Tuesday, 31 December 2013

3102 In Reflection

2013 was the year the question "How do you feel?" became difficult to answer.
To me it seemed the answer was obvious. I could hardly be expected to feel happy that my husband was slowly suffocating to death could I? That I was glad that he was dead? That I like living every day without the man who made every day seem special?
Thus I would much rather have never been asked as I disliked feeling compelled to lie so as not to offend.
However, almost 9 months after he died, I now feel ready to answer the question.
The overwhelming thing I feel about 2013 is that I simply cannot comprehend all that has happened to me this year.
I do know, however, that I'm not the person I was at the beginning of the year because I'm now unemployed, a widow, a homeowner and financially well off.
I think my name's still Claire but I seem to be subjecting myself to analysis again at Charing Cross so who knows what they'll discover about me that I didn't already know myself!
What is strange though is that, even though I wept buckets and screamed at the walls, I feel happier now that my husband's died than I did during the last 6 months or so of his life. 
Adding to my confusion is the feeling of being overwhelmingly sad that he died whilst, at the same time, glad that his death brought an end to his suffering.
But, by way of contrast, I've refused to end my own suffering by dying and opted instead to live. Obviously, what was good for my husband isn't good enough for me!
My opinion on the world around me also seems to have changed this year. 
These days the warm glow I feel in my heart on seeing others in love seems to be accompanied by feelings of jealousy and bitterness.
And, now the answer has become less obvious, people have stopped asking me how I feel! Just what does that say about them exactly??
I also have to wonder why I still have so many good friends in my life when I've not been anyone even I would want to spend time with! Does that indicate extreme compassion on their part or extreme idiocy?
2013 has brought me few certainties.
I can't even be sure that I've been through the worst year of my life when I've achieved so much and found so many things to live for! Maybe it's actually the best year of my life in disguise? After all, this year I've qualified and gained work as an educator, been to 5 different Prides and hugged Peter Tatchell and, as mentioned, become financially wealthy and an outright homeowner! What's not to like about all that?
So what conclusions can I draw about 2013 when I'm not even sure what my reality is?
I can't be certain but I think the answer is I can't be certain; not about my past, not about my present and particularly not about my future.
So, as 2014 approaches over the horizon, I conclude 2013 with the thought that, if life is intrinsically uncertain, then it is best lived with a mind open to it's infinite possibilities - especially when life seems impossible.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Last night I went to Midnight Mass with Tony and Julie.
Now before you all die of shock let me just say that I didn't go for religious reasons but in search of something heartwarming and meaningful for, like many, I am firmly of the opinion Christmas has become too commercial. I want my Christmas to mean more than a broken bank balance!
So I thought I'd go to Midnight Mass and see if it gave me what I was looking for.
On entering the church I was dazzled by the splendorous depictions of the saints and the towering ceiling. Being an educated person, I was very aware of the power plays being enacted upon me and they continued into the service itself: The congregation were sinners and were to ask Christ and God for forgiveness. The communion was to accept Christ, The Saviour, within oneself (a cruel person may jest that the communion is cannibalism) to purify their soul, etc.
I was left in no doubt that I was to consider myself lowly and Christ and God as infinitely superior but, more so, The Church was also superior since it was their messenger service.
Having been educated in the Christian faith, this rankles with me because, to my mind, Christ was a socialist. I believe he wanted to give the power to the people not any Church. But in the past 2000 years, no matter what Christian denomination you are or are not, The Church have very much muscled in on the act.
However in 2013, I would say there are also very many Christians who are not Church goers and, although it may annoy The Churches to see their power base slipping away, I am all in favour of that.
The Church gets in the way of Christians practicing their faith as Christ would want. With their bigoted pronouncements, they also give Christians a bad name. And, in short, I believe The Church (of whatever denomination) is about as anti-Christian as any organisation gets! (And surely it is a sign of how wayward The Church has become that many Christians are now nervous about being out and proud about their faith?)
However, I did have one revelation whilst at Midnight Mass - I am a Christian. I believe in the idea of Christ and that his legend was created for good reasons. I also believe the ideals he espoused (having love and charity in your heart, taking responsibility for yourself, etc) form all that is good about the society I live in.
Thus, when I returned home this morning, I outed myself as a Christian, summing up my belief as follows, "I believe in the idea of Christ and the ideals of Christ but no church of Christ".
Incidentally, I don't proclaim myself to be a Christian to be disparaging about any other faith. I do not believe Christianity is the one true faith. Rather, I claim myself to be a Christian because that is the one faith I was educated in and know anything about. I fully acknowledge that I could be a Muslim or a Bhudist or whatever if my circumstances had been different.
So, anyway, today is the celebration of the birth of Christ and, in good faith, I wish you all a Merry Christmas! xxx

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

I Find Myself Trapped Within Myself And Thus Desire Myself To Be Myself

Unbelievably, even though I, myself, am Trans, I don't feel I know all that there is to know about being Trans! (I know! Unbelievable isn't it!)
So I like to educate myself periodically however I can in hopes I'll expand my knowledge and find some answers to my many questions. Certainly, I have never found a single thing said or written about Trans identities to be boring!
My Transgender Punk Rock Story, certainly was no exception. Presented by Paris Lees, (The Independent On Sunday's Most Influential LGBT Person Of The Year), it was an overview of Laura Jane Grace, who is a Punk Rock singer for a band called Against Me! and both Paris and Laura were informative and eloquent in what they had to say.
I came away with quite a different conception of Punk Rock (who seem far more tolerant of Trans identities than supposed "polite society") and a better understanding of myself for I now identify with the phrase "Trapped in the wrong body".
In the past, rather than feeling "trapped in the wrong body", I have felt trapped by expectations to be male.
However, with a train of thought started by this program, I have concluded that I am indeed "Trapped in the wrong body".
My own sense of self dictates that my body is male but my identity is female. Knowing that my body can be changed but my identity can not, persuades me that it is my body where the error lies rather than with my identity. Thus I conclude that I am trapped in the wrong body.
I am also persuaded that society - when it knows that I have a male body - expects me to be male even if my identity is female and that failure to meet these expectations does not go unpunished. And so, again, I feel that I am trapped in the wrong body.
As you might imagine, being trapped in a conflict within myself and with society isn't much fun and thus I have concluded that I must break free of the trap. In doing so, I have answered my long burning question about whether I really wanted to be on the "gender reassignment pathway" or not.
To that regard, I expect to be having a short stay in Brighton within the next few years.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

How Life Is With Me Right Now At This Moment In Time Of My Life

An update...
At the end of November I moved to a new house. I have bought this house outright with John's life insurance so I am now a bonafide homeowner. 
Financially it is great as I no longer have a hefty rent taking a great chunk out of the only income (John's pension) I've had these past eight months. 
I feel better for the move emotionally as well. Having less financial commitments is part of that (despite all the money I've spent - and still have to spend - on the house) but so too is living somewhere without constant reminders of my loss.
It is not something I intended when I bought the house but it is happening none the less. Being me though, I worry that I am forgetting John but I should give myself a break because not constantly thinking of him is not the same as forgetting him. I will never forget John.
I will never stop loving him either. I still get emotional when I think of him and miss him hugely. I don't understand how life could treat him so cruelly and it still angers me greatly when I remember how cruelly it did treat him. So I try to avoid dwelling on that. Whether that is healthy or not I'm none too sure as it remains a problem unresolved ready to poke it's way into my thoughts at any given time but, on the other hand, not constantly beating my head against an unsolvable problem seems a sensible thing to do.
I also feel guilty (even though I know I shouldn't and feel others would probably agree that I shouldn't) that I am now a homeowner at John's expense (in the worst possible way). I have achieved one of my life's ambitions but it has only been made possible because my husband died and had life insurance. 
I'm sure most people when told that they're about to be given a cheque for thousands of pounds would be happy but I burst into tears when I was told how much John's life insurance was worth. It is not what I want. I don't want money. I want John. No amount of compensation is worth the life of the man I love.
I was tempted to never claim that money or to simply give it away but sense got the better of me. Having been born with deformities, having transitioned from pretending to be male to openly living as female, having watched the man I love get ill with an incurable disease and then not even being there when he died, I know life is not something I can control. That the only thing I can do with the life I have is to make the best of it. Thus, whilst I would much rather have John in my life than thousands of pounds in the bank, I can only make the most of the reality. So I claimed the money and spent the vast majority of it on a house, thus making my life comfortable for the foreseeable future.
I also feel that John would approve of me making the best of my circumstances. Even though he faced his illness and death with great acceptance, he worried greatly about how it affected me (and to think I was his first concern, even when faced with his own death, is hugely humbling). Thus he went to great lengths to ensure I was as comfortable as could be and instructed me that I was always to make the best of my life. 
However, I was hugely reliant on John. Whenever anything went wrong, John was the person I asked to fix it. Now John is no longer here to ask. My support network of one person has disappeared. So who do I ask now? Who can I rely on to be there for me at any given time? Everyone has their own lives to live. So I manage as best I can and of that I'm sure John would approve but, being wet behind the ears, not everything works out as I hoped. And, again, I would've gone to John to comfort me but now he is no longer here so, again, I have no one to comfort me when things go wrong. So I'm struggling with life.
But that is the important thing - I am struggling; I'm not giving up. Even though I have been tempted more times this year to do just that than I have in the entire 40 years before it. However, as well as not wanting to let John down or create two tragedies out of one, I quickly realised that I didn't so much as want to end the misery as rediscover happiness. There is no happiness - or much of anything! - in death. I want desperately to be happy and I am far more happier now than I've been for the previous 8 months (The worst has happened. As miserable as I get, I can never be as miserable as I was on April 5th 2013 when my world caved in) but I do not believe I will ever be as happy as I was when I shared my life with John. I also feel that I can never be in a relationship with anyone else ever again as to do so would mean pushing John out of the space in my heart he currently occupies and I do not believe I can ever do that.
So if I'm never to be as happy as I once was and am destined to remain without someone to hug and comfort me for the rest of my days, what is the point in continuing with life?
The answer I've come up with is: Life is unpredictable so why not strive for the possibility of what I desire instead of responding to certainties I do not have? And, besides, if I give up on life I am and have nothing and that is to lose everything, not just past glories.