Last Friday evening I spent a lovely time with Laura Newman, whose new book A Love Less Ordinary will very soon be published with Bramley Press. It was the first time we met, after numerous emails getting the book arranged, designed and processed, and was a wonderful getting-to-know. But perhaps what I shall remember most is that once more, someone who didn’t begin this journey with me, who sees it from the outside, sees someone very positive and very happy, who has turned their life around in what is really a very short time. For me, it has been intense at times, as scary as a narrow bridge over a canyon, without the other side in sight. And it seems like ages. It was very affirming to meet Laura, and I am looking forward to meeting her and Nicci before too long.
Yesterday I went for my monthly back-rescue. Deep tissue massage includes elbows! It isn’t fun exactly, and I probably undid a lot of good by playing the trumpet all afternoon and evening. I can’t remember how many years I’ve been going, but it is a special relationship when you repeatedly allow someone to do that to you – and still feel grateful! It is also the one place where I have taken my changes, to be seen and talked over, and found complete acceptance as I’ve explained myself a little more each time. Of course, as so often, I’m not the only trans person she has known, but I could also have been met with a certain distance and caution, and I wasn’t. The reason I mention yesterday is that somehow we just fell into talking as two women together, and I no longer felt ‘trans’.
It’s been like that recently – falling onto conversation as a woman with another woman, almost as if they haven’t noticed, or if they do it counts for nothing. And I realised, as I joined the orchestra later for the rest of the day, that this was another first, in playing for them as a woman. It’s an ad hoc orchestra, and many people do know me, but not all. By now, when these firsts happen, I don’t really think about it, because it is actually quite difficult to remember how I used to be. It is so far removed, that the nice man on the trumpet is like someone else I vaguely used to remember. I remember concerts I played, because it was me alright, and it was fun, but it’s the me bit, not the presentation of self, that I recall. All sorts of people I don’t know came up to me afterwards to complement my playing, so I know that being the slightly-different-looking woman simply doesn’t get in the way any more.
So in a way this is a point of arrival, like when you are on board and the ship is under way. There is a separation, an excitement, all the big efforts to get here now taken over by a vessel with a purpose and a known destination.
And all this in the same weekend as I prepared finally to leave the person I have loved most for so very long, and still do. So why have I titled this blog ‘Happiness’?
All these touches of knowing self, of being recognised at last being as I should always have been, of a sense of the deepest integrity, of falling completely into place, leave me feeling more happy with myself, in my deepest sense of self, than I have ever been my whole life. It is very hard to express, or find adequate words, because unless you have been there, it’s as if the words don’t exist. It is a happiness so powerful that nothing is strong enough to put me back anywhere else. I face years of frustration getting my body properly adjusted, and every day it feels more and more inappropriate in certain respects. As my breasts begin to develop it feels like the restoration of a missing part of me. Like when a valuable jar has stood for many years and been admired, then finally the original lid turns up and is reunited.
This is just so completely right.
Losing love simply tears me apart, but at the same time I know this happiness. Such an irony; back to the paradoxes in many of my blog posts. But how can I explain?
I wanted to write this for all those trans* people in a similar position, for whom it is so incredibly hard to arrive at self because of the associated loss. For all those people who, unlike Nicci with her Laura and their love less ordinary, must lose love, lose family, and go alone. I want to say that the happiness of finding your self, maybe finding your soul, really does outweigh all else, and that it is yours, if you want it. Nothing in this world is worth hanging onto if it keeps you from this kind of happiness, and you will find the resources to see you through the worst of the loss, the most difficult of times, the feelings of distrust or hatred from a few, and the insecurity of a place you’ve never been before. You will find true friends, you will find acceptance and understanding, and you can hope, with me, that you will find love that is as deep and as shared and as committed as you will ever need.
And in case anyone accuses you of selfishness, look back on my earlier musings: Selfish. Self(ish). Self.