Why I wear black

Since I was a teenager my favourite colour has always been black. And this week I have been thinking about that. Why do I wear black? What is it that I like so much about that colour? I hear my 10 year old tell me, black is not a colour. No. It isn’t, because it absorbs all light. And the colour white reflects it.

Now, let’s think about that for a minute. I imagine what it would be like to always wear white. Immediately what comes to my mind is that it would attract attention, because it is more noticeable. That is the inevitable consequence of the reflection of light. Psychologically I think that is not what I want. Attract attention. I have a sense of feeling vulnerable, insecure and self-conscious because of my gender transitioning, because of having been victim of sexual predators and domestic violence, because of my mental-health conditions and how I am perceived. I don’t want to feel that, but it is always there, in my mind somewhere, even if I feel good. It feels like I have a big sign on my forehead saying I am a target, come hunt me down. Perhaps this is just paranoia, and it doesn’t really matter if it is or isn’t. That is how I feel, a lot.

It isn’t just those aspects of myself I just mentioned, it literally is my whole being. Let me explain. Physically I don’t fit in the norm, I am 6 foot 1, assigned female at birth (AFAB), I have a thick Dutch accent, so anyone I talk to knows immediately I am an immigrant, I am big and muscular (well, just overweight actually, lol), I am very direct which in the UK means people think I am aggressive. I am diagnosed with EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder), the label already feels like a massive threat and one of the symptoms is paranoia. I also have a mood disorder (Dystymic Disorder) which makes me depressed most of the time, which also includes irritability, and massive mood swings. Luckily I am medicated which have largely made my life better and stabilised most of these. Still, all this has made me a recluse. I struggle to make lasting and meaningful relationships, friendships let alone romantic relationships. I am at home 23 hours a day, 1 hour to walk my dog. That’s it. Strangely I feel very comfortable living like this. I know it is unhealthy, but it feels good.

Wearing black enhances these aspects. It absorbs my feelings, and it is like a protective shield almost. But another aspect of me that is different is my political views. I am a Marxist and Trotskyist and a proud member of the Socialist Party. I am a revolutionary. That is not exactly mainstream. A part of my political views is that it comes with a responsibility. In order to truly be a revolutionary I am obliged to be open about it, and live it in an active way. Hiding this aspect of me would be betrayal of myself, and what I stand for. I have to actively carry out being a revolutionary socialist, and recruit, fundraise, campaign and show solidarity to my class. Unfortunately this is in complete contradiction to my overwhelming urge to isolate and be alone. I have not found a way to merge the two or overcome this. But I do what I can. And wearing black helps me.

Wearing Black

Another thing I was pondering is, maybe it is also an expression of anger and resistance to what the colour of my skin stands for, still. I am white. As I mentioned in earlier episodes of this blog, racism is in my family, my country, my culture, my education, everything I experienced growing up. And from a very young age I rejected it because I could see the immense injustice, discrimination and suffering black & ethnic minority communities endure. I can’t stand it. So in a way, to me wearing black is an act of solidarity with anyone suffering adversity and discrimination.

Black is inclusive, absorbing, all encompassing, enveloping, safety, peace, rest, withdrawal of people, inward, calm and accepting.

I love what Johnny Cash sang in his song ‘Man in Black‘:

“Well, there’s things that never will be right I know
And things need changing everywhere you go
But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right
You’ll never see me wear a suit of white

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything’s okay
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
‘Til things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black”

And then further down in the song:

“Well, there’s things that never will be right I know
And things need changing everywhere you go
But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right You’ll never see me wear a suit of white

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything’s okay
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
‘Til things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black”

I think it is about time white people do their bit to set the record of imperialism, plunder, looting and enslaving whole continents straight and redefine the words ‘white’ and ‘black’. Cause how sickening is it to claim the word ‘black’ for everything bad, dirty and evil, and ‘white’ for everything clean, divine and right? When we look at the world today I can only conclude that that is false and we need to redefine those words, and redefine their meaning. For starters. I believe every white person today has the responsibility to do what they can to actively live this change.

For me the only way to change all this is by changing the system of inequality, greed, exploitation and oppression. That is a big task. But if we all talk to our family, neighbours, friends, collegues we will. It starts by not accepting it, calling it out, protesting and asking others to join you.

The attraction of rejection

Since my separation and divorce from my ex-husband I have not had a serious relationship with anyone else. I got hurt so badly that I decided it would be best to be alone. Not in the least because I nearly lost my children and I wanted to protect them from any more trauma.

But slowly as I recovered, I turned my thoughts to why I am always attracted to emotionally unavailable, distant, violent and manipulative men. I have had a few relationships with loving, kind and caring men but after a short while I felt uncomfortable, anxious and basically ran for the hills. Breaking hearts as I did. For which I feel very guilty and if any of you read this: I am sorry.

I have discovered that as I have never known unconditional love, as a child, I have not learned to love myself. Only if a child has the experience of unconditional love from a parent or carer from birth they will develop a sense of self-love. I have clearly been taught the opposite. I witnessed terrible violence against my sister, and was told to shut up and stay out of it. When I was 2 my sister was adopted, which subconsciously told me I must have not been good enough if they went all that way to adopt another child. She then got a lot of attention, mostly negative but still attention as I was the ‘good’ child. But the biggest overriding message was that I couldn’t trust my parents, they did not keep us safe, they violated our trust and loyalty towards them by abusing and starving my sister and neglecting both of our emotional needs and allowing it to continue. This is a very powerful message of rejection and abandonment which to me clearly said: ‘you are worthless and you are not worthy of love’.

‘Attraction Rejection’, pencil and ink on paper, Mayola 2020

Then when I grew up it felt safe to be with people who weren’t interested in me, who didn’t show care and protection and love. And when somebody did show interest, care and love it felt very uncomfortable, uneasy and scary. So I ran. Instead it felt much better to have my internal message of self-hate enforced by violent, abusive, manipulative men, because I actually believed it to be the truth!

So the inevitable conclusion is, that if I want to experience true love I have to start learning to love myself. Only once I feel comfortable with that feeling, I can allow somebody else to love me back and be in a successful mutually loving relationship. But how do I go about that? For decades I have worked on enforcing the feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing, and I have come some way of practising self-love by looking after myself better, live healthier, engage in therapy and support but I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of starting to love myself more.

The evidence of that lies in that I am still attracted to unhealthy men, bad boys, tough guys, emotionally damaged men who are in one way or another not emotionally available. Still, I am very comfortable in my own company, I look after myself physically and mentally and I don’t engage in risky behaviour anymore. But I just don’t know what the next step is, except that I have to draw boundaries and stick to them.

Fuort mar los / Ga maar weg /Please go

Ik seach dy rjocht

in ‘e eagen

de wierheit is lichter

dan de leagen

de leafde starker

dan de eangst

herteskuorrende pyn

draaglikker dan skuld

yn ‘e skuld troch trou

by bern en frou

fuort mar los

myn leave…

Ik kijk je recht

in de ogen

de waarheid is lichter

dan de leugen

de liefde sterker

dan de angst

hartverscheurende pijn

draaglijker dan schuld

in de schuld door trouw

by kind en vrouw

ga maar weg

mijn lief

I look you straight

in the eyes

the truth is lighter

than the lie

love is stronger

than fear

heartbreaking pain

more bearable

than blame

in guilt by loyalty

with child and wife

please go

my love

By Gif – Fryslan, 2005

Untitled

April 1996

I used to turn to you

And give my self away

I am disgusted with my self

Thrown away, anger

Pushed aside, a rotting

Corpse waiting to die

Which will not happen

‘Till I love my self

I can only love you

To run away for me

Please forgive my

Pushing illness

I can help my self

If you turn away

From me.

I hope you will

Look over your shoulder

Once in a while

I might recover you know

And still love you

The right way

Bastard

19th of November 1992

I

Despise

Need to cry

One big lie

No goodbye

I am shy

U are high

Love the sky

I deny

But fuck knows why