Now who am I? I don’t honestly know the answer to this question. It’s something I’ve pushed away for so long now that it’s gong to take some time to unpack. I’ve been reading a fair bit about all things transgender, dysphoria is a topic that comes up a fair bit and a lot of what I read struck a chord with me.
So the word is basically the opposite of euphoria, it means a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction, for those of you too impatient to check the first line of the wikipedia entry. Reading about it has put a lot of my life experience into focus. The fact that the face in the mirror was just a face, not a stranger per se, but not a face I ever identified with.
The disconnect goes a bit deeper than mere facial features, or clothes, or even behaviour, though all these things are tied into it. It goes right down superego and id, the conscious mind and the subconscious. Which is also something I just looked up on wikipedia.
As a child I had a tendency to cry a lot. My father has a temper (one which I inherited) and would, on frequent occasion reduce me to tears over trifling matters. A lost toy, homework, fights with my sisters, really it was more about the day he’d had than anything I did. I would cry and he would tell me not to, and I would do my absolute best to stop. Boys don’t cry after all.
The disturbing thing is I’ve learned how. I can shut it off like a faucet. Most of the time. As my relationship crumbles around me I realize this habit is a big part of the reason why. In a recent argument with the woman I love I went from bawling my eyes out to stone calm in a matter of heartbeats. I did this because I didn’t like the way she was looking at me. I did this because this is what I always do when I’m hurt.
I don’t like pain, I’m afraid of it, but when it comes we’re like old friends. I pulled a deep fryer on top of myself when I was four. It was probably unpleasant though in all honesty I only remember a few flashing images. From there I’ve had my share of trips to the hospital, each time doing my best to remain stoic and calm. Boys are supposed to be tough.
It was all a part of disconnecting from myself. In junior high I began regular self harm, toenails were my drug of choice. Intense and long lasting, no scars or questions. I read an article which proposed people engage in self harm because of the endorphin rush. That may have been part of it, but one of the big reasons I did it is that it made me feel strong.
As stated I’m terrified of getting hurt. Moving away from self harm I began to focus on exercise, in particular I quite enjoy martial arts. It’s the idea that if the world is going to hurt me, I want to be ready. I prepare myself for the pain by learning to ignore it, and learning to fight back. The problem is that both of those things are terrible solutions to relationship problems.