[writing] Coming Storm

Alone; always alone, I sit in my room, and stare at a wall.
An empty wall I was to fill with memories of a time now discarded, a metaphor for potential wasted and lost all throughout my life.
And as I reflect, time itself feels different
While the past tries to flee my presence as if I’m a plague victim, the future comes barrelling into the present like a train that doesn’t notice someone crossing its tracks.
What happened a week ago feels like a forgotten myth, while the whole of tomorrow is but five minutes away. I can barely remember what was, and I don’t know -don’t want to know- what will be. All there is that counts is the now, and I retreat inwards.

I soar on the burning wings of an angel through the mighty glass dome of my mind, filled with nothing but the cracks where it once shattered and was repaired. In the centre of the nothing, on a shrinking island of hope is a little girl, clutching at the knees she buried her face into. Hiding from the coming storm.
And as hope fades, and calm ebbs away, I see the cracks becoming wider. The cracks in the dome that keeps out the storm. But through the cracks now slips doubt, the first and most insidious of storm’s vanguards. It seeks its familiar place in the back of my mind to nestle. And fester.
Others will come. Rage. Frustration. Anguish. Soon the dome will shatter once more, and all will clash and the storm will begin anew.

The girl knows as I know, and begins sobbing. I reach out, want to hold her, comfort her, and am in my room, arms clasped around my shoulders, staring at an empty wall, filled with promises.
I sigh, dreading the coming storm that will engulf an innocent little girl in misery once more, as a single tear rolls down my cheek. Longing for a yesterday that I can scarcely remember, and fearing a tomorrow that will crush me. Alone. Always fearing tomorrow.

Always alone.

[Prose] A Really Horrible One-Page Story

She came home from work. The pain in her lower back had intensified and spread to her inner right thigh, her left shoulder, and her neck. She was exhausted after a sleepless night, followed by her first day back at work, as well as by lifting the weight of at least her world for years on end. She felt like the loneliest person on the planet. She knew she wasn’t, but the biggest thing she hated about emotions was how fucking irrational they were.

After freeing one of the cats trapped in a room he shouldn’t be in, and taking off her boots, she ascended the stairs with the mail she had picked up earlier. Doctor’s bill, phone bill, and something for the father who hadn’t lived in this house for about seven years now. She dumped most of it on the kitchen table and ascended further up, watering a plant along the way.

She heard her brother listening to loud music in his room. Good. He probably won’t hear a thing, then. As if this was the permission she needed, she began breathing heavier, the breaths soon turning into sobs. The sobs were wails by the time she reached her own room, and the first tears started to form. She turned on her computer, then went to her bed, where she collapsed. Curling up, she cried in loud howls, drowning out the music in the room next door, as warm tears streamed from her eyes. Laying on her side, she noticed how annoying it felt to have the tears from her right eye not cross her cheek, but instead run along the bridge of her nose into her other eye.
This time, she wasn’t afraid of her eyeliner smudging. She didn’t wear any, because she honestly didn’t see the point. She wasn’t going to be pretty enough with or without it. Pretty, perhaps, but never pretty enough.

Her mind wandered amidst the wails coming from deep within her throat. She noticed how, when crying, her voice actually sounded loud, but not deep at the same time. She wondered if maybe she should try screaming, then immediately discarded the idea. Her thoughts started dwelling somewhere they roosted with alarming frequency: maybe it was hopeless. Maybe she should just give up. Give in. Stop trying. Stop being. Die. It wouldn’t matter to the world. Just another girl committing suicide, the papers would say.
Except that’s not what the papers would say at all. Thanks to that thing between her legs, they wouldn’t call her girl, and they wouldn’t use her proper name. That just wouldn’t do, she concluded. That just wouldn’t do at all. It wouldn’t be a suitable end. It wouldn’t be a satisfying payoff to her struggles. Her story would feel off.

She didn’t stop being. Instead she stopped crying, got up, sauntered to her computer, and began writing a really horrible one-page story.

[Poetry] When You Hold My Hands

When you hold my hands, I cannot tear myself apart.

It really is that simple.
I could claim it is your beauty, your wit and your smile
but while you do possess all of those, they’re not the reason why.
Not the way you laugh or joke around.
Not the way you jump or dance about.
Not the way you talk, sing, or shout.
Yes, all of those before, but then I found out
that when you hold me close, I cannot tear myself apart.

In the haven of your arms, I find shelter for the storm in my head.
Safe from myself and the war in my mind
that tries to claim me as a casualty.
You keep me together, and give me the strength
to stop myself from falling to pieces.
You take away the need to run my nails into my arms
and draw red lines whose only purpose is to be hidden.
So please, hold me tight, and I will not tear myself apart.

[Poetry] Festering

In the dark recesses of my mind
Between my hunger for pain
And my thirst for destruction
Hiding behind my deception of self-confidence
And the massive palace from which my kindness rules
With an iron fist
A festering creature has taken hold.

A fruit that fell
From my tree of doubt
And started rotting
Spreading its spores
which are now eating at the foundations of my content

And I can feel this eroding happiness
When I see others being together
Reminded of what I need
Like a starving child watching a feast from across the room
And forcing itself to be happy
For them

And I return home, knowing no kiss will greet me
No arms to comfort me
No warm body to sleep besides
No loving smile to wake up to
Only loneliness.

For who would love one such as you, the festering creature asks
You who are between worlds
You who cannot look into a mirror, naked, and not see an abomination
Who would love one who cries
Because she is unloved?

My hunger for pain roars and digs my long nails into my arms
Then drags them across my skin.
My howls turn to sobs.
The creature speaks.

People may tolerate you
They may appreciate you, respect you, admire you, care for you, even like you
But love you?
Truly love you?

When was the last time you were loved?
Can you even imagine someone
Who notices you are not there with them
And wishes it changed?

My thirst for destruction begins scratching at my bare legs.
I howl again
And hate the creature
For I know that it is right

After all
I see no way it could be wrong
I go to bed, and as I fall asleep
I try to imagine someone
Who would miss me longer than a month
Were I not to wake tomorrow

Story Time!

It’s the fourth day of the nineties, a mere five minutes before the next, and my mother gives birth to a baby Boy. The baby was a calm one, who never cried or made a lot of noise, content to just suck on his thumb and be quiet. Or so he was told.

The Boy’s earliest memories are of kindergarten, where the lines were present, but blurry. As a boy, he was on team boy. He had to be. He was a boy, after all. It’s the only thing that made sense. And because he was on team boy, he was not on team girl. It’s impossible to be on more than one team, and he already had a team: team boy. Because he was a boy.
It never occurred to him, though, that he was supposed to find it odd that girl toys and games were just as fun as boy toys and games. In fact, if he had a choice, he’d play the girl games every single time. He never realized why he was one of the only ones on team boy who seemed to enjoy playing house or shop, or tending to the manes of colourful pony dolls, or did that thing where you draw flowers on another thing that’s now a complete blur in the Boy’s mind.
The Boy was four, and he paid it no mind.

After kindergarten came elementary school. There, the rules didn’t change, but they became stricter. Girls had cooties, and boys were aliens. As such, there was next to no interaction between team boy and team girl. Friendships also weren’t a thing that was automatic any more, either. The Boy managed to make some friends, kind of, exclusively from team boy, obviously, because girls had cooties, and he discovered the wondrous world of video games.
Video games seemed to be the only really boy thing he enjoyed. He didn’t like football, even though he really tried hard at pretending he did, and he wasn’t strong enough to build tree houses. He also didn’t get to do the girl things any more, because his parents never gave him girl toys. Not that he asked for them. His father told him that he should be a good boy in order to become a strong man later, so the Boy didn’t dare to admit that he liked things that were not boyish.
The Boy also didn’t notice how he had so much less trouble with school work than his classmates. When he would later be put into a special class for smart people that met every Friday afternoon, he didn’t realize it was because he was smart. At least not immediately. He had only himself to really compare to, and therefore thought everything was normal.
In the fifth year of elementary school, the Boy met another boy who liked video games and didn’t like football. It made sense to the Boy, and the two got along really well as a result. The other boy became the first real Friend the Boy had ever had, and the only real Friend he would have for many years to come.
The Boy also started questioning things more. The Catholicism he was brought up with, the existence of an almighty God who loved him, and the fact that the story of Adam and Eve had no dinosaurs anywhere, -which was silly because dinosaurs are awesome- all started making less sense.
The Boy was eleven, and he became an atheist.

After elementary school came high school. And with it, even more stricter rules and lines. What was picking on in elementary school became bullying in high school. Making friends was next to impossible, because the Boy was a silent sort, and would rarely seek out others to talk to them. The Friend went to another school, and later to even another, so the Boy was on his own during weekdays. Though he and the Friend did meet up occasionally over the weekend.
The Boy never had to study for school, either. At least not in his first years. As a result, he never learned to, getting by on the things he learned in classes.
The Boy also discovered the internet, and met people online. One of them was a girl. A really sweet girl. The girl lived in Scotland, though, which might as well have been the other side of the planet. This didn’t stop them, however, from declaring each other to be their first lover. All went well, for a while. As well as relationships where neither has seen the other go. It also confirmed to the Boy that he was into girls, and therefore not gay. Not that he would’ve minded being gay. It was just nice to know for certain which way the coin falls.
However, it wasn’t meant to last. The Boy met another girl, who very much lived in the same country he did, and they did things a boy in a relationship should never do with another girl. Like kissing and holding hands and laying in the same bed. The Boy felt he had cheated on his girlfriend, and driven by guilt, he ended the relationship with either girl, though he still remained friends with the Scottish one.
Puberty was also a thing, apparently, and with it came quite a few changes to the Boy’s body. His penis was growing, and went erect more often. Hair started growing all over his legs, and his arms, and on his belly, and on his face. His voice cracked more often, and then grew deeper. His face also got covered in pimples. He told himself that these changes were part of the becoming a strong man thing his father informed him about, and forced himself to like them. Except for the pimples. Those could go to hell. Secretly, though, deep down, he hated these changes. Especially how his erect penis would strain against his trousers and be incredibly uncomfortable. He repressed these feelings.
The Boy also started growing his hair long, despite initial protests from his father. When asked why, he would simply state that he liked it that way. It wasn’t a lie. Outside of school, he would also start wearing more and more black, and was really drawn to goth fashion. That is to say, he really like the clothes the girls got to wear. He was less than impressed with the options for the boys.

One day, in the summer of 2005, the Boy went home from a summer camp he attended together with the Friend. They were being driven home by the Friend’s father, and he dropped him off at his front door. The Boy wanted to ask them in for a bit, but for some reason didn’t.
When he entered the kitchen, he found his parents waiting for him. They had something important to say. His father did the talking.
His father had met another woman. The woman became to his father what the Friend was to him. And then the woman became more. His father loved the woman. He also still loved his mother, but he loved the woman more. And his mother couldn’t accept that. At least, that’s how the Boy understood it. His father was leaving his mother, and his family, to go live with the woman. He was most likely going to divorce his mother, too.
Everything collapsed. Everything unravelled. One of the great big certainties in life, that the Boy’s parents loved each other and would remain together forever, suddenly vanished. This was a turning point in the Boy’s life. From now on, everything would be different. This was the moment where his innocence was shattered. The moment he opened the door of that kitchen was the last moment he was well and truly happy and without real concern.
The Boy was fifteen, and he cried.

The years right after this encounter became a blurry mess in the Boy’s memory, at least where his parents were concerned. At one point he hated his mother for hating his father. Then he hated his father instead, for being angry at his mother. Picking sides was difficult, and fruitless, and he resolved never to do it again, unless forced with no other option.
Other things, however, were much more clear. For starters, the few people at high school he thought were his friends turned out to be arseholes. They had a shot at getting in with the more popular kids, and did so by turning on him, leading him to be bullied like he never was before.
With one of the big certainties gone, he also started questioning everything again. He started thinking back to earlier periods of his life. How he liked it better where being a boy or being a girl didn’t mean all that much. He asked himself again if he wasn’t gay after all, but then he told himself, truthfully, that he really liked breasts, and that he really didn’t like penises.
Another turning point happened. It had less immediate impact than the previous one, but it would be more significant in the long run: The Friend’s father came out as a transsexual. This raised a lot of questions with the Boy, but the fact that the Friend’s father wanted to be seen as a she and as the Friend’s other mother made sense to him. A lot of sense, in fact. Almost too much sense. As soon as he could, he started looking things up. Looking up terms. Looking up how they could be applied to himself. He did a lot of thinking, and he liked the terms genderqueer, transgender, and androgynous.
The Boy was sixteen, and he became the Person.

The Person kept quiet about this, at least at first. Eventually they confided in the Friend, who was taken aback by this. There was never a real break between the two, but there came a distance that slowly widened. The Person had become bitter and overly sarcastic, almost cynical, because of how their life was going. This drove the Friend away, they later would learn, because he had problems of his own, and where they used to meet every weekend, they now didn’t see each other for weeks, sometimes months on end. The bullying at school grew worse and worse, at a point where the Person felt more and more trapped within the confines of their own skin. The Friend’s withdrawal at a time they most needed his friendship felt as a betrayal to the Person, and they considered suicide at several points throughout the period.
They changed schools instead.

The Person became more and more uneasy with their own body as the months went on. They went to a specialized psychiatrist, but didn’t like them very much. Still, though, how could the person be in between genders when they hated almost every masculine part about themselves?
The Person came to the realization that they were wrong about ‘stopping halfway’. That there was nothing ‘man’ about them, beyond the physical, that it was time to move on and grow into a Woman.

The Woman met another woman at a festival over summer. And they liked each other, and they got together. Their relationship lasted longer than any other she had, despite the distance between the two, and a few nights before her nineteenth birthday, she lost her virginity. The Woman loved her, and dreamed of being with her together.
A few weeks after that, the Woman’s girlfriend dumped her. The Woman was heartbroken, and it shattered what self-confidence she had.
The Woman reconnected with the Friend, albeit slowly at first, but over time he got used to the idea of her being a Woman. He also introduced her to his ex-lover, who was what the Woman thought she was back in the days of the Person. They introduced her more to the goth scene, and its people, and the Woman steadily started branching out her friendships.
The Woman decided that the path she took was the correct one, and as she started her second year of University, she went to a specialized psychologist again. A different person, one she liked, and she started her physical transition.
However, throughout the two years it took her to fail university, and the year afterwards, the woman remained by and large unloved. She had a few brief bouts of affection, but nothing that would satisfy her, and this gnawed even further at her self-confidence. She also found out that she needed this affection to feel alive.

Her two failed years in university went, and she moved onwards. She started her hormone therapy, which magnified her emotions greatly. This unleashed a torrent of feelings that stormed through her mind. Many of these feelings she couldn’t explain, but others she very much could. She found a new appreciation for her body, very much approving the changes it went through. She even agreed that she was beautiful, an idea she had never been able to agree with before.
Her loneliness, however, kept gnawing at her, and the idea that she was also disgusting, and unloveable buried itself in the back of her mind, and there it festered.
In July 2012 a year had passed since she had last shared a bed with someone. She realized that she had forgotten what the tongue of another tasted like, and since the breakup three-and-a-half years prior, she could count the amount of powerfully intimate moments on the fingers of a carpenter’s hand. The reassuring words quickly became empty and meaningless, and she lost almost all hope.
The Woman fell into another breakdown, as another emotional storm raged in her mind. She briefly considered suicide again, but once more decided against it.
As the storm calmed, and the breakdown slowly passed away, the Woman started becoming somewhat more hopeful again. As the year drew to a close, she looked ahead into her uncertain, but not at all dark future. In many ways, her life was just beginning, her story just past the first pages.
The Woman is almost 23, and wonders what her next chapter will hold.

Emotions

Emotions are hard. Like, they’re really fucking difficult to deal with. Until about a year ago, when I started my hormone therapy, they were usually there, but I was always able to bottle them up and store them in a cupboard in the back of my mind. I mean, I would *feel* sad and happy and angry and stuff, but the last time I cried before I started hormones was when my grandmother died. The last time before that, not counting as a reaction to physical pain, was when I was a little kid.
Now? Now I’m crying at least every other week. Half the time for no reason.
But more and more, I seem to be able to get a grip on myself. Not the bottle up kind of way, but as a source of… fuel? I guess? Kind of?

A few months ago, I had a bit of a breakdown. I had an amazingly fun day, but in the evening, in the course of a few hours, I completely collapsed, culminating in me bursting into tears in the passenger’s seat of a close friend’s car. Throughout the train-ride (in an otherwise fortunately empty train wagon) and walk home I continually kept crying. When I came home, I desperately ran to the PC to see if there was someone online who could cheer me up, only to find that the internet didn’t feel like working that night. So I screamed.
I cannot recall a single other moment in my entire life where I screamed.
I then descended into more sobbing, together with shaking and curling up into bed. My dog was sleeping in my brother’s room that night, because I wasn’t home when they all went to bed, so I couldn’t even go get a hug.

So I did something weird. I played some music. Specifically, I played My Confession by Otep. The first two thirds of that song speak of helplessness and despair, much like I was feeling, and I started to sing along.
Or rather, I croaked along. I was still crying and my voice was completely wrecked at that point. I croaked along to the first few lines. ‘Perfectly flawed’, ‘supposed to be strong’, and ‘nothing special’ came along, leading into the lines ‘I’m at an, I’m at and end, I’m at an end and there’s no way out.’ and I felt like the entire universe was trying to crush me. I felt so small and insignificant and I just wished I was never even born.

Chorus, then second verse. ‘I’m still not comfortable in my skin, and the anesthetic’s slowly wearing thin’ and ‘I’m in this void, all alone’ smacked me in my face, and I was still croaking along, the tears still rolling from my eyes down my cheeks. ‘I’m suffocating, I can’t come down and’ -once again- ‘there’s no way out.’ I croaked along to the second chorus, and the fake outro lines.

Then silence.

As the music stopped, so did I. I stopped crying, the tears stopped rolling, and for a few seconds all that could be heard in the room was my breathing.
Then the last part started, with the words ‘You’ve got to push, push, push your way out’.
Everything is surmountable. Everything can be overcome. At that point, my overwhelming sadness and despair turned into anger and rage. And while my sadness had drained me of whatever energy I had, my rage made me overflow with the stuff. My voice was still broken, so I croaked along.
‘This is where I hide my power.
This is where I become free.
This is where I take control
and slowly choke your fantasies.’

I wasn’t angry at anyone or anything in particular. I was just… angry. And I could use anger. When I’m sad and borderline depressed, I can barely get out of my bed. With anger, I can bring myself to just about anything. I could tear the world apart with my bear hands, and I would feel entirely justified in doing so.
Now, it may come as something of a surprise to you, but I’ve not been actually happy since seven years ago. I can smile, and laugh and genuinely have a great time, but ‘happy’ as a state of being? I’ve no idea how to do that. For the past year, I’ve been swinging between anger, sadness and apathy (where before it was mainly just apathy). Just a few weeks ago, I had another breakdown to the point I started listing the people I was certain would miss me longer than a week should I kill myself (do not do this, by the way. It is NOT a fun exercise). There’s been a few times where I got close to being happy, usually by being close with someone else, but I never managed to completely get there.
Still, I plough on. I get by. In between my sea of anger and sadness and boredom there are a few sparks of light that make it all worthwhile. That, and curiosity. I want to know where my path goes, where I’ll end up, how my story ends.

‘Shed my skin again, this will be my best revenge.’

My dog

Meet my dog:

The fuck you want?

Her name is Laika. Yes, I know that’s the same name as the dog the Russians sent into space. No, we didn’t pick the name. The dog shelter did. If I had my name, Id’ve probably called her Artemis or Isis or something. If my dad had his way, her name would be Pol, which is Dutch for Paul.
The reason I bring her up is because I just watched This Video, and by the end I started crying, and had to walk over to my bed, where she’s laying, and hug the living shit out of her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s still soaked.

Several months ago, right after she had a minor surgery to remove some benign tumors, she got a mammary gland infection. This coupled with the fact that she was still recovering from said surgery meant that she was at her weakest point ever. She barely ate, had great difficulties using stairs (and whoever has visited me before knows we have way too many stairs), and couldn’t lie down or piss/shit properly because the stitches hurt too much. One night I couldn’t find her until I went all the way downstairs, to the hallway, where it was cold (it was winter, if I remember correctly) and found her just… standing there, staring at the ground. Only after I called her name did she notice I was there and look up at me. It was probably my overly emotional mind, but I swear the look in her eyes was saying ‘I’m dying’. I tried to convince her to come upstairs with me, but she wouldn’t. The stairs were too high. I couldn’t lift her because I feared I’d tear her stitches, and she was too heavy for me to carry her up a flight of stairs without any real risk of dropping her. I was starting to freeze so I hugged her, then left her, trying to keep back my tears. I did not sleep that night.
All of this happened just over a year after my grandmother’s death, which was the first real loss I had ever experienced. Back then I wrote about how that event made me face my own mortality, and the emotional shockwave that sent throughout my entire being. Now I was confronted again with the possibility of someone else very close to me dying. This made me realize several things about my dog: Firstly, she had become so much more to me than just a pet. She’s become this weird mix between a baby sister and a daughter to me. She is also one of the best friends I ever had. Definitely the most loyal one. For the eleven years we’ve had her she was always there to listen, or to be hugged, or just to dick around with. I don’t know anyone else who has been consistently there for half my life. I know that she’s ‘just a dog’ and that she’ll do basically anything her mistress tells her to, but still. There were moments in my life I pretty much had no one to turn to. No one except my dog. And at times, the love I received from her was all that got me through some darker times.

And that night I was faced with the reality that my friend, my daughter/sister is mortal, and might die very soon. She’s getting old: 12 years old of a mutt-ness that rarely lives past 15. Ever since that night, I’ve occasionally had dreams about waking up and finding her no longer breathing, eyes glazed over, body going cold and stiff. And I honestly have no idea what I would do should that happen.
I know people who bond pretty closely with their cats. For some reason I don’t. I have lost five cats in my life and haven’t shed a tear for a single one. But the idea that something might happen to my dog can send me into a crying fit that can last for ages.

I know one thing for sure, though. If ever we need to put her down, I want to be in the room when it happens. I don’t care if the experience breaks me, I don’t want her last emotions to be feelings of fear of the unknown. Not without a familiar face or scent to make her feel safe.
I owe her that much.