Last night I did a lengthy massage session with a friend who’s really excellent massage therapist.
After she’d been working on me for a bit, she asked if I trusted her with body. Yes, of course, I said (we’ve been sexually intimate in the past). She said everything was locked up and it felt like my body wasn’t willing to let go. Later on she added, it felt like my body was trying to hold everything together. Still later on she was working very deeply on my thigh and asked if it hurt. Only a little, I said, and she was amazed because something that people typically find pretty painful.
Some of it is 30 years of accumulated computer hunch — my body is so used to muscles that are permanently on that it feels normal. Some of is accumulate stress from various non-trans stuff. Some of it that I am trying to hold things together as it seems like I’m doing more and more than just meandering toward a possible transition.
But it also got me thinking about the ways I’m become distanced from my body. Especially in light of the “Nothing But Light,” photoshoot where the photography commented afterwards how my body language was guarded and tightly controlled throughout the shoot, and how I never eventually loosened up like her subjects usually do.
Some of it is the sadly “normal” indoctrination one gets growing up masculine: “boys don’t cry,” “walk it off,” etc. Don’t feel emotions, don’t feel weakness.
Some it is not feeling at home in my body as it now. For years it was more of generalized body dysphoria — my body was just a meat sack to carry my brain around. More recently it’s been more specifically gender dysphoria, in particular not having breasts and hips.
But some of it is a physical manifestation of the emotional armor I’ve girded myself in. If I don’t let anyone in, I can’t be rejected by them. If I tightly control myself, no one will see the gender that’s leaking out; no one can hurt the scared little girl inside who’s trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.
Getting the body to loosen up is something I’ve been working on for nearly the past two years. I’ve made progress (I’ve having far fewer neck/shoulder/back problems these days), but there’s still a long way to go. I suspect it’ll take even longer to reconnect with my body. In some ways I’m not even sure where to start.
(Cartoon added retroactively, because damn, it fits.)