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So far away

  • Posted on March 8, 2014 at 8:38 am

This week I was revisited by a feeling of being alone. After several vibrant long days at work, with some small sense of achievement, coming home to a silent flat for a whole evening alone hasn’t felt like fun. Nor was it sufficient stimulus for the opportunity of doing the dusting! I did some writing, which was good. In fact two poems, one, Voice, I put up here pending revision and better crafting, the other left me in a quandry.

Lyricists have long been in danger of writing love songs to people they’ve subsequently cheated on, poets are often asked if it’s autobiographical, and novelists where such ideas could have come from other than within. So it is with this other poem I wrote. I actually like it, because it’s neat with use of words and ambiguity, a touch flirtatious, but heartfelt too. And though it doesn’t speak of love, it is a love poem. And it speaks about when love is unspeakable. Perhaps there is nothing as bittersweet as unrequited love, especially when it isn’t just intoxication or infatuation.

As I approach the two-year point since the final vestiges of living-as-male were shed, everything seems so far away. By now it is unreachable. I have memories, and I dare to touch them again, though I’m still not sure whether they are people frozen as statues as in Narnia, or moving images like photographs in Harry Potter. Both are an evil magic in some ways. But more to the point, nothing has filled the space. And I don’t really know what the space is any more. What does ‘a committed relationship’ mean now? I don’t want the claustrophobia of me or a partner not being able to do their own thing because everything has to be done together, but I do want to know that there is someone who always puts my interests ahead of others, simply because they always care, and because I know they have a love that won’t change from day to day. I want affection; I want to be wanted; I want to be cuddled. More: I want to give the same without it being blocked because of what I am.

How do you say this?

I dipped a toe in the online dating pond, not as far as paying, only as profiling. In response to ‘woman seeking woman, Brighton, within 60 miles’ and lots of good things about me, I have had a stream of people who might be interested (overlapping profiles) – from Scotland, Lancashire, Northern Ireland and it may as well be Timbuctoo! OK, unless I pay, there won’t be real matches, but they’re not exactly encouraging me to sign up and pay. And anyway, I actually don’t want this kind of relationship-finding displacing a best friendship I already have. Nor do I want to lose a friendship by saying anything I shouldn’t say.

As yet I have not experienced anyone showing the slightest ‘interest’ in me. Just as my wife would tell me ‘I just don’t know how to relate to you (as a woman)’, I don’t think people do know. I’m safe as a friend, but I’m not in the category of possibles, because, well, what am I? That was my last relationships blog, so I won’t go there again, but it does fit this feeling of ‘so far away’. Anyone I think may be a possible ever-closer friend/partner knows exactly where to stop and defend territory (or any inclination to make me an exception). As soon as I am not one thing or I am another, I know we are destined to be ‘just friends’. And that is how I fear it will always be, however I feel.

This isn’t a grouse, but I keep thinking about this Midas Touch – not that I turn anything into gold and add value, but that what I am is a danger to anyone who gets too close: I would change them. Know me, and you instantly become one of those people who knows a transsexual person. Touch me and you instantly become someone who touches … Kiss me and you instantly become someone of ‘other’ sexuality. Love me? I can be your friend while you go dating.

I don’t know how to bridge the gap, so if you have any really good ideas, please let me know. Anyone I talk to about this is terribly kind in their words. Of course I’ll find someone, I mean, haven’t I a lot going for me? Musician? Artist? Writer? Dancer? Thinker? Philosopher? Terrible jokes, but somehow still fun? Highly intelligent and witty? Committing, loyal, kind and deeply loving?

Sadly, none of these things count if, when you imagine being intimate, what I am makes you feel less than what you want to feel you are. You’re ‘not wired’ for people like me? Being wired differently myself, I can never understand that either.

Ideas on a postcard please.

And just because I really like it for touching a really tender spot, here is ‘So far away’ by Carole King.

A stitch in time

  • Posted on August 22, 2013 at 11:14 pm
Picture of Mam Tor from flanks of Lose Hill

On Sunday evening I walked out of my hotel in Hathersage (Derbyshire / Peak District National Park), across the road, and back into a view and a countryside I first walked alone over 40 years ago. Sheep were bleating across the slopes, the air was clear, and the rural smells took me right back to the times I walked everywhere with a too-small-scale map, straight off the bus and into open country. And if I couldn’t afford the bus, I just walked to where the bus would have stopped, and carried on walking. I dropped down the slope, crossed the…

About friendship and relationships

  • Posted on June 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm
Like birds in trees

How interesting. I was looking for the reference to a poem, and I keep my poems roughly in two folders. One is marked ‘gender’ and the other is marked ‘general’. I used to know where to look, because the first was very definitely about the place and effect of gender in life, and the latter really had nothing to do with it really. But this time, I didn’t know. The two things have merged for me, and merged as much in everyday life as in my writing. The stitch, I think, is ‘relationships’. Like birds with broken wings wasn’t where…

A difficult friend to have

  • Posted on May 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Just as I turned my corner and things felt like they really had settled down, I realised that I was spending more time than ever alone. It’s not a complaint, and it’s not just me. Single people just don’t get invited anywhere. It’s assumed you must be busy, or want more than just a coffee and chat, while all the time you’re sitting alone, or just getting on with stuff and wishing you simply had someone talk to you, and do ordinary, everyday things with.

But I’ve had to realise that I’ve been a pretty demanding (or just demanding, never mind the pretty) friend to have over the last year. Losing everything you hold dear and love is hard, so keeping it under when you’re with a friend is the last thing you want to do. That’s what friends are for isn’t it? We take it in turns to have hard times and to support. And sometimes we have hard times at the same time, and don’t offer the listening we should for each other. Looking back, as my life fell apart around me and I grew into more than I could have dreamed of, I was on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s just that those stomach-churning drops seemed to take longer than any steady climbs. A male history had left me with few friends, all girl friends, and all of them were going through difficult times too. And I know that I was talking too much and too intensely and too long and about me. So I screwed up really; and now I feel I’ve just worn them out. I suspect none read my blog!

I do hope I’ve learned about myself through this; I certainly feel very different now, and I hope friendships will grow back in coming months, now that I feel more ordinary than ever. I’m over the grief and mostly over the rejection, but I have to admit still to a bitter feeling about losing the love of the person I shared everything with so well, for so many years – and through no fault of my own. That will soften with time until one day I just won’t care anymore, but the matter-of-factness I’m getting about divorce is not quite how I feel about it. But now is no longer the time to speak of that, or share it with friends. I think they’ve had enough of the me, me, me.

As always, my week has gathered some coherent thoughts from different directions. This week, with so much parliamentary discussion over equal marriage, and a not-altogether satisfactory outcome for transsexual partners, there have been a lot of aggrieved people feeling cheated. Once again we can’t just let it go. Being transsexual is still a real tag-on-the-end of society. Why should time be spent considering so few people? And that’s how we come to feel about ourselves: hard done by, hard done to, neglected, separated, dispensable. Who will defend us, if we don’t defend ourselves? Can’t we just accept our lot and get on with it? Why do we push our presence, and our equality and rights on other people? What do you want? Special treatment?

At the heart of these feelings, and I guess why I wore friendships thin, is fear. Fear that we can never again be fully integrated in society. Who will want or desire us now? Some are lucky, most are not, and we know that. Deep down we know we are not the same when it comes to getting too close to another. And so we assert ourselves and remind others that life is hard at times, being trans. We want others to realise that we are just normal as people, even if our bodies betray that we are different.

Many, if not most, of us will have come to the impossible dilemma of choosing between self-authenticity, and relationships of trust and love. Someone this week described being trans as being given ‘a shit hand’ in life, and someone else on Facebook disagreed, and yes, we all know it’s what you make of it. I even wrote of it as a gift a couple of months ago. But whatever it is, it’s tough. It’s heartbreak, it’s emotional trauma, it’s grief, it’s sheer hard work; it’s about being obvious, about making mistakes, it’s about standing out and being different, and knowing you’ll be different forever. It’s about uncertainty and having to convince professional clinicians over period of years that it’s ‘real’, while you get it all wrong and gradually start to get it right. It’s about vulnerability and fragility. And fear of further loss. Every coming out is a potential disaster, and every time it isn’t, it’s a relief.

It does wonderful things to you, and nothing compares with the authenticity you can achieve. But it’s hard, and often leaves us quite on our own. And we take that to our friends. During transition, life is focussed on ourselves; we have been described as making Narcissus seem an empathic extrovert. We swamp friends in our fear and insecurity, because that’s what it’s like inside. And when we succeed, and develop, again we’re full of it and want to tell everyone, hardly believing we could have managed it. No; you can’t just get on in life when you begin transition. And your friends are on the receiving end.

I think, as well, that I had 32 years of someone I completely trusted, in whom I could confide, share troubles and joys, and know that I would always be loved – and that was suddenly withdrawn, leaving me with no replacement. I am still learning to have those conversations with myself, because I have no-one else. It’s less comforting, but it’s better than silence. And sometimes I do feel terribly alone.

None of this is unique to me. We can be very difficult friends, and all I can say to anyone who I’ve affected during my transition, is that I appreciate your fortitude, and understand you taking a breather. But I still need you, in a less demanding way I hope, and want to offer something back. So please don’t stay away and distant; I can be a good friend too.

Like birds

  • Posted on December 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm

We gather, in twos and threes.
In twos.
Like birds with broken wings.
In ones.
Quiet in discomfort, lost
to sky.
Thoughts are clouds, reason not
to see.

or intermittent twitter-chat.
of brighter hopes—one day …
One day
‘when my wing is mended’
released, as new shall fly.

We shall fly, alone, in twos.
from hurts. On skyroads, unbound—
not too
hurt to conquer cloud hills. Imagine
the one
with wings gathering, lifting us

But now
feathered in lost loves, flocked
in one
shared understanding. Like birds
in twos
shuffling for a sunrise, twittering
in trees
gathered. With broken wings.

2012 © Andie Davidson

Back-story to this: Birds of a feather