7.16.2010

Quiet Time and a Bad Haircut

I am starting to be more uneasy around strangers and I feel like I am getting more anti-social as a result. I don't go out to events as much as I am afraid I will get caught in the awkward crossfire between someone who knows me as that guy Marcus and someone who knew me before I began my transition and doesn't know about my new life or my new name....it's happened once and wow it was awkward. Worse than farting in church.

I am reaching that awkward stage I think and I suppose I should have seen it coming; the weird stage when strangers still aren't quite sure about me. I sound like a guy, have a masculine name, but there's still something not quite right.... I'm like the bad haircut or the awkward stage of growing your hair where there's really nothing you can do but hide it under a ball cap. You have to make a decision: have patience and let it grow or get out the clippers and a broom.

There is no fast track to manhood or womanhood for those of you on the same road heading the other direction. Puberty was brutal the first time. It made me self conscious, awkward, shy, tested my confidence, challenged my identity, and made me look like a  newborn moose for a couple years but eventually it all turned out ok. It's weird having to go through puberty again at 35 dealing with the overwhelming need to sleep, trying to get the best zit cream, worrying if people are making fun of you behind your back. It really does make me feel like my identity is being challenged again in fundamental ways. How much does my body influence the way I see myself? How much does the way others see me influence my identity? Which of these influences is stronger? Which of these influences is right? Is my identity independent from my body or the way others see me? Is it all in my head?

Spending time alone isn't a bad thing. I enjoy it. It gives me time to try and answer some of the questions I just asked! I try to make sure my girlfriend knows that how I am feeling has nothing to do with her, that I just need this incubation time, this hibernation period to grow into my new body. To sort out the doubts in my head to organize my thoughts into different patterns. I need some time to learn who I can be, what will now be acceptable and what will not. I need to be able to sort out why I want to change certain behaviours or why I think some of my old behaviours will no longer be acceptable if I am to exist in the world as a man. Can I still be me or is there yet another self-sacrifice in order?

I have been doing a lot of volunteer work for the SPCA lately and enjoy the company of the animals, no questions accusations, odd glances, awkward re-introductions. I have been building a new website for the SPCA and walking shelter dogs after work. I look forward to going over there and taking a long walk with a quiet loving spirit that doesn't judge. It's true that there is so much we can learn from animals if only we could let go of our own egos!

I hope that as time goes by and my hair grows in (literally and figuratively) I will feel more at ease in my body, more at ease around other people. I want to feel like a normal guy, not like I am being looked at sideways or asked questions that are WAY too personal. I just want to be able to walk a dog, feel comfortable in my own skin, and feel at ease enough to participate in conversations with strangers. I just want to be able to interact with the world as me, no questions asked.

This transition is a metamorphosis. I have spent the last two months eating and now it's time to grow a hard outer skin and gestate inside my pupa case until enough time has passed that I can break it open and crawl out a fuzzy moth and fly toward the bright lights.

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