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.
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.