Change (and not just my gender)

I’m exactly where I need to be.

This is has been the motto given to me by my therapist very early into 2020.

At first, it was a bit difficult to believe. This year, I’ve dealt with an ugly breakup with someone who had been my significant other of nearly eight years, I’ve dealt with ended friendships, pandemic lockdowns and the passing of others, difficulties at my place of work, perhaps the most dirty and sickening election cycle I can remember, racial unrest within my own home state, and coming to terms with my own gender identity. It felt like my entire life was coming unraveled around me with each day becoming a little bit harder to get through. It felt like I had to work harder and harder for smaller and smaller victories, that I was making mistakes at every corner and throwing away everything I had worked towards thus far. I kept thinking if I could keep pushing through things somehow I would wind up where I was supposed to be, I would overcome some great obstacle and be on the top of the world. I see bits of that thinking even in my previous blog post.

It took time to understand, but I recall lying awake late at night one evening, still giddy with the feelings of euphoria over my job with my makeup, when I finally understood what my therapist meant. I’m always exactly where I need to be: in the present, living and breathing and going through the motions right now. There isn’t some great paradise where I’m “supposed” to end up. Where I belong is the culmination of both the good and the bad. Living without hardship, without struggle, would make it all pointless in the end. The most important things we learn about ourselves—who our true friends are, the person we truly are—only come during our worst moments. I think that there’s something beautiful to that; within even our darkest moments we can find the brightest truths. It’s okay to be struggling. It’s okay to cry. In the end, it’s enough just to look around and know I’m not alone.

I don’t think everything has necessarily become easier once that realization came to me. It’s certainly easier to pick myself up and not give up. The world becomes a whole lot brighter once you accept yourself; accepting each day that that you are where you need to be makes the yesterday a memory of happiness and the tomorrow a dream of hope.

I wanted to write about this because I said my final goodbyes to my therapist this month. We both agreed that my journey through therapy had reached its happy conclusion, and that it was time for termination. Termination offered me a unique opportunity to look back at how much I’ve grown, and recognize all of the triumphs I have made in my life despite (or perhaps, more likely, because of) the struggles. This year, I have found professional success by getting another one of my short stories published. I braved the cruel world of online dating (as my true self, nonetheless!) and met a wonderful partner who brings out the best in me and loves Claire just as much as I do. I bought a home and moved out of my parents house and adopted a cat. By far, the most significant of my triumphs was accepting my identity as a woman and coming out to my friends and family. And tomorrow, what will be just three short days away from it being a year since I started using my new pronouns among friends, I have scheduled an appointment to get blood drawn and discuss hormone therapy.

With that comes a whole host of unknowns and firsts. I’ve touched on those firsts in one of my first blog posts, and that fear still remains with me. It’s certainly a bit less now, I think. Going through the hurdles I have already has prepared me. It’s still a bit numb even almost a year later that things have progressed even this far. The other day I looked back at a photo of myself and was amazed with how much different I look without hormones or laser. And, a year from now, I can only assume I shall the same thing with those things under my belt. I know that things will not come easy, and while I still dread the unknown, I take comfort that come what may, into the unknown is exactly where I need to be.