Friday, March 18, 2011

Emotional Suppression

I began my fight with emotional control somewhere around age 8. I have always been hyper-emotional, but as a developing boy I was expected to control the expression of those emotions. Having been off of hormones for the last week, I have gained new insight into the relationship between hormones, particularly testosterone, and the ability to suppress the expression of my emotions.

My testosterone production, once I reached adulthood, just barely qualified for male levels, and stayed there. I know several trans women whose testosterone production was significantly below that barrier, but mine, in an effort to confound my life, stayed at that barrier, allowing the doctors to declare me normal, but in a concerned way.

I remember tears streaming down my eyes, blinding me, over and over again from age 8 through 16 or older. My father stared at me, expecting me to stop the flow of tears and the sinus drainage that accompanied it, accusing me of deliberate tears. I wanted to stop crying. I wanted to stop the butterfly feelings or at least the expression of them, but I couldn't. As he shouted about giving me something to cry about, I felt deeply ashamed.

Then slowly, over the next 10 years, I started discovering how to, at first, suppress the emotions enough to find a private spot to let them out. As I got older, that ability to hold back the expression of emotions enabled me to endure for longer periods. I still however felt the emotions. I could cry at movies, but I had to let myself cry--give myself permission.

Then three years ago, I started hormone treatment, and with it, I was losing the ability to suppress emotional expression. When butterflies welled up, I couldn't stop the tears. When something was very poignant, I cried again. It seemed that I started to cry at everything. But I also found I couldn't suppress joy at seeing a friend, and found myself becoming bubbly and talkative. Eventually, I reached out to be with others in their emotional pain and joy.

Then 7 days ago, I stopped taking the testosterone blocker in preparation for surgery. The anxiety in my mind is building up as the animus--the outwardly sensing and expressing part of my mind--is taking on male aspects from time to time, completely at odds from my emotional self--which is distinctly feminine. But I am noticing that the ability to suppress the expression of the anxiety and several other emotions is back.

I strongly doubt that women are more emotional than men, that men do not have a lot of emotion. But what I have seen with myself is that sex hormones, testosterone in particular, changes how one is able to suppress the expression of one's emotions.

Hugs and God Bless,

1 comment:

  1. Sophie,
    I just want to wish you well as you undergo surgery in a few weeks.

    I totally identify with you re: emotions. I'll never forget the day I decided to put on iTunes one afternoon as I worked. I had been on hormones for about a month and I found myself bursting into tears with every song that played. Some were tears of joy, some were tears of sadness or sentimentality, and others were tears of self-mocking for being such a cry baby. After about 30 minutes, I had to turn the music off. It was that, or go to Costco to purchase a case of Kleenex, but I had work to do.

    I hope you recover quickly and that your life will continue to unfold wonderfully.