The artist I was dating asks how I would feel about still hooking up now that we aren’t together. I freeze, gaze darting away from his, as I attempt to find the words to convey my reaction.
I don’t know how to describe this feeling to someone who hasn’t experienced it before.
“I…don’t know.” I reply. “My body and I aren’t really communicating properly right now”. I don’t know how to explain the disgust I feel just thinking about a body engaging with mine in a sexual way. I don’t know how to explain how lost, defeated, broken, I feel to be back here again.
I don’t know how to explain how much of a failure I feel being back in this mental space. How hard it is to walk around and interact with a world when every engagement with your physical self feels unnatural, incorrect. How does someone whose whole work revolves around sex manage this? How did I let myself slip back to this space?
I interact with my body as if it is a separate entity from me, as if I am speaking with another person and not another part of myself. And in fact, that is how it feels. This body is not one with me; it is but a space I inhabit. The body my landlord, the rent is food and rest and social interaction. I take up its space under its rules and we have an uneasy truce in which I know if I fail to follow these rules, I will be punished akin to an unruly child who trashed their parents’ house when they left town.
“Obey me or else” it warns. “You are but a guest here, I own this home you inhabit so recklessly.”
Once, I knew the feeling of dysphoria to be a disgust with one’s body. To want to change it to reflect how you feel it should be. My body was wrong, but it was also MY body.
Now I know it to include a distance it didn’t used to have. My body looks so much closer to what feels right to me but at the same time I have lost the feeling of ownership. This body is not of me. I am not of this body.
I used to feel this way all the time. Years ago; before transitioning, before therapy, before I came to an understanding of myself and my body.
Sex simply wasn’t a thing in my life – or rather, it wasn’t a thing I felt connected to. My body would go through the motions, engagement as the path of least resistance, but my brain would be elsewhere. Anywhere but there.
I fought so hard to gain control and ownership of my body. Fought even harder for the ability to be present during sex; to like and want sex instead of just tolerate or disassociate.
Periodically my brain will slip back into old patterns and I have to retrain, put a bit of work into reminding it that I do more than merely inhabit this body. That I own this body that this body is mine. But it never lasted long, it was never a struggle to get back to that space.
I flex my fingers and watch them move.
I am temporarily surprised to see the muscles respond like that.
There is no way to say “this is not my body” and have that sentence make sense to anyone who has not lived it.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt at home. Longer than I’d like to admit. I’ve forgotten how to find my way back there.