Tuesday, April 05, 2022

I'm Not Tired Any More

At five o'clock this morning, I woke up with a head full of urgent thoughts. I tried to get back to sleep but felt energetic: so here I am, writing at an unfeasibly early hour. It's been an odd few months with little time for reflection, and I suppose this is what's happening now.

Part of it has been stimulated by Jordan Mooney passing away. I barely knew her, although we had a really nice conversation in Manchester at the Louder Than Words weekend last year. She was in a relationship with a journalist friend in Brighton, and he must be feeling a lot of pain right now. I suppose because I knew a lot about her, she seemed like a three-dimensional person, and people like her leave a significant gap when they aren't there any more.

I was lying awake thinking about power, too: how easy it is to underestimate the power you have, and not to realise the impact of things that you say has on people. It is possible to feel entirely powerless, yet to say something that affects someone in a significant way. I have to make a resolution to think very carefully before I speak, always. I have always needed to feel spontaneous as much as possible, because life is so full of traps and prisons, even when things are within your own control. Sometimes, though, this can backfire.

Yet, on the other hand, Jordan's spikiness was inspirational. She wouldn't be folded up and put into a box: at the KISMIF conference in Portugal, she would not be a 'Feminist'. I don't blame her, because a lot of the time in my life I haven't wanted to be a woman, let alone a feminist. I became one of those out of necessity when for the millionth time I was backed into a corner by behaviour that was deemed to be normal (because that's what men do), and that behaviour was clearly utterly wrong. It's always upsetting when people won't join a gang that's formed to fight back, but it's also completely understandable. If you find a way that works for you, use it.

I was also thinking about how your parents dress you in attitudes when you are a child, and how removing these vestments carries on throughout your life. You might suddenly throw them off, causing immense hurt: that's the rebellious teenager deciding to be independent. You might gradually slip out of them and hang them up on the door of a room you are walking out of: that's the young person taking a different social or political journey from their parents. You might finally, wearily, shrug off a particularly heavy overcoat and leave it in a pile on the ground: that's acknowledging control and abuse, and refusing to carry it any more. And small things, attitudinal things. Learning not to tease and scorn; learning that a small step is good enough, for others as well as oneself.

It times in my life, like most people, I have found things very difficult. I have taken professional advice. The best advice anyone gave me was entirely genuine, which is probably why I appreciated it so much. 'Well done for surviving'.

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