bull in the heather

Around this time - my favourite time of the year - twenty years ago, I was sitting at my desk dressed like this doll (sans the pumpkin), and instead of listening to Britney Spears' "Blackout" on iTunes as I'm doing now, I was listening to a compilation tape of Dead Can Dance/This Mortal Coil/Siouxsie and the Banshees on my (even then) ancient Sony Walkman. I was also watching big, fluffy snowflakes through a fourth floor window, as they plunged my city into its festive white gown, instead of smelling the scent of the sea and looking at my spring-like garden in the British seaside. Then, I was writing a play (about Nick Cave 🤓) now I'm putting finishing touches on a feminist vampire novel - both dream careers, one of which is, like Ophelia, romantically asleep forever while the other is thriving.

A lot has happened in between those two points in time. I lost a country and was a pained, awake witness to the evolving world-wide neoliberal conspiracy that relied on purging the international media of all dissenters to create a class of journalistic propagandists who would go on to prime the population to believe in Orwellian lies, the consequences of which, I kept saying at the time, will return to them threefold. I don't usually hate being right, but with respect to this I absolutely wish I was bitter and wrong, however, I don't need to remind anyone what's happened in the mean time, and what we are all dealing with now.

I haven't ice skated in over a decade, something that was my refuge throughout my abusive childhood. Now I have a pair of perfect glass ice skates for my Christmas tree. I lost friends, found them again, then I had to leave them behind willingly when I learned that they smack their children and that they only call when they need something, but are nowhere to be found when I need their support. My youngest sister is my best friend now (she too has a Siouxsie doll on her desk).

I survived abusive relationships and sexual assaults, and had to come to terms with the fact that society will not support me, in fact, they'll try to destroy me if they ever find out. I survived medical neglect as a woman and I had to sacrifice my career, because women are not the kind of people anyone wants to support through illness and recovery, they are just expected to withdraw and preferably not leach resources from men and their copious Viagra-induced cardiac rehabilitation services.

Thanks to a few wonderful people in my life, I finally had the opportunity to truly hold myself,
without imposed conditions and judgements, which allowed me to complete my maturation process. Now I'm able to look at myself in the proverbial mirror without being paralysed by shame. I welcome criticism with an open heart, and I'm equally happy whether I get a chance to improve, or end up reaffirming what I already am. I no longer feel there are any parts of me that don't belong there, that are shrouded in darkness and shadows, that are alien, cold and heavy. I no longer spontaneously cry in anguish over what happened to me. I no longer have contact with my father.

To say that the past twenty years have been eventful would be an understatement, not just because of geopolitics, but personal losses which inevitably occur when you have to keep going in the setting of such injustice. I don't have a wonderfully cathartic or motivational statement to follow this up with. But I do have gratitude. And that is, as am I, enough.

Kim Gordon "Women aren't allowed to kick ass. I refused to play the game."

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