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Expiration Date: When Swallowing Is No Longer An Option

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The fuse is lit, the snooze is broken, the point of no return is half a mile back, and the expiration date draws nigh. I think more than a few trans people are aware already of what I’m talking about. That point of time, now on the visible horizon and approaching rapidly, where we will lose the ability to function in accordance with our natal genders. It’s a pretty freaky time to be sure, and one that is different for every one of us. Some reach it through slow deterioration, or needful embrace, or even a sudden flash of overwhelming insight and clarity. How does this happen and why is it so different for everyone? I think we need to talk about this. And yes, I did title it like that just to lure you in.

It’s clear that the need for transition is different for everyone in regards to when and how it comes about. Some understand at a very early age and the knowledge wears them down glacially until every option is exhausted. Others understand at an early age and have the courage and conviction to go against everything they were raised to believe about themselves and insist on their identity before their first school bus ride. Others have no idea why they feel different and why they are plagued with physical manifestations of their own inherent wrongness. There are hundreds of variations, but for most of us they all converge on that one point where continuing life means transition no matter what the cost.

My own story is a mixture of the above. I knew young, but worked very hard to make sure to keep that knowledge well below the surface where I couldn’t even see it but for a few terrifying instances when it broke the surface. My goal, if it was coherent enough to be stated in words, was to make it though this life without ever truly acknowledging it or anyone ever knowing. I was really kidding myself with that one, but I went strong for a really long time on it. It wasn’t really until two years ago that my own expiration date appeared over the horizon, making 2011 a really shitty year.

Before that much of my life was filled with manufactured obsessions. Little habits I would take off to focus my mind on anything but my own feelings. As a child, I started collecting comic books and put the whole of my mind into the project; a massive collection that still plagues me terribly every time I have to move. I swapped out every so often to keep it fresh with a new one every year toward the end – book collecting, cooking, obsessive eBay, creating and interring time capsules (there is an art to this), getting every design of funky colorful socks (3 large drawers full), running, and finally blogging.

OK, an aside. I’m not talking about this blog, which I am just a little bit obsessive about, but my old one. When my last old friend moved from the Buffalo area, we set up a multi-author blog to capture all the old ‘glory days’ stories. For me this wound up being over 500 pages of autobiographical material, less the female side of course. At the time I felt like I was revisiting my life and codifying it firmly in my memory, an unconscious attempt to hold on to my created identity. What it really did was allow me to shed the skin of my life by turning poignant personal events in stories. It wasn’t a bad thing as it allowed me to let go of old feelings, grudges, heartaches, fears and whatnot. It is, by the way, still out there. I’m not going to link to it, but if you are for some reason interested, industrious, and very clever, you might find it, but it’s not so easy. I don’t think I used my full name at any time (the male one).

The point is that no matter what we do to stave it off, it appears that we reach a point in our lives where the inevitable simply happens. We run out of energy, mental tricks, avenues to pursue, and the fear of the consequences becomes a shadow of the former bogeyman it was. I think we all know nothing could have changed that time either. My ex often wonders she hadn’t dug so hard, it would have stayed buried. I don’t think so because it was already on its way up when she started. We have both pondered what would have happened if my dad hadn’t gotten sick and passed away. It was already rising though before he felt the first twinge in his gut. Is there anything that could have delayed things more? Anything is possible, but I truly don’t think so. I had already been twisting and turning in my body for a few years, completely unable to get comfortable. It may have taken me a little longer to figure out why, but not much.

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