My relationship with my body, and Testosterone

I did a Pre-T vs. 1 month on T photolog comparison. I didn’t do a 2-month one. And it’s for the same reason that I keep falling off the healthy eating wagon and the exercising wagon. Otherwise known as the self-care wagon. The reason? I’m scared.

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
– (Excerpt from ‘A Return to Love’ by Marianne Williamson, always erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela)

And it’s fucking true. I feel it most when I’m at gym, actively working on my body: I’m scared of what it will be like once my body is no longer something I drag along with me, but something I truly occupy that enables me to be and do and create what I’m capable of. And that scares the shit out of me. Because all I’ve ever known is struggle.

All I’ve ever known is fighting against this body; all I’ve ever known is loathing it, starving it, mutilating it, nourishing it only to undo that nourishment because I’m not worth it by vomiting up the nourishment. Living outside of my body and dragging my body along like a loud and obnoxious baby sibling that I embarrassingly have no control over…

Attempting to control it before I overcame my depression in 2010 and my subsequent healing process was not something I blame myself for failing at. I had a lot to deal with. I was not in a safe mental space, a stable physical space, I did not have a stable relationship with a stable person, I did not have a stable job or financial situation and I was living between bachelor flats and psychiatric hospitals. 

To say the least, I certainly wasn’t afraid of my darkness. Well, of course I was, because suicide, but not as afraid as I was of leaving my darkness. I held my darkness close to me even as it suffocated me and I went as far as anyone on the wrong side of the psychiatric industry can go in South Africa, barring electro-shock therapy and solitary confinement. 

Mine was not a wobble of a fling with the antisepticised private mental healthcare industry lying on a military-precision-made bed watching daytime television and attending personal therapy. Mine was icky and slimy, sweaty and uncomfortable, communal toothbrushes, broken windows and sliced wrists, overcooked square fish, schizos tied to chairs, here’s some knitting and tobacco because you’re too sick to see a therapist. And I held it close even when it was a waking nightmare because it was all that I had and all that I knew and I didn’t know what a functional adult Germaine looked like or did or felt or thought.

I’ve come to know that functional adult Germaine better since then. And all of those instabilities have become stability; the in bed by 9pm on a Friday night cuddling with my love (whom I love! and who loves me!!!) and watching series while our three furkids lie snoring in the next room of a beautiful wooden-floored house with a swimming pool paid for by a job I’ve had for four (four!!!) years kind of stability. I’m so stable that I’ve even acknowledged that I needed to take the scary journey, that body-, emotion- and life-altering journey that is physical transformation, and not just I’m losing 40kgs transformation but I’m transgender you know in the opposite way to Caitlyn Jenner and I’m taking testosterone and changing my voice and my body structure and my jawline and my hairline (oh god I have hair growing on my back) and my gender and my mother won’t recognise me in two years time.

So yeah, that functional adult Germaine is so stable that I’m willing to throw it all upside down because my return from the darkness demands it. And so I begin to realise, in my return from the darkness, that the light scares me, because I do not know it. And because I do not know it how do I know what I will look like in the light?

In the darkness my body is well padded because it’s had to be to protect me. I don’t need that protection anymore. But letting go of that protection means making me vulnerable to hurt and am I strong enough? Not strong enough to protect myself from others but to protect myself from my own anger and my own pain and my own feelings of rejection and not being good enough and of being a fraud and of how could you hurt me when you love me and how can you be so bad when you’re so good and how can I hate you if I love you?

I know I’m strong enough to protect myself from the pain that others cause, not because of the muscle that I’ve put on between the first time I was raped and now, and not because of the fierceness in my voice that I’ve built up between the first time I was made invisible and now, but because I’ve survived my darkness and the thing that emerged was self-love. And nothing can rape that or make that invisible.

But is my self-love fierce enough to allow me to shed my subcutaneous armour as I peel back layer upon layer of anger and pain? And while I’ve been victorious against the you’ll-be-in-institutions-for-the-rest-of-your-life depression am I strong enough to stand up against the pain and the anger that became that depression because I wasn’t ready to face it?

We always worry that people who love us are going to get to know us, really know us and then see that which they don’t like and leave us. What happens when that happens in a relationship with one’s self, in a space of self-care and self-love?

I don’t know.

I’ll let you know.

All I know right now is that self-love and self-care in the face of one’s own darkness looks like, for now, acknowledging the darkness, facing it, but not beating myself up for it either, allowing what is beneath, both in my emotional and physical self to emerge, to see it for what it is, and to let it be. Just to let it be.

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? 
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. 
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


6 thoughts on “My relationship with my body, and Testosterone

  1. You are Saint Germaine. You will slay this dragon too. Keep fighting and nurture the fragile you who is growing stronger by the day, with that love you hold in your arms. Few has one like her. Few has one like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your posts always inspire me and make me think. I very much relate to the last few paragraphs and I love that quote. I think – I know! (even when the shrinking part of me says I’m not allowed to have such belief in myself) – that by making our journeys visible, we create space for others to embark on their own journeys. Fist bump from the other side of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: T-DIARY: 4 1/2 Months on T | life writ large

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