When I made arrangements to have my FFS in Spain I thought I would be creating conflict between my family members. Thankfully I was able to snap out of a potentially awkward situation by not even getting into the situation at all.
In March 2016 I had already decided I would be seeking quotes from surgeons to get FFS. In those early days of my FFS research I told my mum I would be getting FFS; probably in Spain. At the same time my aunt had been quite involved with my process and was very close to it.
My mum has always been super supportive and her love is palpable. Having said this, dealing with my decisions in regards to my “transition” has been tough for her. She doesn’t understand, which I don’t blame her since I myself don’t understand. I also believe that she is not interested. It’s not that she’s not interested in me or what I do or what happens to me, but rather I think she finds the topic of “transition” so alien that I guess she can’t even find a way to begin to make sense of it.
Figuring Who Could Travel With Me
When I started my FFS research I told my mum I was planning on having surgery, most likely abroad. I also asked her if she would want to come with me whenever and wherever I had my FFS. That would imply traveling and staying away for about 2 weeks for my recovery before returning back home. She quickly and without hesitation told me she wasn’t interested in traveling with me for FFS. I absolutely respected that response, specially because the whole concept has been hard for her to take in.
My aunt apart from also being supportive, on the other hand she has always been curious and interested in my whole process. I knew that if I asked my aunt to travel with me for surgery that she would go in a heartbeat, so I asked her. Just like my mum, quickly and without hesitation she replied, but opposite to my mum, who said no, my aunt was totally on board with the plan. At this point I thought:
“Perfect, my mum can stay or go visit my brothers and not see what I would go through, which would be tough for her, and my aunt can come with me and provide family support during my recovery”.
Time to Book Flights
“I’ll ask my mum again if she wants to travel with me, she’ll say no, then I can ask my aunt, who would say yes, and my aunt and I would be making flight arrangements”.
I approached my mum again in late August 2016 and asked her again if she’d go with me as I was about to book the flight tickets. This is where she surprised me and instead of giving me a resolute “no”, she didn’t answer.
I was expecting that she would say no and that would give me a clear path to confirm with my aunt, but when my mum didn’t give me an answer my mind started spinning.
“Is she actually thinking of going with me? Is she considering going because she thinks I expect her to come? If she say yes, would she actually benefit or hurt from going with me?”
On the other hand my aunt was quite excited about the surgery and the prospect of traveling with me. I sort of wanted my aunt to go with me. I thought I could get different support from someone that had been curious and interested rather than my mum that finds the whole thing too alien. As much as she loves me, the process of traveling and being with me during recovery could potentially be too strong and awkward for her.
If my mum would come back to me with a “yes, I’ll go with you to Spain” I thought it would be hard for my aunt because she was planning to go with me. But if I told my mum that I rather go with my aunt, I thought my mum probably would feel hurt. So who should I ask to come with me? Just my mum, or ask my mum not to come with me anymore and ask my aunt instead, or ask both? In any case I thought I could be putting myself and both of them in somewhat of a conflict. I certainly didn’t want that.
Then it hit me. Avoid the problem all together!
My Star Trek Transporter
Do you know how Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, came up with the idea of the transporter? For the pilot episode they didn’t have a big budget, and creating scenes where the Enterpise would land and take off for every show as they visited new planets was too expensive. So instead of landing the Enterprise they decided to avoid the problem all together and they came up with the idea of the transporter.
My solution, my transporter if you will, was not to get into the problem of inviting neither my mum nor my aunt.
One night dealing with my mum’s lack of an answer I was able to step out of the box. It hit me that up to that point everything I had done for my “transition” I had done by myself. It was then an easy decision for me to travel to Marbella on my own. On the other hand everything I had planned for the trip was pretty much setup for me to go by myself. As much as I could add another person to my plans I was making flight arrangements just for myself. For accommodations I would be staying at Jenny’s Nest with other FFS patients, so that was probably better support than what either my mum or my aunt could offer.
The next morning I told my mum that I had decided to go by myself; to do this on my own. It was my process and my decision and it would be better if I went at it alone. I later phoned my aunt and told her the same thing. In both cases they understood and accepted my plan to travel on my own, though my aunt was disappointed she wouldn’t be able to be there.
At the end that’s what I did and it was the best decision for me. I think I work better when I’m alone as I can make decisions based just on me and not on other people. I think that for my mum going would have been exhausting to say the least. On the other hand, the kinds of conversations I had with the other patients at Jenny’s Nest as well as with the patient coordinators were very intense and personal. Neither my mum nor my aunt, specially my mum, would have been able to understand. I also think that if they had been there, most likely some of those conversations simply would have never happened.
Most of my decisions when I made the arrangements to fly to Marbella and go at it alone were based on so many assumptions. Just look at now many times I highlighted what I thought in the text above. Those are all assumptions. I assumed how my mum felt, I assumed how my aunt would feel and I assumed I could be creating an awkward situation between the three of us. I reality don’t know if any of those assumptions would have materialized. In fact I’m very happy that I decided to travel by myself and not find out if those assumptions were right or wrong.
P.S. I showed a draft of this post to my mum and my aunt and my assumptions were mostly right! Now I have a much better understanding of how hard my process has been for my mum. I also now know that my aunt worried I travel alone in case anything had gone wrong.