Silly it seems. Especially since visiting this site and reading everyone's wonderful stories, that I would ever feel lonely or alone. I have such a huge support network around me of friends, girlfriends, family and co-workers and yet lately I have begun to feel that isolation again.
It's pretty easy to stave off these days. Between lunches and shopping and coffee with girlfriends or dancing whenever I get the chance or just being randomly oggled or hit on in the streets - gender dysphoria no longer has its claws in me.
Still, 23 months in and I didn't have another transgender person to call a friend outside the world wide web. I was starting to beat myself up pretty bad about that. I had heard mixed things about support groups and I was even beginning to think that, if I had made it this far without one support groups were probably not for me. But I was wrong, so very, very wrong x)
My psychologist recently started doing her own support groups with her own clients. I told her I would attend the first meeting and then... well... at the last moment I got socially anxious and I... didn't. But when the chance rolled around again this time (the first Sunday of every month) I was determined to go. Like jumping into the deep end I just held my breath from my fears and I did it. I went.
Oh my God. I'm not alone.
Not only did everyone share similar stories of their journeys but for the first time I felt like my input was valuable! I had no problem speaking up and adding my two cents. Something that usually doesn't happen unless I have incredibly deep knowledge in a subject (like at work). Although, I guess - this being my life - I do have a pretty deep knowledge with it. I was still terrified at first, something I tried over the course of the few hours to overcome, and I think I did so successfully. By the end of the session I had been invited for drinks and had been chatted up by many of the others. But something was different throughout the experience... unlike any other social interaction I usually have in groups or with new people this never once felt threatening. Even getting over my fears felt worthwhile instead of potentially dangerous.
That is a feeling that I want to carry on with me from now on
The most incredible part of the whole experience was probably the thing that I feared the most actually coming true. I was always afraid that I would run into someone from my past who knew me before... and I did. Yet, it was nothing as I had expected. At 23 months of HRT I was the most "experienced" (using that loosely) of the folk there. Most everyone else was just starting hormones or were just starting to experience changes. I was the only one (so far!) to be fully out and living life this way without compromise. I can't wait to watch all of them change :3
With the person that I ran into... she was just starting... and going through what I remember to be the hardest phases of coming to grips with the whole experience.
As she went to leave I had to pause a good conversation I was having with one of the women to go and say hello, thinking maybe she hadn't recognized me. She simply grabbed me in one of the most loving hugs I have had in my life and told me, "oh my God... This all makes so much sense, I had no idea...". We held in that embrace for what felt like forever and it felt so, so right.
We went out for dinner following the meeting (I later brought her to my dance class. I'm so proud of her!) and she gave me her whole story. I felt so strongly connected to her that at points I cried during her story. Somehow... I think I always knew that we were connected on a deep level... even before either of us could have ever seen this day coming.
That was last weekend. Since then I have had a few of the folks over to my place to play games and watch movies and today I met up with another wonderful person to take a spontaneous dance class in a discipline that neither of us had even heard of before x) Tomorrow we are going for a run around the seawall (although... I'll have my roller blades on) and then later I will meet up with my old friend to go and have a new experience yet again.
It's been like a whirlwind, and all because I finally conquered my fear of others like me. I'm sure this won't be the end of all my troubles but right at this second I feel like I am floating in the clouds. I have never felt so accepted, conversation has never come so easy and no challenge seems to big. I am sure that my cisgender girlfriends accept me just as much (in fact, I know they do) but y'know... they've had a different experience out of life and this is just a whole new kind of friendship.
Now is just the trouble to make sure I don't throw my whole life away in exchange for these new experiences xD Focus Mikah. Priorities! Balance!
I feel so blessed to be living here in Vancouver where this is... well, a lot easier than it could be in a lot of places. I also feel incredibly strong for making it this far on my own and so relieved that now I don't have to carry the weight on my own. Finally!
I'll conclude with just a picture of me after getting made over by some of my wonderful cisgender girlfriends while shooting a promo video for them. A snapshot - me at 23 months :)