Sunday, September 2, 2012

Twenty Six: It's Getting Better

For the past few years, I've written posts on my birthday as a way to see where I've been and where I'm going. This blog, as a whole, accomplishes that purpose, but the birthday posts are meant more as "state of the union"esque than the other posts I do about more specific points.

The problem I'm encountering is that what I write is heavily, heavily dependent upon how I feel at that moment. I have two paragraphs of a post about how this past year has been "the best year of my life" by virtue of how not terrible it was compared to all that proceeded it. But, at various points over the past few days, I've felt enraged, intensely overwhelmed, disappointed, ashamed, suicidal (my go to coping mechanism), unhappy, despairing, unlovable, undesirable, hideous, pretty, excited, connected, alienated, the list goes on. Certainly, there's a significant fluctuation of human emotions in the standard human experience, but it feels odd to me to feel suicidal one night, fantasizing about guns and leaps, and to feel ok (with a bit of anxiety) now.

So how do I sum up the past year and assess the future one, when the present is so in flux? When I write the sentences, the paragraphs get away from me. So the only way I think I can get through this is to bullet point this mofo.

Positives over the Past Year

-Met new cohort, many of whom with potential (if quixotic) for platonic intimacy
-Joined Horde Facebook group as outlet for intellectual and (to a lesser extent) emotional energy; another source of new relationships
-Began counseling and received significantly positive appraisal of my performance to the point where I, for the first time in my life, feel comfortable owning some degree of my facility with the job
-Began doing Trans 101 sessions in earnest, becoming more confident in presentation skills and learning not just to own my ability to inform and engage but to enjoy it [this and the above are *monumental,* and feeling like I do useful things well has done truly amazing things for my sense of self]
-Formed friendships with a handful of new people outside the program
-Experimented with living alone, but then made the very smart decision to get roommates which has turned out to be quite good for me
-Had two sexual-ish experiences with women as a lesbian (as opposed to pre-transition me) to muted success, but they both seemed to confirm that I can, at least, be attractive/desirable to the people I'm trying to attract
-Planned, prepared, and underwent SRS largely on my own, which has thus far proven quite successful
-Improved relationship with mother
-Allowed self to distance from father
-Diminished suicidality compared to post S/other years
-Continued to gain new insights via therapy
-Experienced periods of emotional buoyancy where dips into depression invariably shifted back to relatively positive frames of mind (an inversion of the previous norm)
-Further internalized positive sense of self re: being Juliet

Negatives over Past Year (carrying into the next)

-Significant barriers to intimacy remain, and although there is potential I remain quite guarded, isolated and dissatisfied emotionally with all relationships in my life
-Persistent alienation with no emotional outlets that feel adequate
-Departure of two friends (arguably more) who had very positive impacts upon me and had potential for future growth
-Suicidality still go-to coping mechanism in stressful situations
-Despite active engagement via online dating, very limited success romantically with no promise of improvement
-Still quite poor eating/exercising habits
-Procrastination paralysis and omnipresent feeling of failure significantly related to pre-dissertation research
-Realization that demographics of Knoxville are significantly limiting while simultaneously resigning self to stay in program for an extra year to reduce course load
-Continued disillusionment with local progressive activism (specifically organizational/adult)
-Continued if not exacerbated bitterness towards cis LGB community regarding trans issues
-Continued recurrent dysphoria regarding body, voice, facial hair, breast size, etc. resulting in depression, intense self-hatred, hopelessness regarding improvement/attractiveness, terror of how others perceive my gender
-Spent significant amounts of money on electrolysis with poor results
-Persistent, omnipresent anxiety

Goals for Next Year
-Don't push self to do All The Things before recovery is finished
-Find some social outlet outside of cohort; possibly queer discussion group for graduate students?
-Focus upon strengthening areas that will be part of long term career plan while not fretting so much about the rest
-Find emotional outlet via reading more
-Possibly establish exercise routine after recovery
-Try to be easier on expectations for self and, as a result, find more manageable expectations for others
-Continue to embrace realization that productivity leads to better mental health and procrastination leads to needless stress
-Continue to be more and more ok with being single
-Work on trusting other people/being more vulnerable (BUT HOW?!)

A few final observations:

All told, this past year's seen a lot of positive changes. Most of the negatives are problems that I've struggled with for my entire adult life, and although they're still dominant (I am certainly not "happy" and still far from "content") they're no longer the only game in town. On the whole, that makes last year a pretty good year. I'm getting better. I still have a very long way to go to even feel "ok" most of the time, but I am much better in comparison to the past. Thanks to all of you for helping to further that growth, in large and small ways. Here's hoping my twenty seventh birthday will bring even more.

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