O god, Godot

  • Posted on June 2, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I was in Ghent this last weekend, with a concert band. I’d been really looking forward to this trip, though I think now that I had also been seeing it as a marker on the calendar. It was a big thing coming, to be enjoyed, and probably the last big commitment before my surgical date. Unconsciously, it was a curtain to pass through, a last normality almost. I spent the entire weekend with a tension headache that seized my head, neck and back and refused to let go in the face of all medications. Have you ever sat in the middle of a concert band with timpani behind you, pumping out fortissimo on the trumpet? OK, you get the picture! Surprisingly, the focus of playing helped, and I wasn’t in a heap at the end of each gig. My room mate very sensibly observed that I had been through a lot of emotional stuff of late, and suggested that my body was reacting, and very kindly acceded to my request for a bit of a back massage to get me going in the mornings. But I did still bring this terrible and disabling tension head back with me, at midnight, after several very long days.

On the first night I just wanted to drop, but we had a meal booked for the whole party, and it took two and a half hours to be served. We all left before desserts in the end, with great upset with the terrible service. It wasn’t good for my head or emotions, and I wasn’t even drinking beer.

The next day I passed a restaurant called, more appropriately, ‘Allegro Moderato’! Maybe we should have gone there. And then, the ‘Grande Cafe Godot’ … we should have been grateful!

I did churn my thoughts at night while away. Not doubts, but what I should have acknowledged was fear. No, it hasn’t gone away, nor has the headache. But I was taken by surprise, since no-one talks about this stage. I have neither machismo, nor bravado, and nothing with which to brush this aside. Just waiting. Waiting not for permission, agreement, or recognition, but for something I have been offered and something I have chosen. Six weeks, this week; it feels interminable! This is the ‘elective’ bit. Well, the alternative is no better, it just has no event attached to it. I had no choice than to make a choice, and it has been a choice that few would welcome! And certainly one that no non-trans person can understand. That means there are few people to turn to. I have one friend though, who has been through this, and it was a great relief that she voiced it: fear. You are allowed to find and feel fear. I am scared, scared of pain, of being kept away from work, with no firm definition of how long, or of how my healing will go. Some sail through this, most have at least minor issues that linger on, and at every stage I could be feeling quite alone and uncertain of my body. Again, this is what I mean by being human being as a very lonely thing.

So rather than dwell on it right now, I do just want to say, for the record, that just because you have to do something that makes you feel right, doesn’t mean it does’t frighten you half to death. Fear happens. Fear has to be faced, not as a strong enemy, but as a presence. What I must equally not pretend, is that the fear isn’t there. And if this is you, in a similar place, be ready for it. I hope you have a loved one to hold your hand, if not, find at least one person strong enough to listen and simply be there. Again, with one friend, I am lucky.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting – just not for Godot, thank goodness.


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