Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Pride Month 2022, Writing

First Time Caller

Hey.
Hi.
Hola.

No,
it doesn’t matter what my name is,
you wouldn’t be able to spell it,
so there’s no use in me telling.
There’s some things I need to tell,
some things that are scorching my soul,
and I’m starting to wonder if beneath my skin lies a madness,
some kind of sickness,
that I don’t know how to fix.

I looked at all the pills in the medicine cabinet,
and none of them seemed to fit my fixation.
None of them promised a solution for my condition.
I’m all out of position.
Gravity is a fairytale,
and I’m eleven now, so I’m getting old.
I put my glasses on.
I take them off.
Nothing changes.
The world is exactly how I’ve always seen it,
and his face is how I can’t help but see it.
I think there’s something wrong with it,
maybe something wrong with me,
but I’ve got to revise for my SATs,
so I don’t have the spare time to fix whatever the fuck this is.

I have the body of a budding woman,
but the face of a beautiful baby,
and all she ever does is cry.
All I can think to do is cry,
because there’s change on the horizon,
and in the back of my mind, where I hope people can’t see it,
and I just hope that I’ll spontaneously die before I have to deal with it.

I am beginning to understand why my mother worries.

Why can’t I see what all the other girls can see?
I try the glasses thing again and I’m galled by how nothing changes.
Why can’t I see what all the other girls see?
Why can’t he have soft, rose tinted lips,
that sweet sheen on his skin that sends my soul screaming?
His face is angular and alarming,
stony in such a way that I am petrified,
missing my Medusa as I meet loneliness under the full moon.

I don’t believe in her.
She is a ghost story.
She is an urban myth.
She is the kind of thing that will unravel me,
and as the days dance by,
I am starting to see that she has many soft, sweet faces, with rose tinted lips,
so all I do is run,
hoping that she cannot catch up to me.

I am eleven and I can’t be in love,
but I’m lost in this confusing lust.
I love it.
I long for it.
Yearning and hounded by my hunger for it,
and yet,
begging for the burning of my desire to drown in the mercy of cold, cruel showers.

The possibility of falling in love is overwhelming,
and I’m overloaded with the most mundane of fantasies.
I want to go to a drive in movie and be met with the kind of monster that will steal me away to a faraway island,
the kind of place where nobody can survive,
so that nobody can see me when I’m alone and attacked by my attraction to the 50 ft woman.

What am I going to do?

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

His Love Scared Me To Death

He told me, a trembling wretch, to be unafraid,
and I was uncomfortable with the request,
despite his gaze, so gentle, giving me some comfort.
He told me that he had overcome the world and all its trouble,
and I couldn’t conceive it.
The smallest things were such a struggle, that the world’s truest troubles were too much to even see clearly.
Still, he insisted, his eyes bright and brimming with unlikely optimism,
his hands held mine and I could feel the harsh winds through the holes left by the life he had lived.

How could he ask me to be unafraid?
How could he ask that of me, with thorns across his forehead and a target on his back?
Couldn’t be see what I was afraid of?
Was persecution a foreign concept to the fool with thorns on his head?
How could he ask me to be reborn, when my soul still felt sullied, despite his sacrifice?
Despite my sacrifice and all the scars that had come with it?
He saw. He saw it all and he still asked.

I had tried to lead the life that impotent, angry men had demanded of me,
fighting back against my own biology and the strange, sweet chemistry that greeted me when she and I would lock eyes across the room…
I gave it all up.
I gazed at the ceiling,
praying to Jesus as a shadow I could not look in the face pawed at my lifeless body.
I would rejoice at balled fists meeting my unwilling flesh from one of them,
because it felt less repulsive than a tender, troubled kiss of another,
and why shouldn’t I be punished?
Wayward winter child with her pudding and her pie,
kissed a girl because she was cursed,
and now everyone is crying,
so why shouldn’t I suffer?
I just stared until the ceiling burst into flames,
the stars bursting into view,
because that is what cursed, unclean girls have to do.

He would be there,
the only man I could stand,
thorns adorning his dark, wavy tresses that were wild in the night’s wind.
He simply said, again, that I should be unafraid.
Speaking to a body that was vacant,
he repeated himself as the stars span around his head,
and I thought for a second that I might be dead
(I might have even wished it),
but I was alive,
sailing through the ceiling,
dressed in pretty clothes as the stars sighed in unison.

I was unafraid.

At last, I was unafraid.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

A List Of Things I Lost My Mind Over At 4AM

  1. It is 4am and I need to empty out my head because every time she hits the pillow, she pauses to read aloud another tortured thought, and, of course, that means no sleep, so I have a sly plan, to make a list, leaving it all in the lines, so I can lie down and get lost in rest.
  2. I start thinking about these things because they are easier to think about than the thing I have been avoiding. Perhaps I should stop avoiding it? Perhaps not? Who even knows at this point?
  3. I don’t know if my mother will like the Christmas gift I lovingly, but poorly wrapped for her, even though she picked it out herself. I wonder this, because I don’t know if she likes me. I wouldn’t like me, if I was my daughter. I don’t even like me now.
  4. I don’t like myself, because of the thing I am avoiding. I can talk about it in flowery, flamboyant prose or stunted, sweet stanzas but I can never just say it scientifically.
  5. I am living in a pandemic and I still don’t understand the first thing about science. I feel stupid and I wonder if it’s because I went to a bad school, or because I have a bad brain?
  6. The brain can’t be THAT bad because the brain wrote wonderful things, and the school is just a derelict building now, closed after collapsing under the weight of its own worthlessness (by that, I mean they failed one too many OFSTED inspections).
  7. I hold onto the idea that I am a great writer because I don’t have anything else. I’m not pretty (despite the title of my last record), I’m not a nice person (despite constantly writing myself as one), I’m not funny (despite my life being hilarious from an outside perspective) and all I have is… this. This is my only value to the world. I will never discover the cure for cancer or bring peace to Palestine and Israel. I will never be a good mother. I am not a good friend. I would make a terrible wife. I am not a good person. All I am is a good writer. Not even great, just good, with delusions of grandeur.
  8. I’m 90% sure my landlord is touching my underwear when I’m out of the house. He comes round to do a lot of “maintenance” and always seems to come round when I’m out. He never used to do this when a man lived in this house.
  9. I was in love with my best friend at school but I never told her because I was disgusted by my desire. I used to start fights with her just to try and make her leave but she never did, and every now and again, I delude myself that maybe it was because she was in love with me too, and I cry out of nowhere because I didn’t ever tell her and she used to get so sad about how she wasn’t beautiful, like the other girls, but she was. She fucking was and I never told her. Maybe she’d think I was disgusting, but at least she would know that someone thought she was beautiful.
  10. Maybe she wouldn’t have thought I was disgusting? Maybe she would have felt the same? Maybe if she didn’t feel the same, she would have at least accepted me as I was? NO. We are not doing that tonight. Maybe I should tell her now? I’ve still got her number. We are still friends on Facebook. I could tell her now. I could tell her today. I SAID NO.
  11. My first girlfriend died and all I ever had with her was a few chaste kisses, because we were both too afraid of how passively powerful our vaginas were. I miss her. I miss the sadness in her eyes at the state of us. I miss the promise of more to come, if we ever found the courage. I miss imagining how she’d look if she only looked a little less guilty and sad. I miss the hope. I miss the secrecy.
  12. I am thinking about the thing. Ooops.
  13. I hate when people tell me that I’m “valid” because there is still a big part of myself that sees a monster in the mirror. I see a demon, preyed upon by witches, surrounded by hellfire, with nowhere to go. Born bad but tricked into worse by pretty girls, with their pretty faces and their pretty perversions. I don’t want you to tell me that I’m “valid”, because being “valid” means that I’m marked. “Normal” people don’t get told they are valid. Nobody needs to tell “normal” people that they’re valid. Now that I’m “valid”, I am no longer “normal”, and it all feels very vapid.
  14. Sometimes, I think I want to go back. I want to take it back. I say to myself “You can suffer again!” It could be fun, like the old days. Vintage virtue. Suffering, but in a sentimental way. Breaking down at the sight of a bed because it reminds me of what I have to give away for the safety of a “normal” sexuality. That isn’t “valid”, but it’s all I’ve known for most of my life, and suddenly being “valid” doesn’t keep me safe from my own disapproval. What do you do when the calls of “God hates dykes!” are coming from inside the house?
  15. I no longer desire death. I think that’s an achievement. I suppose I felt like I had already stuck around all this time, I may as well see it through and see what happens.
  16. I know what happens. I spend a few months being adored because I’m “exploring myself” and being “brave” and “valid” but then I get scared. I stumble back into the dark depths of my wardrobe and I hold hands with the ghost of my Angel until I find some dreadful man that I can be sure will cheat on me enough that nobody questions my lack of sex drive. I marry him. I have a child, that will be my one and only reason for living, and I slowly die, finishing off somewhere in my mid forties.
  17. I am going to watch Paddington. I always watch Paddington when I can’t sleep, and the only reason I can’t sleep is because I’m thinking about the thing. Paddington doesn’t think about the thing. Paddington just cares about politeness and marmalade sandwiches, and I marvel at a life like that. Oh, to be a small bear with a fulfilling life.
  18. Girls on dating apps make me feel disgusting. Girls in bars make me feel invisible. I am caged by how unsociable I have always been and how little effort I put into being a “free spirit”. I’m too much of a prude for Tinder. Too much on the brink of alcoholism to be a beautiful barfly. Everyone wants to hook up and I get off on shaming them, because I desperately want “real love”.
  19. I need “real love” before sex because it’s a coping mechanism. I tell myself that if I’m in love with her, it won’t be so wrong. Maybe, it won’t be wrong at all? Part of me thinks that is a lie, but I’m too old to try and rationalise my own lies, and getting older by the second, so I really should get this show on the road, right? I have wasted so much time.
  20. My greatest fear is that I’ve done all this for nothing. I wrote the meaningful monologue about “living my truth”, and everyone clapped, but then everyone dispersed after the discourse. I am not rewarded with a soulmate or even a six month fling that I can spin into the most dramatic of love affairs in my memoirs. What if there isn’t really someone for everyone? What if there are not plenty of fish in the sea, because of climate change or whatever? What if my best chance at not dying alone was dying without dignity, with someone I despised? What if I’ve walked into the sunlight, and now the sun is falling?
  21. It is now 4:15. I am not any less tired, but I will lay here in silence, because there’s nobody to see me cry, nobody to impress, nobody to lie to, nobody to tell the truth to. Just silence, and that is what I need right now. I need silence. I need to shut up.
Posted in Blog, Personal, Writing

The Truth, On National Coming Out Day.

I have known I was a lesbian since I was about ten, and it scared me to death.

Well, I say that, but it was more that I knew I was interested in women, not men, but didn’t know what that really meant since I was about ten. More on why that was in a second.

I grew up in a very progressive household when I lived with my mother, and that is such a blessing and a privilege, but it didn’t make a difference to how I felt about myself and the fears I had. I’m grateful for it, but they couldn’t save me from the world outside.

At school, “promotion of homosexuality” was banned, so I thought something was wrong with me. My family would try to teach me about other types of families and people, but I was being fed homophobia from a school that had no choice but to teach it to us.

(For more on why my school experience was so bad, and the history of homophobia in Kent from our local government, check out this really good article by Kent Live).

My faith is very important to me too, and I imagine that played a part. My relationship with it has changed as I’ve gotten older and felt confident in questioning what I’m told. I firmly believe God would not hate me for feeling love, but that took a long time to understand.

I will probably never be able to marry in a Catholic Church, despite being more of a Catholic than many straight people who have been allowed to. It’s painful to think about but I’m kind of at peace with it.

As I got older, and particularly when I went to university, I discovered that it wasn’t a sickness and that I wasn’t damned to hell, but it has taken literal years to unlearn that fear and self loathing. I spent years trying to be someone else.

I tried to tell someone at that point, but he took it so badly that I decided never to tell anyone else, until now, and only now, because I can no longer live in a prison that he and I built.

Telling my family was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am so fortunate that my (living) relatives reacted with love. It’s too late to know if my father could have ever accepted it. I have my doubts.

In my mid twenties, I began calling myself bisexual, because it felt a bit safer than telling the truth. Bisexuality is absolutely real and bisexuals are 100% valid, I just wasn’t one of them.

Even after getting over the fear of being sick or damned to hell, I was still afraid of the reality of being a lesbian. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted a family. I wanted to be a wife. When I became legally old enough to marry in the UK, it was still illegal for me to marry a woman.

And I mean REALLY marry by the way. Civil partnerships are not the same imo. Labour should have pushed equal marriage through and they failed the LGBT community by not doing so. Come at me Tonty Blair.

I became convinced that I’d have to “put up with a man” to get what I wanted. To be a wife, and more importantly, to be a mother (being married is kind of a required step to have kids as a Catholic lmao). Putting up with a man would be worth it to hold my child in my arms.

The only man that it wasn’t torture to have a sham relationship with. He was kind and patient in a way nobody had ever been, and not being able to love him in the way he loved me is my only regret. I think I did (and still do) love him, in my own way, and he will always mean more to me than he could ever understand.

When I was a teenager, I’d pray every night for it all to go away. I’d stare at boys all day in class and plead with myself to find them attractive. Up until this year, I’d basically force myself into relationships with men to try and make myself like them. It just made me sad.

I would invent reasons to like men. Pretty much anything I’ve ever “found attractive” in a man throughout my life have either been typically feminine traits (a coping mechanism) or made up stuff I’ve projected onto them to find some way to like them.

I am almost thirty years old and I don’t think I have ever truly been in love, because I’ve been masquerading and pretending out of fear or I’ve been in a fleeting connection with a woman that I run away from because I feel like I shouldn’t be with her.

I joke all the time about being emotionally broken but if I’m honest, I really do think that suppressing my real self and bullying myself into the closet over and over out of fear has done legitimate damage to me, and I don’t know what to do about that.

My greatest wish is to find this girl again and tell her that she’s going to be okay.

I eventually came out (properly this time) because of two things. One, I was on a date with a man and he literally said to me “I think you’re a lesbian” and I knew the jig was up. Two, I couldn’t face turning thirty and still being desperately unhappy.

I don’t want to be lonely anymore. I don’t want to feel like I’m constantly chased by a shameful secret. I want the people I love to really know me. I want to find someone to build a real life with instead of settling for a sham marriage. I want to really live.

I don’t say any of this so that people will feel sorry for me, by the way, because it’s one of those things where the damage is done (by myself lmao) and I don’t really need validation, I just want people to understand why we can’t allow future generations to do this.

People ask why LGBT inclusive sex and relationships education needs to happen. People like me are why. You have to let kids know that they’ll be okay. Nobody is saying “teach kids about anal at five years old!” but just let them know it’s okay if they grow up to be gay, so they don’t end up like me.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

A Confession, Extracted Under Duress

I told everyone once (several times, actually) that sincerely is how I end my letters but never how I live my life, and it is perhaps the one thing I have never lied about.

One day, you might be happy, but you are not happy now. I want, so desperately to tell you that you are happy when you are twenty one or twenty five, or twenty nine, but it just isn’t true.

You aren’t unhappy because of how your life goes (although I suppose that’s a factor), you are unhappy because you have been lying for almost three decades.

It doesn’t feel like a lie. More of an accident. A terrible mistake that went unresolved for far too long. You said something, and then you kept saying it, for a very long time. Then you said something else, to be a bit more adventurous, but the thrill was short lived because there was someone walking behind you, taking every step that you did, watching the way your mouth melted around every lie, until the rest of you dissolved and there was nothing else, but her.

She is terrifying to you. She looks like you. She dresses like you. She talks like you. She types like you. She orders a McNugget meal and a McFlurry every Thursday night and watches Drag Race, just like you. That is because she is you, I’m afraid, but there is one key difference. She is a…

You have told the truth, entirely, out loud, once. Just once, and that was by accident. You were talking to a friend, and she asked you about dating and you called yourself THAT word. It’s lucky that you were on the phone, because you clasped your hands over your mouth and hot tears began prickling at the corner of your eyes. You didn’t even know why you were crying. It was just a word. Just a label. Just seven letters.

You have typed it into your Twitter biography but I think most of your followers think you are joking. I cannot tell you why that is, because as I am sure you are already aware, you are not funny. You are the straight man, if the straight man was a woman, who wasn’t straight.

You hadn’t told your grandparents yet. As of writing, you still haven’t. You had planned to tell them a few days before that phone call with your friend, at dinner (your family keep making dinner plans with you since the Covid-19 lockdown ended, because the novelty of your company has not worn off yet), but you couldn’t say it. Every time you thought about saying it, your throat got tight. You felt sick. You imagined looks of disgust and pity on their faces. Your grandfather asked if you were seeing anyone. He made a point to keep the question gender neutral. He said “someone” not “him”. You changed the subject without answering the question.

You went home that night and cried yourself to sleep. I still don’t know why. Does it really matter if you say it? Maybe they already know? Maybe they’re fine with it. Maybe if they’re not, you could still just marry a man and have a baby, after all. You never cared for intimacy anyway, so why not just do it? Find the first frog that crosses your path, close your eyes and play Princess.

Please tell them. I am begging you.

Nobody will love you any less, my girl. It doesn’t matter though, because your name is nobody. You despise yourself. You despise the future, and how it wouldn’t be what storybooks and pop singles from the 90’s said it would be.

I don’t know why you can’t say it. Maybe it’s because you’re afraid that it means something more than “I am exclusively available to one group of people.” Maybe it’s because you are frightened to admit that the dating pool getting smaller means that you have even less chance of getting the fairytale ending to life that you want. Maybe it’s that the things you want in life are only the things that you want because they’re easy to obtain? You aren’t the prettiest girl but you’ve had at least one serious marriage proposal, and you threw it away, why? Because he wasn’t a…

Your grandmother pulled you aside that night, at dinner. She can always tell when there’s something stuck in your throat. She asked. You couldn’t look her in the eye, because you knew that if you did, you’d say it. They already thought you were halfway down this path, so what difference does it make if you keep walking and find a rainbow, or whatever?

It makes a difference to you. I wish I could tell you why, but I can’t, because I don’t know. My throat is tight, just now, and I have a feeling that I’m on my way to a screaming headache. I have an unread message from someone who’d like to take me on a date. I am afraid of her. I’ve done this before but it’s never been so final. I always had the get out of jail free card of comp het, and how easy men are to find, and how I’m really just your neighbourhood friendly bisexual with a mild misandrist streak (that is a joke, it turns out you ARE funny, so please, no emails from men), but now I’m…

I went on a date with a man in June. He was several decades older than me, and he told me that one day, he’d love me to live with him in Dundee, and I thought “Yeah, okay, why not?” I like Scotland, and I liked him. Honestly, I did. He thinks I didn’t, but I did. He made me laugh, and I liked that he moved really quickly, because it didn’t give me time to think about why I’d probably be better suited to a…

He knew. A man who had known me for just a few weeks knew. He said it, completely openly as we had drinks and I almost choked to death before spluttering out a denial. I wasn’t a… I definitely wasn’t a… I would definitely not be better suited to a…

I HAVE NEVER SUCCESSFULLY PLAYED GOLF!

I suppose I should have reacted with something other than childlike distress at the mere mention of sex, if I wanted to pass as a friend of Thatcher. As it all turns out, my dead eyed, dissociative drama show is harder to replicate over text message. I’m not normally there, when a man is, you see. I go to this place. There’s nobody there but me. I play guitar in a meadow, or I walk along an empty beach. I play him a record of sighs and screams and I just wait behind the scenes for him to fall asleep, then I normally cry in a bathroom because I feel invaded, and it isn’t his fault, because I did say yes, but I’m too hysterical to swallow the blame myself.

They always say I’m so tight but they never wonder why that is. I am not sixteen anymore. I suppose if I know why that’s a problem, I should be in good order when it comes to handling…

I actually wouldn’t. My first girlfriend was a heterosexual who had the hump with her fella, and wanted to make him jealous, and the second was sweet but even more repressed than I am, so we just sort of held hands in a wardrobe for a few months, and then she had the audacity to die (one day, we will write something about how self centred you are, but one thing at a time), so I am right back where I started. Starry eyed and scared of how quickly I can lose “it”. Wishing I was sixteen again, so I wouldn’t have the stigma of being SUCH a late bloomer.

You have watched the episode of The Simpsons where Patty gets married a million times. It has become comforting, because you know that even though it’s possible that someone who loves you will stop as soon as they see the truth, they’ll always come around by the end of the episode. Your life is not an animated television show, my girl. You are not less of a bein’, and maybe everything will work out well, or maybe it won’t, but either way, you are being followed by THAT girl, and THAT secret, so close to being spilled, and the pain is immeasurable.

Your grandparents are some of God’s better people, and they taught your mother to be kind, which was passed to you, in utero and on the outside too, so what are you so afraid of? They’re used to you being dramatic, so if it all goes wrong, we’ll pretend it was an improvised monologue, like the first time you told a girl that you loved her, at eleven years old (you have spent years pretending that she was a boy when you tell that story, it makes her look of horror a little less harrowing), and then we will marry a man, with a job and a car and a high sperm count, and hopefully he’ll have an affair and leave me the fuck alone, and I’ll write a record about it and get custody of the kids, and they’ll all hate him, so he’ll never come to visit and I will never be invaded again.

The phone is ringing as I write this last part. I secretly hope I hear my grandma on the answering machine, so I can mumble something about how it wasn’t important, and I’ll call her back later. Either way, whether she answers or the machine does, we all know I won’t be able to tell her, out loud, on purpose, that I am…

I am a….

Well, you know.