For those of you that read this blog regularly, you'll be aware that I've already blogged about jig-saw pieces. They dominated my childhood. For a child who ended up rather desperately lonely in First School, jig-saws made sense. They are therapeutic; there is something calming about their orderly completion; in finding a method to marshall all the similar pieces and join them together. Those curved protrusions and indents should fit together sweetly and well, being by their nature made specifically for each other. Do you remember as a child pairings that almost fitted? Pieces that looked as though they belonged together but meshed awkwardly and were destined not to complete any sort of meaningful picture. I've been thinking about those in these last few weeks before surgery, it's been like a review of my whole life!
By talking about pieces that don't quite fit I know in my heart that I'm considering those relationships which were wrong from the start. The ones I put in a box and I never wanted to see again. They followed their tragic and inevitable courses until I was locked and bound in ways that were demeaning and destructive. Like a child who can't believe that two pieces won't actually fit, I seemed to follow the same doomed course with one liaison after another. Only now am I beginning to realize why. I feel like I have been so naive. How can I have made the same mistake over and over again? Attraction, entrapment, being abused were all toxic components. How could I put myself in a position where I would end up hurt, smarting and bruised?
What I have to say now is awful to admit and took so much courage to write. Don't read on if you are easily shocked. It's my intention to inspire and give hope, not to upset anyone.
I lost my virginity when I was 13. He was way, way older; a friend of my parents. Stupidly, I acted coy, sweet and playful, giving off signals of androgyny and vulnerability which I realize triggered a dangerous attraction. Like misfitting jig-saw pieces it was wrong from the start and the symbolism of one piece fitting stiffly and awkwardly into another makes me scared even now. My parents weren't at home, I was naked after a bath, he called round 'unexpectedly' knowing I was home alone, you can imagine the rest. I would be lying if I said it was not arousing or erotic but at the same time I hated it too. There was no making me promise to keep it a secret and even now I wonder why? i think the reason was that I was so ambivalent about my gender orientation and sexuality. Maybe he sensed that. I already had the biggest secret. One that I was truly ashamed about and couldn't tell Mom & Dad. I needed to be a girl. I secretly borrowed Mom's things and her makeup: Some of them were strewn about on my bed that night; her panties, makeup...he could have spilled the beans to Mom and it made me afraid. Talking about what he did to me would have meant discussing who I was and what I felt so ashamed about. He probably knew his secret was safe. As a result I never ever told anyone, for years.
It was I realize now, SEX without LOVE, without even a crush or depth of attraction. It was sex that I didn't want and half heartedly asking him to stop made little difference. I showed arousal; you can't help that; it's an autonomous and automatic reaction but at the same time I resisted it because of what it was. I realize now, all too belatedly that I've never actually had sex WITH love. With him it was sex, pure and incredibly complicated: Complicated because it created even more confusion about who I was. It was a horrid thing to do to me; abuse, wrong and inexcusable but there it was. Since that time I've had admiration which I mistook for love and I've faked sex because I couldn't do it any other way. Now I realize why sex and love together is such a Shangri La for me.
Much later there were other secret relationships, all sexual, all abusive of me. I think, that in the end, although I knew that I was being used, I never expected anything better and came to 'accept' that it was all I deserved. As a teen I self harmed, burning myself in intimate places where it truly hurt. In a strange way it 'helped'; I was punishing myself for the freak that I mistakenly believed I was. Maybe in entering those relationships I was just continuing all of that. It scares me that I made myself so vulnerable. It was compelling, addictive and it hurt. Now you know where my songs like 'Chained' come from. Sadly it is who I am.
I've talked with a number of therapists about all of this. To do so was truly liberating. It helped me come to the realization that as a woman, I don't have to accept being treated this way, that there are things that I can do to stop it from happening again. I'm under no illusions that I may still attract the wrong sort of attention, especially from guys who are excited about doing it with a girl who was once a guy. Now I know that I don't have it as my only option any more. It makes sense, why have I not realized it before?
Having come through all this to a new beginning gives me hope. I'm a Trans Woman about to complete her journey. I don't pretend that surgery would make me female if I wasn't so already deep inside. Far from being mutilated as some radical feminist commentators observe I have the feeling of at last reconciling two parts of myself to make one whole. It is an immense positive that no amount of being torn and hurt in the past can negate.