I’ve Said My Piece, Now What?

Following on from yesterday’s post.

Phew, I’ve said my piece. I prayed for guidance on what to say to my friend, and I was pleased with what I said. Because I had had a practice run first, and because of the post I wrote on yesterday’s blog, my head and heart were clear.

My fear of rejection meant that I had some thoughts saying that I didn’t want the friendship anyway, but I know that isn’t true. I spoke kindly, said how I felt about something that they had done, how it left an imbalance in the friendship, and I suggested a way forward.

Now I need to let go. I’m not in control of how they respond, but I have gone into worry that they will be upset, and that they will become angry with me. That’s control. It’s me wanting to control the outcome.

I identify as being codependant, I find it easy to put others needs before my own, I have an inbuilt belief that I am unworthy, and other people need to be taken care of, that I should become what the other person wants me to be. I can very easily lose my personal identity because I see things from the other person’s perspective. Some may call this being a doormat, but I think codependancy is a form of dishonest and manipulative behaviour. It’s trying to control what other people think of me. I know it comes from the inconsistent and abusive childhood that I experienced, so I’m not giving myself a hard time. It’s actually seeing codependancy for what it is that has opened my mind to the reality that it is OK for me to have wants and needs, that it’s OK to say when I feel hurt, it’s OK to express my needs in a relationship. It doesn’t come easily to me. It takes a lot of effort for me to be honest in relationships, but I’m getting there.

Telling Others How I Feel About Their Behaviour

Today I need to do something which I find challenging and that I feel anxious about. Somebody has behaved in a way towards me that I feel frustrated about, and even a bit hurt by.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a big thing to others, perhaps it would. It is big enough for me to need to say something, and so the friendship can survive.

I need to tell them how I feel when they behave in such a manner to me, and I need to keep the focus on how I feel, rather than blame them for their behaviour. Over the years I’ve learned that people have the right to behave however they choose, and that I have the right to tell them how I feel when their actions affect me.

In principle that’s easy enough. But I struggle with it. Although my self-esteem is most definitely improving, but it’s not so good that I feel at ease with expressing myself when it comes to conflict. In my mind I talk through why I shouldn’t say anything, I empathise with the other person, I feel for them, and I think I don’t have the right. After all I’ve made mistakes in my life, meaning that I therefore don’t have the right to say anything to others.

On top of that I get anxiety come up quite strongly. I’m afraid of how the other person will react or if they will reject me, it’s easier to put them first so that I don’t get rejected. Fear of rejection is a big thing for me, it’s also destructive. I’ve stayed in damaging relationships before, rather than allowing myself to feel rejected.

I know what I want to say. I’ve got that clear in my mind. I think it’s best to leave them a WhatsApp speech note, rather than talk to them over the telephone. They don’t live in the UK so I can’t tell talk with them face to face. A speech note feels like a bit of a cop out, but most of our friendship has been conducted in this way, and if we speak on the phone they won’t hear me because they talk too much to listen. It still feels like a cop out, but it’s the way I am choosing to do it.

I’m not sure how it will go. I don’t know if they will accept what I have to say, or whether they will become cross with me. I just don’t know, and that’s difficult, not knowing, it could go either way.

The thing is that I need to say something for my own sake. If I don’t say anything then I will become resentful of them, which will only make the situation worse. So I have to bite the bullet and be authentic. Living an authentic life is important to me now.

Palestinian Walks: Notes On A Vanishing Landscape – A Review

Palestinian Walks (Shehadeh; 2008) was the winner of the Orwell Prize for political writing in 2008.

Shehadeh takes us the the tumultuous political landscape in Palestine and Israel by discussing a series of walks that he took with his wife or friends over a 30 year period. The book is beautiful, poetic and tragic at the same time. Initially the walks are full of beauty, but as the Israeli government increasingly makes life hard for Palestinian Arabs by expropriating Palestinian land and building internationally defined illegal settlements, the landscape gets ripped apart.

The walks become more difficult as the Israeli government annexes land for Israelis only and Palestinians are not allowed to enter these areas. Property and land is expropriated for Israeli use, with little or no compensation for the Palestinians. The Israeli government often claimd that the land was not occupied by the Palestinian owner because it wasn’t on a land registry and no one was in the accommodation at the time of survey. From the Palestinian perspective land ownership and property boundaries were often never formalised, they didn’t need to be, neighbours knew where  property boundaries were, and these were respected.

The walks are so descriptive of the land that I felt that I was seeing the picturesque landscape in my mind as Shehadeh walked, I could see the terraced walls and the cultivated lands, discover the primitive but loved architecture, and feel the tension between two proud nations who are trying to exist alongside each other.

However, what becomes apparent is that one nation becomes aggressive and dominant, controlling the movement, and restricting the movement and freedoms of the other. Settlements get built inside the boundaries of the 1967 Greenline Borders, making a two state solution impossible. The settlements become a blight on the land and roads, which Palestinians cannot use, scar the landscape and become defactor borders that prevent some walks from being undertaken without breaking Israeli law.

Shehadeh also explores the Oslo Accord of 1993 and 1995 between the PLO and Israel. He is scathing of both the PLO and Israeli negotiators and how both sides made it possible for Israel to further erode Palestinian rights and freedoms. Britain and its role in the Palestinian story and oppression is also discussed, as is the failure of the West to intervene to prevent the ongoing and continuous human rights abuses which Palestinians have suffered.

Overall the book kept up my interest and I enjoyed the balance between the walks and the politics, and it was nice to hear about the troubles between Israel and Palestine from a Palestinian perspective, which is often lacking in Western media.

Raja Shehadeh is the founder of Al Haq, a Palestinian Human Rights Organisation, and he is also a land and property lawyer.

Reference

Shehadeh, R; 2008; Palestinian Walks: Notes On A Vanishing Landscape; London; Profile Books Ltd

Developing Sophie Lives

Although I started to write Sophie Lives for a peice of coursework from Foundations in Creative writing with the Open College of the Arts, I am going to make the use of social isolation to continue with writing this novel. I’m not concerned about making rapid progress, just little steps. There’s no need to rush.

It’s not easy to develop the initial idea, but I have added more to the first chapter, which begins with the link to Sophie Lives above. However, saying it’s not easy doesn’t mean to say that I havent been able to continue writing, because I have, and further possible developments have come into my mind. Although I am currently adding to the day that Sophie comes round from her overdose, her sister has come into the frame, although we haven’t met her as yet. This has opened the pathway towards Sophie getting to A and E, and then how she ends up in a psychiatric hospital.  I have already written a very small part of that scene, which can then  move me into the second chapter.

I’m pretty sure that I am not following the best plan for writing a novel.  I have previously read that people develop a plan for the novel before they begin to write; ideas for structure and how the  book progresses. All I know is that I am going to write of Sophie’s journey through her pain and into recovery, intersperced with flash backs from the abuse that she suffered at Mar’s hands.

It’s quite intense to write about at the moment to be honest, and I am writing this reflective commentary for my diary, which allows my thoughts to crystalise. It also means that I can have a break form the mental and emotional intensity.

What I Could Do During Social Isolation – Freewriting

One thing that I’ve already mentioned before is writing Sophie Lives. Not that I expect to write the whole book, but I can write more of it. There’s lots of writing that I can do, I intend to keep up with my freewriting on a daily basis, whether that’s on here or in my notepad.

Meditation has been a part of my life for many years, although I have let that slip recently, and I we would like to take that up again, whether I do breath awareness or use the Insight Timer app. I like to put wax earplugs in, shut out the background noise and just focus on my breath, so I set the intent of meditating today.

My photography portfolio hasn’t been added to for s while. I think it would be beneficial if I went through all of my photos and created a folder for all of the best ones. It’s nice to know that I have taken a few good photos over the past few years and I need to make the most of these. If I have them all in one place then I can get back onto curator space and submit some of them to exhibitions and competitions.

My eating disorder recovery has involved attending online 12 step meetings, and I have a weekly routine of attending three. As well as keeping up with those, now might be a good time to log into some others, which would increase my social contact.

Of course I should continue reading as well. Currently I’m reading Palestinian Walks: Notes On A Vanashing Landscape by Raja Shahadeh. It’s a fantastic piece of non-fiction about the life of a Palestinian from the West Bank (Occupied Territories) and his walks through the landscape. It’s beautifully written, and naturally it touches upon the political landscape of living under Israeli occupation and how the illegal settlements have interfered with the physical environment. I have an interest in the political environment between Israel and Palestine, the conflict has been going on longer than my lifetime, it would be nice if this conflict would end at some point before I die. I hold out no hope for this, but I guess people didn’t believe the conflicts between Republicans and Unionists in Norther Ireland would ever end either.

During the 12 week period of social isolation I am aloud out for short walks and to the shops as well, which is something I will most definitely do.

There are more things that I can do, and this piece of writing has helped me to solidify my ideas from my previous post. I wish all of you safety, peace and love and pray that you all get through these challenging times safely and that you remain in good health.

Self Isolation Due To Underlying Health Conditions

The UK government are beginning to put in place emergencgy measures to protect the population from covid 19.

They have asked that, from this weekend, people over 70, pregnant women and those with serious underlying health conditions to stay at home for 12 weeks. The exceptions are to buy food and go to the pharmacy (if you don’t have anyone to do it for you), as wee as to get some exercise.

I am vulnerable because I have underlying health problems l. I have heart valve disease, have had part of a lung removed, and also because I have diabetes.

They are taking these measure because those who have serious health conditions are more likely to have serious complications if they catch coronavirus, and would probably end up in intensive care. So, from this weekend I will be self isolating.

I have experienced some anxiety about this as my mental health suffers if I stay in for a couple of days, let alone for 12 weeks. I’ve talked this through with a few people now and I’m slowly feeling more relaxed about the situation.

I’m going to order food online for delivery to my home, and I’m going to ask the pharmacy to deliver my medication. These measures remove my need to go outside for these reason.  However, I am going to get outside every two or three days for a walk.

When I walk I will need to follow government guidelines on social distancing, which means staying more than two meters away from people. This is easily manageable with two routes I can follow where there is less footfall and away from busy streets.

Something else has given me more peace about spending a lot of time at home. I can write more of Sophie Lives and do more research into domestic violence and people’s recovery from it. I also have reading and my coursework, as well as freewriting. My kitchen and bathroom floors need a good clean as well.

I feel more settled about self isolating now. I’ll miss my cousins birthday, but we can celebrate it when we are able to meet up again. We were going to go to Minsmere for a day out birdwatching.

We are all in this together, and I need to to take the responsibility of doing my part.

The Crucible – Review

16/03/20

Im about a third of the way through the play and I’m struggling a bit. Although I can follow the story line, I keep losing track of the people. It feels like there are too many characters introduced at the same time. (This is unlike the first few chapters of a book in which people are slowly introduced). It’s hard to remember who is who and what their role is. I do like the stage directions though and can see how the basis of a play pans out with this style of writing.

I’ve only just realised that the narration is set in the 20th century, looking back in on Salem in 1692/3. It’s taken me 40 pages to realise this. This review highlights how little I have read plays over the years. In fact, the only other play I remember reading was Death of a Salesman by the same author, when I was at school.

17/03/20

It is 5.40 am and I have been up since four. I started reading The Crucible about an hour ago and I cannot put it down. I find myself enthralled by the pace of the book. I’m gripped by the drama, and the characterisation. People are ill and cursed from witchcraft, others are cursed as witches and are being rounded up and taken to court. Naturally I have heard of the Salem witch trials, but I have never read of them before in either fiction or historical accounts. The Crucible reveals how easily an accuser can lay claim, whether this be from suspicion or a falsehood which is decried from a resentment against those whom they accuse. I’m finding it easier to follow the conversations today and am becoming more accustomed to the way in which Miller writes.

The book is too short, it’s only roughly 130 pages long. I feel that if a play follows the script exactly then it must be very short.

The pace of act three is incredible, there are twists and turns with accusations and denial. Conversation makes the flow so incredibly real. I was a witness to the proceedings of arrest and court. I saw the people and places in my mind.

The key here is the conversation. There were two environments, Proctors home before and during the court summons and arrest, and in a side room of the courts. My learning point here is conversation. People do not need to say long speeches, just brief sentences keeps the action quick. Because this is a play there are also directions into how the characters present themselves, such as anger, disbelief, how they are standing, who the are facing or addressing. The directions are a huge contribution to the rhythm of the story. I’ve certainly never given consideration to play writing, but it deeply interests me now.

The fourth act was short and rounded up the tale. The Severn women who refused to admit they were witches were to be hanged. Procter signed a confession that he had done the work of the devil and tore it up, refusing to give it to the judge. He did this because a signed confession on the church door would be interpreted as the Severn being witches. Proctor knew they were innocent, and their lack of confession was one of purity and honour. Despite the judge witnessing proctors confession he condemned him to be hanged because he tore up the confession. To my mind this makes the judge guilt of murder before God, the work of the devil itself, and judge himself should have gone to the rope.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this play, I’m surprised at just how much. When I go back to the library I will loan another play.

Reference

Millar, A; 2000; The Crucible; London; Penguin Classics

Does Transition Into The Female Role Mean I Fancy Men?

Often people who are not trans or in the LGBT+ community can get confused around gender and sexuality. I guess it’s an easy mistake to make.

The simple part is to remember that gender is about who and what I am and sexuality is about who I fancy.

When I lived as a woman during my twenties I was often asked by family and friends “does this mean you fancy men now? Wouldn’t it be easier to just be a gay man?”

My relationships have always been with women whether I live in the male role, or as the woman I believe myself to be. I must say though that I always find a boost to my self esteem if anyone takes an interest in me. That doesn’t make me a gay man though. I’m flattered if any one dares to fancy me (poor sods) but I don’t consider myself to be male, so I’m not a gay man. I’m also not a heterosexual woman. I’m only interested in women romantically.

Being A Trans Woman But Living In The Male Role

Looking in the bathroom mirror one day, I knew that I should have been a girl. A strange though for a severn, eight or nine year old boy to have. I’m not sure when I began to “borrow” my sisters, mum’s, or cousins clothes. I didn’t think that they knew. I nearly got caught one day. My sister was downstairs and she said something to my mum. I just knew that mum was going to confront me. At that time I had “my clothes” under my matress, (I hadn’t brought any female clothing at this point, I was too young). Climbing on to the railing at the top of the stairs I lifted the loft hatch and put the skirt and tights inside. I then went outside as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I knew they wouldn’t search the loft.

I wasn’t confronted about my gender identity until I was 16. By this time I had a small collection of female clothing hidden in my wardrobe. My mum had gone into there one day whilst I was at school because of her suspicions about me. One day my step father approached me in a relatively understanding way. It was agreed that I could wear female clothing in my room. My mum was very unhappy about this, and she didn’t want to discuss it with me, although she tolerated it as long as I stayed in my room.

Skip forward.

When I was 20 I was having psychology for my mental health problems. I had tried to commit suicide several times, I was self harming everyday and I also had anorexia. During the sessions we would also discuss my gender identity, and I tentatively made plans to live as a woman. I was struggling to live at home in female clothing, and outside in male clothes. It was a painful experience. I wanted to live as a woman, but I was scared to do so at the same time. I’m an insular and self conscious person, with anxiety that becomes psychotic and paranoid. My psychologist and I made plans for me to transition during the winter, giving me the opportunity to prepare myself for this huge change in my life.

However, during September I decided that I was going to transition into the female role with immediate effect. It was a terrifying experienced which triggered extreme anxiety, and yet at the same time I felt liberated. I was now living an authentic life, which was a blessed relief for me. My cousin was fantastic, my mum was furious, and my father did the absolute best he could. He found it difficult but he did so much research on gender identity and what it means to be transgender. How amazing to have his support. I also had a close friend who was very supportive. I’m not going to go into all of my experiences at this time, as I’m gradually using this piece of freewriting to explore and express my experiences.

During the first sixth months of living full times as a woman I did not look convincing. Because of rushing the process I hadn’t grown my hair out, and trying to have a short feminine hair cut didn’t suit my face. On top of this I was experimenting with clothes and didn’t have the greatest wardrobe. I was training my voice without the aid of a speech therapist, and this was a slow process.

On two occasions during that first six months I got assaulted by gangs of teenagers. I also had some nice experiences where strangers would come up to me and say how courageous that I was, they wished me well. It was amazing that strangers supported me, but it was also painful, a confirmation that it was obvious that I was trans. Naturally this affected my anxiety and paranoia. I was traumatised.

Over time, living as a woman became more natural, people didn’t notice that I was different. I was accepted as a woman, and the voice training had worked so well that even on the telephone I was accepted as female

However, the trauma of those two assaults stuck with me, and I was terrified of being assaulted again. Sometimes I would walk down the street shaking and with tears rolling down my face. I feel sad to think I was so traumatised. Ultimately this paranoia was so strong that I decided to revert back to living in the male role. I say role because it was an act. It wasn’t me. But the anxiety and paranoia eased and I was more able to walk down the street and engage in some sort of life.

However, not living an authentic lifestyle was devastating. It’s hard to revert back to live in the male role when your a woman. My drug use increased, as did my self harm and suicidal behaviours. I took more drastic efforts to end my life, more severe than the overdoses that I had attempted before. Somehow my body will not let me die.

Living in the male role, having reduced anxiety and finding it easier to function, but experiencing the pain of not being true to yourself is so hard to explain. I cannot find the words to express myself at this point. Maybe one day I will come back and re-write this paragraph.

Over the years, with lots of therapy, I had improvements with some of my mental health, but would have severe and life threatening relapses. The amount of times my next of kin have been informed that I won’t make it through the night is shocking. How they have coped is beyond me. During one of these times, once I had regained consciousness and spent time with my next of kin and her partner, she spoke with me and made it clear that if I didn’t get help in relation to my gender then I would end up killing myself.

There have been times I have been able to wear female clothing at home, and times where I haven’t been able to. I’m not sure how to tell you, but it’s easier to live in denial than to be female at home whilst the rest of the world sees a male. There’s has also, at times, been some inner turmoil when I’m living in these mixed gender roles.

Over the years I have become more accustomed to living in the male role, but I can’t highlight any masculine qualities. I’m sensative, gentle, caring, in touch with my emotions, able to allow people into my life, able to support people emotionally. Are these feminine qualities, or are they masculine; aspects of the modern male?

I’ve lived so long in the male role but I can’t define what being a male is. However, I can say that right now I want to live in the female role, that I’m a woman in a man’s body, that I’m scared of becoming the woman that I believe myself to be. London is far more acceptance of difference, of gender identity and of transgendered people than the small towns and cities which I have lived in. London gives me the opportunity to explore my gender more fully. Counselling is the next step, and taking baby steps towards transition. I’ve started to wear nail varnish, blouses and pretty socks when I’m out. These are but baby steps, but they are steps that I am comfortable with.

Who knows what the future holds.