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  • 'Could this be the kernel of the thing? The reason I don't know what my place in life is? I always feel like the outsider.'

    I sat in the warm, white room upstairs in the old terrace house of the Gender Centre. A moment ago I said I hated being treated like a child, and here I was, sullenly staring at my feet, tapping my glasses on my leg and focusing all my energy on creating an invisible fist to push my monstrous feelings back down my throat.

    I hate to cry in front of anyone, but my counsellor Anthony always makes me feel my feelings. 'Thanks for making me cry' I joked on the way out. He said he would have to put up a sign that said, 'No need to thank me for making you cry.'

    There is a big lonely warehouse where I've stored all my pain. Sometimes I post letters to that warehouse and the letters are little parcels of pain. Anthony wants me to visit that warehouse and open the letters and read them out loud. And then over time we will make a map of what has been stored in the warehouse so I can go through everything. Clean and rearrange things. Get rid of some things and transform others into things I can use.

    Today in the warehouse I tried to sneak around the feelings, tried to stare into space until they disappeared. But Anthony kept watch until it was safe enough to let the feelings come out and give them a voice.

    I feel lonely. The feelings have no words. The loneliness is immense. My throat is too constricted to say more than one word at a time.

    Who is responsible for alienation? I have put my outsiderness together in stories, related it to others so that I might feel less lonely. Did I grow up to be an outsider so I could survive the cruelty of others, or were people cruel because they could sense that I wanted to be different and they were scared?

    Is it the machine or the bank that have alienated us, and if so, how can we smash the machine and break the bank so we can feel community? Steinbeck wrote in The Grapes of Wrath, 'The bank is something more than men. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it.' My housemate told me that Marx wrote about how we are all alienated from our emotions under capitalism. Even so, some people seem more cruel than others.

    I try very hard to be connected to people. But I can't imagine feeling connected to all human beings. For that, I would need a very big heart. Big enough to forgive people for the words and looks they give me, the things they do and fail to do, and big enough to forgive myself for being human.

    'You need to heal from this pain,' Anthony said.

    'Yes, but how can I heal?' I asked, very scared, because someone was witnessing and that made it somehow more real. And then he said my favourite line, the one I always forget until the next time I really need to hear those words: 'You're doing it right now.'

    This is what support looks like for me.
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