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A New Name

As we approach ever deeper into summer, which doesn’t seem to express itself as such, the weather matches my thoughts as I go deeper into my transitioning journey.

But before I go into that, I do feel I owe you a small apology for leaving it so long since the last post. I do however have a good excuse. You might have looked around on my website and found a lot of changes. I have created a web shop called ‘Gif-shop‘ where I intend to sell my artwork on prints, mugs and even t-shirts. But this has had some unforeseen consequences, namely I have had to become a bit of an IT expert as all the big platforms (Google, Facebook, Instagram etc.) have extremely tight rules for small businesses like mine. Anyway, I spare you the details, I just wanted to let you know I haven’t been doing nothing!

So, as I was starting to say, my transitioning journey has been evolving a little since I cut my hair. My youngest child also has noticed and I have been thinking about other aspects of myself that I feel don’t fit anymore. One aspect is that I have been trying for some time now to lose weight. In 2014 I had my last big mental health crisis, after which I finally decided I had no other choice then start taking medication. I have always been anxious and apprehensive about taking any kind of medication, as it also is a means of control over people. Which as an old punk I really don’t like. But in 2006, after finally being diagnosed with EUPD and Dystymic Disorder I went through some very intense therapy, group therapies of all kinds, for over 2.5 years, without medication. That therapy has helped to get some normality back in my day-to-day life, but it did not touch any of the underlying issues and past trauma.

In my orange F1 Max Verstappen top 😉

Anyway, after that crisis in 2014 the mental health team put me on the highest dose of Mirtazipine over a period which frankly changed my life. I have not had another crisis since. But it did mean I gained 30kg until I weighed 115kg at my heaviest (I am 6 foot tall, 1m80). The positives far outweighed (pun!) the negatives cause it allowed me to work fulltime for 5 years as a lorry driver and get my confidence back after a horrendous separation and divorce.

But now, I have asked my psychiatrist to wean me off mirtazipine and instead I get another anti-depressant which doesn’t have the weight gain side-effect. So hopefully I will lose some of that weight. Sadly it doesn’t mean I can come off all the other stuff I’m on either, but hey, I can live with the rest. So that is one change which hopefully is going to make me feel better about myself.

There is something else I want to share with you all though. I have been thinking about changing my name. Mayola is a female name, and I really would like to have a more neutral-male sounding name. How difficult is that though, to think of a name for yourself at age 47 that truly reflects how you feel and expresses your identity! I wanted a cool name, maybe to honour a fellow artist/revolutionary and then I knew it, it is going to be…..Kahlo. In honour and respect for Frida Kahlo who I feel is a great role model and fellow revolutionary artist. But obviously Frida is too feminine, but Kahlo is different and rare, and kind of cool I think.

So, there it is. The big reveal! Haha. So, if you do want to get in touch, please do, and address me as Kahlo, with they/them pronouns. And another trans term you might not know about; my old name is my ‘dead name’. Thank you for reading! Catch you next time.

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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.

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Fighting yourself in the pursuit of love

At my core I have a deeply engrained self-loathing. My own analysis concludes that when my sister was adopted when I was only 2 years old, I must have subconsciously concluded that it was because I wasn’t good enough. I also developed a jealousy towards my sister, as she did towards me. This is a common issue between siblings, so I guess it is not surprising between adopted siblings either. She was a novelty in those days, and attracted a lot of attention, although in our village there were several other adopted children, and a few years later we moved to a street with right next to us two Indian families with in total 5 children.

But besides us both developing jealousy towards each other, I think subconsciously I must have wondered about the reason why my parents adopted a child from so far away. My theory is that along the way I developed the idea that I must have been not good enough. When they undertook the trip to India to collect my sister, I was brought to my mother’s eldest sister, who had a daughter a few years older than me. I still remember some details about that. But off course this can be seen as an abandonment, even if it was just for a month or so, especially that when they returned suddenly there was this dark skinned girl to compete for my parents attention. This must have been a big shock for me.

Then the abuse towards my sister started. What message does that send to me, her older sister? First of all, that is a lot of attention directed towards her. Yes, it’s negative attention, but attention nonetheless. Second, it made me feel unsafe, and that I could not trust them to defend my sister and me, to provide care. Neither of them ever choose our side, stopped the abuse and neglect. Nor did any other family member, neighbour, childminder or school teacher. So I learned to distrust adults, and hate myself.

Then I was talking a lot, probably in an attempt for attention, and with a raised voice, which must have been very annoying. So I was repeatedly told to shut up, for years and years on a daily basis. I didn’t fit in anywhere, I felt different, and I wanted to be a boy. I didn’t like playing with girls, so I tried playing with boys. But they didn’t want to play with me, because I was a girl. This then resulted in me always being on the periphery of groups and just feeling awkward and alone. I felt I wasn’t listened to and to add to it, my father often laughed at me on moments that were particularly important for me to be heard.

During my teens and adulthood I have always sought to reinforce this feeling of hate inside me. I choose partners and ‘friends’ who were not interested in me, were emotionally unavailable, abusive and manipulative. By doing that I was never confronted with having to show my vulnerability. And if someone did take an interest I would skilfully avoid. But now, this is harming my own children because I struggle to show them love, physical touch and emotional support. How can I if I have this self-hatred? When my daughter tells me she loves me, I struggle to say it back, because I feel this rejection inside me. ‘You wouldn’t love me if you knew the inside me’. That is the kind of thoughts I have. I have no social life, no close friends and no family nearby. I have to change that.

I guess somehow I have to start loving me, really loving myself. But how do I go about that if my natural tendency is to reinforce this message of hate? Well, I have a few ideas. First of all, I have to set boundaries and stick to them. This is very difficult. Because I constantly make excuses as to why this person doesn’t need to abide by them. Say I get to know someone. One of my boundaries should be to never go to someone’s house the first time I meet them. Always meet in a public place and make sure my son knows where I am and what time I will be back. Or, set boundaries when and until when somebody can call me. Cause if I stick to those ‘self-love’ rules I will look after myself and my health and safety. But instead I often ignore all that, and allow myself to get into situations I can’t get myself out of or to be used. Because I give in to the promise or even just the anticipation of attention, physical or otherwise, which to me look like love, but I know isn’t. And then, I get abused, raped, manipulated, ignored or dumped and that, off course proves I am worthless, stupid, ugly etc.

‘Borderline’ | Graphite and ink on paper | Gif | 12/2020

When sometimes somebody comes along and actually is gentle, loving, caring and sensitive I feel extremely uncomfortable, awkward and I just want to run. Which I always do. Leaving people heartbroken, angry and upset. And I am alone again.

Now being alone feels so comfortable and great. I made myself believe it is better this way, because I am safe, my children are safe and nobody gets hurt. Which off course is a lie, because as long as I live like this my daughter gets hurt by me not meeting her emotional needs, and I have an enormous hole in my life of deep, black emptiness. So yes, I now realise I have to work on it, because I realise it. Ignorance is bliss, but sadly I am never ignorant.

Then there is the issue of the fact that every human needs other human contact. And I am still human. So all this time I have yearned for emotional comfort, safety and closeness. It’s called love. But I have never really felt it, truly. So I fight it, because deep inside I hate myself, but at the same time I want it. I need it. That is what Borderline Personality Disorder, or Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder is. Push and pull. Pull somebody close and push them away, sometimes in one sentence, in one moment. I bet you can see how hard it is to be in a relationship with somebody like me.

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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.

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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

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Patience

17th of October 2000

Do I push too

Hard on U

Know I can’t

Bare U want

Me. I know

U kick me

Later U get

No chance

Touching my soul.

Sick of trying

U give up I

Can’t believe

My value