The past 2 months have been a whirlwind of emotion, anxiety, and stress. I believe a lot of the stuff that has come up over this time, as hard as it was to go through, was needed. I feel stronger, granted I also feel emotionally drained from this process. But I’d rather go through as much of the psychological processing that I can of this decision while I’m still pre-op. I feel strongly about needing to tango with every uncomfortable feeling I have that comes up surrounding this surgery. I need to game it out in a way that, although might bring up really difficult feelings, as well as fears, will only serve as a tool in preparation for my outcome and the ensuing new dynamics that are sure to come as a logical part of such a major physical shifting.
For me at least, this process has brought me back to what it was like in the beginning years of transition. The examination of the body, standing in front of mirrors while trying to image changes, lots of introspective thoughts, and unfortunately a sense of finding it hard to just exist in the present moment (wishing surgery was sooner). This annoys me, I feel self-absorbed at times in this process, but I understand and accept that it is time that I need to take with my body to “leave no stone unturned”. This is a way of looking at things from every perspective, from the fantastical to the downright morbid.
Two questions keep popping up in my mind? What do you really want? and What are you willing to risk to have it?….
Fear and anxiety were the strongest feelings I experienced over the past weeks. In the midst of the haze those feelings brought on, I actually lost sight of the main reasons that all along have led me to this point of seeking to make adjustments to my body. In order to allow my spirt to feel “flush” in this physical form there are certain functions that I am seeking from surgery, not merely aesthetic. I’ve known very well that meta, although a perfect option for some folks, just can’t give me the form and function that phallo can. Nevertheless, I’ve spent weeks now trying to convince myself that I could possibly “live” with meta. In this twisting of views I only honed in and focused on the things that meta offered and continuously tried to ignore all that I would be “sacrificing” in choosing this option over phallo as well as focusing on the risks and challenges that come with phallo. I think I justified this process by telling myself: “I’m not burning any bridges, so pursuing phallo in the future will still be an option if need be”.
The truth is, that, well, I’m scared… Yeah, this is a scary process. Honestly, I don’t want phalloplasty. Seriously, there is absolutely nothing about this surgery that I want. Who wants surgery?… But I know that it’s a step I need to take. This is my evolution, a reconfiguration, through affirmation, my intention born of deep realization… the transformation.
This need isn’t going away. But if I like, I can choose to mask it for a bit by initially pursuing meta. I will try to show myself compassion if that is what I feel I need to do. However, I fear even in the best scenario I will be on to pursuing phallo a year or two from now. Worst case scenario, I see myself experiencing severe depression post-op (meta) because I waited so long for surgery and still haven’t made enough of a change to feel comfortable and be functional in the ways that are deeply important to me – ie: the ability to wrap my whole hand around my cock, feeling the weight and movement of my penis, being able to pull my penis out of my pants to urinate, achieving deep penetration with a partner. These are things that I will experience only, ONLY if I have phallo. This is what I need to remember.
I just want to point out that I am listing these things and talking about this process not in an effort to convince anyone to be swayed in any specific direction for lower surgery. I’m mentioning them 1.) because this serves as a reminder to myself when I’m feeling anxious about surgery, but 2.) because I think it’s important to talk about how we can get caught up in fear, anxiety and perspective and lose sight of the real reasons we’re seeking to make changes. I just want to be honest about what I’m going through. This isn’t easy, and I haven’t even begun the actual surgery process which is going to be all sorts of difficult for MANY reasons, physical as well as emotional and psychological.
In the meantime, this is what is helping to offer me some peace of mind: 1.) reading experiences that other guys have gone through such as blogs, Facebook groups, and Yahoo groups 2.) having amazingly supportive people in my personal life that can listen and offer support while holding my emotions as valid and not pushing me in any direction or pushing their personal attachments to my body being or not being any particular way, on me 3.) reaching out to other men who are post-op and asking questions 4.) journaling 5.) checking in (and when necessary commiserating) with a friend that’s at a similar point in moving forward with surgery… You’ll notice that 4 out of 5 of these things are about community and being supported and truly seen by another human being. Something I think we all so desperately need in life. Trans or not. Seeking surgery or not.
Today I feel grateful to have found my way back to some sense of sanity – in that the fear and anxiety have been greatly soothed. I can’t say that I won’t experience this again in the next 8+ months before surgery. I keep trying to remind myself that this is uncharted territory. Although it is a bit similar to top surgery, the intensity is amplified about a thousand times. Not to mention that even 10 years ago it was much easier to find other guys who had already had top surgery. To go to an FTM support group and have 10 guys take their shirts off and be able to see results up close, in person, and have them embodied by the whole person that lives and breathes and animates that body every day is just a totally different experience than looking at lower surgery photos online – it’s a night and day difference. I feel incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to attend 2 lower surgery “show and tells” at the Philly Trans Health Conference. To say that that experience was EPIC for me is an understatement. I hope to be able to give back some day, it’s so important and desperately needed within the community. I know that I’m just one of hundreds of incredibly grateful men for this gift of knowledge and witnessing of the beautiful bodies and souls that courageously have shared and have yet to share.