A little over two years ago I wore my dad’s clothes. I cut my own hair with kitchen scissors. I never went near a mirror, I physically looked like a 10 year old boy. And l lived in mortal fear of a man so much as looking at me. Now I don’t do any of those things. Here’s how I got from there to here-you know, just in case you fancy giving it a go yourself…
For a long portion of this journey being visible is far from ok. Being visible has been such a traumatic thing for so long it doesn’t seem like it will ever be an attractive option. People stare when you weigh half of what you should and can’t sit up properly on your own. They stare when they recognise you in the street and are shocked by what they see. It’s not a nice feeling, especially when you can’t see things changing anytime soon. The entire world seems far, far too much for you. No wonder you want to hide.
I don’t think it ever would have occurred to me in a million years that men would ask me out. But maybe subconsciously it did because wearing your dad’s clothes is going to definitely put a stop to that.
I knew I had to overcome my aversion to being seen or noticed because if I wanted to show people they too could get better, (just literally out of the bed/wheelchair though not actually living a nice full life-I didn’t know that was even possible for me at that stage so I couldn’t know it was possible for you), I was going to have to figure out a way to get on tv where I could speak to lots of people at the same time. And as far as I could see people didn’t tend to hire girls in their dad’s clothes.
I started small. Took baby steps with wearing things that would be just about described as dresses. Heels were out obviously as I still couldn’t walk that well. I may have bought some on eBay and kept them in my wardrobe so I could look at them when I was feeling brave.
I stopped cutting my hair with kitchen scissors and just let it grow. I bought makeup and put a little bit on here and there. I got really brave and got my nails done one day. It was nice and non-traumatic as it turns out l didn’t have to actually speak to anyone so I went back…
I took my glasses off so I couldn’t really see if people were looking at me, l wore my headphones in case blokes tried to talk to me. A kind of mobile sensory deprivation tank if you will. (Confession time-I still do both, purely out of habit, even though neither really work anymore).
It was a gradual and basically horrible process but I got braver and got more used to the outside world and the people in it as my body got stronger. I got less afraid of people noticing me. It didn’t feel traumatic like it used to when l was being pushed around in the chair or when I was trying to walk. My body forgot and so did I.
I like clothes now. I enjoy that I get to dress up for work. I don’t even feel visible anymore. I’m too busy being happy that I have the freedom to do anything I want without being scared and sick all the time. I think what’s happened is my love of life is reflected in the way I choose to present myself. And the people who have known my two years or less have absolutely no idea it doesn’t come naturally to me. That I had to fight myself every inch of the way to make sure I got here. I like that the struggle doesn’t show.
So if you are hiding away in your dad’s clothes right now. Or cutting your hair with kitchen scissors. Or avoiding mirrors because you don’t recognise that person staring back at you. It does get better. It will feel easier.
Be nice to yourself. Just keep taking those baby steps safe in the knowledge you are headed in the right direction. I’ll be waiting for you when you get here.