This post is PART 24 in a guest blogger series following author Rachael's transition from an A.M.A.B (Assigned Male at Birth) individual to that of a self-identified trans woman.
If you are just discovering Queer as me, start the story from the beginning here.
As I dragged myself from the dimly lit interior of my room, I was joined at one of the dinner tables by a nurse / support worker who came over with a note and paperwork for me to read prior to meeting with the doctor on residence. I was told that it may be sometime before I spoke with him and that this gave me some ideas to discuss or at least a starting point. Since I would only be allotted so much time during our first meeting, so this information would give us some common grounds to hopefully speak about. My indifference was quite plain on my face I'm assuming, as she just left the stack of papers on the table near my porridge and walked away scribbling whatever in her notes.
After breakfast I went back to my room with the information packet. I was curious what was inside it, not surprisingly, due to the lack of things in here to keep my mind occupied. But the information was more on different types of issues that could be affecting a patient that was sent there.
Death in the family, work stress, marriage or divorce issues, etc.…
But there was nothing on queer theory, or religions cults, nor transgender issues, or even the issues that coming to terms with your sexual orientation and the problems of coming out.
Which in all honesty was surprising given the day and age we lived in, but since none of these situations applied to me, I dropped the paperwork on my night stand and lay down facing the wall. I must have been truly exhausted, because I instantly fell in a deep sleep.I just started to open my eyes, to the regular squeaky sound of the lunch time trolley as it was traveled across the main floor. Squeaky thing that cart.
But what actually woke me I was quick to realize was the voices of people taking near the doorway to my room. It was an orderly bringing in a new patient. I had a roommate. I was so hoping that I would be left alone, but I recalled how long it took me to be admitted to this floor. I sighed knowing that there was very limited physical space for mental health issues in this hospital, so I turned my body towards the wall quickly closed my eyes. My anxiety increased quickly and breathing shallow breaths, I kept my muscles tight and ready to jump up and bolt.
Surprisingly my new roommate was fairly quiet, putting away a few things from the sounds of drawers being opened and shut. Then the silence of the room when they left. I waited for a few minutes, then opened my eyes. Nothing was left out on the other side of the room that I could see, so stretching my legs, I walked to the doorway of my room and saw new person sitting on the couch looking at a magazine. I went and stood by the rail near the dinner area, curious to who was going to be in my space that night. He was shorter than I but not by much, he was quite muscular and had a number of tattoos on his arms. He looked like he could use some food, by the lack of fat on his face, and the tight camouflage shirt he was wearing left nothing to the imagination. He had a rugged face, that and the cropped or buzzed haircut gave me the impression that he was either ex or current military personal.
(Great, I thought) instantly judging by his looks that he was some kind of gung-ho individual. But I was soon proved wrong in my quick judgement. While I watching him, one of the female nurses come up to help him fill out some paperwork, and he seemed to be very soft spoken. (I mean I couldn't hear what his voice sounded like) His hands were shaking as he wrote and I thought that maybe he might not be that bad of a roommate as they go. Of course, I really had no reference to what kind of a roommate you would have in a place like this. At least he wasn’t crying at the moment.
So I went back to my, sorry, I mean our room, picked up the papers off my nightstand, and sat down across from them. I kept my face focused on my packet as they completed his admitting information. I wasn't interested in going over them again, you understand, because my curiosity was not on the paperwork but on my roommate. Paranoid much? well, I needed to make sure that I would be safe in my room tonight. The first rule to feeling safe in this place was to get to know who was going to be in your personal space with you at night. Just my luck though as I sat down they completed the paperwork and walked off to the nurses station talking.
I was about to follow, and stood up to do just that, But before I could take more then a single step away from the sofa, (the tall crying man as I never knew his actual name) came out of his room. But he wasn’t crying this time, not knowing what to do as he continued to walk towards me I stopped, staring straight ahead. As he continued walking right past me, I let out a sigh of relief on realizing that he was on the way to get to his lunch tray. I watched him, as he picked up his lunch and then moved to the tables near the west end windows.
I forgot about my new roommate, and realized that I was actually hungry, probably due to actually ordering something I would enjoy eating. A burger with fries, comfort food I know, but I needed any comfort I could in this place. I picked up my tray, slipping my paperwork it, and headed to the opposite side of the dinning area. I just finished covering my fries in the little ketchup they gave us, when the crying man sat down across from me at my table with what was left on his plate...
In the deafening silence that followed, I just lost what appetite I had.
Editor’s Note: To read Queer as me – Part 25: Wisdom from unexpected places, click here. Or click here to read the previous blog post Queer as me – Part 23: Trapped, For the latest LSOP blog posts and so much more, make sure to add us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.