As far back as my childhood memories go, I hated baths and showers. I tried getting away with as few as possible. The one redeeming part was the bittersweet validation it provided.
I moved around a lot growing up. The times I lived farther away from whichever school I was attending that had me commuting consequently longer, the better I did. In my desperate attempt to maximise sleep time, I’d wake up as close to the time I had to leave as possible, so I had to do as much in as little time as possible. If I kept my showers to a few minutes, book ended with rushing between everything else to do in the morning, showers were way less problematic than when I tried taking one on a lazy weekend day, when my mind could rip into my naked body for as long as it wanted.
Making it less easy to see more of body while I was getting ready and after showering prevented my reflection from adding fuel to the trying situation. For a while all I had was a small mirror placed high enough up that I could scarcely see anything beneath my neck. I could shave my face and the rest wasn’t glaring back at me as I did so. Brilliant.
On really bad days, I washed what I could while keeping underwear on. With my small head and short hair, sinks were often an option. Sometimes I was bent over a tub with a handheld shower and a towel draped over my shoulders. Then I’d wash my limbs either also over the tub with the handheld shower and/or with a cloth & soap over the sink. Depending on your skin, hair, whether or not you’re prone to yeast infections, etc your mileage with how long you can get by with this will vary.
Context: I’m furry.
If my mind was really tearing me a new one but I was already fully soaked, I’d close my eyes, take a few mindful breathes and focus on feeling the water going through my fur. Sometimes I’d keep my eyes shut while scrubbing and rinsing, just opening my eyes to do a quick glance over at the end to make sure I’d gotten all the soap off.
Silver lining to my fraught relationship to showers:
I was bombarded with social pressure and messages that my dysphoria was the result of my sexual assault history and/or wanting to get out of systemic sexism and/or all the other things people throw at trans people figuring themselves out. The connecting thread was their insistence it was about my relationship to the world. As I struggled to manage basic hygiene, I realised no one else was around when my mind fell apart from showering. It was just me, my body, the washroom mirror and horror. That I was binding when I went out, mostly got read as male, had socially transitioned, altered nothing about my life long struggle with showers. Because the issue with showers was that they forced me to confront my body, which was hard even when no one was around to project their wretched (positive, neutral or negative) narrative unto it. It helped confirm for me that my issue was my body and not gender as a social construction or anything the rest of the world was throwing my way about my sexuality. Now and again when I was struggling with justifying all the sacrifices I was enduring to get surgeries, a shower would centre me back into reality. I had a distressful relationship to my body, I really needed to prioritise resolving this thus there was nothing frivolous about everything I was doing to attain surgeries. Bittersweet validation.