After Birth

Book One: Into the World

From Journeys and Transitions

by Melanie

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Chapter 104

Anti-Déjà Vu

December 10, 2005

Saturday night.

We are watching the second installment of “The Triangle,” a Sci-Fi channel original three-part mini-series, having seen the first part on our DVR yesterday.  In it, distortions in space-time cause the key players to experience lucid moments of alternate realities in which significant aspects of their lives have been changed.  One character finds he has a second son that he doesn’t remember.  Just when he adjusts to this, the kid vanishes and his wife says the boy never existed.

Such juxtapositions are part and parcel of the post FFS world.  Throughout the day, Teresa and I have been discussing the experience of trying to make one’s past congruent with the person inside.  The problem is that our entire history and memory of events is based on actions and interaction growing from how we looked and how we were expected to behave.

If, as children, we had looked like young versions of who we have now become, we would have been treated differently, been given opportunities we never had, denied opportunities made available to us, done and not done some things altogether, and at the very least expressed ourselves in a manner wholly unlike the affectations we ultimately developed.

After FFS, when thinking about one’s life up to and including the day before surgery, nothing seems to fit with the person you now see in the mirror – now feel yourself to be.  In fact, because you were always this person inside, but simply never expressed it to yourself or to others.  Now that you really feel that person to be reflected externally, the fit is so perfect that you make all value judgments based on that seamless combination.

When you consider your past, you find holes where certain experiences should have been.  And though you can imagine them, you strangely find that those imaginings seem more real to you now that the actual events that really occurred yet are incongruent with who you would have been, based on who you are now.

A complex thought, to be sure.  But it gets worse.  In addition to the holes, virtually the entire rest of your previous existence feels like a fabrication, a fantasy, a make-believe world that you find vaguely disturbing.  And so, you find yourself disassociated from your own history, living a life that legitimately spans only the time since your surgery – almost 8 weeks for Teresa and just over four days for me.

The question then becomes, quite simply, what to do about it.

Fortunately for Teresa and me, we can go through this together and at essentially the same time.  So it is two heads on the problem, and mutual support with a wholly empathetic partner.

The first approach we devised is the notion of filling the holes in our past with new events we set up for today.  For example, Teresa has often said I look something like Barbara Feldon (Agent 99 on the old “Get Smart” television series).

I used to watch Get Smart faithfully as a child, every Saturday night.  I loved the humor and was really into the spy genre, James Bond, Man From U.N.C.L.E., and all that.  If I had been born externally as I am now, and allowed to develop my personality characteristics based on my true self, I still would have loved spy stories, Get Smart and the humor therein.  But I would have expressed my joy and even watched the program differently.

For example, I would have probably had one or more girlfriends over for a slumber party sleep-over and watched the program with them.  We would have lain on sprawled out on our tummies, elbows on the floor, holding our chins in our hands, eating popcorn from a bowl in front of us, laughing at Agent 86, joking, having a popcorn fight.  And those would have been the memories I’d forever associated with that program and that period of my life.

It all seems so real to write of it, but, of course, it never happened that way.  I always watched the program alone, except for one time with my childhood friend, Steve, when our parents (who went to school together) had gotten together for a visit over at his place.  In fact, I only specifically remember that viewing of the show because I had somebody to watch it with.  All the other instances, and I saw them all, they are all blurred together in a single recollection of the program as a whole.

So, to fill that whole, I plan on getting a copy of Get Smart on video and setting up just such a scenario with Teresa as my best girlfriend.  Well wear our jammies, joke and laugh, eat popcorn, and build a memory where one always should have existed.  And because we know each other is experiencing the same anti-déjà vu, we can trust enough in our partner to suspend our disbelief, and buy into the fantasy we are creating until it integrates into our new reality, filling the gap in our emotional DNA chains that would have resulted in the people we have now become in spite of all external influences to the contrary.  With this technique, you can also overwrite any contrary memories that simply don’t fit and thereby create new emotional contexts that do.

Finally, it seems there is a spin-off from years of trying to live within the limitations and expectations of a life not tailored to your true self which has now been actually realized.  In Teresa’s case, after transition, she intentionally engaged in female activities, such as sewing, and avoided masculine activities in order to prove she was confident and real enough inside to act as she felt.  Only when age took its toll and she was no longer passing did she embrace masculine activities and shun feminine ones, not in response to any changes inside, but because she no longer felt comfortable expressing her true self – a regression to the techniques she used as a child before transition.

For myself, quite the reverse was true – after transition I intentionally took up masculine activities and shunned feminine ones to show that I was so female that I needn’t toe the  party line on how to behave as a woman.

Now, after FFS, Teresa feels so confident that she is taking the opposite approach and beginning to pursue some masculine activities in addition to feminine ones because she no longer needs to hide behind the expectations of others.

I have made an inverse move, finding that post my lip surgery I am inclined to finally feel comfortable enough about my gender to not be embarrassed by engaging in completely feminine activities and not feeling I have to build a false confidence by intentionally seeking out masculine ones that I really didn’t enjoy in order to project a more centered psyche than I really had.

So, as the complementary personalities we have always been, Teresa and I swing around each other like dancers in a spin, describing a double-helix that spirals from transition through transformation to transcendence.

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