dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I'd just finished having my vitals collected when he walked into the room with me. I was a bit startled: I expected to have to wait a couple minutes. Upon greeting me, he paused to read my shirt. After a laugh, he offered a compliment. That it seemed unfamiliar surprised me: surely I was not the only one of his patients who had one. Perhaps they hadn't worn theirs to see him. For me, it fit the occasion.

I'd dropped 17 pounds since the last quarterly weigh-in, 12 more since the one before that. Little wonder, then, that the first several skirts I paired with that shirt wanted to fall off my hips. As the average day involves a dress, I had no inkling until that moment. Still, I managed to make up something with the clothing I had on-hand, and biked to his office just after the morning rain had passed. We chatted about my hormone levels, as we did exactly two years earlier.

I asked whether my estrogen level was acceptable. This day, though, there were no adjustments to be made. "I'd prescribe more if you weren't seeing the feminization you wanted, but I don't think that's an issue," he said, looking me over.

I blushed.

Two years is a long time. On that day, I suffered sticker shock (literally) at the price of the first round of estrogen patches. After applying the first, though, I slipped out of the coffee shop I was sitting in to work, and in what has become a tradition, took a picture of myself in front of the mural outside. Its caption: "Say hi to Daria"
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
The bike ride felt like a cop-out. 5 flat miles where I hadn't really pushed myself, punctuated by a delicious lunch with a friend. I'd locked up the bike moments earlier, fully intending to ride further before the day was out, and collected my stuff.

Upon opening the door, a blast of too-hot air greeted me. I dropped my stuff, and verging on losing my lunch, stepped back outside. On the third try in the door, I was finally able to stay inside with just one more retch. I desperately felt the need to be free of what covered my head, but at the same time, I wasn't okay with what removing it would share about me.

I'd looked into it when the problem first happened. I had to assume my changing body chemistry had triggered it. The other option, given what I found, was pregnancy. The mere concept that I'd conceived seemed like a cruel joke. But here I was, for the second day in a row debilitated by a sudden rise in temperature. I pushed thoughts of what it meant for my future out of my head as quickly as they arose.

I hate myself for my vanity. I've not always respected my body, even if at this point in life I have finally learned its value. But the shortcomings of what I do have, perhaps superficial, are still hard to face consistently. I can tell you I've resolved to address it. But the truth is I will deal the best I can having no other choice, and that dealing will unfortunately offer you countless opportunities to see me falter for the foreseeable future.

Be gentle. Please.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I hadn't seen her for two weeks, but we sat there shredding my life. That was the point. In the 14 months since I'd started seeing her, though, we deemed my life stable enough for me to drop to fortnightly, and despite being after a long eventful week, we still had time to delve into ongoing life issues.

She asked what I got from the moments where I got argumentative. Did I need to be right? What was it? We wandered about a bit. Finally, I paused before exclaiming what was surely the answer. It came back to resentment of authority, of having been told that things I could prove were wrong were how it was, and that had flavored me. "You have no authority figures in your life now, though," she said. "And I'm sure you're not trying to make people feel how you felt." I conceded all of that. "What would it be like if you just had someone telling you anything you suggested was wrong, and then devaluing you?" I knew she was exaggerating for a point, and at the same time, I pointed out I knew: it would be like college. Regardless, there was no reason I'd want anyone, especially a friend, to feel that way either.

We elaborated a new set of 3 month goals for me, ambitious but not impossible, and I headed out for tea. As I drank, I reflected on how far I'd come; We weren't focusing on issues of being more fully myself at all. Instead, we had focused almost entirely at simply being a better version of who I already am. How far we'd come in a year... HEY!

And then I remembered. I checked the calendar again. A year ago, 12 months to the day, after visiting my doctor, I got a prescription filled, applied a patch to myself, and then walked out of the coffeeshop I was in that day for a picture. I stood against a mural on the wall a couple feet from where I had been a moment before, a mural I had watched the renowned artist place when he randomly showed up nearly 5 years earlier. I'd spent that weekend reflecting on and confirming to myself the answer to a question, and so after carefully composing a picture, I shared it with a short message sharing that answer: "Say hi to Daria."
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
It's funny how things you think you have conquered can rear their ugly head and bring you back down to earth.

It had been to that point an excellent day, one that I'd spent a good bit of the afternoon of wandering around inside a warehouse-like space with friends enjoying freshly-shucked oysters with a modicum of beers brewed there. After slipping off the coat and blazer I'd worn as a buffer against the cold during the expected wait to get in, I scooted about collecting my salty seafood bounty in a simple black dress with purple tights visually separating my black boots. In that moment, I felt at home in my own body beyond any point that I had before in my life, possibly ever.

We returned to the center of town, and as I changed clothes, I discovered my trans-dermal patch had come partly undone. I readjusted it and mentally noted that I probably needed to start the next one upon returning home, a day early. Sadly, I then remembered that I was running low, and perhaps should order more. My usual source, though, changed their procedure, and I found myself stuck, and panicking.

The shipping overhead time is upward of 2 weeks. I had 3 weekly patches left. I could go visit a local pharmacy, but being fairly certain Gwen's insurance would be of no help, the 500% increase in cost if I did so made me blanch. How painful would it be if I was suddenly forced to pay the greater cost of the required hormones unaided? It wasn't a great time for it, but I could do it. The biggest issue, though, was it reminded me exactly how fleeting the body I had was: one which needed to be coaxed and prodded toward the form I wanted to see in the mirror, and even then, one which due to costs I had barely scratched the surface of reshaping.

In some states, health insurance is mandated to include the coverage I need. For me, I was on my own. I wasn't even sure a small company could buy the coverage I needed, period. I'd found ways to patch together a solution so far, and I had breathing room, if only a little, to keep things on track to at least that extent. Despite feeling like I was swimming upstream, I resolved to let it go at least for the night. It was Saturday, after business hours, and stressing would solve nothing. But it was hard to own my progress in the face of being reminded what I had to endure to keep it, let alone advance it.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
As I neared the top of my climb, I tried to evaluate. Did I feel more winded? Weaker? Was anything different about this day's ride than the one two days previous? The doctor warned me that my treatment may well reduce my physical strength over time, so I analyzed. I overanalyzed. But any change since the last time was statistical noise, at best.

But other things had changed. I'd run the gamut of moods. A couple days earlier, pouring samples of cider for a few hundred people for an evening, I had a smile that must have seemed plastered to my face. It was real, though. I was happy to be there, happy to chat with people, happy to be doing what I was doing. Days before, I'd felt the urge to cry for no discernible reason. And there were other things, things I'd still not managed to fully wrap my head around. Things if you'd asked me even a year ago about I would have laughed at you for.

Probably not all the changes were directly related to the hormonal changes, but they hadn't come gradually for me; It was a none to all transition. More jarring for me, perhaps, than for those who more gradually started producing those hormones, and hopefully eventually had a somewhat gradual decline in those hormones. How much, though, did we, collectively, make fun of people for their failures to deal with their changing physiology while on those ramps? I'd surely been guilty of it. Empathy is easier than sympathy, I suppose. Or maybe, ironically, my own changes had made me more sympathetic.

Step 81: That someone's problem is incomprehensible to you does not lessen the impact of it. Practice sympathy, even if practice does not make perfect.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
As a software developer, the patch is very much a part of my life. When the original corpus of the work is basically what you want, or at least a starting point, you apply a patch to fix a problem or add missing functionality.

This metaphor fits so well, when you consider that making changes in your life never involves throwing out the whole; They involve small things, improvements to who you already are. It's particularly apt, though, when those changes involve actually physically applying a patch to yourself. You'll never be perfect. You'll probably have to apply patches forever.

Step 26: Realize that nothing is perfect, and the moving toward the change you want will require continued effort, even if it never quite gets you there.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
"Do you feel any different?" he wondered. I had pondered it already. Did I feel any different? Did I expect to? Do you remember which day you got old? Me either. Every day feels like the one before. Defining points for change tend to be external, not ones where you've noticed your internal change. At least, at the level of days, it's hard to pick one where you can say you're completely different from yesterday.

"No", I replied. "Pretty much the same as last week. And I'm not sure there will come a day where I can say I do, any more than I can tell you when I got old."

Step 25: Have realistic expectations. There's no point in setting yourself up for disappointment.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
It's far too easy to live a life of self-doubt. "What if I'm wrong". "What if I change my mind". "What if..."

My physical reality is the one which has evolved over the course of my life. I have no tattoos or even piercings. I don't wear glasses (tho I probably should). The extent to which I have "remodeled" is basically limited to the bone in my hand which is currently healing. That's it.

The problem with this is that what's held back any of this is self-doubt. I have a desire to express who I am, but what if I am wrong about who I am? Perhaps reaching the point where I realize, at 40, that I have been right all along, is late, but I'm still alive, so it's not too late, right?

Step 16: stop doubting yourself and just be the person you are.


dariaphoebe: (Default)

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