Exposure Thing

I stepped out onto the pavement, still damp but at least it wasn’t raining. It was dark, past twilight, but there was a hint of a darkened electric blue on the horizon where the rain clouds were broken and the sky delicately illuminated from over the horizon. I locked the front door, tucking my door key into my pocket sleeve on my wrist, and set off into a jog.

I hadn’t run on a weekday for months. My exercise had consisted of weekends with the running community on Saturdays and cycling, a sort of binge sweat. I had to do something though during the week. It had been my foot injury that had restricted me to just weekends, using the week to recover it ready for that hit on a Saturday morning. It was about exercise, health and the gender thing. The more I’m out of the house the more I’m out there. An excuse to get the three quarter length running tights on and to feel that at least some of my life is more female than the male, or may be more accurately more feminine than the masculine.

During the day I’d wandered around the shops for a new winter hat. I’d had one in mind for a few weeks, something winter fun, a softer coloured and textured beany or even a bobble hat that would be the topping for when I go Ice Skating in December; an annual diary date with Maddie. But there it was on the shelf. Amongst all the sale hats and it was the only one left. I slipped it on, looked in the shop mirror — it fit. A dusty darkened pink with a grey fake fur bobble and a nice comforting lining.

I popped it back on the shelf and walked out of the shop thinking I’d want to sleep on it. I don’t like to rush into some purchases in case it’s an impulse buy — a reflection of my attitude to gender identity. I walked through the shopping centre thinking about it and thinking whether it would be the hat I really wanted and what the price was as it was unmarked. I stopped for a moment and checked their web site on my phone, there it was, on sale. I quickly turned and headed straight back to the shop with a wry smile on my face.

When I got home that evening, sorting the junk mail, actual post and vote begging letters, I pulled my hair tie out and let my ponytail fall, grabbed my new hat from my bag and headed to the mirror, pulling the hat over my head with my hair falling out the sides of the hat. It really did fit and it did make me a little happy.

I left it on the arm of the sofa for the evening and I caught myself looking at it briefly. There was a thought that went straight to my head thick, fast and concentrated — “there’s a female hat in the house.” It was a strange thought. All those clothes I already have and what was I really thinking? Why was this different? It was my hat. Sure, I still had the label on top with it’s little clothes hanger-for-hats still attached in case I changed my mind, but it was mine.

I worked it out very quickly. I hadn’t just bought this for my use around the house like say a skirt or a dress that I wouldn’t, at least not yet in my gender journey, use day to day but this was something for any day, like my running clothes, my work trousers or my mini ruck sack. These were things that, alone were not hugely obvious or significant but as a collection they were something different. The power of a collective.

It felt like more of me was on show than it had ever been before and I’d not even worn the hat yet. More of me was metaphorically pink than grey. It was nice, satisfying and warm but also a little scary. It was a borderline being crossed. A point of possibly no return. It seemed such a little thing physically and yet something hugely changing.

It was the reason for the dream that night I suspect. A recurring dream from time to time. One where I am going about my day as I want wearing what I want without a care but then sometime later I suddenly become very self aware that people have seen that side of me.

It’s a simplistic symbolistic dream for worry of being over-exposed too soon. Worrying about people seeing the real me. But what is that worry really? Is it worry that people are seeing me in a skirt for the first time or that I’ve not realised I’ve been wearing it when I normally wouldn’t or is it just worry about first times? May be it’s a blend of all three. There again it could be natural doubt about doing something out of my comfort zone. The future usually resolves these things.

The exposure thing is funny because with some of the progress I’ve made so far I’ve just done them and felt happy and normal about it and not that vivid ‘naked moment’ feeling in the dream. The difference though is that the dream is falling straight into some huge massive change all at once; afterall dreams are just dreams. Progress on the other hand is generally steady and incremental — at least for me.

Running the far side of the village, passing houses with warm dimly lit front reception rooms and delicate minimal Christmas lights oozing middle class, and only a week to December shy of a Christmas tree, I realise I am still trying to find my way and finding that the little increments are ever more pushing towards a tipping point. The days still come each morning and a new day begins with new thoughts of “what next.”

Until next time.

Hannah x

2 thoughts on “Exposure Thing

  1. It’s amazing how often you realise that you worry more than other people care, and whatever you were worried about becomes the new normal. 💜

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