1998: Christmas Remembered
The date came and went without any recognition on my part.
December 1, 1999 marked the sixth anniversary of the beginning of my transition; the beginning of my seventh year as Becky. Time flies when you're having fun.
I didn't even remember to celebrate on October 11, the fifth anniversary of my SRS.
I think there's some meaning to this.
How do you describe an experience to someone who's never had the experience? What does a color-blind person experience of a sunset? I don't know, and I will never know, because I have never had this condition.
How do you describe "peace and contentment" to someone who thought they knew what those words meant, but as it turned out, had never experienced them?
There is a quality of peace in being non-gender dysphoric. Those persons who were born without the dysphoria do not understand this, because they have never been without it. Only persons who experience it for the first time after a lifetime of absence can appreciate this peace.
My religion talks of a "peace that passes all understanding." Some say, if you are a True Believer, you will experience this peace. If you don't have perfect peace in your soul, then perhaps you are not a True Believer.
Perhaps you can imagine the anguish that this particular belief cause me over the years.
True believer? Yes, I was. I put into God's hands all the desires and emotions of my life. I knew God could deal with them and change me into a loving, peaceful disciple. I must admit, some good things happened. I became more tolerant; less and less influenced by the irrational prejudices of the mid-century South. I began to see all persons as friends and equals, eliminating the need to disparage other people. I lost the selfish need to hold onto everything as "mine" and became more generous. These were good changes and I liked them.
Where, then, was that "peace?" And why was it that, every time I tried to give up my gender conflicted feelings, it seemed that God didn't want to take them away? Okay, Lord, I'm willing for you to have this. I don't want it anymore. Thank you for healing me...
The power of suggestion is strong, and I could temporarily talk myself into believing that this worked. I could go for a few days - maybe a week - thinking only manly thoughts. But it never lasted. I always realized quickly that this was one "healing" that hadn't occurred.
I had no peace.
The obvious conclusion was to blame myself. I must not have been sincere in my prayer. How, I wondered, could I be more sincere? Is this the sort of anguish which has driven people to self-flagellate, to crawl up cathedral steps on bleeding knees? What more could I do to prove my sincerity?
Was there really a "secret handshake" and I didn't know it?
I blamed my surroundings. Perhaps I was unfulfilled in my work; a change of scenery would remedy my restlessness. My professional history became quite peripatetic:
Then, transition, and unemployment.
For years I had dreaded transition. I postponed it even when I knew it was inevitable; partially trying to remain in the old role long enough for my son to grow up, partially because I thought that if I transitioned I would lose everything.
Then the time came when I was willing to lose everything. (And a good thing it was that I was willing, because that's pretty much what happened.)
I have vivid memory of the day I got a telephone call from one of my good friends, making me aware that the rumors were all over the Jackson medical community: Dr. A is going to change gender! What an incredibly juicy bit of gossip. My friend was concerned for my well being; he didn't care if the rumor was true, he just didn't want me to be harmed. I assured him the rumor was true, thanked him and hung up the phone.
Common sense would suppose I would be devastated. Instead, what I felt was a tremendous relief - and the beginning of peace. Now everyone knew, and I had nothing more to hide. That was the first time I really applied to my life the verse "The truth shall make you free."
Transition was not easy. My finances were in bad shape and I really didn't know if I would practice cardiology again. But the feeling of calm contentment was growing. I think one of the things that made this contentment so pervasive was that I didn't transition with the sole goal of having sex reassignment surgery. Yes, that was an important part of my plan, but the life itself - the journey, not the destination - - was most important. Having achieved that life, I was not devastated by a "Now what?" feeling after SRS.
Therefore, dates and anniversaries are nice to recognize, but do not carry the significance of further life changes. I may let them go by without acknowledgment, just as I did this year.
My professional life has stabilized better than ever. In another four months, I will have been in this practice position for five years, five months; that's longer than any previous practice I ever had. And I intend to remain here.
And the peace - oh my goodness, who would have imagined...
Being true to yourself is essential to peace and contentment. I now realize that this is the "secret handshake" - the willingness to remain open to the truth. This will allow God to work in me the miracles which may be different from anyone else's.
Life even now has its ups and downs. But managing the ups and downs is part of what normal life is all about. And doing it as my true self is not a barrier to peace.
I'm still on the journey. I hope to be traveling for many more years. I don't think I'll do a formal "Six Years As Becky" series. But I have discovered a gift for writing, and you may be sure I will continue to exercise it. I haven't said it all yet!
Peace to you,