Today, Review,Thanks

Four years ago today i sat in a specialist’s office in West Perth and listened while he explained what had happened to me during the first few weeks of my life. He went to great lengths to explain Intersex, how it happens and how i had been modified. Before i left his office he asked me if i was ok with what he had told me, in truth i don’t think it hadn’t sunk in but he told me to seek help if i was struggling and that he could organise some help if needed. I felt as though my world had just been turned upside down and couldn’t even talk to Denise about it at first. The torment got worse and worse over the next 9 months and i came to the conclusion that the only way to end the torment would be to end my life. Thankfully Denise rescued me and gave me a reason to stay alive. Looking back, what I didn’t realise at the time was it was the beginning of the biggest journey of my life, it provided me with the answers that had eluded me for over 40 years and a chance to be the person i always knew i should have been. But it was a close call! For this reason i have had a very thoughtful day, the highlight of it being Denise’s work Christmas party. There were so many lovely people there, some i know well, some not so well and some i met for the first time including a guy who has recently joined the company. Denise introduced me to him and we got talking straight away, he told me he was originally from Northern Ireland and we talked about the troubles there when he was growing up and the problems the area faces with Brexit. He then asked about me and my history and how i came to be in WA and especially Busselton. I was sure he would either of heard or figured out that i am trans but thought i better clarify, he was shocked! In fact, completely shocked! I gave him a very brief version of my story and showed him the photo of Robin which i keep in my purse. He congratulated me and said he would never have guessed in a million years, the best compliment i can ever receive!

2019 has had it’s share of challenges but it has also had a very major success. I know i have already covered it briefly in earlier posts but it has had such a profound effect i am going to cover it more thoroughly. After a difficult beginning to the year when i was in constant pain which really came to a head while we were in New Zealand it was suggested that i have an MRI to hopefully show what was causing all the pain. It revealed, (according to the person writing the report after having a phone conversation with me to explain how gender reassignment surgery works) an excessive amount of erectile tissue left from the surgery just pushed under the skin in front of my pubic bone. I sent the report to Kathy, the surgeon in Philadelphia for her thoughts. We then had a skype conversation about it. She explained that the surgery is not an exact science and that it’s a very fine line between leaving too much and it being a problem and taking too much away and not having any sensation there. She urged me to look at all other options first but would remove it if necessary. I was recommended by one of the GPs i see to go to a surgeon in Perth who said he could help but he was not very forthcoming, my endocrinologist suggested a guy in Melbourne who is a transgender surgeon but he absolutely turned me down flat. All this left me very down indeed, i wrote a blog post all about it. That was until i had my appointment with Dr Sarah Moore. She greeted me with the usual heartfelt hug and once seated she asked me how open minded i was, I replied, I’ll consider anything, what she said next i will remember for a very long time indeed, she said she would like me to try meditation. Now, open minded or not I couldn’t see how this was going to help, before i had chance to speak she said “it won’t take away the pain but it might allow me to have a different relationship with it” I can’t pretend to have understood that back in may but now it just all makes sense. She kindly gave me the contact details of a lady called Sarah Roach who runs Dunsborough womens meditation circle and i agreed to contact her. I have to say at this point that there are very few people who could have convinced me to give meditation a go but Dr Sarah is very convincing and i just knew she wouldn’t suggest something without believing it was the best for me. I sent an email to Sarah Roach telling her a bit about my story and awaited a reply. When it came it was just beautiful and i began to think there might be something in it after all. Sarah runs classes on a Tuesday evening so I agreed to go the the next one, i was quite apprehensive, she said there was usually 5 or 6 ladies there but the weather was dreadful and her only attendee that night was me. It was just meant to be, we talked and talked, she taught me some very basic meditation techniques and said she would continue the following week. She also instilled into me that to get any benefit i would need to meditate every day and that the classes were really a way to “keep us honest”. As soon as I entered the house i was struck by the wonderful sense of calm and much of what she taught me made sense but even I didn’t expect the results. Up to that point i had been taking opiate painkillers 5 or 6 days every week for the mons pain,  I can honestly say i have not taken one since for that pain (i have taken the odd one when my back has been really bad but i still have over half a packet left from May! I have described my success many different ways including “unbelievable” but that isn’t correct because it is believable, it’s true, what it has been is unexpected but it has honestly changed my life. Dr Sarah recommended a documentary to me called “The Connection, Mind your body” it is truely inspirational and i would thoroughly recommend every one to watch it. I think it was one of the things which inspired me to meditate. I can also honestly say that i have not missed a single day meditating, at first it was because i was scared that if i did the pain would return but there is so much more to it. Not only has it changed my relationship with the pain, it’s changed my relationship with myself. Tuesday night classes are one of the absolute highlights of my week, i have learned so much and grown in my ability to understand it. I also participated in Dr Sarah’s September Self Care Challenge. Each day she posted a new challenge, some i thought would be very easy indeed like “stop three times during the day and tell yourself you are enough” i said it but didn’t believe it. I think being told a hundred times by my mother “you won’t amount to anything because you won’t go to school” really sunk in and i read something on Facebook the other day which really summed it up. There was a picture of a child crying and the caption said “when you criticise your children continually they don’t stop loving you, the stop loving themselves” well that was me!

So that has been the biggest element of my year, i still feel the pain from time to time but just acknowledge that it’s there and move on without dwelling on it. The whole self care thing is massive and I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface so watch this space!

There have been other successes this year also including the progress of the house in Nannup, we go there every weekend and i must confess i have dropped the ball a little lately in terms of doing the little jobs which are needed to finish it but it is so peaceful and relaxing we just love our time there. I have made a little area for meditation in a small clearing in the trees, it’s just perfect. My business has gone really well this year, i have never run out of work and in fact I’m going into 2020 with a good number of jobs outstanding which is pleasing. I love working for the Realestate company, the work is very varied and I don’t get any pressure from them as to when i do jobs which is wonderful.

Some years ago Denise mentioned that she would like to learn to ride a motorbike, to be honest I didn’t think it would happen but when a friend of a friend was selling his Africa Twin I decided to buy it. I’ve had bikes for much of my life and thankfully kept the bike category on my licence when i moved over here. This was enough for Denise to buy herself one and organise some lessons. Sadly the Africa twin fell through so i bought a Suzuki V-Strom which although has a smaller engine is probably more suitable for the time being anyway! I am really enjoying getting back on two wheels, it’s certainly better over here in terms of keeping warm in fact it can quickly get too warm with the protective clothing on but very enjoyable indeed.

This brings me to the last part of my post. I want to say a huge thank you to the people who have looked after me this year, i know just how blessed i am to have these people around me. While I don’t want to single people out i do want to say a special thank you to both Dr Sarah and Sarah Roach. You have both been inspirational this year and made it such a success. In my wildest dreams i would never have thought meditation would be the answer but it has been that and so much more this year. Lots of other people have contributed to getting me on the right track and keeping me there especially my rock, soulmate and best friend Denise without whom i would just not be the happy and grateful  person i am today.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, stay safe and look forward to seeing you in the next decade!

Stephanie xx

Last week

For some reason last week was a challenging one. Meditation class has now become one of the highlights of my week but last week it brought back lots of painful and unhappy memories of my childhood and I don’t know why. Even seeing ‘H’ my wonderful psychologist on Wednesday didn’t fully stop the downward spiral on which i was heading. She has been amazing in giving me strategies to work with which in most cases have worked a treat and stopped the rot but it was certainly persistent last week.

Thankfully, at the weekend i turned a corner and got myself back on the right track but it served to remind me that difficult times are only a few steps away. As usual Denise was there to get me through it and spending much of the weekend at our beautiful hideaway in Nannup helped a great deal. There were more things to plant, a sizeable tree to dispose of and thankfully some relaxation time and time for us. It is so peaceful there.

H said to me during my session that she doubts that i will ever fully come to terms with the issues regarding my parents as they remain very raw but spent some time looking at different ways of handling things when they rear their head which was very useful. The problem in this case was that i didn’t really understand why they had hit me so hard and consequently wasn’t ready for it. The good thing is that I’m getting so much from my meditation and self care that a small blip won’t put me off and I’ll be back at class this week, hopefully in a better place to handle the thoughts which come into my head, acknowledging them but not letting them bother me too much.

Onwards and upwards, Rome wasn’t built in a day and a quick look at the photo i keep in my purse of me in 2011 proves to me how far I’ve come thanks to some wonderful people who have guided me through the last few years.