Hiding: The Girl on the Window Sill

This is by far the most personal blog post I’ve ever written. All my instincts are screaming at me not to post it. But I think that’s coming from the girl who’s hiding on the window sill. So I guess that’s exactly why I should post it.

~*~

Once upon a time there was a twelve year old girl who used to hide.

She knew all the best hiding places in her boarding school, because she spent a lot of time avoiding people. She didn’t fit in but she didn’t know why. She just knew that people didn’t seem to like her. They were either mean to her and tried to make her cry, or they ignored her completely. She preferred it when they ignored her, because crying in front of them was the worst possible humiliation.

At the weekends she used to hide in box rooms and cupboards, sometimes even on the roof. One of her favourite spots was in a room that was used as a laundry store. She’d climb up onto the window sill and sit there for hours, hugging her knees and looking out at the brick wall of the opposite wing of the building. It was quiet in there, and very peaceful. She would have stayed in there all weekend if she could have got away with it. But if she missed mealtimes she’d get into trouble with the house mistresses.

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The longer she hid there, the more anxious she got, because it meant that it was getting closer to the time when she had to go back and face the people who were making her miserable.

The girl grew up and life got better–much better. She found friends who liked her for who she was. She fell in love and learned to accept that she was worthy of being loved in return. As an adult she tries hard not to let her fears hold her back, but occasionally she still gets stuck and remembers exactly how she felt when she was twelve.

In case you hadn’t guessed, the girl is me.

The last couple of months have probably been some of the hardest I’ve experienced in a while. The rollercoaster of emotions involved in two book releases have been utterly exhausting. Having two books published is an achievement, I know this. I should be really proud of myself and excited about it, but instead I’ve spent a lot of the time feeling anxious and horrible. And the worst part is that every time I try to write at the moment, I hate my words, and I’m afraid that this is it–I’ve written three books and I’m done. I’ll never be able to write anything again. Logically I know this is ridiculous, but logic is losing the battle against emotion at the moment.

While attempting to work out what the hell is wrong with me and why I feel so shitty, I kept getting an image of that damn window sill in my head and I didn’t know why. I hadn’t thought about it for years, but suddenly there it was. An intrusive, vivid visual memory that kept barging into my consciousness despite me pushing it away and ignoring it. And then when I finally made sense of it, it’s so bloody obvious.

By writing and having my work published I’ve done the exact opposite of hiding in a laundry cupboard. I’ve put my words out there in the public domain for people to read, and the whole process has been really intense and so much more scary than I ever imagined. Just to be clear, this is not about negative reviews any more than it is about positive ones–it’s about being visible, full stop. And right now, the twelve year old girl in me who likes to hide is freaking the fuck out. That frightened part of me is effectively stopping me from writing anything new at the moment because she wants to go back into hiding. She wants to be invisible because it feels safer.

But hiding wasn’t living. So I need to get off the window sill, out of the cupboard and find a way to keep writing, because I don’t want to hide anymore.

****

NB: At the time of writing this I didn’t know I was transgender. I now use male pronouns.

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About Jay Northcote

Author of LGBT romance. Trans (he/him), Parent, cat herder, professional procrastinator.
This entry was posted in life stuff, ramblings about writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Hiding: The Girl on the Window Sill

  1. lanehayes says:

    Bravo. I know the feeling and you’re right, it’s a matter of accepting the beautiful life you’ve created. It’s about being visible on your own terms. Sounds like you’ll do just fine. Best wishes. xo

  2. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing this, your stories, your books and yourself with us. You’re strong and amazing and keep believing! ❤

  3. samevans1975 says:

    Thank you for sharing. Keep writing ❤ x

  4. I know so well how you feel. I think it’s a very natural reaction to have for people who have been bullied. Because the worst part of being bullied is being so visible (and I assume I speak for a lot of people when I say that). I moved back to my home town again two years ago, and I still live here, and sometimes the discomfort hits me because so many people know who I am and I don’t know them. I’m known because I stuck out, and mostly in negative terms, and I was bullied for a long, long time and have had some terrible things said to my face.

    And I think it’s a really naturally reaction to feel exposed. I’m so far from being a published author, but I feel exposed too when I put things out there. And since I know that feeling so well, I’m even more impressed with the fact that you’re going for it and putting yourself out there. You deserve all the kudos and all the support in the world and you should be really proud.

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your response. I’m sorry that you’ve been through something similar. I totally agree that the visibility is awful. My worst memories are of how humiliating it was to be shamed/ridiculed in a public arena. For me it was at boarding school so I can never go back (thank God), but I can imagine how hard it would be to move back to a community where other people remember you being in that situation 😦
      xx

  5. Posy says:

    It’s the desire to hide that often makes a great writer. We hide, but we watch. We are always watching, and we learn so much about people by doing so. I’m sorry you ever felt the need to escape in such a visceral way, but we all have those moments. They made you who you are today, and I think you are an AMAZING!!!! woman. 😀 ❤

  6. daleked says:

    I was like that, a little. I used to slip away when people talked me into going with them. Make sure they weren’t looking and go off in the opposite direction. And I get how you feel, but on a lesser scale because putting fics out there isn’t as scary as getting a book published.

    I loved reading this and am glad you posted it 🙂

    • thanks sweetie, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. And yes – posting fic was definitely scary at first too, but I never felt the fear so much with that. I guess because people have lower expectations and are less likely to tell you if they don’t like it 😉
      x

  7. lindsayb says:

    It’s easy, as a reader, to forget just how much of themselves authors put into their works. The two of your books I’ve read managed to really express the emotions and experiences of the characters in a meaningful and honest way. Your life experiences shape the stories you tell and definitely are reflected by that. Thank you for sharing that part of yourself.

  8. I really empathize with this so much, and I feel the same way entirely too often. Putting yourself out there is difficult and terrifying. And worth it. I hope you keep doing it.

    • Thanks for reading and replying. I think most authors have similar feelings even if the roots of them are subtly different – it’s scary stuff crawling out from under our rocks 🙂 but it is worth it, sometimes it’s hard to remember that x

  9. Pingback: Update: beating the blues, short story contracts etc | Jay Northcote Fiction

  10. Alexa says:

    This brought tears to my eyes – for you, as the 12 year old and how you were then, and for me the 12 year old who was the same. I found it hard to fit in at school – even among 2000 girls – yes my school was that big. I wasn’t interested in the same things they were and struggled until I found a few friends later on. At university things were different – I made friends who changed many things for me. I’ve hidden much of my life and to a certain extent still do.
    I have two books – my first – coming out this year and although I’m excited I’m also pretty freaked out about it. Reading this, and knowing how well you write, gives me hope about hiding less and also admitting I write books about men who fall in love with each other.

    • It’s amazing how deep the scars can run from stuff we deal with in childhood/adolescence.
      I’m glad this post resonated for you. Very best of luck with your book and with the exciting/scary process of putting your words out into the world 🙂

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