Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Friday, September 15, 2017


It's been a while since my last confession. I think the last time I was here was shortly after my wonderful escape to the Kimberleys, just before I started a new role, riding the high of an unexpected crush and about to embark on a fresh round of redrafting of the latest manuscript of the Peithosian Gift. A little over two months later and I have been a productive girl - managing to create a couple of new characters that would make my editor proud, punched out some fresh poetry and ventured into a completely fresh write, delivering a short story with only a cliché as a theme to guide my effort. This last creative effort, an exploration of intergenerational karma - "what goes around comes around" - was challenging though fun.

I found myself thinking about 'belonging' as I was writing one of the new characters, Sam, for the manuscript. As a character, Sam is a boy in his late teens, with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, who is still figuring out how to ride the manic highs and lows. He reminded me of a friend I knew in school a long time ago, who managed to survive a suicide attempt before being diagnosed. My old friend often complained about how numb he felt on his medication, and although he knew it made him better, some part of him hated that absence of joy for life. It was a price he had to pay in order to be acceptable to the crowd. Normal. I sometimes missed that intensity in him, too. To support each other, we slept-walked through the high school days we shared together, watching others seek out their home, their tribe, and conform to the group rules set for them. I suppose as a pair, my friend and I were our own clique, and we wore our fringe dwelling badge with honor.

Reflecting over that history, even though I do not have chemical imbalances in my brain like my old friend did, I was far more comfortable than him being a little different. I will readily admit there have been times in my life when I have tried to 'fit-in' - more often than not, the motivation behind that choice was a desire to stick to a path of least resistance - you are less likely to be bullied if you conform. And, as much as I preferred observing rather than participating, I loathed others noticing me (and the teasing harassment that came with it). The superpower I wished for as a teenager was to be invisible.

I have written previously about the influence my father's anti-establishment views on me. Just like my old friend of years gone by who wondered about the effect of his medication, I wonder about whether the attitudes of my father (a form of medication I was forced to take) have affected my psyche in a way that is both good and bad. The good? Is it okay to sit at the edge of a scene passing you by, watch without belonging to the players within it, accept it at face value or test what it has to say? I would say yes - what is the world without a degree of questioning? The bad? Is a never-ending sense of not-belonging, realising that there's never really been anything that filled you with passion, really a way to live? The jury is still out on the answer to that question though it's fair to say, there's at least one voice who wants to argue it is a price worth paying.

I notice it more now as I get older - the consequences of my deliberate choices over the years to steer clear of the crowd. (Moving around a lot in my youth may have contributed there - I seemed to have a talent to engage with strangers in a new town or new school in a way that connected though rarely anchored. Why engage beyond the surface when you know you are going to be living somewhere else in the time it would take to get to know someone? To the extent I invested in others, it was with those who aspired to be unseen as well. Kindred spirits, sort of.

One of those friends, who persevered with me for almost 13 years (in my 20s and early 30s), attempting to chip away at the barriers I built around myself, finally walked away offering these parting words - "in all the time I've known you, I've never really known the real you. Who are you?" It was a cruel thing to say, yet fair. To a point. I do not think anyone really knows themselves well enough to identify and understand their 'realness' let alone share that totally with any other living being. Since that particular friend's departure from my world, I have made more of an effort to hide less - especially since I've been living in the one town for a decent stretch of time. Like my old bi-polar friend in high school, there are close friends in my world now who know more about what exists in me beyond those barriers, some even know why those barriers were erected in the first place, and they accept the different beat of my defective heart.

Perhaps my teenage wish to be invisible was not because there were things I did not want others to see but because there was nothing to see. An emptiness. I am not hollow, though sometimes I think I am.

Still, I do not belong. My near-death experiences (ill-health related) have been more 'near-life' experiences (one of my favourite concepts from the film Fight Club). I have never found my home. I am not even sure if I am looking for it.