Art Form? Punishment? Or Badass Ninja Warrior Mindfulness Practice?
I consider myself to be a very patient person. I think it’s probably one of my most redeeming qualities. But lately, and maybe this is just pandemic isolation speaking, I have been getting really bloody tired of waiting.
I have always consciously taken the opportunity to practice patience in my everyday life, whether it was during long daily commutes, waiting in line at the grocery store, or in my everyday life as a teacher. I try to remember that there is no point in getting upset because not only does it NOT make things move more quickly, but it just makes my blood pressure even higher. Not only that, but it is often touted by mental health professionals and mindfulness coaches that it’s the journey that is important, not the destination.
Well, that’s all fine and good. Except when the waiting seems to be endless. In the last five or six years, I feel like I have done nothing but wait. Wait to see a doctor, wait to see a specialist, wait to see a psychiatrist, wait to see a surgeon, wait to start hormones, wait to see results, wait to heal, wait to feel better, wait, wait, wait…….. And now we are all collectively waiting with anxiety and trepidation to even leave our homes and see our friends and family. And waiting is especially hard when you a) have no idea when you are waiting until and b) are not sure the wait is worth the effort.
I guess you could say I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately. When I started hormones, I was so excited to start seeing the changes in my body that I was expecting. And they did come, but not all of them. And some that did come were not ones I wanted or expected. I am now a tenor instead of a soprano, but I also had complications with my hormones and was diagnosed with excessively high hemoglobin levels and high blood pressure. I was waiting for the hormones to help me build muscle and change my body composition, but for reasons that no one can explain to me I continued to have metabolism problems and trouble losing any weight. Even when I was still working out 4 – 5 days a week and eating healthier than ever in my life, I was told I was still overweight and had several very negative experiences with doctors because of that (e.g. being asked twice by my surgeon if I had ever been pregnant, because he didn’t believe me the first time I said no. I guess losing 60 lbs and having a ton of stretch marks on my belly from being super fat and unhappy in university was enough to merit suspicion). I waited what felt like ages to have my top surgery, and in many ways it changed my life for the best. But I can also say I’m currently not super happy with the results of the surgery and will possibly never feel comfortable going shirtless at a swimming pool or at the beach. I was supposed to be on a list for another surgery in May or June, but I’m sure that will be needing to wait until Covid-19 decides to let us live our lives again.
I guess the most frustrating part of all this waiting is that my expectations have never really been matched by the results. When you have a picture in your mind of what you want your life or your body to look like and you can’t seem to get there no matter what you do or how hard you work, it gets discouraging. Add to that the very real struggle to stay healthy mentally, being burnt out, and now being literally stuck in the house unable to see anyone or do anything that I normally do to de-stress, and it’s been a potent recipe for a mental health mess.
And I’m 100% sure that I am not alone in these feelings. I think I’ve still maintained the ability to have perspective. I realize that I have many things to be grateful for. But I also think it’s important for people to know that it’s also normal to have disappointments and feel sad that your dreams might not actually match your reality. I am both grateful for how far I’ve come on my journey and grieving for the dreams that I know might be unrealistic or unattainable, at least for now.
I also think it’s important to share my disappointment because as a guy who only began transitioning about 4 years ago, I had a lot of unrealistic expectations. And those expectations were fed by the media and a lot of the stories of young, athletic, trans guys who already had six-packs before they even started hormones. Very few people honestly share their struggles or complications. So it was a complete slap in the face when I started transitioning at 31 years old and found myself still unable to lose weight and having to go on blood pressure medication. And genetics and age are not on my side at this point, which sucks but you gotta work with what you’ve got.
So guess what? I’m going to keep waiting. Patience, for me, is not a passive act. It is a purposeful, mindful, downright rebellious act that allows us to be able to have dreams and goals while focusing on the current moment. It allows me to believe that I can exist joyfully now, enjoying every day while simultaneously hoping in a future I can look forward to. It allows me to let go of my expectations of what my life should look like so I can fully embrace what it already is. So I will keep practicing patience; I will try to relax into each moment, try to enjoy the drive (complete with obligatory road trip snacks), wave lovingly at those who pass me on the way (no matter how fast or angrily they are driving!), and try to help others who might be heading down the same road as me.