Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tell Me the Story Again Momma!

One of the pleasures of childhood is having your hair brushed (unless you had knots (my hair was upsettingly (for me) short - see photo!!), another was being read to.  Having your Mom read a story was beaten by only one thing, having Momma TELL you a story.  That's when stories came alive.  I could look into my Momma's eyes, see her smile, hear sense and feel what she had to tell with an intimacy which no story read off a page could ever give.  Being an only child, all this was just for me.  What a gift.  Momma wrote stories too though they were too grown up for a child to read.  I came to read those later in life but it's the storytelling I remember best.

Tea with Teddy & Momma (I cried over that haircut!)

It's hardly surprising then that when I became a kindergarten teacher one of the loveliest times of the day for me was the end of the afternoon, just sitting with the children around me on the rug in the quiet corner, reading or preferably re-telling a story.  Re-telling was good.  Even if the story was Goldilocks or some other well known tale, re-telling it in your own words made it come alive.  It didn't matter how many times you told the story, the retelling was slightly different.  The details were the same but the focus and interpretation altered depending on your mood.  It brought the story alive in fresh and surprising ways, even for me as the storyteller.

But times have changed.  I have a whole new slant on storytelling now.  The audience is a tad older and  professionally qualified.  There's generally only one person in the audience.  The trouble is, having told the story once or twice, (and this time it makes me cry) I get passed on to yet another audience and asked to tell my story again...and again....and again.  The audience makes occasional notes, reflects my tale back to me, asks me questions, challenges, probes and summarizes. 

For once I'm getting a little tired of storytelling for this is MY story and retelling it involves reliving all the painful horrible bits of growing up as a boy who felt like a girl and was inside herself.  So far I've had to retell the story 8 times to a variety of therapists, psychiatrists and others who needed to know.  They're all gatekeepers in some way for the various services or help I've had to access over nearly seven years of transitioning.

At the beginning of July this year I talked with my current therapist about my forthcoming assessment at Charing Cross Hospital here in the UK.  I need this in order to access GRS.  Yes, after 6+ years of living and working as a woman, the Health Commissioning Authority here in Wales has agreed to fund my surgery.  Meanwhile in the process of getting on with my life as a woman, socialising, working, flirting, mothering, buying shoes....I could almost have forgotten ever having been thought to be male, except for that tiny little problem when I undress..... :-S

What I mainly discussed with my therapist was the sad fact that in a month or so's time I would have to yet again re-tell my story.  It's likely that after 8 attempts, even if I was deluding myself about the need to transition, I would probably have my story 'pat' by now.  That leads me to wonder what sort of gatekeeping this is and what value the process has if any? I will re-tell my story of course, and this time maybe I will be able to add fresh insights.  I still can't help wishing though that it had been different.

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