myself.

My point isn't really about not transitioning, but about settling into this person that I've become. I was trying this morning to explain to FG the feeling I've been having, of walking up the street, say, or buying a quart of milk, and just feeling... like myself. Like just another guy going about the daily business of living. I don't know. Maybe that's how most people always feel? Anyway it's new to me.

Another aspect of this is related to style. When I was trying to be a (good) girl, and yet not go completely bonkers, I developed a style centered on two themes: androgyny and invisibility. Plain jeans, not too tight. Endless black shoes of one boring variety or another. Button-up shirts from the Gap, from the women's side, but again, not too tight. Hair back in a plain ponytail (at the neck, like a boy). Brown wire-rim glasses. Little tweed or velvet blazers. Yep, I think that's it.

And now of course I can buy the clothes and shoes and glasses that I want, and it's slowly dawning on me that I don't have to opt for plain conservatism any more. (LL Cool Joe, I know, I'm a slow learner.) I went shopping with a friend recently and started to wonder, what do I really like, in the most superficial and entertaining of senses, now that I've gotten past the simple point of insisting that I shop on the men's side and not the women's? I think I'm going to have some fun figuring this one out.


CAB said...

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy the settling in stage. I think we all get to a place where we are just who we are and then we get to evolve into whomever we want. ;) Have fun and enjoy the ride.

Dawn on MDI said...

Good for you for finding your own comfort zone. It took me years to find mine... for a long time I morphed according to what others thought I should look like/behave, but eventually, I was able to get comfortable with my own level of butchness and femininity to the point where I am today: Doing carpentry in Carharts, work boots and t-shirt, but with a leopard-print bra underneath.

Because sometimes I like to take myself just a little too seriously. I get wrapped up in image and labels and appearances and presentation and I forget about the things that make me me.

I am butch, yes. I am a woman, yes. For me, the two are not mutually exclusive. For some they are. The only dysphoric thing I encounter in the mirror is when I notice my weight or how the gray now outnumbers the brown sticking out from under my ball cap.

Good for you. Settle in. Just don't get too comfortable. As we age, we learn and grow and change. Some shifting will naturally occur. You can fight it or not, but it will occur. I look forward to reading as you go through this next evolutionary phase.


Jess said...

Leo my buddy,

I am so happy that you ever began this journey and that your universe exploded. It's awesome that you are feeling more comfortable and settled in the person that you are. There's nothing better than being comfortable and secure.

You're awesome. Have fun shopping!

e said...

The great gift of growing up is self-acceptance.
I tried on so many personas in my teens, twenties and thirties that I can't remember who I was. My forties were the best decade yet and now I'm looking forward to my fifties.
Keep being the person you want to be, no matter how you change or redefine yourself.

Anna said...

My dysphoria started with a dramatic weight loss. I was never comfortable with my body - what a shock to discover that I was even less comfortable as I approached a healthy weight. I could buy clothes that fit, and I didn't know for a few months I wore the same shapeless duds I always did. part of learning to be comfortable with myself was learning why I was hiding behind the weight, and exactly what I was afraid of's a process. I'm not quite on the other side yet, but I'm getting there.

Jen said...

I love this post. Congratulations on the process of becoming yourself more and more. It's amazing to just be who you want to be, right? You're awesome.

Janet said...

I think trying to become yourself is like grasping the wind as it is always shifting. At least it does for me - as one ages I think you get more comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. Our 20's are about defining ourselves -- those constraints feel freeing to us as on some level we don't have to think outside the labels we create for ourselves. I am "this" which means "x,y,z" for me. Just enjoy the journey the body you don't like at 25 you are going to desperately want back at 50. (thank goodness I'm not 50). I am so glad you are feeling more comfortable and free to express more parts of your humanity.

Anonymous said...

Feeling comfortable in your own skin is the most settling feeling in the world. As someone else who has gone through a similar journey, I can say that I'm in that same place, where when I look in the mirror, I see me. And I like myself.

Have fun exploring - this is the fun part.

LL Cool Joe said...

How did I miss this? Ha ha. How cool is this getting to a place where you are happy with yourself!

I reached a point where I felt, yes this enough, this as far as I want to go. I do define myself as a transman, and yet have not had surgery, and at one stage felt I couldn't claim that title without it, and then I came to realise that labels are there for us to use, not others.

I wanted to be someone who would make society question gender norms, make people uncomfortable, confused etc. That's the idea.

Also I have no desire to go bald. ;)

Enjoy the clothes shopping mate! Once you get comfortable with who you are, the sky's the limit with clothing.

Kyle said...

It is pretty awesome to feel good and comfortable in the most mundane circumstances. I know for myself, my current feeling of comfort has been a long time coming. And I think it's maybe a slight pause on a longer journey.

I'm happy for you.

Anonymous said...

i absolutely know what you mean about feeling comfortable in your own body, just doing things like buying milk. and i'm so happy that you're getting there. i'm starting to get there, too.

also, your new glasses are hot.