Now that R--- has gone home, and I'm managing on my own, I can take stock and explore how it feels to be post-op, and at least physically womanised.
My attitude here is based on the conviction (with of course the benefit of hindsight) that I always was female. I just looked at first like a little boy, and was duly labelled, and my upbringing was consequently the sort given to boys. Knowing no better, I accepted all this. Any feeling that something was amiss, or that I was a misfit and ought to be something else, could be put down to the kind of strange imaginings and weird notions that kids tend to get. It was all, anyway, 'just a phase - something I'd grow out of'. I can hear my Mum saying that even now. So the appalling stresses of puberty were lightly dismissed by those who had power in my life. And indeed, I came through with a career ahead of me, all ready to take up. I pursued that career for over three decades, hardly ever pausing to examine myself or my life closely. I could cope, I seemed to be doing well. I got married, and even though that failed, its demise - never thoroughly examined - could easily be put down to 'natural causes'. The concept of Gender Dysphoria never occurred to me. But when it did, when it hit me in July 2008, I knew instantly that THIS is what had been nagging away at me all my life.
The rest, including the op, were inevitable from that moment. A series of choiceless events. All I could do was plan the best way to make it happen, and see what needed to be done to recover the woman inside who had never had anything more than unconscious expression.
In my world-view, making my genitalia conform to self-perception is just a prelude, an overture, to the main part of the symphony. The real reconstruction work is a gigantic endeavour that will consume the rest of my life. All the things that male children learn must be unlearned. All the thinking, attitudes, assumptions, reactions and prejudices that male children and young men pick up must be looked at, and discarded if inconsistent with the feminine way. Similarly with anything I was learning in later life that would have turned me into a grouchy old scrote.
Then I must study what it means to be a woman, what her style is, how she moves, how she inter-relates. And what her impulses are, and what makes her laugh with shining eyes, and what makes her cry, and in what circumstances does she accept a strong arm around her shoulders. I must become expert at projecting my feminine self, naturally, unconsciously and with the utmost individuality.
A pretty comprehensive cluster of difficult ambitions! But for me only total commitment to my task will do. Everything else - a possible professional career, a life of travel - comes second.
And lying here, with tight, painful suture lines and swollen parts, how does that square with my lofty notion of womanhood? Well, I'm not discouraged. By the end of March, the swellings should be much reduced and I may even be able to sit comfortably, allowing me to drive. Then watch me go.