I walk along the long, crowded hospital corridor. I must not cry! My face twists in the tension of wanting to burst into tears, sobbing, and needing to appear calm and normal among these strangers. With an effort I control myself, and then my face twists again.
In case you are worried, my tears were not prompted by a diagnosis, but by being late for a meeting. I will look a fool! I am a fool! I will be rebuffed, and fail again! Wanting to cry makes it worse- what weakling would cry, at that?
I got to the hospital with a bit of time to spare, but there is an issue- I want a building called Elm Holm at the far end, but there is only Elm Leigh. I ask for Elm Leigh- I must have been mistaken- and find it is a cardiac care ward. If I needed cardiac care I could not have cycled here from Marsby. The nurse at the desk tells me to go back to reception. Again I make a mistake: I want O-H-, but only remember the old-fashioned, less accurate name for it, O-T-. I ask for OT, and after my confusion is resolved I am sent to OH. Now I am late, and more upset.
I get to OH, and say I have an appointment with Jill. I don’t know her surname, and they don’t have a staff member called Jill, or a note of such an appointment. In the small office, there is a man who stares at me incomprehendingly and a motherly woman about my age who sympathises and tries to get to the bottom of it. With her kindness I can no longer restrain my tears, but I still can’t explain or say anything sensible because I am trying to hold them back. She sends him off for a glass of water.
I have come to the wrong hospital. There’s another the other side of this small town. Who would have thought it? Actually, I check the note I made of the appointment, and I had been told to go to St Origen’s; but googling this morning I only looked for K- hospital, so found the Infirmary. She phones them, makes sure my appointment is there, and agrees that if I can get there by 12.30, fifty minutes late, they will see me.
I feel the need to explain, and choose my words carefully. I want to appear calm, but cannot because “you have been so kind”. Actually I resent her kindness. Cruelty and disdain might shame me into some semblance of normality. My resentment spills out, and I tell her that I had thought better of saying she had “made a fuss”, and as I anticipated she started to protest. You’re not the first person to confuse the two hospitals, and you won’t be the last. Anyone can make a mistake, she tells me. I express my real gratitude for her help, and curse myself that I had needed it.
I cycle across town, and am calm enough in this meeting to say the right things and not think of crying. What I say is so close to reality! This woman, too, is friendly, and I get the result I want, very glad to appear calm, grateful for her flexibility in seeing me so late. You cycled! You were quick!
Next day, I want to tell this story to my gentle Friend, and find myself tearing up again. I should be able to say this without tears, I admonish myself sternly. The more I try to hold them back, the more I have to gasp out my story between sobs.
Women learn in their teens that appearing “emotional” will decrease further the respect people have for them. Never cry! warns Siri Hustvedt. Men will take advantage. In mixed company you will be derided, perhaps with oleaginous sympathy. (I firmly believe this- it happens, mostly, I was lucky that one time.) I disagree with most things my feminist hero Germaine Greer has to say about trans, but agree that being a woman is “not all cake and jam”. The misery at feeling a fool, and feeling I will fail,
is too much for me, I cannot just accept it (though I know I must). So it forces me to acknowledge it, by making me cry. I can’t hold back the tears. Learning to accept the depth of feeling and live with it is so hard. I don’t know if I felt this deeply before transition and somehow managed to suppress it, but the change from T to oestradiol can’t have helped. It is something to consider if you are about to transition. Suppressing T and taking Œ involves difficulty as well as blessing.
by YOU NOT crying it made you a great deal worse .you should not feel shame /. IT IS OTHER PEOPLE WHO
SHOULD ..it helps me so much very often too have a good cry and a Snotty Nosed.. YOU , have a cry ANY TIME
I would rather cry alone, or with a friend, than with strangers.