I was nominated on Twitter to write ‘seven things about me’, and I’ve been trying to think of seven interesting things. Seven. Can’t think of one.
Recently though, I’ve been thinking about what I write and who I am in relation to this. How much of myself I put into my work, how much I relate that to others, and whether that matters at all. I’m not sure it does.
As an introvert, part of me wants to hide, but the extrovert (that little bitch) wants to overshare.
So here I go, oversharing.
One: My complicated relationship with my hair: A Ginger’s Tale.
When I was four, a quiet & tiny ginger, it began. It was merciless. For all of my school life. Punched, kicked, spat on, (which was a lot because spitting a in ginger’s hair was a hobby for some people) pushed, intimidated, I could go on. I’m not special, but it was constant until I left school for sixth-form.
The effect it had was profound, and though I managed to make a new start, I bear the scars.
I dyed my hair, I escaped it, hid it, despised it.
Only at around twenty did I let go of the self-loathing I held for my hair. Hairdressers told me how lovely it was. Randos touched it. Those things made me uncomfortable, being in conflict with how I viewed my hair. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a thing about hair touching at the appropriate moment by the right person, but a stranger on the bus? Get away from me.
What I learnt was that it was also a fetish. I was fetishised for my hair. So as much as I love my celt-endangered-gene-hair, I still resent the perception others have.
I could wax lyrical about why – in England at least – we hate redheads. Partly it goes back to a culture of the Celt. Hatred of the Welsh, Irish, & Scottish is a long and bitter history. English non-celts are cultured to see gingers as lesser, odd, Other.
Two. The Giant Vagina.
I’ve told this story before, but it’s a good one.
I studied fine art. Painting to be precise, and the smell of linseed, the viscous texture of paint, rough pristine canvas still makes me salivate. My style is large, bright, abstract post-humanist deconstruction.
I left university as an embittered crone and got a job while painting on the side. I got a commission to paint someone’s vagina to go above her bed. She sent me an up-close and personal photo of her foof, and I painted it.
It ended up a bit Georgia O’Keeffe and she like it so much, she put it in her living room.
Three. The Bad Teacher.
I taught for about eighteen months as a supply teacher. Loathed it, but it paid well.
The crap schools I saw and things I experienced were intense, and I wasn’t very good at it. I do have fond memories of one, maybe two kids, okay maybe a whole class I took on a trip to London. Oh boy, that was a weekend and then some, but they were a good bunch, mostly. I hated teaching, and now I loathe children vehemently.
Four. The Bad Stroke.
I’ve had some tedious health issues since my early twenties. In 2012 I had a bad patch caused by medical incompetence. If it weren’t for one GP, I have no doubt I’d have ended up having a massive stroke from being on the wrong medication. As it is, I had a very small TIA.
My brain changed. I’d not painted for a while, but the finer motor function in my hands went, and I can’t physically paint anymore. However, as my brain reprogrammed itself, my mind flooded with ideas and stories. It wasn’t an overnight process but over weeks. I had these stories floating around as I did my mindfulness.
I started writing them down, and now I’m compelled to write. I wish I was better at it.
Five. The Twin.
I am a twin. Jonathan died just after I was born during a complicated birth. I’ve known about him since I was around six.
I miss the brother I never knew.
Side note to this, my older brother caught me talking to an invisible friend when I about three. His name was Jonathon. I’ll just leave it there.
Six. All the Sex.
To address what I write, I guess I have to talk about it. I didn’t start writing about sex; I wrote historical fiction at first. Then I just had an idea and wrote it. As flawed as my writing is, I believe the sex scenes are pretty good.
But this is also complicated and is about other, darker things from well before I got married at twenty-five. There is a part of my sexuality that I didn’t explore, and repressed for many years because of things I am unable to talk about. As I’ve aged (I’m thirty-seven) I’ve come to understand this more clearly as I’ve undone the harm done to me. Despite my introvert ways, I’m not prudish about sex. To explore the evolution of my physical self using language is a deeply sensual thing.
Some of my romances are vanilla, even veering towards sweet, but I do lean to healthier sex-positive and more accurate and realistic rep of BDSM, primarily because so many have absolutely no clue about it and write at best poor rep and at worse dangerous misrepresentation. You’ll always find consent, accurate power dynamics and healthy sex with me. No thinly veiled abuse or sexual assault in my work, thank you very much.
Gotta keep busy, right?
Seven. I’m Not Dead.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had some health problems. I recovered fairly well and even went back to work part-time. (I’d moved onto my second career as a healthcare worker in palliative and rehab care, yes, I’ve been with people as they died and a lot of other squeamish things too)
Then one day in November 2015, I thought I was having a heart attack. The pain was excruciating. I thought I was dying or had broken something. Tests, lots of doctors, and hospital appointments followed over the next weeks and then months. I couldn’t eat either. In fact, I was sick most of the time I ate.
I wasted. I’m only five foot and have the frame of a sparrow as it is. I went from a UK 8 to a UK 4. I couldn’t stand up. Walk. Nothing.
My husband had to care for me as I had cared for others. It was hard. I’m lucky, and though it’s been difficult, he stepped up, and we just got on with it. He’s been a rock of physical and emotional support.
I thought I was going to die. I wrote desperately, and I wanted to finish something before I was too weak to. To accomplish something of value. Writing gave me purpose and kept me going.
Then, by February 2017, after I’d been passed around doctors, I lucked out with a pain clinic. He’s a fibro specialist. Told me that I’d been misdiagnosed for fifteen years, and I had fibro, but it was now affecting my digestive system. It’s never going away. This is my life.
Now, hold your shit because I do not want your fucking sympathy. Pity will make me sneer. I’m not brave; I adapt because that’s all there is. I’m not courageously facing anything. I just deal with each day as I wake. I can eat more now and have managed to perfect the art of not vomiting. I have a lot of problems though. So many bad days, but the good moments are beautiful, and they mean so much to me. I value things in a way I never did before: like when I’m able to dance in the kitchen and cook, and when I don’t fall over.
Here’s the thing. As much as I’d like to be “well” I see the world in ways I didn’t. An ableist infrastructure and institutionalised perceptions limit me more than my disability. Ableds love a crip* tale to make you feel better about your life or inspire you. I detest the word inspirational. It can get fucked.
Disabled people are just people. We fuck, we laugh, and do the things I did when I was abled (mostly). We do not lament our lives as a fate worse than death. People, no more, no less, and while we do need your accommodations and understanding, you can shove pity-inspo-porn-bullshit up your arse.
To conclude, I’m a stay at home cat mom, living my best-disabled life. Sometimes I dance and embarrass my husband, but mostly I fall over, and that’s a perfectly acceptable way to live.
*Crip is not a word for ableds, as a disabled person, I have reclaimed it. If you’re not disabled, don’t use it.