I’ve been missing blogging so much. But blogging used to have this safety to it that it doesn’t have anymore, ever since I connected my real name to the writing pseudonym. Carey Maria Catt Callahan. Maria was the name of my midwife. My dad chose that middle name. Catt is for Carrie Chapman Catt, the suffragette. My mom chose that middle name. I chose Maria Catt to write under because when I started writing about detransition I was so unbelievably lost, and I didn’t want to create another self, but I didn’t want a failed transition to follow Carey Callahan around forever either. I needed a space to find that self that was in the middle of me, the center self. The self that wasn’t built in reaction to other people. Who was I apart from how people treated me? Who was I apart from who I wanted other people to think I was?
I’m not sure I found her. I mean, I found out she’s sad. I found out she’s scared a lot. I found out she really does not care to be funny, and resents when people want her to be funny. I found out she craves gentleness from other people. I found out she wants love and a kid. I found out her life is a mess but it’s a managed mess. I found out she needs community, like she needs rent money, like she needs protein for breakfast, like she needs coffee, like she needs alone time, like she needs encouragement. I found out she’s always going to be a big crier.
There was a shooting at Ohio State today. I went there for undergrad, my brother went there for his PhD. My folks from Ohio State have all moved on, except for my friend Mike, who used to live in my senior year-all boys,except me-trash pit/party house The Jungle. Mike is finishing up a masters at Ohio State. I texted him, he texted back, he’s fine, he only goes to class one day a week on campus. I wasn’t really scared, I knew he’s mostly in the working part of his program. So I wasn’t really freaked out that there was a possibility of Mike being in danger. And yet actually I’m crying. I wasn’t really freaked out but the shooting has made me cry. I wasn’t really freaked out but actually I was really freaked out.
I have these photos from the surgical consult I had way back in 2012. I’m naked except for these raggedy looking briefs with yellow flowers on them, and the photo cuts my head off. On my left side I have a substantial love handle puffing out from over the top of the brief. There are red marker lines on the sides of my thighs where me and the surgeon agreed I wanted the boundaries of my thighs narrowed to. My tits hang low. My body looks exactly the same today as it does in the picture. Not skinnier. Not more muscley. Not even hairier, because I have put so much time and money into removing the hair testosterone grew.
The pictures are the map of where I wanted away from. The red marker lines drawing on top of me are the route to where I wanted to go. I didn’t go. I went some ways and then turned back. I went back home and tried to find where the center of myself was.
It’s so surreal how much has changed around me and how much I have not changed. My therapist letter from 2012, the one that let me get testosterone, says I’m a genderqueer middle child who goes to grad school to be a family therapist and supports themself by waitressing. Now I’m a female middle child who is still going to that same grad program and supporting myself through waitressing. The thighs are the same. The tits hang low. Mike is alive and safe. Everything’s the same but it’s four years later and everything’s different.
My body as an object is still so hard for me. My body is such an un-extraordinary body. It looks like the body of exactly who I am- some nobody young but actually not so young woman from the Midwest. It doesn’t look strong. (But it actually is a lot stronger than you’d think). It doesn’t look smart. It for sure doesn’t look like the body of anyone with any money. It doesn’t look, to me, like a body someone could really love. Unless that person was really into not strong looking, not smart looking, kind of poor looking women. My kind of body couldn’t be used to sell anything except plastic surgery.
I went to hot yoga this morning. Sometimes I’m ten minutes into a class and my body sort of tenses up and I feel a really morose loss of faith that I’m going to make it through the class. Like I somehow forgot on some level that yeah, these classes are hard as shit. But that’s the point of the classes, so you just accept that shit’s going to be hard for awhile and that’s what you signed up for, and you keep moving your body like the instructor says, and breathing out and in like the instructor says.
The structure of a hot yoga class is the instructor kicks your ass for about a half hour, and then you do some deep stretches that you wouldn’t be able to do had you not just gotten your ass kicked for a half hour. I went into child’s pose about 20 seconds before she told us to go into child’s pose, because my ass was completely kicked. Then she said if we felt like taking an inversion we could.
So I rolled to the top of my head, and balanced on my head and hands, and put my knees on top of my bent elbows. That’s my go to inversion. I can hold that one for awhile.
And then I tried lifting my knees off my elbows. Your abdomen does that work. It’s all about your abdomen being able to lift the weight of your lower body up in the air.
And I did it. Not for super long, but I did it. And it wasn’t a kick up in the air, it wasn’t trying to use momentum to do the work instead of the muscles- my abdomen did it.
To go upside down your core has to figure out how to do that lifting work.
My stomach looks the same as in that picture from the surgeon’s office. The same ring of pudge rests along the top of my briefs. That same abdomen has figured out how to take me upside down now.
I’m just going to say this, and you might not agree, and this might be a thing that people make fun of me for: it’s hard to be me. It’s not the hardest. I’m not saying anyone else has it any easier. I’m just saying I find being me hard. It’s hard to figure out what the right things to do are and it’s hard to figure out how to get the space to work on getting to know that center self. It’s hard to know when to speak out, and when to react, and when to stay quiet. It’s hard to know when to reveal and when to hide.
When I started this blog I was scared shitless of going to see therapists and doctors because they had assisted me in creating a really dangerous, nasty life situation for myself. I didn’t want to give them the opportunity to tell me I was some kind of trans and had to accept I was different from everybody ever and had to keep going down the rabbit hole of difference. So I had to make do with a blog and the other detransitioned women I knew and those dumb pole classes I was in before I finally admitted I hate being looked at. I get physically weaker as soon as I feel eyes on me. I think those pole classes were me trying to do prolonged exposure therapy with the male gaze. Fuck, I really don’t like the male gaze. Weird because I so desperately want to meet a man who makes me feel seen. Despite my body. Or maybe he could see both my body and me. Maybe once I’m able to see both.
Oh gosh folks. When do we turn right side up again?