I’m one week post gall bladder surgery.
It hasn’t been easy.
I didn’t poop for three days after.
I’ve eaten more ice cream, pudding, sugar, processed foods in the 4 days post surgery than I did 4 month’s prior to surgery. I haven’t had a decent sneeze, cough or laugh since leaving the hospital and a 20 minute walk at a pace even my dear departed grammy could surpass requires a 2 hour lay down afterwards.
But it’s done.
And recovery is well on it’s way.
Since I am one week AGB (After Gall Bladder), that means I am also week without “social” media. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Instagram and small amounts of time on the inter
suckyoursoulnet. It’s been fucking hard. I spend a lot of time sitting on the couch with phone in hand looking at manulife claims and the weather. I continually check my Canada Post app for mail I know only comes every two weeks but maybe (just maybe) they’ll send my paystub 13 days early and if that’s the case then I better check….hmmmmmm nothing.
Let me check again.
If I was able to work, many unoccupied hours would of course be occupied by lifting heavy bags of dog food or ginormous packs of toilet paper rolls and maybe this social break of the media would pass a little easier. But work is still many weeks away and I’m in no rush to push my recovery in order to take away the boredom of living in quieter times at the moment.
I’ve spent a lot of time on my deck, on my couch, on my bed and at the dining room table doing something I used to do for hours at a time growing up and long before I owned my first computer: Reading. In 6 days (and really just 5 days since I didn’t do anything after the surgery but moan and groan and shove soft foods into my mouth in between doses of pain medication), I’ve already devoured one book (The Green Rider by Kristen Britain) and halfway through The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert with other books piled next to my bed waiting to be opened…
I miss doing that. Instead of getting lost in what other people are posting, what videos they’re watching and commentating on the world events, I’m getting lost in between the pages of books that have been pushed aside.
I thought I would really miss the media that is social but I think what I’m missing (though still not an appropriate choice of words) is just filling my time with something to do. I’ve got quite a few more weeks of practice before being released back to work so everyday right now is a practice in just being with me.
It also gives me time to get my food back in order.
I had all these “expectations” of what my food would look like after they poked me in my belly and removed my gall bladder. I figured I’d eat a few puddings the first day and call it good. Maybe throw in some toast here and there just to give my tum tums something to do while my brain was all fogged up with medication. Except that’s not really how it went. I ate things I just don’t normally eat (think mac and cheese / lots of ice cream / Greek Yogurt / crunchy snacky bowls of chips) and while it doesn’t sound that bad considering I did have a piece of my insides removed, I was eating to soothe the pain and probably in turn making the pain worse because now I was asking my body to process foods I’ve not had in quite some time.
grilled eggplant, ham, egg and swiss chard
But a week has gone by since the surgery and slowly I’m cleaning up my food again. I’ve been paying very close attention to calorie intake (lowering it for the duration of recovery) and am amazed at how much 1800 calories of processed boxed food compares to 1800 calories of local, prepared in my own kitchen food, and how badly I crave more food when it’s weaved with sugar and ingredients I can’t pronounce.
Life is quiet right now and I’m trying to enjoy the forced relaxation/recovery for the next five weeks.
The other day I was driving Mimi to work and as always we drive pretty much the same route. To know me is to know that I’m always looking out for the universe’s “little messages” on how to view life and how to keep moving forward in this life of changes journey. We drove past a private school advertising that it still had openings even though the school year is well under way…”It’s never too late to apply” is what its reader board said.
It’s never too late to apply.
I’ve been thinking of late how many times I wanted to make changes in my life that would lead me down a more congruent path of who I felt I was inside and yet each time I had those fleeting thoughts of change, I kept pushing them off to the side. Either feeling I was never going to be successful or that I would start later when I had more time. Be it weight loss, becoming an interpreter or exploring my gender identity. When I turned 30 and returned to school I thought I was too late to become an interpreter. My classmates 10 years prior were literally elbow deep in the field and here I was trying to get my foot in the door. When I turned 40 and seriously began thinking about weight loss, I thought I was too late. I thought I was destined to be morbidly obese for my entire life. I had looked in the mirror and decided that fat I carried on my body was going to accompany me to my grave. At 44 as I begin seriously questioning my gender I sometimes feel that I’m too late.
Funny thing about thinking it’s too late; You’re either right or your wrong but you won’t know unless you apply. As a certified interpreter (and a pretty damn good interpreter if I might toot my own horn), I don’t think I was too late. Going into my 4th year of 100+ pound weight loss maintenance I don’t think I was too late. Making small changes from Tara to T to Carver still feel a bit late but maybe never too late. These little changes of forward movement have brought me closer to the person inside and give me the courage to keep looking forward, to keep advocating, to keep changing…
To keep applying.
Applying doesn’t mean success. It just means trying. You can apply yourself to anything and fail. A job. A marriage. Weight loss. Running a marathon. Changing the food you eat. Changing the gender of the biological female body you are attached too. But the trick I think is to stop focusing on the “success” part of the process and focus on the applying part of the process. Maybe you’ll never run that marathon you’ve had your eye on but are you strapping on some running shoes and getting your heart rate up? SUCCESS! Maybe you won’t lose that 50/100/200 pounds you so desperately want to lose but are you whole-heartedly making healthier choices with food? SUCCESS!
I may never reach the full understanding of what my gender is supposed to look like but right now even the smallest changes feel like Big Big changes and in those small (big) applied changes I feel giant success. Just like in almost everything I do, I can’t keep pushing the “try” aside thinking it’s too late.
It’s never too late.
You’ve heard about people doing it.
Going off the grid.
Taking a break from social media. Unplugging from the electronics and plugging into the environment around them. I’ve been doing it a while with this blog. Not a whole lot to say it seems but in reality a million things racing through my mind at any given time. Upping my workouts to get from 175 back down to 165 while focusing on building muscles. Going from working part time in the wee hours of the morning to working full time late late late into the the night. Dealing with questions of “why do they call you Tee now?”, and that sideways look of “I don’t understand what you mean by it’s a less gender specific name.” Moving from a centrally located, this place is too big for us dwelling, to a much smaller, we’re gonna need to get rid of a lot of stuff not so much centrally located, but the building is cheaper and brand spanking new and figuring out schedules, driving routes and the occasional “oh hey we actually get to spend a few hours together this evening”.
Throw on top of it, tomorrow morning. Gall bladder surgery. Long in coming and put off for way too long, it snuck up on us much faster than we anticipated and with all the changes that’s been happening in just the last month (read above) I’m taking this as my opportunity to really get the fuck off the grid for a bit and get back to some serious “stay in the moment” living.
Six weeks. That’s the recovery period. No crossfit. No work. No running (you see my priorities right?). Six long weeks. I’m freaked out by the idea of not working out for that long. Yes I can go for long walks but that’s pretty much it. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve gone that long without breaking some sort of sweat?….
December of 2009.
When I weighed 270 pounds. When I didn’t care about things like weight loss, food macros, and accomplishing things like marathons and half ironmans. When I was more concerned about whether my shit was going to sell at auction on World of Warcraft rather than what WOD was going to be at crossfit. When I was more concerned about whether I had enough time to stop in at Jack in the Box before work rather than do I have enough time to make my own almond butter or juice for the week or can I prep for dinners this week before heading to work. When I was way more concerned about making sure I had enough soda pop and chips stocked away in my work drawer for the long day of sitting in a cubicle rather than making sure I had enough calories in my lunch box for the long day of lifting pallets of 50 pound dog food or air conditioners.
So you can sort of understand my apprehension over the next six weeks. Finding a balance. A balance of rest and recovery. A balance of staying in the moment and taking care of the Tee that is, instead of being fearful of becoming the Tara that was. Six weeks doesn’t seem like a long time but in this world of weight loss, maintenance, moving and eating it sort of seems like a very long time.
Part of that recovery includes the proverbial jump on the “off the grid” band wagon. It seems pointless to have time wasting shit on my phone since I already know all my free time over the next 45 days or so would be spent looking at status updates, instagram pictures, playing games, looking at crossfit wods and the occasional 140 character tweets. I’m not really “involved” much these days any how. I throw a few things out there into the social media pool but mostly in the corner watching the “world go by” that doesn’t really affect me instead of being a part of my immediate world that absolutely affects me.
I’ll be reading a shit ton (you should see my pile of books that I don’t read because I want to play farmville instead). I’ll be walking a lot (very very slowly at first) and getting to know my neighborhood. I’ll be hanging out with what’s going on here instead of wondering what the hell is going on out there. REST and RECOVERY on all aspects of what’s happening in my life.
After the six weeks?
Well we’ll just have to see how this goes and then decide…
I’ve been very contemplative lately
(Oh really? Just lately T? Cause you are kind of contemplative all of the time)
Yhea that’s true.
I think about a lot of stuff.
A lot of the time.
Whether I’m thinking about Crossfit and how to lift more efficiently (read: Faster) or weight loss (how do I get back down to 165 and is that really a good thing?), or Aspergers (how is it going to manifest itself today) or Gender (did I just swing my hips on purpose…oh for fuck sake do I feel like a girl or a boy today? Quick flex! Okay back to feeling like a boy), I’m always thinking.
We’re moving very soon and I spend a lot of time thinking about whether this is going to work and if we’re going to be moving again this time next year. This is the third time in as many years that Mimi and I have packed our things into (not so small) cardboard boxes and hauled them from one location to another in hopes this…this is the place. The place we love. The place we feel safe. The place that feels like our own. When I moved here from the west coast I came with few belongings. However you’d be surprised what you can stuff into a Honda Element. That being said, most of “our” stuff was still mostly “her” stuff with a little “my” stuff thrown in to the mix. Not having a job the first year and a half means that when you want to buy new “our” stuff it’s very seldom new and comes with a mix of “that used to be someone else’s” stuff.
Our home is a mish mash of stuff. Problem is we’re downsizing in space and that means all that stuff has to be thoughtfully and carefully decided whether it will remain “hers, mine, it used to be their’s but now it’s our” stuff. We’re moving not out of necessity (because we love our neighborhood and more importantly our friends that reside above us) but rather because we both agree that we deserve to live somewhere that we love and we want the people we pay money too to love the space we rent as much as we do. That’s not happening where we are…it wasn’t happening where we were before this place. Both times the owners had their emotional baggage sort of get in the way of keeping their property in a “man this place is LOVED” upkeep. Where we are now is especially upsetting because, as we both come from living with bouts of debilitating depression, we know what it looks like when others are also experiencing that dark cloud. Our living space is a direct correlation to the owner’s mental health and to be totally honest, it’s a pretty dark cloud that’s settled around us.
One of the things we’ve done in preparation for this new move (and to make this new space feels like OURS) is letting go of old furniture/items and replacing them with brand spanking new furniture/items. We have things we’ve purchased months ago sitting in our living room untouched so that when we walk into our new space at the end of the month it will feel like Christmas in July. A new couch. A new dining room set. New (and color coordinating) bathroom set. New (and color coordinating) dishes and kitchen items…
The hard part is letting go of all the old stuff.
And that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. Letting go. Having to look at something and HEARTFULLY decide whether I’m keeping something because it brings me joy or rather keeping it because I’m trying to hold on to something…anything. A memory. A feeling. An emotion that keeps me tied to a particular person or event. What I’m finding is those things that I think I hold dear to my heart are in fact keeping me attached to a memory/feeling I’m afraid to let go of or I keep something for fear that I’ll lose an attachment to a person.
My mother’s china.
My mother’s teacup/saucers.
Children’s books I bought with Mitch.
Magazines that I brought from the West Coast.
Emotional Chains that I’ve refused to break because I think it then detaches me from people/places that I miss. They take up space. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the china since my mother died 25 years ago. The layer of dust on the teacups thicker than the memory of looking at them as a child wondering why she kept them locked away instead of drinking tea with them. Children’s books unread because when I look at them I’m slammed against a brick wall of guilt wondering if Mitch is still angry with me and hoping he’s taking good care of Penny. Magazines that sat unread with the never ending “One of these days I’m going to actually use a recipe out of the latest issue” promise that 99% of the time was never kept.
It’s really fucking hard to let go. You look at something and think “okay this time is different…this time I’ll use (insert something…anything…here) more. I won’t let it sit. I won’t put it back in the box (lifting lid) and forget about it (placing it back in the box…)”
I think weight loss is the same process of letting go. My relationship with food as a child held fast into my adulthood because I was afraid to let go. I was afraid to shed the fat that was the emotional chain that bound me to memories. Memories that food made me feel safe…while simultaneously making me feel so shitty about myself that the only thing I could do was continue to shove more food into my mouth. Then finding some relief by shoving a spoon down my throat so I could start the vicious cycle again.
Funny thing; every time I decide to let something go, I’m wracked with guilt until it leaves my life at which point I’m so relieved I can’t believe I held on to a particular thing for so long. My fat included. I remember after lugging around a huge antique Victrola and the hundreds of records for the first 10 years after my mother died I decided enough was enough. I cried for weeks leading up to selling it. Maybe I would play it more (I never played it). Maybe I could just keep it for a little longer (and possibly lug it up another 5 floors if I move). Then I found a very sweet woman who was buying it for her husband because he gave his to another family member and in the end missed it so much but didn’t have the heart to ask for it back. As she drove away with my mother’s beloved Victrola she took with it all the memories that left me feeling guilty. My mother would be angry (T, she died 10 years ago), What if I want to play it later (really T? You used to swear at that thing almost daily)…That woman emptied a space that I could fill with something I loved (like a big wooden chair that was such an eye sore but that I LOVED beyond words)…
The same things happened when I finally broke up with my fat. I was letting go of my memories of “not good enough“, “you’ll never do it“, “you’re too lazy“, “you are NOT worth it” and as each pound left, it took those memories with it. Giving me permission to fill that space with “holy shit you are finishing a marathon…a half iron man…did you just fucking double under 50 times in a row….LIFT THAT FUCKING HEAVY WEIGHT LIKE NO ONE’S EFFING BUSINESS!!!!!!!”
In this process of moving I’m being gentle in my process of letting go. Breaking emotional chains that take up space that is now reserved for who I am today and the relationship I choose to have with Mimi. The magazines have gone to a new home and I bet the new reader is perusing each page deciding which recipe to try first. The China is up for sale in hopes that a new family will set a beautiful table and sit together in ways that I longed for as a child because my new family has helped me forged new stronger chains of memories. Those children’s books will probably stay just because I have a feeling there’s a few itty bittys in my life that will sit for hours as I read them (forging the best chains of attachments I can think of)…the tea sets will probably go after the move is over and I can take the proper pictures (I boxed them up in that “wellllllllll….maybe I’ll use them……oh for fuck sake!” mode of thinking)…I know they need to find a new home.
As we unpack at the end of the month, in our new place (which by the way is a brand new building that was just completed this month. Read: no one will have ever touched anything in our apartment except for us) the new things that are replacing the things of old are for making new memories because I’ve allowed myself to free up space…
Both in Heart
A few weeks ago I posted this picture on instagram.
It’s the official “unofficial” working screener document consisting of the unique characteristics and traits of adult women with Asperger Syndrome, or Aspienwomen (ps: I hate the term Aspienwomen but that’s neither here nor there) by Tania Marshall. When I first sat down with this 10 page document with it’s lists and lists of common traits I didn’t know what to expect. I mean I know my own ticks, quirks and habits but since I’ve not had much contact with other people with Aspergers, I spent most of my life just thinking I had more ticks, quirks and unusual habits than the average Joe.
I sat down with a highlighter and began meticulously going one by one through the characteristics. By the first page I knew there was going to be a lot of high lighting happening. I didn’t just willy nilly say “yep”, “yep”, “yep” through the list. I thought about each one. Thought about my daily life. Thought about my childhood. My adult hood. Then high lighted accordingly. When I put the list down an hour later, at least 85% of the list pertained to me. When I sat down with Mimi later that day and went through the list again, she helped me see (with an outside perspective) that in fact about 95% of the list pertained to me….
Paying for an official diagnosis is hard to come by. Almost impossible since most medical professionals focus on young children when diagnosing this relatively “new” phenomenon. Unfortunately it’s not new. Today they say Aspergers. Growing up they said “unsocial”, “loner”, “likes to be alone”, “very intelligent, ahead of her class, but lacks social skills”…yadda yadda yadda.
I don’t know why this list is so important to me, but it feels like a blessing and a curse. At the same time that there is a HUGE relief that someone out there is actually saying “hey, you know all those things that made you feel weird and embarrassed and misunderstood?…there’s a name for that shit”, there is also a new wave of embarrassment because I have to face facts that I see and deal with the world around me in a very different way than many of my peers and unfortunately most of my peers don’t understand so the only way they’re going to understand is if I advocate for myself and educate people about what it’s like living with Aspergers.
Working at Costco I find I have to constantly “explain” myself. From forklift drivers, to managers to coworkers who don’t understand why I didn’t laugh at a joke or think I have an attitude. Constantly having to talk myself down from anxiety because moving fast doesn’t always work with my thought process of “remember this and this and this and this and this and then don’t forget to do this and this and this and this” all while looking at one particular item on the shelf.
When I do get up the courage to say “yadda yadda yadda….aspergers….yadda yadda yadda”, the common response is “What is Aspergers”…how do you explain something so complex in a few sentences? You can’t. I have a list now that I suppose I could show people but in the end most people just won’t get it.
But I have a list now. That means that someone out there actually gets me on a medically professional level. Those ticks, quirks and habits happen for a reason and not just because I’m “unsocial” or a “loner”. That my need to “remember this and this and this and this and this and this” before moving on to “remember this and this and this and this” has a rhyme to the reason. That my sensitivity to light, sound, textures and just about anything else you can think of actually has a reason to the rhyme. That even the smallest “off” can be the biggest “on” for anxiety, and crying and not knowing how to react in certain situations.
I’m not even sure what the point of this post is today. I don’t want to be embarrassed anymore. I want to be empowered. I don’t want to have to explain myself over and over again but I suppose that’s the only way the people around me will understand a little more clearly what it’s like living as a person with Aspergers.
(hint: it’s complicated)
photo credit: http://www.behance.net/
Sometimes I feel like I’m over thinking about things.
Everything from food to weight loss to gender “stuff” to Aspergers to do I feel like wearing Superman underwear or Transformer underwear? From the time my sleepy eyes open to the time those very sleepy eyes close I’m thinking about something big in my life (and yes what kind of underwear can feel pretty big sometimes).
The other day I received the following message via Twitter:
“Nice to see another Trans-Athlete out there”.
My first reaction was something like “oh but I’m not really Trans because people refer to me as a she and this person is going to realize I’m a fake because I still have nail polish on my toes from 3 months ago and I’m not trans enough to be called a trans-athlete”…then I took a deep breath and stopped berating myself for having breasts and dug a little deeper (read: creeper) into who this person was, who threw what I can only describe as a little life jacket for me to wear while swimming in this ginormous ocean of gender
He recorded a video the other day and I watched it yesterday after our short but very powerful (to me) interaction. I’m linking the video not because it’s so mind blowing profound I want everyone to watch but because there is one particular line at 4:31 that I think literally has lifted a weight on my shoulders…
“I never felt trapped in my body”
“(it just didn’t make sense)”
Part of this “gender” journey has been about feeling guilty that I’m not trans enough. That because most of my life I just felt like I am who I am and therefore (dot dot dot), I just accept this body that I was born with. There is confusion about why I never felt trapped like I hear being described from other trans people. I assumed you had to be trapped and therefore (dot dot dot) you were always looking for a way to escape. But in looking back, my body has never made sense to me. Ever. I never once felt like my mind and body were on the same wave length. As in the video, I guess I’ve always felt like I was wearing my clothes backwards and assumed that because I was uncomfortable so must everyone else be uncomfortable in the proverbial “oh we’re all wearing our shit backwards”
I spend a lot of time thinking about my childhood and whether I was “super girly” or “overly boyish”. I spend a lot of time thinking about was there ever a time in my life I actually enjoyed this female body I walk around in? Have I ever felt a connection with my breasts or genitalia like most women? Did I ever actually enjoy picking out a dress and heels for some special occasion? I can’t really think of an instance or time in my life where I may have thought “I like being a girl”…but I also never thought “I hate being a girl” (except during *that* time every month where I’m sure we all hate being female bodied amiright????). I just felt like this is what it is…
But now it doesn’t feel that way anymore. I feel myself pulling away from the notion of “it is what it is” and more towards “what is all this business about anyways?”. I don’t feel trapped any more today than I did growing up, but moving towards a more gender congruent alignment with mind and body makes me realize that in fact maybe, just maybe there is more to this trans stuff as I continue to turn away from who I thought I should be and turn towards the person that is truly me.
In the video, Riley talks about feeling like you’re wearing your clothes backwards and feeling uncomfortable and assuming that even though other people’s clothes aren’t backwards they too feel uncomfortable, but as he transitioned, he had the opportunity to turn his clothes around and experience life like everyone around him.
Even though we’ve never met in real life, this is the first time I’ve heard someone put words to describing how I’m feeling on this journey of gender understanding. I felt so uncomfortable in women’s clothing but never really understanding why I felt that way. I just assumed that most people felt uncomfortable in their clothes but because I had breasts and sat to pee that meant I had to wear the clothes that matched the body. I’ve never put on women’s clothing and looked in the mirror and thought “man I am rocking this shit like no one’s business”. It’s always been “I don’t want my hips to show”, “I hate that this makes my boobs stick out”, “WTF is a scoop neck and why is it showing so much of my neck?” and “how the hell do I walk in these heels”…I’ve always dressed just above the radar of passing for “female”.
I think being morbidly obese played a big role in my acceptance with the body I was born with. It was easier to accept a body I was never aligned with when it was bigger. You don’t want to show off what you don’t want when it’s also carrying around a lot of weight with it. It’s no surprise that along with the weight loss came the undeniable truth that maybe, just maybe there is some validity to idea that while my body is female, my heart and mind is male.
I actually like looking at clothes these day. I go straight for the Men’s section. Perusing the sharp button downs, admiring the dress shoes and wishing I had a fat bank roll to buy all the things. I think about upcoming events and wondering if I can buy a bow tie to match the dress Mimi will be wearing. Some days I’m self-conscious that other people are wondering what I’m doing in the Men’s section but when I take those clothes into a dressing room I’m not trying to hide anything from myself. In fact, I’m wondering if the makes my ass look good? Does the t-shirt/short-sleeve show my muscles? Does the button down make my neck look good and some times I even think “man I am rocking this shit like no one’s business”
You see I didn’t know I was wearing my “clothes” backwards for so long…
I just assumed that this was the way “clothes” were meant to feel. That this was the way I was meant to feel in my body and now that I’m trying to “turn” that around, it’s a little confusing but holy hell it feels so much more comfortable. Like, deep breath, relax and let the weight slip from your shoulders comfortable. When I open the proverbial “closet” and see on one side my wife’s dresses and scarves and those scoopy necky things, they feel foreign. I don’t understand them. Then I turn to the other side and see my dress pants hanging nicely, my button downs hung according to color and my suspenders hanging just within reach, I understand them.
They belong to me.
My laptop battery is about to run out. I have exactly one hour to spit out some words here that I’ve been putting off. Not because they’re so mind blowing I don’t want to invest in the tap tap tap of fingers to laptop to readers (all 6 of you) but because I just don’t seem to have the mental fortitude to sit still long enough to figure out what the hell I want to write anymore.
I have a constant barrage of “man that would be a great blog post” thoughts popping in and out of my noggin but lacking the focus to sit down and actually put something worth hitting the publish button. I can’t seem to stay on top of one idea long enough to engage myself let alone someone who might want to read what I’m writing.
I’ve gained some weight back. It’s fucking with me. More so because going back to crossfit and lifting heavy shit (at least heavy for me) means I’ve got some really kick ass muscles forming. I’m flexing in the mirror more than your Guido neighbor and I’m not ashamed to admit it. The problem? Muscle gain = weight gain. Weight gain = freak out. Don’t get me wrong, I know most people would say to me “but T, it’s muscle and not fat”…
Don’t care. Still fucking with my brain.
As of today the scale says 175.
Not 155 (too low)
Not 160 (just about right)
Not even 165 (where I think I’m the most happy)
Is my ass poppin from all the squats? Hell yes. Are my traps starting to rip all hot like? Hell yes. Do I need to think about getting a license for my concealed gun show? You betchya. But I’m no longer a 100+ lb weight loss story. No longer a triple digiter.
It sounds ridiculous but unless you’ve lost a significant amount of weight then the truth is you wouldn’t understand how even the smallest change in weight no matter how it happens can throw a wrench in your well working system.
So I’m gonna change things up a bit. Track food. Cut back on fats (add more carbs) and do something I haven’t done in a while: Run. Being a person with Aspergers means I like to get hyper focused on one thing. Crossfit has been that one thing for a few months now. Running before that. Now it’s time to try and combine the two. I’ve run a couple times this week and it feels pretty good considering how little I was running (read: not at all unless it was part of a WOD). They’re not double digits but even running the 5k(s) almost 10k feels better.
So plan of action is this: crossfit 3x’s/week run 2 x’s/week and never both in the same day (unless there is a little running in the WOD) and take the weekends off as working at Costco lifting heavy stuff and constantly moving means I’m still working out almost every damn day.
Gender shit is still gender shit.
I’m trying to advocate more for myself with my name preference. It’s automatic for me to introduce myself as Tara when I really want to be called T(ee). So there’s been a lot of *handshake* “I’m Tara”…pause. “But I prefer to be called T” happening. I still haven’t gotten comfortable with correcting people when they say Tara cause I feel like it’s being nit-picky. Again I know most people would say “but you should stand up for yourself” but changing my name tag at work to T(ee) and adding the second section to my own introduction to new people is kind of big right now so I’m gonna sit on that for a bit.
I’ve been throwing around gender congruent names in my head.
Hearing traditional boy’s almost constantly means I’m mentally trying them on like a new shirt. Trying to get a feel for them. Does it fit me? Do I feel like a Sean, or a Billy or a Tom? I have a name that sounds more comfortable than most and sometimes I think that just my thinking about a more male names means that maybe (just maybe) this trans shit is for real. I guess part of me wonders if I’ll wake up one morning and think “I don’t feel like a boy anymore” and run out and buy a new closet full of pretty neon colored dresses and lacy shit to wear underneath.
Sometimes I feel like my trans “stuff” isn’t trans enough. Like I’m supposed to pound my chest and proclaim my desire for cutting things off or changing documented paperwork in order for people to take me seriously…(and by people I mean take myself seriously).
Yesterday at work, while waiting to punch in, all the merchandising people were milling around the cash registers. All the girls crowded together. All the boys crowded together….I stood alone smack dab in the middle of the two groups because I didn’t fit in either group. Though I wanted to stand with the guys and shoot the shit I felt like I wasn’t guy enough. Like they’d look at me and wonder why I wasn’t standing with the other gender that my body still matches.
Funny because I’ve always felt this way. Confused in where I belong. I think now because I’m actively trying to put myself in a more congruent place it’s even more confusing. Sometimes I wonder if I should just make a decision. Be a fully transitioned transman and make the leap or just sit a little while longer and see where this all goes.
PS the name? Carver.
But for now I’m just gonna fold up that shirt to try on again another day.
Well isn’t this a rarity?
Twice in one week.
PS – dirty bird award goes to all those readers out there who bumped my last post to almost 700 just because I said I was in my underwear. Now I know how to get those numbers up there…
Warning: NO UNDERWEAR PICTURES IN THIS POST.
Sorry to disappoint.
And funny story…The thoughts in my head the last 24 hours that are now making it to the tips of my fingers (click click click) and in to this blog post have nothing to do with food, working out, old man chester or anything health related like I said I wanted to focus on. In fact it’s about one of those things I said I didn’t want to focus on: Gender.
“Oh for fuck’s sake T
ara, you say you don’t want to focus on that shit and here you are gabbing about that very thing”.
A funny shift happened yesterday. I’ve been mulling it over. I wanted to share. Actually I just wanted a platform to take thoughts in my mind and bring them to the forefront. I find that when go from thinking words to seeing words (thoughts to sentences) I have a lot of clarity. Maybe not so much understanding but it allows me to acknowledge what feels real in my mind and gives those ‘real’ thoughts a place to grow and be (and change).
A little history.
To know me is to know that with the weight loss I’ve become very vain. I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is. That means I like to look sharp. I feel like I am my own conundrum because while my face (hair and what not) looks sharp, my clothes are usually in disarray (hello Aspergers). Unless I’m working as an interpreter then I look really sharp all the way around. But I do like a good haircut and if you’ve seen any pictures of me you know then I like my hair short:
Left: 2006 Right: 2013
Part of the reason I had long hair was because I thought it was necessary in order to fit the specific gender role of being a girl (and I really liked to have pigtails). When you’re forcing yourself into a gender that no longer fits, you do whatever is necessary to make it “look right”. So I wore my hair long. I’d wear a skirt, I’d let the person I was sharing my life with at that time open doors, buy me flowers and do all that chivalrous stuff that I wanted to do…I just didn’t know it yet.
So my hair is pretty important because it helps define my gender (even though I’m still figuring this stuff out). I go to a barber. A real life barber. One where men sit around and talk about sports or music. Drink the occasional beer and pretty much just shoot the shit while sitting in the chair.
So let’s get back to yesterday.
Remember when I said my clothes tend to be in disarray? Because I’ve been sick (and sore from my workouts) I’ve been wearing extra comfy clothes. Not because they feel good (which they do) but because it keeps me calm (hello Aspergers). One of those shirts is a hooded yoga-like shirt. Purple. Stripy. Scoopy Necky. Girly. I usually wear it with a t-shirt over (think Sheldon Big Bang Theory) but for some reason yesterday just didn’t feel right. I had another hoodie over it so I called it good. Brown, second hand, corduroy pants on, trucker hat on top of my head and I was looking/and feeling (and passing) pretty boyish (read: comfortable in my own gender). I should have thought it out a little better because as soon as I got to where I was going (the barber) I had to take off the top hoodie in order to get my hair cut. Now I’m sitting in a room full of men waiting to get their hair cut. My hair is way longer than normal. My neck is more exposed and because I’m not wearing a t-shirt over my yoga-like shirt, it’s pretty obvious that I’m a girl. Now I’m uncomfortable. It would have been okay since I don’t know these people except for Rob the barber and I’ve been coming for over a year so whatever. I sat there. Looking in the mirror. Feeling exposed.
Then something happened I wasn’t expecting.
Another Trans person walked in.
I knew he was trans because Rob and the other barber called him by his “Girl” name and he clearly did not look anything like a girl. I thought maybe I heard it wrong. Everything about this person screamed boy. So while I’m trying to figure out if my “transdar” is right (like a gaydar) I’m feeling even more uncomfortable. More female. More like a dyke. I imagine he’s been in a few times and this might have been the first time he’s seen another “girl” in there. But I’m not a girl. I wanted that head nod. That “sup?” acknowledgement. I got nothing. All I kept thinking was “I’m looking at you like you’re a boy and you’re looking at me like I’m a girl”…
We were getting our hair cut at the same time. Overhearing his conversation about changing names and having funeral parties where he’s giving a eulogy to his former self makes me feel even less worthy of this trans identity. Sitting there thinking how stupid it is of me to even think I’m like him. That no matter how hard I try, no matter how short my hair is, no matter what I do or say I’m always going to be a girl.
And what I want is to NOT be a girl.
Not in body.
Not in gender.
As the minutes tick by and my hair is getting sharper and sharper, I start to feel a little less exposed. The “robe” is covering my neck line. I’m shooting the shit as usual with Rob. I can’t wait to put on my trucker hat and have it sit snugly against my scalp. Pulled way down just like a country boy would. I can’t wait to put my hoodie back on that flattens out the shape of my body. I realize the Trans person next to me doesn’t know me from Joe Blow and that the perceived judgement (or lack of acknowledgement) is of my own doing.
I hear him say to the other barber “I have to tell (insert girl’s name that starts with a G but I can’t remember the name)…oh dammit, they liked to be called G. Don’t tell them I used their full name…man that hasn’t happened in a long time“…That’s the tell tale sign someone is transitioning especially in FtM (female to male). The first (and easiest) way to help with transition is to shorten a “girl” name to something more androgynous.
I took the opportunity to do something I’ve yet done in my own transition. Normally when I’m introduced to people, I just let them say “This is Tara”…At some point I might say “most people call me T” but it sounds like I’m making it easier on them (easier to remember an initial rather than a name) when in fact it is a preferred name because Tara is feminine. T is not. It is neither feminine nor masculine. It just is.
I looked at Rob…the barber. The man whose been cutting my hair for over a year. Making me look sharp. Feel sharp. Feel more congruent in my gender than he probably realizes and I said “Ya know Rob, I’m the same way. I actually prefer to be called T not Tara“….
I didn’t say “most people call me T”, I said I prefer.
It’s strange to feel liberated in such a simple act. A sentence that took less than 3 seconds to produce gave me the acknowledgement of my own self worth. The “hey, I get it” nod from the person next to me didn’t seem so important as I checked out my perfectly cut hair in the mirror. It didn’t seem so important as I put on my hoodie and grabbed my trucker hat knowing I don’t need to pull it way down country boy style. I didn’t need to wear it at all. My hair looked sharp. There was nothing girly about me anymore. As I left, I shook hands with Rob. A strong hand shake. A man’s hand shake. I thanked him and said I’d be back in a few weeks….
“Thanks for coming in T”
It’s been a relatively quiet couple of weeks for me. I talked openly about my frustrations with Aspergers and gender shit and then all of a sudden I didn’t want to think about this blog too much. I didn’t want to sit down and tap on this keyboard and do things like analyze my feelings, talk about food, motivate someone else out there to get off the couch and start moving in the direction they were meant to move towards. I just wanted to live in my small bubble focused on the everyday dealings of getting up for work and having a better understanding of my own “short comings” that put me on the spectrum of being what the world likes to call “An Aspie”.
Then I got sick.
Like really sick.
Like I can barely get my shit out of bed and make it to work sick. The kind that keeps you curled up on the couch with your old man Chester cat purring on your chest because he wants you to think he cares but really he just wants to sleep. I haven’t been this sick in a looooooong time and it took it’s toll on me both physically and mentally. To know me is to know I don’t like to stay in one place for too long. I have a hard time sitting through a movie, or reading a book for very long because for me being “idle” still has a feeling of being lazy. When I was morbidly obese it was nothing for me to sit for 4 – 8 hours at a time playing video games day in and day out only getting up to pee or find more food. Then of course there was my extremely sedentary job of being a video relay interpreter. Sitting for an 8 hour shift only getting up to walk to the kitchen and get something I didn’t already have stashed away in my food drawer in my cubicle. For years my life was 90% sedentary and 10% movement (and by movement I mean couch to kitchen to bathroom to sometimes walking to the neighborhood cafe but mostly just walking around the house until it was time to go to bed but first let me sit in this big blue chair that I can now feel my thighs touch the side when it didn’t before and play this world of warcraft game until midnight)
So you can see how being idle can be difficult for me.
Especially in the middle of getting back to Crossfit.In January I made the decision to let the running go. Not forever but because my heart just isn’t in it right now I didn’t want to keep beating myself up over it (again, the whole not moving thought process). I lovingly put it on the back burner knowing that when the time is right the heart/mind/soul will tell me to strap up my running shoes and hit the pavement. Until then I needed to do something. I remembered how much I loved going to JTS (Jowers Training System) in Tacoma so began looking into Crossfit places here in Halifax.
Oh by the way, here in Halifax there aren’t that many to choose from.
Luckily for me Crossfit Kinetics is in my neighborhood and I’ve heard really good things about it. So off I went to check them out and BAM….fell in love with the big yellow box. It’s been tough. It’s left me crying more than once on the floor and unable to sit on the toilet because my quads are so sore but it has done wonders for my mental health and the strength in my body is coming back full force. I can keep up with the best of them and when I can’t, I just take a deep breath and get my shit done.
I know there is a lot of negativity behind Crossfit but unless you’ve been to a box, it’s hard to explain. You hear all the time about how people get hurt because of bad form and pushing too far. But when you take a closer look at the fitness industry, bad form and injury occurs all over the place. When I started running I was pushing myself too much and my form sucked monkey testicles. I found a program that worked (C25K) and from there became a better runner. You see bad form all over the gym. Crossfit doesn’t make bad athletes. Not educating yourself on technique makes a bad athlete. Listening to the people that know their shit and then taking what you learn and applying it to perfect even the little things makes you a better athlete. Not perfect but better.
I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the last two months.
I’ve also been knocked down a lot over the last two months.
But you know the old saying:
Fall down 1000 times…
Stand up 1001 times.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a comparison shot of the Tara before vs the Tara of today. In fact it’s been three years since I did a side by side comparison. It’s still hard some days to look in the mirror and see the sagging skin or see what looks like still obese thighs but it’s important to know that weight loss can be for a lifetime if you continue to put the work into your body and sometimes more importantly into your emotional well being.
I’m heading into my 4th year of being a 100+ pound weight loss success story. Each year that passes the percentage of success gets smaller and smaller. My determination to keep my body right where it is gets stronger and stronger.
This is my body January of 2010.
I’d just made the decision to get on that Life Changing Journey.
This is me yesterday.
But much much better.
I’ve been a little leery about opening up my laptop after the last couple of blog posts. Funny; I don’t seem to have a problem writing about weight loss and subsequent maintenance but get a little more personal about gender and Aspergers and I want to shut down this blog and pretend it never existed.
But I exist.
Therefore (dot dot dot), so do some very personal things that I don’t quite know how to share with the world. I don’t mind talking/writing about addictions and mental health. I don’t mind talking/writing about the frustrations of losing weight and the sometimes more frustrating journey of maintaining significant weight loss. I don’t mind talking/writing about feeling emotions and crying through some deep dark shit but mention gender/aspergers and all of a sudden I feel like I have some sort of major defect.
As of late, the two things I want to keep secret more than anything have been at the forefront of my very being. Everyday is a journey into this whole idea of being gender-less and every second of every day is a test of my own ability to control something that most often feels uncontrollable.
I appreciate all the support my family/friends and readers have sent my way but even that feels overwhelming. Now I wonder if people are looking at me differently. Looking for tell-tale signs of that pesky old Aspergers that pulses in my body or being overly conscious about what pronoun to use in my presence.
But at the same time I’m okay with sharing these deeper/darker/more personal parts that make up the Tara/T/T-rex that’s been writing in this blog for a long long LONG time. I open up about them because I’m doing the work to make me a stronger person.
Just like in weight loss you have to do the work to see the results.
Before I embarked on this Life Long (and Life Changing) journey I would stand in the “weight loss” section of some health food store and wondered what pill I should take to get rid of the fat that was collecting in every cell in my body. I’d watch those infomercials and pull out my credit card ready to throw down $59.99 for promise of losing 30 pounds in 30 days. Countless times I prayed for the “Miracle Pill” instead of praying for the strength just to stand up and do something else with my life. I’d proclaim “this is the last time I’m going to eat fast food” only to find myself staring down the menu of another super size me option waiting for that “Welcome to (insert fast food chain here)” voice of approval.
I didn’t want to put the work into weight loss.
But I wanted to change.
The same goes for almost everything in our lives. If I don’t put the work into my gender (lessness) then I surely can’t expect any change to happen. If I don’t put the work into my Aspergers then I surely can’t expect any change. If I don’t put the work into anything…nothing will change.
When we do the work, we get stronger. Physically and mentally. When I talk about my confusion to looking in the mirror and wondering if I’m a boy or a girl I allow the confusion to be front and center. When something is front and center it gets paid attention too and when something gets paid attention too, it shifts. Things change. It’s not easy looking in the mirror and sometimes wishing something dangled between my legs and my chest was flat. More often than not that feels shameful. But sometimes that feels pretty empowering. Standing up for myself and asking to not be called “lady” or “ma’am” and instead saying “my first name is Tara but you can call me T” still feels like its more trouble than what it’s worth but I’m learning that I am in fact worth being addressed the way I prefer and I would hope some one would be honest with me if I addressed them outside their preferred pronoun (or the preference to not have a pronoun).
When I’m forth coming with my Aspergers instead of hiding it, I’m shedding light on a very prominent part of who I am. It’s hard feeling like I’m walking on egg shells with customers because maybe I didn’t smile or I was too direct in my response but it’s comforting to know that my co-workers know who I am, my commitment to work and my constant vigil to do my very best. I’m still really frustrated, and feeling shameful that I’ve had to be hyper focused on my “behaviors” since starting Costco. I’m sort of in panic mode that every time I have an interaction it’s going to turn bad and have been reduced to tears on multiple occasions. It’s embarrassing. But I’m putting the work into being more patient with myself and when you put in the work, you get stronger. I know I look pretty normal to the average Joe so I’m learning to not be afraid to say “I have Aspergers so my social filters are not the same as yours”. Instead of fighting the body ticks (rubbing my head/rocking/walking on my toes/making noises) I’m allowing myself to just do them a little more out in public because a) it feels really good b) it takes away the build up angst c) it helps me not feel so shameful.
Doing the work.
When you have to work at something, it can feel overwhelming. You don’t want to do it. You just want things to be easy. The problem with easy is you don’t learn to appreciate all the blood/sweat/tears/emotions you put into making yourself stronger. It’s not the 110 pounds that I lost that I appreciate. I value the fight I put into taking myself from morbid obesity to athletically fit. I value the confusion of wanting the body of a boy one day and wishing for a pretty little painted flowers on my toes the next. I value the frustration that builds when I know I’m about to have a communication break down with a customer but can look into the eyes of my co-workers and boss because I trust them.
I’m ready to put aside these two parts of Tara/T/T-rex for a little while on this blog. I don’t want the focus to shift just yet. I want to write about Crossfit and working out. I want to write about my disconnect with running. I want to write about food and throwing around the idea of going on a juicing cleanse. I want to write about lifting heavy shit and meeting cool people at my new box. I know the gender stuff and Aspergers is interesting but it takes a toll on my ability to feel comfortable on my blog. I’m still doing the work but not so sure this is the platform.
*taking a deep breath*
and feeling stronger.
Sometimes I wish I could wear a button.
Or something similar.
Like this name tag.
It would open up the door to the conversation that I seem to be having more and more often these days. “Hi Tara. Can you explain to me what having Aspergers means?” Then I could go on this longish (but really short direct and to the point cause you know I have Aspergers) rant about lack of social filters / eye contact problems unless I initiate (and really like you) / most people think I’m kind of rude but in fact very sensitive yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah and thank you for taking the time to listen and hopefully this will help us both understand each other a little better from here on out.
Having Aspergers sucks big hairy fucking monkey balls.
Having to explain that you have Aspergers sucks even more.
Even this blog post is upsetting me. The last couple of weeks I’m finding myself trying to stop the world spinning around me and explaining again and again that “No, I’m not rude. No I’m not trying to be mean. I’m sorry that sounded harsh. Smiling doesn’t come naturally to me. Rules are very important to me. I don’t have the same social filters as you. Have you ever heard the term parallel player? Yes, I would like to sit with you but don’t know how to initiate social interaction. No I’m not talking down to you. No, I’m not insensitive, I just don’t know how to process emotions like you do…”
I work at Costco. I love my job. It’s sweaty. It’s physically demanding. It’s fast paced and somewhat chaotic (but very controlled). I roll hot dogs. I stick my hands in elbow deep soapy water and wash dishes. I haul garbage. I swirl ice cream around on cones. I wear a hairnet and say “howdy” when I’m ringing in someone’s order. It’s much much much different than my professional life as an interpreter and the money is about 1/4 of what I’m used to making. But I love it and I’d like to stay at Costco for as long as possible and climb that “corporate” ladder like it’s no one’s business.
The interactions of late with people not a) knowing and b) understanding what it means to have Aspergers leaves me feeling very frustrated and ashamed of myself. Most days on my drive to work I fret over whether or not I’m going to do something wrong (and by wrong I mean NOT wrong like steal money but wrong like say something that offends someone or not interact properly). That seems to be happening a lot.
I’m really sorry I have Aspergers. I’m embarrassed by it. My whole life I’ve been described as the following (meaning the people I am close to usually at some point say this to me): “You know Tara, I thought you were a real bitch when I first met you but then you turn out to be one of the nicest people I know”…
I can’t even begin to explain to you how hard I work at keeping this little (and by little I mean super fucking BIG) part of me swept under the carpet. It’s like being downstairs and running upstairs every 30 seconds to make sure the lights are turned off. I’m constantly checking to make sure my Aspergers is turned off…funny thing though, you can’t turn it off. Ever. So I’m constantly apologizing for my behavior that isn’t a behavior.
“I’m sorry I said that”
“I’m sorry I make noises”
“I’m sorry that wasn’t my intention”
“I’m sorry I needed clarification”
“I’m sorry the light is bothering me”
“I’m sorry it’s too noisy”
“I’m sorry that sound raises my anxiety”
“I’m sorry I’m sitting apart from everyone”
“I’m sorry I’m rocking”
I try to explain it in a joking manner: “Think of me like Sheldon from Big Bang…Just not as smart“. I try to explain it simply: “my brain is wired a little differently than most”. I try to explain it in everyday language: “It’s like I’m driving around in a particular car, that I know really well and then all of a sudden I have to stop, look for a new car, get in, figure out what’s what and what’s where, recalculate my driving directions, get to where I’m going then go back and find my original car in order to continue on with my day…that’s what it feels like when something happens I wasn’t expecting like someone saying hello.”( <—- I’m not joking.)
I really want to just be the best I can be. If I could wish anything away it would be this part of me that is so entrenched in my cells. I don’t want Aspergers to keep me from reaching my potential with Costco or with anything. I try to bend to what I think other’s want to see in me and yet by the end of most days I’m so emotionally distraught that I *might* have said something / done something wrong I spend the 10 minute drive home crying and second guessing my ability to just.be.normal.
Sometimes I wish Aspergers came with a bodily warning of some kind. Something recognizable so that people could whisper to each other “ooooooooh look at Tara. She has Aspergers. You can tell because her left ring finger is purple (or maybe my right eye would be down by my mouth or something)” That way when people approach me there is a hush hush of patience before the first word is spoken to me. Instead I have to deal with “another member complained” or “maybe try not to be so direct next time”… When you see people with Down Syndrome or in a wheel chair or missing a limb or something really obvious you pause ever so slightly and then react. That’s what I wish for with me. Just to pause before initiation. To understand the reaction and to not make assumptions of my rudeness or my lack of compassion.
I’m extremely sensitive. Case in point. Last week I was over at my in-laws and an adult deer walked along the path behind where they live. It was injured. Still walking but one leg was obviously in serious trouble. I’m still constantly thinking about that deer. Is it alive? Is it eating? Is it suffering? I lay awake at night wondering what has happened. I stare out their window wondering if I’m going to see it. Should I leave food out just in case? This will go on as long as my in-laws live there. No lie. Every time I’m over there I will look out the window and wonder what happened. That’s also a part of my Aspergers. I’ll probably cry over that animal later today because I don’t know how to process emotions and I’m writing about it right now.
I’m not making excuses to just accept my Aspergers. I recognize that what comes out of my mouth most times sounds rude and I’m always apologizing because it helps me to understand what’s appropriate (by society’s standards) and hopefully teach me to do something differently next time.
I am, however, asking the world to have a little more patience with trying to understand what can’t be seen. I know it’s difficult in this fast paced, don’t look back, react first, we all should be the same kind of life we live. I try really hard. I try really really hard…
And just in case: “I’m sorry”