Is it Alexithymia, or is it Dissociation Fueled by Trauma?
Since undergoing top surgery, I’ve become far more attuned to my body. I find it easy and natural to pull my chest upward toward the sky, expanding my upper torso and relieving the pressure on my back. With one heavy sigh I can drop my shoulders toward the floor, releasing all of the stiffness a desk job puts on my neck. I can tell when I’m tired, I can tell when I’m hungry. I was not like this before.
For years, feeling at ease was just something my body could not do, because I had so little access to it or awareness of its states. I couldn’t understand how I felt or how those sensations were communicated to others by my body and face. My external form was a mystery to me, and a stiff, inert husk to everybody else.
That’s all changed dramatically. From the moment my surgical binder came off, I could breathe away all the tension and stress in my body, as easily as blowing a loose hair from my face. The way my chest muscles connect to my arms and back suddenly made sense, and I could adjust each of them in relation to one another the moment I felt stiff.
After top surgery, I realized for the first time that when a person walks, their arms and shoulders are meant to move, fluidly, as their body passes through space. Before top surgery, I kept everything above my belly button rigidly soldered in place.
I’m more in touch with my emotions now, too, because physical reality has become comfortable to inhabit. Moods pass through me like morning rainstorms, I catch sight of them and then let them go, welcoming whatever is next on the horizon. I’m energized, and more attuned to others’ energies: I can walk into a crowded dance hall or a bustling street festival with an inviting grin blooming on my face, taking in other’s postures and facial expressions without fear. Being a living animal suddenly seems right.
I used to be so uncoordinated that I was forced into special ed gym. As a child, I could not skip without breaking each of the movements down in painstaking detail: Step. Hop. Step. Hop again. Exactly that slowly. School picture day was a torment because I had no understanding of where my body existed within space, or…