Discover more from TullipR - Detrans Man
Navigating through the rubble of recovery
Swaying side to side, I’ve finally conceded that it’s time to go to bed. In the blur of my tired eyes, a pixelated clock signals it’s about to hit 2:50 a.m. The day’s been quite a long one, I’m exhausted and have been kept awake by both my mind and body. Pains of the past I’d rather not be reminded of, but are forced through via a body that has certainly not forgotten. Pain aside, the anguish is enough to keep me awake.
No matter, perhaps tomorrow will be a better day.
Slamming ungracefully onto the double bed, as is routine, both BB and Harley come for a bedtime cuddle, making it difficult not to feel at least joyous by their presence. I’m tired enough that I’ll drift off in seconds. I hope I don’t dream tonight.
Laying on my right side, I can’t hear a thing as I’m completely deaf in that ear, not even the buzzing of multiple alarms set on my phone. Barely half awake, I’m growing increasingly aware that the back of my head is cold and damp as if I’d just jumped out of a pool. Just slightly, I lift my head to swap out the pillow for a fresher one next to me. The heaviness of the pillow is made apparent when I throw it down the side of my bed, weighted like a sponge absorbing water. The night sweats come and go, it doesn’t matter if I stop taking hormones, or take hormones.
A furry glove has been gently prodding my half-awake face for the last twenty minutes. He’s growing impatient, it’s way past breakfast time. With a soothing and loud purr, the gentle taps on my face end, as Harley ever so slightly unsheathes his claws, probing my face with tiny needles. Now I’m fully awake.
The discomfort that started at the back of my wet head, from sweating all through the night, is complimented by the sensation that my spine was crushed. I’m in agony, the back pain started about three months after surgery. Perhaps it’s related? Perhaps not, it doesn’t matter at this point.
As if automated, I begin shedding the pillowcases and duvet covers in preparation to be washed. Harley’s head is bunting my lower back, as he reminds me of my duty to feed him. After doing so, I pluck a fresh towel, throw it over the glass barrier, and turn on the shower. Feeling quite nauseous, it was only the cats that had breakfast, I simply can’t in the morning. The saliva that’s lining my mouth is signalling to me that I probably will throw up. Starring down the toilet bowl, I take deep breaths, doing what I can to prevent being sick with a dry throat. It’s like my body is reacting to being poisoned, and it’s doing what it can to expel it.
Stepping into the shower, I begin scrubbing my face. My fingertips scan over patches of facial hair, beneath the lip, nose, and some on the chin and cheek, as if I was reading a brail message encoded on my face. It’s been a few days since I’ve shaved those random areas, which got worse when I took testosterone in 2022. The sheer volume of facial hair removal sessions, electrolysis and laser, means that it won’t grow back properly, at least not for now. Turning off the shower, I wrap the towel around my body, hiding the breasts and lack of male genitalia as I walk back towards my room. Navigating disorganised drawers, I catch a glimpse of my naked body from the large cupboard mirror. It’s curvy in a way that it shouldn’t be, and not quite in proportion either, like a crushed hourglass. My eyes scan downwards, and as soon as they meet my lower torso, the examination stops. It’s too early in the morning to think about this shit.
In the kitchen, I’ve carved out a little office space, where I’ve worked solidly at home for the last three years. Lockdown was a nightmare, I know, but not for me. I get so much more done working in my own space, away from the noise and bright lights of the office. After an hour of going through my morning work routine, I’m pulled out of focus by a sharp sting, which normally happens after sitting down for an hour or so. It’s my pelvic region. It’s worse than usual, some days are better than others, but today is one of the bad ones.
Normally the warmth of the shower in the morning, is enough to relax the urethral passage, making using the toilet a little bit easier, but again, not today. I’ve been sitting on the toilet for about five minutes, and nothing is coming out, though not for the lack of trying. I begin psyching myself up, almost preparing the muscles to open, knowing that the final push will sting a bit.
A dribble begins. Okay, we’re in business. Do the pelvic exercises like the nurse told you and relax your bottom half, whilst slowly breathing outwards. The tiny stream slightly increases in velocity, allowing for a short-lived burst to emerge, before turning itself off like a tap. Inpatient at the sudden stoppage, I forcibly press the muscles trying to squeeze out the final drops, but that too isn’t enough. It still hasn’t stopped though, it’s just coming slowly. Again, as I was taught, I began rocking back and forth, side to side, attempting to empty any lingering urine. I’m confident enough to stand up, whilst holding some toilet tissue on the area, knowing more dribble will occur.
Upon returning to my desk, only thirty minutes pass before the sensation of a full bladder hits me again, and I go back and repeat the routine. By mid-day, I’ve done this several times, and no matter how careful I am, the dribble never seems to end and my underwear needs changing already.
Finally, the workday is over, but I still haven’t eaten. Instead, I’ve been drinking water and coffee all day, it’s the only thing I can keep down without bringing it back up. Far too tired to even think about cooking, I’ll go have a nap and see where it takes me. Like a magnet, I’m pulled towards my bed and collapse in tiredness. I’m probably going to ruin my sleeping pattern if I don’t set an alarm, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not going anywhere and I’ve got nowhere to be.
The three-hour nap I’ve just stormed through is brought to another sweaty end. Though it had nothing to do with night sweats this time, but the terrors that come with dreaming. Can I call it dreaming? They’re not quite nightmares, though they’re far from pleasant, I don’t think I’ve ever had a nice dream in my life, at least one I can remember anyway. The setting is always the same. A house that looks like it’s about to be condemned, water is leaking from the ceilings, and the wood slats on the windows are hanging off broken hinges, searching for cats and finding corpses.
That dream’s the very least distressing, there are about half a dozen that play on repeat. Some are graphic, some aren’t, and some have very clear symbology. But others are utterly confusing, such as the dream where I’m just screaming at myself not to go, but the screams are aching my throat as no matter how hard I press to create a sound, it’s muted, and the person I’m screaming at is myself during transition.
Around 7:00 p.m., a welcome needle mitten saves me from the chain of dreams. I’m not annoyed at him this time, I’m grateful for the reminder, that the dream was a dream, and nothing more.
More alert now, my hand searches down my body on its own accord. The long muted sex drive, dampened by years of SSRi’s, hormones and surgery flickers like a star, but it’s still there, it’s just dim. Not being able to do anything without lubricants, I begin thinking about searching out a fresh tube, but by the time I’ve got up, the moments passed, only to be swapped for a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration. Standing to leave the bed, I suddenly remember my reality. Even the disturbing dreams were better than what I’ve just awoken to.
Fuck this, I need a cig. Should have given up ages ago, but what does it matter now, really? What health, what future? What am I preserving myself for? Listen, I’m not about to roll over and die or give up, I just see the issues stacking up, getting worse as I get older, more complicated. Back inside the house, it’s now approaching 8:00 p.m. Every game I try to play, or any movie or TV show I begin to watch doesn’t last more than a few minutes, before becoming bored and frustrated. Another cigarette perhaps? Fuck it, why not? I’m not doing anything else.
Damn it. Why does everything feel so unnecessarily difficult again? I just want to pack this up and forget about it, but I can’t. I’m swaying side to side in the hopes that motion will take me forward, but I’m stuck right here, with these thoughts. What am I waking up for?
My mind’s running away from me again, I don’t feel any satisfaction from the recently inhaled smoke. Perhaps an evening walk will do it? Not far, but enough to maybe tire myself out. Let’s go. It’s dark enough that I can get away with a baggy hoody, no need to bind or anything like that. The chest growth is quite apparent, especially with clothes my size, which is why I opt for two or three sizes bigger.
There’s a great deal of beauty in the world, and I like being part of it. Walking through forests, hearing the crashes of waves on long, empty Northumbrian beaches. But I can’t go far or do as I used to. Exercise generally is out of the question, it angers my scar area into a red rage of inflammation. Wherever I go, I have to think about the limitations, that really, no one my age who was healthy, should ever be thinking about. The level of medical care required to sustain my ongoing issues is nothing short of geriatric. All the physical issues aside, they all pale in comparison to the angst, betrayal and grief I hold for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit and wallow in misery all day every day, that’s boring and tiring. Trans-age is valid because I feel a thousand fucking years old.
Daylight hours are becoming noticeably shorter at this time of year. Just a few weeks ago, going out at precisely the same time would be met with beaming sunshine, but now it’s more or less dark. I’m not straying too far, knowing if I push it more than a couple of miles I’ll be paying for it for days.
Less than a quarter of a mile away from home, I’m walking down a familiar long path, which seemingly changes with the seasons. Now it was starting to be littered with recently discarded leaves, carpeting the path in a slippery-like surface. I’m almost holding my arms out like I’m walking a tightrope, as the grip on my trainers is making the lack of friction even more severe.
Navigating the minefield of slippery leaves, I’ve neglected my surroundings, something I normally never do. With a natural disposition of being hyper-aware, I’m normally quite observant of others, but not this evening. I’ve arrived at a point where I can’t just turn around without making it look that way. The group of young lads, probably in their late teens or early twenties are partially blocking the pathway ahead of me. One is on a BMX bike, swaying it back and forth between his legs. The cover of darkness is betrayed by a freshly changed bulb in the street light, which is emitting an almost day-like level of light around the group. Their conversation has stopped dead in the water as I approach.
The ear-over headphones I’m wearing aren’t playing any music. As soon as I realised the group was present, I feigned changing tracks, but instead paused to listen, just in case. They’re silent, they say nothing as I pass by, spotlighted by the streetlight. A small sense of relief hits me before I hear:
“Faggot.” Did I hear that right? Don’t look. Look ahead, pretend you’re listening to music. Several slow-motion paces later, my heart feels like it’s beating in my head, the pulse is strong as if the headphones are playing a heavy bass track. Are they following? I raise my eye to the corner, to not turn my head to see if the shadows of the streetlight have moved. They haven’t. Keep walking.
Now I feel like a coward, it’s almost like being back at school, with the other guys knowing I can’t do anything about their insults and put-downs. But I’m a grown man in his 30’s, who should be able to handle himself, it’s disarming, emasculating and annoying. I’ll not be walking that way for a while.
Home now, the adrenaline rush is showing signs of receding. It’s not every day that happens, but it’s happening more than I anticipated. Especially workmen in white vans, and they’re always in threes. Ever notice that? Anyway, piercings and earrings don’t help, but I’ll take the risk, I like the look. Fuck them. Suddenly, I’ve remembered what I ran away from, to begin with, how men especially treat those they see as soft easy targets. Another cigarette is lined on my lips, loaded and ready to damage my health. The fourth one in less than two hours. Fuck it, what does it matter? No wait, I’ve been down this line of thought already, just smoke the damn thing already.
A sharp pain comes out of nowhere. Scrunching my face in discomfort and breathing through the ache, I concluded that it was most certainly an injury sustained from trying not to slip and walking faster after the earlier incident. Man, it feels like something is dislodged inside, it’s not, it just feels that way. So I go to the bathroom and use the topical cream, allowing me to ‘inspect myself’. It’s like it’s itching, but probably the early signs of inflammation. The only way to get some relief is to lay flat, but I’m not tired or ready for bed yet.
The temptation to mindlessly scroll on social media hasn’t quite left me, but I’m trying. Having recently removed the apps from my phone, I’ve come to realise it was just another distraction. There’s no healing to be had listening to narratives about how mutilated you are, ruined even, or worse; some sort of cartoonish demon that is responsible for the collapse of society. I’m tired. It’s all so exhausting. And I don’t need it. I live with the reminders and will do so until the day I die.
By around 11:00 pm, I still couldn’t focus, so I began chatting to others like me, others who went through transition, some happy in it, some not. Those the most harmed by this, who are resigned to ruin and regret; I’d never dream of lying to them, to tell them it’ll get better. It won’t, this is forever. Our challenge is not temporary, it’s permanent, and that permeance was lost on us in the haze of transition.
The grief of those around me reminds me of my own. It gets worse the younger they are, those few, yet vital years spent as an adult made a hell of a difference. No wonder some of them return to their trans identity. We never dreamed we would end up here, but here we are. We have traded a promise of a life and community, for what we had before; loss and confusion. The fear of ‘going back’ is aligned to this thought, because what we’re going back to are problems we never faced to begin with.
In some ways, we were always ruined, even before we manifested that onto our bodies. So, what now? Would you like a pep talk? Do you want to reassure me that it’s difficult, but it’ll get better? Nah, you don’t want that, and I don’t want to hear you make promises you can’t keep, Let’s do something else instead. Let’s be realistic.
From the rubble of ruin, I’m doing the only thing that I can, and slowly rebuilding my life through recovery. After all, there’s still blood in my body, air in my lungs, and a fury within my heart that burns bright. I’m far from defeated, but I am tired.
The digital clock is alerting me once more, that it’s nearly 3:00 a.m. I should get to bed.
Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day.