Reminiscence

All posts in the Reminiscence category

Letters From the Edge of Blogspace: Further Into The Light….

Published December 26, 2013 by Christine

Moving forward is always hard. You look at the journey you are embarking on and you wonder just how you are going to make it. There are no signposts directing the way, no markings showing the path. Nothing, just a blinding light, stretching into the future. You cannot see any barriers that lay across the road you are about to travel, but they are there, lying in wait. You can only hope to see them in time to avoid them, or deal with them if not.

It’s frightening, terrifying but, at the same time exhilarating, liberating. That first step into the light brings an inner peace for the first time in your life. The turmoil that has dominated your existence has been quieted, reduced to near nothing, but a new turmoil is taking it’s place. One not so serious but still impossible to ignore. You know what’s out there, outside beyond the walls that you have been trapped behind for so long. The world that had existed as nothing but a dream for so long was now real. You are now real, and how you act in this real world will determine how you are reacted to. For so long you have been a ghost in the darkness but now you have to learn your place, how you fit into this new, brighter world.

You stand in the light looking around. Tracey and your friends are with you. They no more know what needs to be done, or the path to be walked, than you but that are willing to walk with you, to help you when you need it, to pick you up when you fall. This is what friends do. You are grateful for this.

You look down at your feet, wondering what waits for you. You look up and take a step, further into the light.

Letters From the Edge of Blogspace: ….and the Woman in the Light.

Published December 22, 2013 by Christine

The Ghost in the Darkness II:

Living in the darkness, the dim, murky fog of alcohol is barely tangible. Its effects only felt briefly, hardly touching the lives of those whom you once counted as friends. Your only companions the liquid evil and the Ghost. She visits day to day, pleading with you to set her free, appealing to the Being that is buried deep within this shattered body. The Being that is her as well. There is no answer. The Ghost knows she will get no answer, and why. The Being is asleep, afraid of revealing herself, afraid of the consequences of responding to the Ghost’s appeal. The Ghost disappears, leaving the being to sleep. She will return again soon.

The years pass, the darkness remains, the fog thickening. You go through life no more than a zombie, animated only by necessity. Pubs are visited, food purchased, people spoken to. Interaction with others is at a minimum. Dreams are filled with wonders you long for, splintering into fragments in the light of day, leaving a lingering sense of regret tinged with hope. In dreams the Being is free. She awakes to an illusion of life, knowing the Ghost is not there, and plays awhile before returning to her slumber. This is your life, your existence, such that it is.

Unknown to you, events are beginning to coalesce, threads of coincidence coming together to form a framework upon which you can stand. There, upon that framework, a decision is to be made. A decision that will change your life irrecoverably. The wrong choice will destroy your life beyond all hope of salvation. The right one will change your life, bringing you back into the light you have been lost from for so long. One of these threads brings a woman into your life, Tracey. She loves you and you love her, but you will not allow her to get close. You turn her away, in the fear that your darkness will harm her. She leaves, saddened by the rejection of her love, not knowing why this should be, but she does not abandon you.

The Woman in the Light:

The Ghost returns for the final time. She waits patiently as always, calling to the being, in the hope that she will wake. Tracey returns, hoping for one last chance at love. This is the moment of the decision, the moment that all could be lost or won. The balance is perfect, and you begin to tell Tracey everything. The Ghost calls and the Being wakes. The Ghost fades, a smile on her face, as they merge to form a whole. Slowly, the fog begins to lift, gradually dispersing as the darkness fades to grey, to light, revealing a woman. You, the woman, who had remained hidden for so long, finish relating your story to Tracey. She understands now, why you turned her away. She understands the reason for the darkness and why you were hiding in the fog and it’s ok. You are unsteady, nervous, but sure and certain. As time goes on, and with Tracey’s help, you will become steady, and confident. You will own your life as the alcohol owned it before. You step out into the sunshine, feeling warmth on your face and smile. You promise Tracey that the darkness will never return to control you. That you will always be yourself…

….The woman in the light.

Letters From The Edge of Blogspace: ….The Ghost In The Darkness….

Published December 21, 2013 by Christine

There are many drugs in this world that can kill you. Some can only be obtained by prescription, necessitating a visit to a doctor, others can be purchased on the street, requiring a visit to a shady character on a dimly-lit street corner with the threat of imminent arrest and incarceration constantly hanging around like an unwanted companion. There is only one, however, that can be bought openly, consumed in public without the threat of arrest, and has buildings specially built and licenced for its consumption.

Alcohol, for some people, is more dangerous than heroin, crack, speed or any other street drug you can care to name. It kills insidiously, slowly and with the illusion that it is helping you when in reality it is destroying you. What starts out as a way of coping with frustration, a way of living with raging internal conflict eventually becomes the very thing holding you together. A tenuous supporting framework built on lies, deceit and betrayal. The odd thing is, you can see it happening. You watch it rip you apart slowly, piece by piece, destroying family, friendships, work, all the time reassuring yourself that everything is fine and that you can handle it.

The Ghost.

Your family can only watch helplessly in despair as you slowly fall apart. Parents holding each other in bed at night, crying, because their child is killing themselves and there is nothing that they can do. Friends try to help. They sit you down and talk, tell you what you are doing to them and family, in the vain hope that somehow, somewhere there is a living spark that can hear them. Eventually they stop. They sit, mute, in the certain knowledge that whatever they say, whatever they do, will mean no more to you than dust in the wind. Gradually they drift off, knowing they have tried, their failure to reach you gnawing at them, like a dog with a bone. They can’t see the ghost that sits with you. The ghost that has to become real. She has been with you all your life. She is you, the you that should have been but for a quirk of fate or biology and you want to set her free, but you know that if she does your life will change irrevocably. You fear the consequences but its the one thing that you want more than anything. So you drink to quieten the conflict, to subdue the ghost.

The Darkness.

Almost imperceptibly, as time passes, everything around you begins to dim, fading like the last light of a summer’s day. All around you, the world begins to fade, becoming almost insubstantial. The alcohol becomes everything. The only thing. It quietens the ghost but it brings the darkness. The darkness that only you can see and feel. It’s there all around you, like a shield, hiding you from the world. No-one really sees you any more. No-one notices the apparition, stumbling through the streets. The apparition who’s only reality now exists in liquid form. No-one cares any more about the titanic struggle that started it all off and is still going on. No-one knows of the irony that the conflict inside is the one thing that can save you. But she knows, she cares, she is the conflict.

She is the ghost in the darkness.

Letters From The Edge of Blogspace: The Lonely Optimism of a Shattered Childhood….

Published December 19, 2013 by Christine

Some people may be shocked by what I write here, in this blog, but it’s better to have that happen than anyone judge me by what is written in the tabloids or on certain chat shows. Trying to explain this to people as an adult isn’t easy, so imagine how I felt as a child.

Childhood should be about absolutes, the constants in a child’s life that they can depend on. To a certain extent I had mine: The certain knowledge that my parents loved me, and I loved them. The absolute fact that my brother was a real pain in the arse but, despite this, I loved him, (and still do), and the absolute knowledge that I was a girl. It was this that shattered my childhood, not that anyone knew. I became very good at hiding it.

To look at me, you probably wouldn’t have thought that there was a titanic internal struggle going on, but there was. A conflict between what I was expected to be and what I was. I didn’t have the words to describe what I was or why I felt the way I did. I felt more at home in female company, but most of the girls rejected me. To them I was a boy. Those that didn’t became my friends but then the boys started bullying me for being ‘girly’, a poofter, queer. It seemed I didn’t fit in either side so I was in a kind of limbo, a nowhere land.

I was the girl from nowhere.

There were many times I came close to telling my parents what I was and maybe I should have done, but this was the late ’70’s and boys were meant to be boys and unfortunately I looked like one. Maybe if I had been strong enough things may have been somewhat different.

As I grew, so did my knowledge. Learning is a wonderful thing. It opens up the world, shows you new things, some good, some bad. Despite the often used saying, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is the purveyor of fear which, in turn, is the creator of bigotry, the sibling of hatred. So, I learned. Not just at school but at home as well. I learned how televisions worked by taking them apart, how rockets worked by building them, (models of course), how chemistry worked by blowing things up, (and redecorating my bedroom in the process) and electronics, by building and experimenting. I also learned about myself. Quite by accident, aged 12, I came across the word ‘transsexual’ in a newspaper. Upon being asked, my cousin told me that it meant a man who had become a woman, (somewhat inaccurate but, hey, we were kids). This set me on a path to find out more. In my local library, (remember the WWW didn’t exist then, just the internet), I researched further, eventually coming across books such as April Ashley’s Odyssey, Conundrum by Jan Morris, Second Serve by Renee Richards. This amazed me. Not only did I have the words to describe how I felt, I also now knew I was not alone in this. There were others like me. I could become the girl I really was. Reading the books I began to realise what would happen, the sacrifices I may be required to make, the hideous bigotry I would have to face, and I became a little less certain of myself and my ability to put myself through this.

By the time I turned seventeen, my shattered childhood remained shattered and became a shattered adulthood. The optimism remained, the hope that I could overcome the crippling fear of what the world would say about me and just become that which I was. The frustration of that fear battling against the need to become my true self led me down a darker path than I could ever have anticipated.

But that’s for next time.

Letters from the Edge of Blogspace: School Daze and other Things

Published March 24, 2013 by Christine

This entry was inspired by a chat to someone from my old school. Its not so much what happened at school, rather more of how I felt. I can only hope that my memory is more accurate than usual. If anyone reads this and went to the same school and thinks that something is incorrect then please let me know. I’ll not be naming anyone but those who went to this school should recognise it from the descriptions. (Apologies for the next line, been watching Saw too much).

I want to play a game….

(The boys can play as well). Imagine, then. You’re secure in your body. You are a girl. Your body knows this, your mind knows this. All feels right. One night you go to bed as usual, thinking about the next day and what it will bring. Sleep claims you and you drift off. You wake up with a start. It’s morning but something is wrong. The room is different, you feel different. You look down at a flat, hairy chest. You jump out of bed and run to the mirror. You’re a boy. You have a boys body. You have male clothing in your wardrobe. The bedroom is definitely male orientated. Yet you know you went to bed as a girl. In your mind you know you are a girl. You hear a voice telling you that you are now male, everyone knows you as a boy, as if you’d been born one. No matter what you say to people they will only see the male you, and this will be forever. You will go to bed every night praying its a nightmare and that you will wake up as a girl, but it never happens. You tell people until you are blue in the face that you are really a girl, but with a boys body, but all they do is laugh at you, or push you around, hit you and call you a poof.

Imagine this, then imagine feeling like this since the age of five, going to bed every night praying for the nightmare to end and waking to find it hasn’t. If you can imagine this then perhaps you may understand something of how I have felt all my life.

It’s very hard to explain to someone about how I feel, and that is probably the closest I could get to explaining it, (without the explanatory voice, of course).

The worst time for me was probably school. My earlier school memories are pretty vague, whether through choice or bad memory, I don’t know. All I can remember is that it wasn’t that much fun. My last school, (although memory is nearly as vague, but I’ll do my best), though, wasn’t so bad. This may be because I was beginning to understand why I felt the way I did. This school was a mixed boarding school set in massive grounds, with three lakes joined by a river, several playing fields, a full size indoor swimming pool and a massive chapel. There were four girls boarding houses and five boys houses, plus an ‘infants’ house. I seemed to make friends reasonably easily but never felt that I ‘fitted in’ with anyone. The junior house I started in was really two houses in one. One side was the girls and the other was the boys, separated by a corrugated partition in the common room which was rarely opened except on special occasions. I remember suffering from terrible home-sickness for the first few weeks, before eventually getting used to things and beginning to sort of enjoy certain aspects. One particular aspect was music. The house had an old record player in the common room and I remember one of the house staff playing two albums that I absolutely loved: ‘Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds’ & ‘Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, (which I would eventually play in the school orchestra). Music became one of the constants in my life from then on. The other was computers. I eventually moved up to a ‘senior’ house. Unfortunately for me, the one I moved into had the worst reputation in the school, somewhat reminiscent of ‘Animal House‘ . This actually scared the crap out of me. To cap it all, it turned out that the housemaster was also my maths teacher! As it turned out, my fears were unfounded. I quite enjoyed most of my time in there. There were down times though, many of them. Times when I would lay awake at night cursing God for giving me this body, this horrible birth defect. Times when I would watch the girls walk past wearing their skirts and blouses and amazing hairstyles (I’m still a big fan of 80’s fashions, a guilty secret), and wish I could look like that. Times when I wish that I would be told I’d been issued the wrong uniform and should be wearing a girls one. There were times when, if I couldn’t be the girl I knew I was, I contemplated disappearing into the woods and slashing my wrists. These feelings were exacerbated by the onset of puberty and the need to shave. This deepened the depression I already felt. It was only the thought of things eventually changing that kept me from acting on my suicidal feelings. There were happier times as well. Myself and two others running across the school roof at two in the morning. Wandering down town at one in the morning and getting stopped by the police and brought back to the school to face the wrath of the housemaster. Rollerskating  everywhere in school. The Radio & Electronics club, which eventually morphed into Computer Club, (with the advent of the Sinclair ZX range and the school’s RML380Z). Film club, (‘Watership Down‘ immediately springs to mind there), and the orchestra. I loved playing the trumpet, but stopped after I left school. I even took my Grade 3, but failed by one point! The highest point in my short musical career was performing ‘Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat‘ in front of the Duchess of Gloucester and the rest of the school. (Ron Rollock’s guitar solo for ‘Song of the King‘ was spectacular). Things like this kept me going, kept me sane (sort of).

That’s enough memories for now. I’ll write some more, possibly, in the future. There’s so many things running around in my head it’s impossible to sort them all out at once. That’s probably why this post seems so rambling and disjointed. Apologies for that.

 

A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away….

Published April 27, 2011 by Christine

I think that we all know where the title of this entry comes from so there is no need to expand on it.

Memory is a funny thing. One person will remember events in one sequence, with one set of events and someone else will remember something different about the same set of events. I think that the only memories that can be truly correct are those that have happened to ourselves and have defined our lives. This catagory, Reminicence, is a collection of my own personal memories that have had some of the biggest  impacts in my life and some are very personal. I am sharing these as it gives you, dear reader, a better understanding of who and what I am, and how I came to be at this point in my life.

(I apologise in advance if things seem to be a bit disjointed as memory can sometimes play tricks with the timeline when trying too hard to remember. We could call it “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle of Memory”. If you don’t know Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, you obviously have internet access so LOOK IT UP, it’s the best way to learn.)

I think that the earliest memory I have of wanting to be female was one night after school when I was about six. I had seen one of my friends leave her house to go to Brownies wearing her Brownie uniform. I remember really wishing I could go with her, wearing my own uniform (if I’d had one), but this was not to be. I went to bed that night praying with all my heart that God would make me a girl, that I would wake up in the right body, a girl body, and things would be alright. Of course I awoke the next morning still with the cursed boy body ( I wasn’t cognisant enough to be thinking those actual thoughts, it’s just literary illustration. My actual thought probably ran along the lines of <sigh> “I’m still not a girl.”). From that day onward, I prayed every night that I would wake up as a girl, but it never happened. I still do it to this day, albeit, subconciously. Now the prayer I have been saying for most of my life is slowly, very slowly, being answered.

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