Maggie In Wonderland: The Great Repression
As this is my first blog for this wondrous and marvellous community I decided to start with a bit of autobiography (hey I'm a star, just like you, so it was about time anyway).
Let's go back in time some 30 years. One of those typical Dutch days, not sunny not rainy, not warm not cold, and a 10 year old boy was cycling to the village library to return “Gummi Tarzan” by Ole Lund Kirkegaard. That boy was me. These kind of memories normally fade away deep into the abyss of the subconscious, never to reappear, but not this one. This specific moment, as I took the turn at the old folks home towards the library, would have tremendous consequences for the rest of my life. At this very moment I somehow decided that it would be best if I would become “normal”.
It was the early 1990s, and it had started to dawn on me that the thing between my legs would not just fall off as I had always assumed it would at a certain point. My pink pyjamas and My Little Pony collection were slowly gathering more mockery and ridicule, things would surely be easier if that inherent feeling of being a girl would just disappear. So I set my mind on finding that magic trick out there that would make that feeling go away.
The next few years I was predominantly occupied with evading bullies, avoiding everything even remotely sexual in nature, figuring out what to do with my arms and legs that had grown so long that they were starting to get disproportionate, and coping with my voice change. In hindsight this was all still rather easy, but around the age of 16 the real trouble started. The thing between my legs had not only not fallen off, it started to act up as a result of getting a personal surge of masculine hormones. Now it was time to seek desperate measures.
The first attempt was the most ready to hand but in the end also the darkest one, and I still consider it my luck that I was able to conclude its uselessness fairly early in my life. It was the: “What if I drink enough alcohol, then that yearning might go away” phase. At first instance things looked promising really, I forgot about all the anguish and was actually gaining popularity at school. But slowly it dawned on me that there was a price to pay. The price of having a double life: one while intoxicated and one while being sober. And the thing I was trying to make go away always peeked back in, every time with more force, especially when being sober of course. Now that's a hangover.
A lot of phases followed: “What if I just work my butt off all the time?”, “What if I just study day and night”, “What if I become catholic and stay on my knees praying all the time?” and then “What if I just work out extremely hard?”. All might have given me a superficial normality on the outside, appearing as just your normal son in law material, but inside I was a pressure cooker ready to burst, and along the way I had started to self harm in desperate attempts to suppress my soul.
Sports initially came in as yet another possible solution to my conflict, my preference for sports regarded as girly like ballet and yoga were put away with some good old cognitive dissonance strategies. But out there on the mat things started to happen inside of me, for short sweet moments I didn’t feel separated inside. As I bent forward and balanced on one leg while holding my other leg up in the air, I felt not man, not woman, I felt a sense of me. I started practicing Tantric yoga, and there I sat with my arms spread out meditating motionless for 30 minutes while my mind was raging with all the pent up fear, anger and frustration. The pressure cooker was starting to burst. Slowly I started to be at peace with myself, with my long gummy arms and legs, and with my girl inside. I started to accept myself. It was all little by little. But the great repression had finally come to an end, and I was coming out to myself. Now the great quest of coming out to others began, but that is a story for a next blog.
Do I regret that decision I took as a 10 year old? I would not recommend anyone to take this route, as it's essentially fruitless. But personally overcoming this long darkness made me meet the beautiful extraordinary people that I call my friends now, gave me the ability to fly (just for a few seconds, but still) and soar. I am here, I am alive and have the presumption that I’m kicking ass. Now I am a female impersonating dancer and a non binary yoga teacher: not man, not woman, but fully me. And life is too short to hold grudges anyway.