It’s a morning like most other mornings. I wake up in anxiety and skewed self-awareness. My thoughts stray from procrastination and coffee, settling instead on one of several frequented sources of neuroses. Ingrown hairs that litter my legs and seem to resist every form of treatment insist that I am disgusting and ugly. My perpetual inability to produce meaning or monetary security proves my existence is worthless. My dedicated partner, who I still believe deserves someone better is rendered suspect in my mind. And, of course, there is the ever-present and persistent gnawing fear that I have claimed a mistaken identity, that I am transitioning into a caricature of a woman who should instead be medicated and monitored.
I need help, I think, I need to see a professional for this anxiety. None of these thoughts are true, I nervously assure myself.
But what if they are?
What if the thoughts that I am beautiful, I am strong, I am in progress are simply lies, tools to distract me from reality? How can one discern truth in a mess of false perceptions? When did we decide that negative thoughts are detrimental and healing resides in positivity?
Instead of beginning my day with meditative clearing, I carry these burdens into the kitchen. An exchange of sullen pleasantry denotes a mutual gloom, and my reaction is venomous. What right does she have to inhabit the negative space, when I need her to lift me from mine? Selfishness is often borne from my self-designated despair, compelling me to use her for emotional cleansing. Let her have a moment when I am feeling strong, I think, as though one can choose a convenient time for darkness’ invasion.
I retreat to the bedroom for mantras and meditation, to no avail. This weight is stronger than my ability to shrug it off. And that nagging refuses to be shaken. Disdain joins the party, enhancing all other loathsome emotions in a vicious squall.
So, I give up the fight. And I write.
I write these thoughts you are reading now, confessions of a self-fulfilling prophet. Despite my what-if questions, I do know that this space is not one of truth. I know that skin flaws do not threaten my beauty, funds do not decide worth, and my partner is the love of my life, unquestionably devoted to me.
As to the question of my identity, my transition, my womanhood? I think back, before the hormones, before coming out, before self-admission. And all I remember is this darkness that looms overhead this morning. There were moments of brief respite, moments I breathed deeply and told myself not to believe the lies. But those moments were short-lived and rare, leaving me in the void I thought was my destiny.
I would never go back. I fight lies every day. But, I am growing stronger, deeper, truer. Stability and hope are concepts that have only recently been added to my sense of self. I am plagued by these dark thoughts, and I often feel helpless against them. But I much prefer to be plagued by thoughts I am learning to fight, rather than live within them. There is still much to be learned, to be felt, to be owned. That key difference, fighting them from without versus embracing them from within, is what gives me hope.
This morning, I claim that hope. Right now, it’s one of the only things I know for sure.