I’ll start with an apology – those of you expecting a post about masculinity today, which I did promise, will be disappointed. That post is on the way – it is, as artistes might say, a ‘work in progress’. However, it’s been a lousy emotional week, so I’d rather delay a little longer, and write it properly over a longer period, than dash it off when my heart and head aren’t in it.

So yes, it’s been a hard week, emotionally, but I’ve coped, in ways I’d never have dreamed of a year or two ago. If nothing else, a few days of feeling wretched have served to remind me how much I have changed, in terms of my emotional response.

I used to be a crier. Oh, how I cried. Though once or twice in my life I have been accused of crying deliberately to make people feel guilty, that actually couldn’t have been further from the truth. It was just that in the days when oestrogen was my primary fuel, tears really were my natural response to…well, just about everything. I used to joke that I had a reservoir sat behind each eye, ready to burst forth at the slightest provocation.

I hated reacting like that – I felt it made me seem weak, unable to cope, manipulative. An ex partner once said “how can I ever argue with you, and put my point across, when you just end up crying?” And it’s true – by the time someone is awash with tears and snot, you can’t really bring whatever issue was being raised to a satisfactory, mutually agreeable conclusion. Well, I never could: there’s no joy in knowing a partner has given way on an issue simply because they couldn’t bear knowing they’d upset you to the point of crying. Not to mention your face looking like a swamp.

My lachrymose ways followed me into social situations, work situations, watching films, reading the newspaper…just about everywhere. Arguably this is because I spent a lot of years quite unhappy, stressed, and emotionally raw. However, even as I was experiencing the warm tweaking at the eyes that heralded another bout of tears, I wanted desperately to be able to react differently. After all, I was intelligent, articulate and more than capable of holding my own; why have all of that hidden under a bright pink nose and eyes like mini-doughnuts? That’s the other thing – I was never a dignified crier. Oh no. The shame I felt at crying was compounded by knowing that for a good couple of hours afterwards, the world would KNOW I’d been crying. And how.

Taking testosterone has lots of effects – many physical, more than you’d think emotional. It’s hard to describe how the way I perceive things, react to them and deal with them has changed, but I know I feel very differently from how I did before, and that is reflected in the way I react to things.

I think some people perceive that testosterone somehow stunts or removes someone’s emotional response, but that’s certainly not true in my experience. It’s still there, but different. Overall, I feel a lot calmer, less inclined to react to things that would have bothered me before. I find it a lot easier to view a problem or situation objectively, and rather than get upset, try to work out solutions. My anger brews much faster than before, but goes away as quickly as it came. That’s something I’m learning how to manage, but I’ll take it over the crying, any day.

I last cried on 17th July 2011.

For me, this is liberation. I’ve heard other transmen who have experienced this say they miss their tears, but I really don’t, not at this stage. It has to be said that not everyone taking T stops crying, but I consider I am one of the lucky ones. I love that my emotions aren’t written across my face in wet tracks. I feel that I am able to process what’s upsetting me much more easily if I can do it privately, within me, and react appropriately at the time so that I can go sort any emotional mess out after the event.

But, and there’s a big but, lack of tears does not mean lack of emotion. Don’t think that because I’m not crying over something upsetting that I am not upset. All the feeling is still there – it just doesn’t translate into tears. Some might consider being able to cry as a release I am missing out on, but I honestly prefer dealing with things differently. Feeling stronger and in control helps me a lot in processing emotional stuff, and my past relationship with crying has meant that I see that as a very negative thing in myself.

And before I have rotten tomatoes thrown at me, yes I know that Real Men Cry. This is not about a quest to be a stereotype, a super manly man or anything like that. I’m not saying men shouldn’t cry – anything but, as it can and should be a positive release. But for me, the tears were a burden, and I am revelling in how it feels NOT to cry.

Ironically, the only time I get a touch of wetness in my eyes is watching things like DIY SOS Big Build. But the wet eyeball is as far as it ever goes, and I am grateful for a new way of dealing with things.

 

 

 

 

 

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