Disconnection, Dissonance, & Otherness

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It has been a long day, to close out a long week.

Not all bad... just... long.

And, honestly, strange. 

At least right at this moment.

I spent the past two days attending the wake and memorial service for my cousin R, who passed away earlier this week.

It is one of the sad ironies of life that we most often only get to spend time with our extended family members on sad occasions such as this. This is particularly so when you genuinely *like* these family members - well, most of them, at least. (More on that later.)

I come from a large family. Both of my parents are the youngest of eight, with a significant gap between themselves and the next oldest sibling. (Actually, my mother is an identical twin, and was born after her twin, so technically *she* is her next oldest sibling, but the gap between them and their next oldest sibling is still substantial.) 

I had 37 first cousins while growing up (sadly reduced to 33 now), which is an unusually large number in my experience. It is made even more so when you consider that: a) two of my mother's sisters never married (they were nuns), b) two of my father's brothers never married (I discussed them in the past), and c) my mother's only brother died while still a child. 

My immediate family, not surprisingly, is closest to my mother's twin's family. (I have written about them as well, last year at Christmas time.) But we, or at least I, have always liked pretty much everyone in our extended clan.

As you can imagine, our family get-togethers are sprawling affairs, and have been for my entire life. My cousin R's services were no exception. 

During the memorial service today, the funeral home director mentioned that *800* - yes, 800 - people attended the wake yesterday. And the funeral procession included over 100 cars by my brother's count. And he is not prone to exaggeration.

As sad as the occasion was - and it was quite sad; R was devoted to his family, and was only 51 years old - it was still wonderful to be able to catch up with people I most often only hear about through the grapevine.

I spent most of my time talking with my cousins K and S, as is usually the case at these events. S is a genuine character. He is the epitome of the gentle giant; at 6'-6" and 300 lbs, he's nearly a foot taller and weighs more than twice what I weigh. 

K, who has a bone-dry sense of humor, came over to the table where I was sitting  with my father, brother, and S. He proceeded to recount the memorable occasion when S and then R gave me a ride on their newly purchased dirt bikes. S was 16, R, was 14, and I was 10. Needless to say, this was NOT a trip vetted with the powers-that-be.

His description of me, less than half S's size even then, trying desperately to keep my scrawny arms wrapped around S's more-than-ample (even then) midsection as he did 180s and popped a seemingly endless series of wheelies to show off for the neighborhood girls had everyone at our table doubled over in laughter. Me most of all. :c) (I still remember K and R having to help me walk around to get my sea legs back after I staggered off S's bike before we dared head back to R's house.)

It was a wonderful way to end what was, by necessity, a sad occasion.

In addition to somber nature of the past few days, I also experienced something else.

I was, needless to say, there in boy mode. My sister is still the only family member to whom I am out, although this was not my plan. As soon as I have my own place again - hopefully in the next few weeks, fingers crossed - I will be able to tell everyone. It simply isn't an option at the moment.

I'm approaching nine months on HRT. The emotional changes, at this stage, are the primary result, and are welcome. For the most part I'm calmer and infinitely happier than I have ever been, in spite of the seemingly ceaseless stress of the past months.

Physical changes are still fairly minimal. I need to wear a sports bra or camisole at all times, but that seems to be the only visible change I have noticed. 

However, I was struck by something: every single relative who came by failed to recognize me at first. 

One or two people I could see; in one instance a cousin hadn't seen me since 1999.

But the rest have seen me at least once in the last year or so, albeit briefly, which made this genuinely odd to experience. My hair is noticeably longer than in the past, but not exceptionally long at the moment, so I'm not sure that's it.

But *something* was clearly different in how I looked.

From time to time I catch brief glimpses of the future when I catch my reflection at the right angle. In fact, it happened tonight as I toweled off from my post-exercise shower. 

I glanced at the mirror after putting on my glasses and was literally taken aback. It was me… but not me as I've ever seen me. It was sort of… future me.

And then, as quickly as she arrived… she vanished.

And I saw him again.

It was as if I had a quick visit from myself in the future to simply say, hang in there; you'll get where you want to be. It just takes time.

Even more disconcerting though, was the… dissonance I felt throughout the past two-plus days.

As I mentioned, I'm in boy mode almost all the time at the moment, by necessity. I simply can't be myself at the moment, living at my parents home, and certainly not at work. I can manage to keep things together - mostly - by keeping myself busy and not thinking too much about my current situation.

But the past two days were different.

I've experienced gender dysphoria before, but never to this degree. It was as if there was static running non-stop the entire time.

Perhaps it was having to wear a shirt and tie both days. I have always loathed shirts and ties, going back to my parochial school days, for the obvious reasons I see it as a reminder that I am still… him. At least on the outside.

And it is taking an increasing effort to deal with. 

Looking at how the women were dressed, and how they acted, and how I had to dress and act… it was getting very hard to keep it straight at times.

My friend F recently remarked that he has noticed definite signs of this. The way I carry myself, the gestures I make, the way I speak (what I say, not how I sound - I still sound like him, as it is impossible to do any voice work when my parents NEVER go anywhere)… all are evolving.

I'm simply finally letting myself do what feels natural. But there are days like the past few days, where, for whatever reason, that feels as if it isn't nearly enough right now, and that I need more… but know I can't have it. Not yet.

And I'm aware of  that, and why it is so… but that doesn't make dealing with the dissonance any easier. 

As I've mentioned in the past, the ratio of attraction to jealousy when I look at women is becoming increasingly skewed towards nearly all jealousy.

Am I still attracted to women? 

Physically? I'm honestly not sure. I *think* so.. but I'm not sure. That line between jealousy and attraction is getting harder to locate.

Emotionally, however? Absolutely. 

I had a lengthy, emotional  conversation with D, my cousin R's wife. He is, sad to say, not one of my favorites. I will leave it at that. 

D, on the other hand, is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. We've become quite close the past few months through, ironically enough, Facebook. Go figure.

My mother, who absolutely adores D, was struck by the intensity of our conversation. She ask me point blank - twice - what we were talking about, and was more than a little put out when I told her it was private. And suffice it to say that it was quite personal.

I like - no, I LOVE - being able to connect emotionally with someone like that. No, not just someone - but with another woman. Even if I don't look like who I am yet.

And that is where the disconnect comes in.

I want that ALL the time. 


And I can't have it.

Not yet.

And dealing with that, especially during occasions such as this weekend, is a challenge. And it is becoming more of a challenge every day.

I'll make it.

But I wish it could happen now.

I'm exhausted as I write this. I've had barely four hours sleep total the past two nights.

I feel as if this is typing itself. It's distinctly weird.

I think it might be the first time I'm genuinely MYSELF. 


My guard is down… I'm exhausted… I'm in the midst of an emotional, intense few days...

It's… nice. I LIKE feeling vulnerable. And open. I don't have to fight it for the moment.

Even when I feel I do.

LIke the last few days.

I can't be myself then.


I will be.


Not soon enough.

But someday.

It will have to do for now.


I apologize if this doesn't make sense.

Hope it helps someone at some point, though.

That will make it worthwhile to fight off sleep long enough to finish this and post it.

So… enjoy.


This is the song I probably should have used for my last post. But it applies as well to this one. It's Rod Stewart, who, for all of his faults, remains one of the best interpretive singers any writer - in this case, Bob Dylan - could hope for.

Yes... what he said. :c)


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