As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, 2015/2016 was the year from hell. I almost died from the bends while diving and then my relationship fell apart. I saw this coming, but that didn’t make it easier. I was stuck in Korea and I had wanted to leave the previous year. On top of this, I started to take benzos for my vertigo. I had been taking clonazepam and lorazepam since I was about nine, and I thought I knew how to manage their use. After a few months, I started to worry, as I knew that being on them long term was bad. The neurologist kept piling them on and I needed them to function as vertigo from the bends, a.k.a brain damage, was crippling at times. But I had this feeling that something bad was going to happen, you know, that feeling of doom. Turns out, tapering off those meds was almost harder than the bends itself. People on drug forums claim that benzo habits are harder to kick than heroin or coke. I never had a problem with recreational drugs. They were easy to take and stop. This was not the case with those insidious little pills that dissolve like chalk under your tongue.
As I lay awake at night, anxious, my hands and legs shaking rapidly, often unable to feel sensation in my hands from the bends and benzodiazepines, I made a pact with myself. I said, “Dear flying spaghetti monster if I make it through this, I have to be healthy and true to myself. I’ve been through too much shit to live like this anymore.” After, I assumed “this” referred to the panoply of bad things that were happening to me. However, as I thought about it over several days, “this” took on another meaning, an ancient realisation I had left in the halcyon days of my twenties. “This” meant living as a boy. I can’t even write ***, the word is too repugnant to me–no, not misandry, just not who I am. I got in touch with my lovely gender therapist in Toronto for the first time, we Skyped, and I also told the girl I came out to in my mid-twenties that I was trans, again. This felt good, but it wasn’t enough, not even close. I needed to branch out. There was a new urgency in me. I had a bottle of wine, did some thinking, and came up with someone I could tell.
I had known Jenny for the past five years and we were close-ish. I knew she was one of the only people I knew in Korea that would unconditionally accept my gender “variance.” I was easing into the trans label at the time, it took all of two weeks. Anyhow, there was a catch. She was my good friend’s ex, which would have been fine if I hadn’t found out the preceding summer that she’d been harbouring “feelings” for me since a magical trip we took together–plus the boy friend/friend–to South Africa a few years back. Oh, and she was also close with my ex. Drama.
Whatever, I had to tell someone. And I didn’t feel like I could handle whatever my ex, who I was living with still, would say. So, I engineered a cycling trip to change my tires in May–romance stripped bare. I then suggested margaritas. After margaritas and greasy tacos, we then had a lot of very expensive cocktails at a gastropub in Hongdae. I’m not sure when or where I told her that I was trans on this adventure, it was definitely after the tire and some drinks. I was still sticking with the gender variant label, as for some reason I was too chicken shit to go all the way to transgender. She supported me. This is how we started, Jenny and I.