There's a bit of recurring theme when it comes to Friday night's blog. During the week, I store up ideas for things to write about, or rifle through my stash on drier weeks, and yet, oftentimes, I find myself staring at this empty white box. Not stuck for something to say, but running a monologue, trying to find a way to start the conversation - such that it is - and get going. It seems, as I read in a writing tips newsletter, to just 'have at it' - well, it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, last week - and get going. As per, that seems to have done the trick. Umm... yarrr? :-)
There are times when something a little.... random comes along in your working life. We're going through a reorganisation at work, although this won't be about this directly. As part of it, we're all having to go through a touchy-feelie course to empower us. Yes, that word :-) As I was saying to a workmate, accept the fear, and act hasn't really been a problem for me, nor I'd wager a large portion of the team I work in. They're a brave bunch and have never been backward at coming forward. Yet, we're all going through this process, of what I can only describe as corporate self-help.
Now, I don't mind this type of stuff (generally speaking). I find a bit of naval gazing and pondering how things could be more idea, truly fascinating. You would think, I'd be in like Flynn when it comes to my turn in our little work group, but no. Ignoring my feelings that I don't think this will actually and truly help us change how we work, when it came to the session, I clammed up. There we were, about eight of us and a session leader, to help *cough* inspire us and direct discussion.
For me, it felt too much like group therapy and feelings I hadn't had in a long time, came rushing back, as I sat listening to the others. Eventually, it was my turn to speak. "Do you have a stand up moment: one where you felt afraid and yet stood up to the fear? One you'd like to share, Richard?" I was asked.
Time slows and my brain goes into overdrive.....
- I stand in with my hand gripping the handle to the front door. I am dressed in a long skirt, flat boots and a jumper. The autumn leaves dance on the hedge as a gust catches them. I have never been outside before and my heart is beating like I've run a race. Next-door are out, I watched them leave and I am only going to the car to fetch something I need for work. I swallow, breath slowly and pull the handle down. Outside is bright and cars are passing at speed on the road far away. I step outside and my boot heel clunks loudly, announcing my presence like a gunshot......
- The Ever Lovely Mrs J is driving and Wee Man is in his car seat, gurgling happily after his nap. We're almost home. My stomach is doing its best impression of the Gordian Knot, and yet I know, if I do not ask, I will not be able to sneak out. That's not how these things go. We crest the hill, hear our house and finally, I find my voice: "How do you feel about me going out next month?" I ask. Mrs J nods and makes that go on noise people do without speaking.. "It's to a trans group: up in Arnold." My mouth is dry as I wait. We have a chat about me being safe, who will be there, will I need to leave dressed and will I stay for the bedtime routine?
- I sit in the doctor's chair and he looks at me patiently. It's too late to back out now. Memories of a conversation with one of his colleagues, plays back. Talk about 'why not take a holiday' echo in my mind. I think back to crying over the bath, as I run it for my baby daughter, or staring at the wall at work, pretending to think. Or, more accurately, pretending I am thinking, because I sit: unfeeling, uncaring about anything: just afraid that how I feel now will always be like this.
He asks me how can he help and I feel tears spill down my face. Instantly his manner softens and he moves a box of tissues close to me. "I think... I think I might be depressed," I chuckle darkly. "My wife said I should come, because I'm not myself. I'm angry all the time and when I'm not.... I have no joy for anything." I wipe my eyes. "I just want to be happy again." He nods and asks me a serious of questions that help grade depression and my first step to recovery starts.
- I'm in Leicester, out with a a group of trans friends and we've finished our meal. It's time for goodbyes, to melt into the night and for some of us, to go back to being dad. I check my watch and it's just after 11. The streets are busy and the only way home, is back to the car park on the other side of town: a good twenty minute walk. If only I'd followed the directions, I tell myself. Still, too late now. I wave goodbye, open the door and head out into the busy scene. No one says anything, no one calls out. It's dark and I'm just another tall woman in a coat in the crowd. You don't blend in when you're six foot and you're wearing heels. All you can do, is face the world head on and smile. I hold my head up and walk back to my little car. I get in, lock the door and shrug out of my coat. I steady my hands and then drive back.
- I have practised my lines and I've got the routine memorised. I hear my name being called and I bound to the stage, zipping towards the light from the back of the room. I take the mic from the host, say good evening everyone and then my mind goes blank. I have nothing. My thoughts are gone: replaced by the glare of the spotlights and the slowly fading reply. I give a big smile and launch into filler material. I impro, I joke with someone from the audience and I wing it until The Fear ebbs away and I feel my memory come back.
I say none of the above. The feel too personal, or in the case of the latter, to me-me-me. Which is nuts, because we're here to talk about ourselves and you would think, a professional gobshite and rabid keybashing blogger like myself would find plenty to wax lyrical about......
It is too much like group therapy and I feel my throat beginning to tighten. A feeling I've not had for decades. I say: "I almost didn't come to today's meeting. Some of you may know, I've been through CBT - a therapy course, if you like - about depression a few years ago. This, to me, feels too much like that and if I'm honest, Excuse me, I'm starting to well up, just talking about it, which is crazy, because I'm open about what happened and I feel no shame for having had a mental illness." I pause, take a breath. "I'm struggling to come up with a Stand Up moment. I don't have problems at work standing up for who I am, nor for others, nor for what I believe in." I see the group leader about to cut in and wait. She asks about a personal one and I reply: "Nor in my home life. I don't have a problem with fear. Except," I pause and laugh. "Ironically, the fear about coming to this, which I've walked through."
We spend the next ten minutes talking about something next to nothing and if I'm honest, I can't remember what half of it was. What I do know, is another member of our group was equally unhappy as this prospect of 'group sharing' and I'm not convinced it will help us long term. I'm happy to be proved wrong and that's fine. I do think there will be tears before bedtime if people are going to pry into people's personal lives and try and amend their world view.
We're all due back in the room in about four weeks and in that time, I've got to flesh out my 'storyboard' about embracing fear and acting on my wish to 'find a use for this technique and help others.'. Crazy. You would think someone who likes this type of self-help stuff would be more in tune, but to me.... it feels too much like a psychobabble CBT-like snake-oil gig.
Most of this week, I've been camped out in another office, busily bashing away on an old laptop. A workmate passed me an old SSD and after some hardware tinkering, said lappy is now much faster. It's almost like having a new machine. Anyhoo, the screen was too low for me and that gave me a bad back (rock on, eh?). Despite my back starting to lock up and then some top quality pain meds from the doctor, I was determined to make Chameleons this week. If I could keep moving, despite a bit of serious 'owage' I did feel better and as we trans folk know, a few hours in heels works wonders, right?
Now, I've got a bodyshaper from Figleaves and its very good IMO. It is not, however, anything like a corset. As I pulled on the ribbons, the corset did its magic and pulled my waist in. I breathed in, felt myself push against the sides - not uncomfortably so - and tightened up a little more. I stood and took in the view in the mirror: I already had hips from the padding I use, but now my waist went in: much more tapered than the thicker trunk-like torso I normally have. The added bonus was the *ahem* extra chest material, that when taped and shaped into a bra, really gave a good cleavage too.
Dressed and changed in an unusually quick time for me, it was downstairs to mingle and say hi to people. We have a number of new folk come for their second and third visit, which I always like to see. We had some laughs and chuckled about some groups referring to us as 'a knitting circle'. Well, Chams is very laid back and gentle: but I don't see that as a bad thing.
With September and October having a number of birthdays in it, we'll be having a party soon, so I guess I best get on with updating the web site.