by Danielle Badler
It’s been almost exactly five months since my GRS surgery. Time to assess.
I’ve heard people in similar situations say, “I’m still the same person.” I agree and disagree.
Oh sure, I have the same flesh and blood. Although, uh, the shape of the flesh is a bit different. And that’s just the start. So many other things have changed. Emotionally. In the experiences I now almost take for granted. In how I’m perceived and accepted.
Lynn, a member of my informal therapy sorority, who works extensively with trans people, told me that, for many she’s known, surgery leads to increased personal confidence.
I agree. I’m now doing things that were not allowed/frowned upon or I felt was inappropriate before. I do them regularly. And it doesn’t get old.
Let’s see. I go to a weekly workout group. Oh yeah, we do work out, with a personal trainer (often the only male.) But that’s almost despite the constant conversation flow. About life and love, people and love, events and love.
I power walk. We talk the whole way, about life and… you get the idea.
Same for a golf group I’m in.
And a card group.
My actual therapist, Laura, said, “you’re an extrovert, so it’s probably easy for you to fit int—”
I stopped her. I told her that that’s a major change for me. I told her I’ve taken Meyers Briggs three times (not recently) and each time I came out on the line between I and E.
But now, I agreed, I’m definitely an E.
It’s a substantive personality change. Corroborated by my electrolysist, Luanne, another member of the therapist sorority, who tells me to stop talking, when she zaps me around my mouth.
Male friends. I’m thinking. No new ones, other than business acquaintances. A few casualties among legacy friends.
But then there’s an old friend, from NY, who for several decades was like the brother I never had.
He saw me once, last fall. After three cancellations. I had written him off. But he came to lunch on one of my visits east, with his wife. She raced in, bubbling with questions. He sat, silent, visibly uncomfortable.
Every year, he would call me on my birthday. This year, a month after the lunch, nothing. I wrote him off again.
Then he called me, a few weeks ago, said he had a project for which he needed my help. Wonders never cease.
My family. Yes, there are issues with my ex and daughters. Complicated issues. Long-standing issues. Let’s just say that’s a whole other topic for another day.
But then this happened. On “siblings day,” my middle sister wrote me and my younger sister, to say… “how glad I am that you are my siblings. You hear so many horror stories about siblings fighting, but not us! We’ve all gotten much closer these last few years and I truly appreciate you both.”
The morning after the Bruce Jenner interview, I called my parents to find out what they thought about the show. My mother said, “So what else is new?”
I was invited to dinner recently with people I knew from a crossdresser support group that I joined when I first moved to Denver, nearly nine years ago. I had joined to meet people in the “community.”
I listened intently to the conversation, about the trials and tribulations of getting out and about, where you can go in the evening, where to shop, and so on and so forth. I sat back and smiled.
I was in a Sephora recently, and the saleswoman said she loved my hair color (blonde). She asked, “Is it natural?” I could have kissed her. We then discussed non-clumping mascara.
And I cry. Is this good? I don’t know. It certainly is an emotional release. But it’s more than that. Much more. It’s a wave that comes over me, which I am completely unable to stop. I just break down.
And it’s almost always over tender acts of kindness. People reaching out to others. Going out of their way. Making a difference in someone else’s life. Overcoming a challenge. The morning of Mother’s Day this year, I almost had to turn off CBS Sunday Morning… by the end of the program, I was a ball of mush.
Guys have said to me, yeah, well, I cry.
And maybe they do. But not like this. Not with visible, almost spasmatic, involuntary shaking. Not with a gusher of emotional release that just, simply, cannot be stopped.
Every time it happens, and it’s almost daily, I’m left in a lump, spent. And then this warm wellspring rises up, this deep connection with the human condition.
At first, I couldn’t get over the apparent irony; now I find the whole experience to be, well, deeply nurturing and affirming.
Let me sum it all up this way. Every time I visit my parents, I walk in the door and my mother gives me a hug and starts intoning the word, “Unbelievable. Unbelievable.”
Yes it is. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
New York native, Danielle Badler embarked on a writing and communications consulting career in early 2007, following more than 30 years in corporate communications, the last ten as the chief global communications officer for three Fortune 500 companies. That experience involved six corporate relocations, including a year in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Her work includes facilitating executive peer group meetings for The Conference Board in New York, as well as regular articles and columns for the Porsche Club of America, TFLCar.com and planet-9.com.
Danielle is also very active in community involvement, as the Board President of Alliance Francaise de Denver and a board member of the National Federation of Alliance Francaises, as well as a member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press Association. She is also on the Board of Directors for the GLBT Center of Denver.
A graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where she co-edited her college newspaper, Danielle now calls Denver home. She can be reached at email@example.com.