Friday, July 22, 2011

Chapters and Milestones

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the single-most profound event in my life. If you ask yourself that questions - can you identify one specific things as having the most signficant impact on your life? - you may or may not be able to identify just one that stands above the others.  I can. 

It would probably be PC to say that the event in my life was the day I got married, or the birth of my son, or the day my father died.  Those events were certainly all very profound and all are certainly in the top 5.  But the one day that is head and shoulder above anything is the day I had my FFS with Dr. O.  In a very real sense - that was the end of my old life and the beginning of my new one.

It could be argued that facial surgery is simply superficial or cosmetic and to those who choose to believe that I have no response.  I'm not looking to explain or argue.  The fact of the matter is that the day before I left for San Francisco was the last day I spent with my family (my wife and son) in my house with all the various "stuff" that I had accumulated over a half-lifetime.  It was the last day I resisted allowing the ever rising tide of "Donna" in my life to overtake me.   It was the last day I looked into a mirror and saw a comfortable stranger there.  The many impacts of that experience on my life, my psyche, and my spirit cannot be over-emphasized. 

I go back to my FFS page from time to time just to look at the pictures (see them here). It is truly amazing to me to look back at them and to realize that they're me.  All of them are me.  I feel no shame in admitting that, or in sharing old photos of myself.  If anything, they help me to appreciate just how far I've come.

Several years ago I posted all the original writing and email that eventually became "Wrapped In Blue" online (read it here).  Leading up to this day in 1999 there is an exchange between me and a dear pen-pal, Michelle, who helped me make it through those very difficult days:
Me: Mentally, I think I'm hanging in there ok. I get a bit nervous sometimes, but
everything has been so busy in my life I haven't had time to dwell on it. I
expected to have to take something to help me sleep last night, but actually
slept ok. So far, so good.

Michelle: You really so amaze me sometimes with your strength of resolve and character.
The things that you are going through make my own little travails seem so mild
when looked at in comparison. I am very proud of you and take courage from you.

Me: So that's the scoop fer now. I have to go and get ready for work. These will be a
busy couple of days on that front as well. When I leave work tomorrow, it will be the
last time that people will see me as the me they think they know. When I return they
will know.

It was no coincidence that I went to the South Carolina DMV yesterday and became an "official" resident of the state.  I've lived here since April so the logistics part is certainly not in question.  This is bigger than simply logistics, though.

Over all my travels in recent years (since 2004, actually) I've had my Arizona driver's license.  It has represented an anchor for me, even as I've lived in other parts of the country for work or doing other things.  Arizona has been the place that feels most like "home" and I've ensured that my connection there was as real as it is symbolic. 

But yesterday I traded in my Arizona Driver's License for a South Carolina one.  Throughout the day I took it out of my wallet a half-dozen times to look at it.  The picture is ok.  But, as with my FFS, it is symbolic of something bigger.  It's a shift in recognition of "home" as much as a legal identification document.  Anyway - it's a big deal in my little world.

Speaking of big deal....let's talk about "Users" for a second.  I find it endlessly interesting how many people who wanted me to do things for them back when I was involved with HRC and other efforts have fallen away, especially when I write to ask something.  It is actually pretty remarkable.  Case in point - I've got a friend who asked me for a favor that I thought I could help with.  It's actually not all that big a deal.  But when I wrote to people who could actually make it happen I didn't even get  the courtesy of a response.  And those who did respond told me they couldn't help.  When I contact some of my corporate "friends" to ask a question I don't get a response.  Others have similarly short memories.  All I can say is - I don't have a short memory and I won't forget.  I don't forget when others help me out and I don't forget when others choose not to.  I fully expect that there will come a day when these same people need or want something from me again.

The good news of all is that much of my time these days is my time.  I'm very much hoping to get another long bike ride in this weekend.  I need to spend time with my laptop.  I may take a drive up the coast a bit with Maggie.  There's a movie I've been wanting to see before it leaves theaters (Midnight in Paris) so I'm going to try to make that happen. I need to do laundry, and want to go to the fitness center.  I already realize that two days isn't enough time to fit everything, but that's ok.  At least it's MY time.

It's my last "down" weekend for a little while.  I'm headed to Texas to visit my son and my mom next weekend.  Then it's out to Phoenix to take care of some things for a few days.


sweetbrandigirl2004 said...

Donna I can only Imagine how much FFS changes ones life it was something I'd hoped for but as of yet have not attained. I would Imagine it was about the same as the day I woke up from GRS, for me that was my birthday and the first day of the rest of my life.

I all too well understand how quickly people forget...all I would say is to remember what goes around comes around and those peeps will need you again someday and you'll have to decide whether to take the high road or the low road.

Lastly I understand what you mean about the Drivers License I was born and have lived most of my life in Virginia and once I sell my house I'll be moving to Phoenix and I'll have to turn in my VA Lic and I've given thought to that, if nothing else transition has taught me to really get in touch with my true feels.

Quay Summer said...

Donna - I so appreciate the courage you have to share your before and after photos. It was seeing your photos that clinched my decision to have surgery with Dr. Ousterhout. I guarantee you no one will ever see mine!!!

Sophie Lynne said...

I see FFS as being THE big milestone. After that, for all intents and purposes I will be a woman. However, there are many hurdles to face before it happens.

Someday. Someday.