Obsession and an open door

  • Posted on October 5, 2013 at 8:37 am

Last night at Five Rhythms dance, my evening drew to a close with having a vision of an open door and a sense of freedom to go through.

The night before I had driven to a dance workshop under an evenly-pink sky painted with a rainbow, and the dance had evoked awareness of our being as trees or plants, desperately clinging to roots held in nourishment, yet wanting to burst free in flower and move around.

A couple of nights earlier I had the most tangible experience of strength and support during a meditation that I have perhaps ever had.

The night before that had been both the anniversary of my leaving the place where I had known love for so long, and the night I was rapped over the knuckles for writing my felt experiences here, of being faced with a requirement of maleness, and how that affected my feelings of self, of being, of respect.

A couple of days ago I also lost my email address (it was dumped by my provider) and with it a lot of old connections. I will try to sort the mess out, but it will also allow me to let go of more past too.


In the midst of this I was chastened by having threatened a friendship by having been too self-obsessed, and having to return to my house, to where used to be my home, for the last time, say goodbye to my cats I may never see again, collect my last few things and my art from the walls. I have left a legacy of self, in how I created so much in that house, and have withdrawn the last vestiges.

Have I been writing these years out of self-obsession? I guess I’m much closer to that than I have to writing about other people, and whenever a third party has been involved, only very few readers will actually be able to identify them (or themselves). I always try to observe, not criticise. Most of my thousands of readers are in other countries, a few hundred in the UK, and very few local. One, perhaps two, are family. I speak more to people who I shall never meet. And yet I know from my (non-blog) chastening this week, that talking honestly can be painful. Sometimes openness is mis-read or misunderstood, or its intention lost, and talking is best. I heard what my friend was saying, and was deeply hurt that what she said was true: I hadn’t listened enough to her enough to understand her fragility.

We talked at length, the friendship is restored, and I have learned something important, we are stronger. We made the effort to understand.

But here, all I can do is write. It is my experience, my story, and no-one else’s.

Reasons for obsession

I recall reading Helen Boyd’s remark that people with gender dysphoria, when they begin to understand what they have to do, see everything in gender terms. Nothing is more important than gender. It’s an obsession. She’s right. If society allowed us to simply be, without having to be identified, labelled, dressed, as M or F, and even allowed us to move freely about between, then it would be a lot easier and more natural. The terrible truth is that this is nigh impossible. If we do, we are ‘weird’, unnatural, and strange. If we don’t, either we are trapped, or committed not so much to transition as switching, before we are ready.

In one sense, such obsession is unforgiveable and selfish (see also Self, Self(ish), Selfish), but as I have explained at times, when you are drowning, you don’t politely raise a hand and say ‘excuse me …!’. No, you thrash about, make waves, noise and shout, hoping that rescue may come. Sometimes it feels as if though rescue has not come, especially from those you’ve loved and you thought loved you, and that coincidentally your thrashing has been swimming and you find a distant shore.

And that thrashing about, that survival instinct, can make it difficult for others to deal with.

I have loved Neil Diamond’s Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (Be) since I first heard it in the 70s, and I recall:

on a distant shore
on the wings of dreams
through an open door
you may find him …
if you may find him.

is a page that aches
for a word which speaks
on a theme that is timeless
and the one god will make for your day.

is a song in search
of a voice that is silent
and the sun god will make for your way

And we dance
to a whispered voice
overheard by the soul
undertook by the heart
you may know it
if you may know it …

And it reminds me of the explorers that sailed to the edge of the flat earth. And beyond. And returned. My journey has been an obsession too, misunderstood, labelled as brave. And when I have said the earth is round (or that gender and genderedness, even as simply a feminist, is not as taught), I have been thought of as unnecessarily rocking the boat.

Writing here, I know, has helped other people in similar situations. It has been therapy for me, and at times simply the noise of survival. It was better than the suicidal thoughts. It was better than giving in to the waves.

An open door

In losing my home, now my house, I am released one bit more from my past. I closed that door for the last time yesterday.

My last blog on Calling Time is part of that. It was a wide-reaching sense of moving on, and reading it selectively would be unjust. Anything that pushes me back from the open door is not open for discussion any more. I can see that obsession has also held me back; why not just quietly walk through? I feel that now I can.

Accuse me of speaking too openly about the felt experience if you like; all I have done for nearly two years is observe myself and the impact of gender dysphoria on other people, and I think, looking back, that this has been more than a personal therapy. If you have been splashed by my thrashing about, then I apologise. But I have not been waving (Stevie Smith).


« Calling time National coming out day »


Leave a Reply