Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Little Details

Right now, SK and I are sitting side-by-side at our computers. Neither of us is feeling very well so we're both in slouchy at-home clothes. He's playing WoW and I'm fidgeting with some writing details. It's a rainy Sunday afternoon and we're sipping hot jasmine tea from little Chinese teacups.

Life is good :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Four Years

I was answering a message board post just now, and looked up the date of my first blog post. Weirdly enough, it was today, four years ago. Bizarre!

I absolutely boggle when I think of how much  has happened in the last four years. In September 2006 I was working as a project assistant in the gap year between quitting archaeology and starting my teaching degree. I was sharing a house with a best friend who is no longer my friend at all. I was still living through the three year recovery from my first genuinely abusive relationship, and had no idea that a line-up of three quite awful relationships were on the menu for the following three years.

Three years ago I'd finished my final teaching prac and was struggling with the resultant feeling that I couldn't teach at all. I was living with my parents and wondering what the future held and where I would go next. I was also experiencing high school reunions for the first time.

Two years ago I was just days away from ending a disaster relationship, and had no idea that the grief that was still to come would plunge me into the incredible journey of self-discovery that has lead me to where I am now. The me of September 2008 had so much still to come.

This time last year I was again on the road to recovery after another horror relationship and my first (and hopefully last) experience of physical assault. I was still stumbling around in a daze in many ways, but had also made significant progress, and had taken the wild and life-changing step of joining the SCA, a decision that has shaped my life ever since.

Four dramatic, turbulent, soul-searing, growing, knowing years.

I wonder what the next four will hold?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Old and New

When I created this blog, I set my old one, "Christine's Insanity Outlet", to private. It had become too traceable and there was a lot of very heavy analysis on there, particularly about my family who, as the internet became more and more transparent, were likely to find it and might be upset by it.

However, lately I've been feeling more and more like there were things on that blog that I wished were still public (my yeast & sugar science experiment, for one!). I also felt sad that more than 3 years of my recorded history had been locked away.

So, today I spent several hours going through and painstakingly editing a duplicate of the old blog before importing the remainder (some 420 posts) into this one. I've removed things that reference family history too strongly, and also most of the posts about exes, apart from some of the most critical phases of analysis that led to my own healing. Additionally I've edited names here and there to make sure certain people don't google their way here.

So if it looks like the blog has suddenly become enormous overnight and the tags have multiplied, you're not going crazy ;) That's exactly what's happened!

Feel free to browse the newly added old posts - there's now 4 years of content on this blog, so it should keep you occupied for a while!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


When you’re wrapped up in a lifelong depressive dysfunctional mess, it’s very hard to focus on any particular problem. There’s so much swirling crazy noise that you can’t hear yourself think.

As you work through grief and start to heal, some of the noise subsides, and you can hear other parts of it more clearly.

Lately, I've found that the noise of inadequacy and inferiority has settled to a low hum, allowing me to hear less pressing issues more clearly. And the one that’s shouting the loudest is abandonment.

I’ve been reluctant to call anything in my life experience “abandonment” until now – that good old feeling of inferiority tells me that my problems are not bad enough to warrant attention – but the fact is that my reactions scream “abandonment issues”, so regardless of whether I deserve them, I've got them.

I don’t know exactly what in my past has caused me to freak out when I think someone is physically or emotionally deserting me. There are some strong candidates: my mother going back to work when I was 4; mother’s decision to leave the marriage when I was 13; my father’s crazy-cakes behaviour with his first post-marriage girlfriend the same year; my whole family’s tendency to emotionally ‘check out’ and withdraw love during conflict. I suspect it’s all of these things together.

The only time I remember having an abandonment-specific reaction is during my father’s tumultuous relationship, when he did literally abandon my brother and I by disappearing to go and see the girlfriend in the middle of the night, and ultimately by handing custody of us over to my mother because he couldn’t cope with both the girlfriend and us. That abandonment stung, and I still get upset thinking of one night when I had the ‘flu and woke up vomiting and alone because my father had gone off again. However, although that had a powerful effect on me, the way I react to perceived abandonment now bears more resemblance to how I react to my mother’s withdrawal tactics during arguments.

The way I want to react to perceived abandonment is pretty flaily and crazy-making. If I feel like someone has pulled away from me, or is shutting me out, or has gone non-responsive, I feel panicky. I want to get their attention and reassurance as fast as possible. I want to talk to them, message them, email them, hound them to get reassurance that they’re not abandoning me. If it goes on too long I start to get angry… I want to provoke them, annoy them, get them to argue with me: anything to get them to notice me. If it becomes too emotionally charged I start to want to do dramatic things. I have never self-harmed but I’ve fantasized about it, or wished I could be severely injured or sick so that people would “be sorry”. These thoughts were rife in my teenage years (I think that’s not uncommon) but I still occasionally find them cropping up when I feel abandoned.

As you can see, the whole thing is a pretty crazy reaction that can lead to a sharp downwards spiral.

I’ve become very conscious and critical of these abandonment reactions lately. I don’t want to be someone who drives friends and loved ones crazy with constant pestering for reassurance. I know I’ve pestered people in the past. I also know that some people (probably unconsciously) have used my need for reassurance to deliberately keep me off-balance or to ‘punish’ me. Both of those are good reasons to get the reactions sorted out.

I can control the reaction – several times lately I’ve had to sit on my hands and not flail to deal with a person’s apparent (or in a couple of cases, actual) withdrawal. I’m proud that I haven’t gone off the deep end on any of these occasions, and have only outwardly reacted by mentioning one or two of these events on this blog. But inside – there’s a weepy, flaily abandonment-fearing crazyperson wanting to get out. There have been tears when no one is looking, and a lot of hand-sitting and attempts at self-soothing to stop myself from going nuts.

That’s what I’d like to try to do next – get those internal reactions under control. To feel okay about people pulling away, and accept the comings and goings (whether actual or imagined) calmly without feeling like my world will fall apart if I can’t get a person to acknowledge me right away. I’m not quite sure where to start, but it’s something I’ll be doing a lot of thinking about over the next few weeks.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


In the blog post about bisexuality I revealed something I'd kept secret for a long time: my former attraction to my former best-friend-since-high-school. I noticed today that the girl in question has de-friended me on facebook sometime in the past week or so - I can't quite remember the last time I saw a post of hers, but it wouldn't have been very long ago.

I didn't mention her by name, but if she'd read my blog post she would have been able to identify herself. I was operating on the assumption that she wouldn't read it, because she's gone out of her way to demonstrate how much she doesn't give a damn about me (this has been her attitude for many years, even before our friendship officially blew up). But perhaps she is reading, and did see, and that's why she de-friended me. *shrug*

I'm trying hard not to care. It is triggering my abandonment issues like crazy, and there's some unresolved grief there too, both for the friendship and for the unrequited attraction. I spent years and years hanging around, hoping she would be as into the friendship as I was, not daring even for a minute to admit that what I felt for her was more than friendship. She was often a lousy friend and sometimes treated me as badly as many of my boyfriends, and it hurt all the more because I secretly loved her. A pretty dysfunctional fourteen-year mess!

So I'm a bit hurt and a bit sad, but grateful for the loving people I have around me, and glad that I'm confident and happy enough that I can work through the loss and let everything about that friendship go. My life is here and now, and it's wonderful... and she is not in it. There it ends.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


SK is keen on a number of sports. He runs long distance, he cycles long distance, he fences. When I moved in with him, he suggested that I take up running too. Then he cajoled, encouraged, sponsored and arse-kicked until I did start running :D

When I started, about 6 weeks ago, I could just about run for a minute, if I then walked for a minute. And I could keep that up for about half an hour.

Today, I ran 5.5km over 55 minutes without once dropping to a walk.


I'm astonished and elated. I didn't think I was capable of running at all, let alone learning to maintain a running pace over 5km. And to have got here in only a couple of months ... it's beyond my imagining. I'm proud and amazed and inspired.

In two weeks' time I'm doing my first fun-run. It's a 5km run - and whoa, I know I can already do it! - raising money for Trees for Cities, a group who work towards getting greenery into highly urbanised areas. I'll take support in the form of encouraging words, of course, but if anyone feels like adding a bit of financial support, it'd be greatly appreciated.

If I can run 5km, as chubby and unfit as I am, I can do ANYTHING. Seriously.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Being Bi

A couple of weeks ago, in the throes of election angst, I got into a spat with an acquaintance about whether sexuality is a choice or a predetermined part of one's nature. The context was a meme that was going around that highlights the absurdity of anti-gay marriage sentiments, and in the course of the argument she tried to tell me that my parents' unhappy marriage is the reason why I have chosen bisexuality as an adult.

Surprisingly, for me, I didn't blow my stack and rain down eloquent fire upon her head; just calmly pointed out the fallacies in her assumptions. But it's got me thinking a lot about my experience of growing up bisexual.

I was a very sheltered child, and had very little access to (or interest in) popular culture. I didn't listen to the radio; my TV intake was carefully monitored and approved; my mother read no magazines; and while our house was full of books, those that were not children's books were limited to sci fi, fantasy and old-school whodunnits. In a pre-internet world I simply had no access to anything beyond a vanilla, heteronormative world-view.

Around the ages of 5-7, kids go through a first stage of having "boyfriends" and "girlfriends" as they begin to mimic adult relationships. I had a "boyfriend" during this phase, because I was a girl. But I can also distinctly remember becoming emotionally attached to female friends. If they had been boys, these attachments would have been crushes.

Boy-girl relations broke off for a while after that, as my year group passed through the "boy / girl germs" stage. Around age 10 they picked up again and began to look like real relationships on the upswing towards puberty. Here, again, I knew when I was crushing on a particular boy, but couldn't explain the way I became attached to other girls. There was no sexual or particularly physical element at this age (no more than there was with the boys!), just an overwhelming desire for closeness. I would become enamoured of the way a particular girl looked, spoke, moved, thought; and I'd want to hold on to that somehow.

Sometime around this age I learned about homosexuality. One of my aunts was openly lesbian and my family were accepting of the fact. I was never given any negative or judgemental attitudes about homosexuality, and certainly never remember being bothered by it. I knew I was attracted to boys, so I never considered applying the label to myself.

As I progressed through my (still extremely sheltered) high school years, the boy-crushes and girl-crushes continued apace. I was very shy, anxious and socially inept, and often longed to get close to female friends but had no idea how to manage it. I was occasionally accused of being a lesbian, partly because I didn't have the social skills to attract boys and thus didn't date; and partly because I would often blush and stutter when talking to girls whom, had I known it, I found attractive.

It wasn't until I finally hit university that I learned about bisexuality. Between the liberal-minded university environment, access to my own TV and the advent of the internet, I became aware of the fact that people could 'swing both ways'. Unfortunately, I was also exposed to someone - I don't remember who, or where, or why - opining that girls who came out as bi were just looking for attention. How I wish I'd never heard that!

I can quite clearly remember the moment when I realised that the label 'bisexual' was mine. I was 19. It was the day after I'd had an explicit dream about my then-best-friend, who I had been close to since high school; and it was around the same time as I'd had an overwhelming urge to work a lesbian character into a book I was writing, and write a sex scene for her. I was lying there in bed puzzling over these two facts, when it hit me.



"I'm bisexual".

Unfortunately for the me of the next 10 years, I decided right away that no-one could ever know. Firstly, I thought I'd be accused of attention-seeking and drama (I felt the same way about asking for help with persistent depression; keeping my head down and my mouth shut was a common theme for me). Secondly, I wanted A Husband And Kids, and I "knew" that allowing myself to become involved with a girl would mean giving those things up for ever.

So I buried the knowledge deep. The crushes didn't go away, but now I actively pretended that they were just "intense friendships". I remember one class in third year in which I had two crushes - "Jolly Tammy" and "Dainty Diana", I called them - and wondering how I could change the chatty in-class friendships into something stronger and closer. I couldn't accept or acknowledge my desire to be with girls, but I couldn't stop the feelings.

This was the status quo throughout my 20s. Crushes, male and female, came and went. I had a few relationships with men (mostly unsatisfying and/or unpleasant), and a few long stretches without. I considered listing myself as bisexual on dating sites; I occasionally described myself as "bi-curious", "slightly more towards the bi end of the scale" or "bi but not actively so" to people I only knew on the internet. But I was far, far too scared of the consequences to ever own up to it in my real life. Or so I thought.

Late last year I made a new friend, who shares many of my opinions and values, and whom I respect a great deal. And she announced her bisexuality on her blog. This began a watershed for me. Another friend whom I'd met at the same time was a young woman I found intoxicating. I really, really wanted to be with her. I had not enquired about her sexuality, and she had a boyfriend besides. But between those two elements, something snapped. It took several months to work up the courage, but I came out. First to the friend who is also bi, secondly to my brother, then here on my blog, and then slowly to friends and family as it became relevant or necessary.

(It's not entirely relevant to the story, but... the intoxicating young lady read my blog, and it turned out that she is bi too [and thought I knew!] and a week after I came out I spent an evening kissing her... it was a brief interlude as I left for London at the end of that week, but it still sparkles in my mind as one of the most breathtaking experiences of my life).

Of everyone I've told about my bisexuality, only one person has had an "aha, I thought so!" reaction. He too is bi, and had picked up, to my delight, the blushing-at-girls thing. I spent so many years disclaiming that as "I just blush when I laugh!" and it was funny and wonderful to find that someone had pegged its true cause.

So here I am, a lifelong bisexual woman who is finally comfortable in her own skin. I've got friends who are fine with my sexuality (having shed those who are not), I have a boyfriend who is also bisexual, and I've got enough confidence to know that my family can like it or lump it and I'll be fine (so far they've been fine or neutral, thank goodness).

When it comes to the question of sexuality being a choice... no. If a sheltered 5-year-old can unknowingly identify as bisexual, then any adult who claims it's a lifestyle decision can go jump in a lake, with my compliments. It's not. It never has been, and it never will be.