After the Mask

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

I was going to write another post about being young, being old and living in fear with the secret of who I was. But you know what? Fuck fear. This is about letting fear go, it was never your friend.

Photo by Elijah Hail on Unsplash

This isn’t about fixing all aspects of your life. I’m not perfect, I still get annoyed with people and frustrated at work, I’m still sometimes harsh with people. But what lives underneath is happiness and not darkness. Coming out was the best thing I ever did, I only regret how long it took me to do it. Sure, I have dysphoria that seems to engulf my vision, but it’s manageable and less intense now.

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

The changes due to HRT are great and life affirming, but the changes in me from coming out are no less astounding. Fear dissipated like a morning fog in the afternoon sun. I used to be self-conscious and always awkward, but now I don’t think about how others see me, just how I see myself. I don’t obsess over what others might think or that they might pay attention to me. It took me a long while after the soft “coming out” to get to this point, a couple of years. I had panic attacks for years, to the point that an ambulance was called in to work as they thought I was having a heart attack. My panic attacks were caused by my “secret”, by my constant worry that someone will find out. My start to transition only heightened that as I was growing out my hair, going to LHR and taking HRT, so I grew increasingly worried I would be outed at work before I was ready. I had this anxiety up to coming out and then they stopped as if a switch was flicked. It’s of course not the same for everyone, I’m not suggesting that, it was this way for me.

I was a hopeless introvert. I was so uncomfortable with my body and with my secret that I had a lot of trouble going out and engaging with people. I was this way since childhood, I would sit in the back of the class or sit in the quietest part of the playground. I would be filled with anxiety at the thought of being called on by the teacher, even though I knew the answers to their questions. I couldn’t take the notice of my classmates. As I got older, I became more and more entrenched in being introverted, I was in heavy dysphoria and hated myself. The secret I carried became the focus of my concern, worried I may give something away even the tiniest detail. Coming out didn’t cure my dysphoria, it cured my secret as it was gone in an instant. Coming out helped me with dysphoria because I was able to get help without holding back, without needing to outsmart the people helping me. I’m a recovering introvert, learning to engage with people and with life, being excited when events come up instead of dreading them.

Photo by Tony Ross on Unsplash

What I am trying to say is that for me, coming out and getting the help I needed to transition has not only allowed for me to find happiness but has given me the gift of a life that is no longer squandered. You are valid no matter what you decide or if you transition or not. I can’t say what is right for you, only you can do that. I just know that if I died today, it wouldn’t be by my own hand and it would not be without a fight. This is a long way from when I used to wish for death for an end, so far away that I don’t recognize that feeling anymore. I really can’t believe I carried that burden for so long, fear is a right bastard for what I have allowed it to do to me.

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