Laine and I both sat and wrote tonight, separately, not sharing with one another until we were finished. Here are a few words from each of us…mine first and then Laine’s. Happy reading!
It has been two months since I last posted. I almost feel guilty for my lapse in writing. I know at least a handful of you come here on a routine basis searching for an update, so I apologize for my delay. The fact is, top surgery was a personal turning point for me. I am uncertain if Laine agrees or not, as we have only briefly discussed it. For me, top surgery was the point in our lives where transition became only a PART of our lives and no longer our ENTIRE life. People have told us it would happen, but prior to the middle of June, I didn’t believe them. For a little over 13 months, transition ran our world. The hormone adjustments and mood swings, the planning for surgery, the anticipation and completion of not one but TWO surgeries within 90 days, I was certain this would forever be our lives…and I was ok with that. As I have said before…no, I didn’t sign up for it, but I signed up for him, so if transition was going to run our world, I was/am in for the long haul.
Now that surgeries are behind us, and hormones have balanced out, our daily normal is just that…normal. The only difference between our week and yours…one shot on Thursday mornings that takes approximately 1.5 minutes of our lives and then we move on with our week.
I guess I should catch you up on what we have been up to since mid-June. After returning home from San Francisco, Laine experienced swelling on one side of his chest. We found a local surgeon here in Scottsdale who performs gender reassignment surgery (yes, there is a local surgeon here, but the office didn’t take our insurance, hence why we had to go to San Francisco.) and paid out of pocket to have Laine seen, as the swelling was turning into bruising and not going away. Turned out he had a hematoma/seroma and his chest had to be drained via a needle (in office procedure.) I watched this procedure and was surprised how much fluid they had to drain off his left pec. His right nipple also experienced some trouble with healing and he had to get a script for a special topical medication to help aid the process. Now 78 days post-surgery, his chest is healing incredibly well and his scars are beginning to fade out as they should be. You would never even know he experienced these minor complications.
Laine will now stand in front of the bathroom mirror without his shirt on. He will walk around the house with his chest exposed. He will come to bed at night and I can lay against his skin without a t-shirt blocking me from his chest. These are all things that didn’t happen prior to June. Getting to this point was a process, and it was completely worth it.
In July, Laine was asked to speak on a panel for the company he works for, the topic being LGBT Families. We took a quick 36 hour trip to Charlotte, North Carolina where he held the seat of the “T” and spoke about being transgender and how that affects our family both immediate and extended. This panel was filmed live with an audience and was broadcast live via the web to team members all over the country.
In August, the kids started back to school. The youngest started Kindergarten this year, with the others in 1st, 6th and 8th grade. Due to the fact that all kids are now in school from 8-3 each day, I applied and was accepted as a substitute teacher for their school district. I began the school year with the plan to substitute no less than two days a week and hoping to get at least 4 days of work each week. As of the third day of school and forward, my work calendar was filling up with a job every single day. These jobs ranged from Kindergarten to high school, PE to special ed and everything in between. Then last week I got a phone call asking if I would be interested in a long term assignment. Long term can be any assignment over 10 days. I said yes I would be, and I was told there in a kindergarten class at a school 4 minutes from our house, that needs a teacher for the rest of the school year…we are currently only 2 weeks into the year!!
I accepted this position and I start on Friday in my own classroom. Even more exciting is the fact that this assignment sets me up perfectly for the Teacher in Residence program for fall of 2017. My principal is a lead coordinator for the program through the local college and has already told me he will help guide me through and make me a permanent part of the school. Sometimes things seem to just fall in one’s lap, and I am certain this opportunity could not have been more meant to be.
With me going back to work full time, we are yet again establishing a new “normal” routine. 5am alarm clocks, school busses, after school care, dinner that won’t cook itself, and realizing that maintaining the house won’t happen with magic. We are figuring it all out one day at a time and overall the transition from stay at home mom to working mom has been smooth.
In 39 days, the day that Laine and I thought might never get here, will be here. Our wedding day. I am looking forward to this day, now more than ever. With the focus of transition behind us, we can focus on us and being husband and wife. Everything is ready for the big day, except Laine’s attire. He has procrastinated on this part of the planning. (Typical male, must be the testosterone!) He finally has an appointment this weekend to purchase his clothes. Besides for that minor detail, we are ready and waiting. I can’t wait to be his wife and to spend forever loving him, knowing that he is finally in a place in his life in which he finally has days where he just might see himself the way I see him, as the amazing man he is.
It’s as if they never existed. They didn’t belong there. The mental anguish they caused is so clear now. Every day up to June 7, 2016, any view of their existence emotionally paralyzed me and knocked me down…over and over. A mirror, my reflection in a window as passing, a little too snug shirt…my emotional happiness was being compromised every single day and I knew nothing different. Self -hate was my normal. Even switching to men’s clothing couldn’t disguise that feeling of me not liking me. They were my focus and as long as they were there, I couldn’t be. As soon as they left, living my truth began.
78 days ago I had top surgery in San Francisco. Recovery has gone well, even with a minor complication. The phantom feelings they prompted after removal were rare and brief. My chest is not perfect but it is MY chest. It is now reflective of who I am and have always been. And on most days, I don’t mind catching a glimpse of myself in a store window or when passing by a mirror in a store. Feeling whole changes everything. I have no words for that feeling.
Overall, I am happy with how my transition is going at almost 16 months. The bad times…the hard times…they have started to fade but can’t be forgotten. I am finally at a place where I can share some of those bad times and hard times Melanie has eluded to while sharing our journey. Yes, OUR journey. I remain steadfast in my belief that my transition is not just about me and that it impacted everyone in my life who knew me prior to my coming out, as well as those who got onboard due to my transitioning at work after 29 years of working for the same company.
So what about those bad times, those hard times? I finally feel like I can breathe again. For so many months, and almost immediately after taking my first testosterone shot, my emotions and my mental state became so uncertain each day. I did my research and I knew the side effects of taking testosterone. NO, I DID NOT!!! I THOUGHT I knew. All the research or reading in the world couldn’t prepare me for what I was going to be putting my mental state of being through. And everyone in my life went through it with me, even those that didn’t realize it. Many of you kept me moving forward when I didn’t want to move forward. Yes, it got that dark at times. I have had to work hard on how to control my fears, my needs, my anger, my happiness, my sadness…every emotion and feeling. I failed so many times and I am ashamed of those failures and the pain experienced by those I love so dearly and completely. For me, because I can only speak about my experience, testosterone was my best friend and my worst enemy for over a year. Or so I thought. After top surgery, things changed. I have realized testosterone was changing my body, but as that was happening, I was starting to not like me even more. I was becoming even more focused on how THEY were controlling my thoughts, stifling my happiness, making me question my decisions…this was my realization that gender dysphoria AND body dysmorphia are real. Today, I am no longer focused on blaming hormones for my wrongdoings or emotional, mental or physical missteps. I am a researcher. I analyze data. I question. I manage change. I evaluate risk. When it came to choosing testosterone for the rest of my life, I ran into the fear quickly without looking back. Melanie will tell you, this is not how I work. I’m a planner. Would I do it again? Absolutely, and with my experiences I would know that I have to manage my health, all aspects of my health. For me, it has been important to get my blood drawn every 3 months and evaluated for issues requiring my immediate attention and/or adjustments in diet, exercise or testosterone dosage (no change yet and still injecting .5CC every week). And, I also have continued my therapy and will continue as long as it positively contributes to my happiness and well-being and keeps me moving towards the strong, confident man I know I can be.
So what’s ahead? One of the biggest moments in my life is only 39 days away. I will marry my beautiful, supportive and amazing fiancée. I just couldn’t imagine being where I am today without Melanie by my side. I can’t wait to share the rest of my life, my true life, with her forever. I will say it again and always, I’m one lucky MAN!