The ivy is choking you – week 180

Heather Coldstream is a bit of a hero of mine, she writes so deeply and so beautifully about her life and experience as a woman who was AMAB (assigned male at birth). In this post she uses a metaphor to explain the power, and indeed, the challenges, of transitioning. It gives me so much to ponder and so much to be grateful for- that Izzy was able to strip those young shoots away before the concealed her completely. It also further fills my heart with love for those who approach this stripping away, or don’t. Bless you Heather xxx

Becoming Me

English ivy is a noxious weed where I live and I hate it. It’s also a perfect fucking metaphor for gender dysphoria.

Left alone to grow, its leaf cover and epiphytic roots will choke trees and understory plants and take years or decades off their lifespans by making them more susceptible to pests and toppling in windstorms.

Besides creating shoots to creep along the ground, it sends vines up trees to reproduce. At first, it’s just a few shoots here and there. It’s easy to peel off the strands when they’re thin, but the roots will leave little marks on the bark. If you let it go a season or more, the vines grow thicker and require real effort to remove, often with small sections of bark.

If ignored for years or decades the vines turn into woody cables thicker than your wrist, requiring a saw to cut through and…

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Doors slam

Today is a me day.  The kids are at the school holiday club today ( a special treat) and I have nothing more planned than a haircut and to run a few errands and read my book.  It’s going to be nice.  Harry even did the grocery shopping last night so I wouldn’t have to contend with that today.  On my day.

Freddie had a rough morning on my me day.  This me day.  Being the last day of the holidays, and being a tad sleepy eyed – when the kids asked me “can we watch this morning”, I wavered.  Never waiver!  It’s like the first rule of parenthood, isn’t it?  In Parenting for Dummies, I’m sure it takes up a whole chapter.  Never waiver.  I wavered.  Mistake number one. The precursor to Freddie’s rough morning.

So Freddie retired to his room with my laptop to watch a Harry Potter film and Izzy in my bed watching Ben and Holly or some such.  Izzy snuggling up with me.  Freddie shut away in his own world.  His preferred world.  To my credit, I did have the sense to include some stipulations – 8am when my alarm goes off, the devices go off, no fussing.  Get dressed, teeth and then you can play.

At 750 I alerted them.  Freddie: “Yes, yes”  Izzy “Ok mum.”

8am my alarm goes off.  Izzy:  “Okay mum, what shall we play?”  Freddie: “F***ing this, F***ing that….”  Total rage and complete loss of self-control.  Door slams.  And slams.  And slams.

My beautiful first born son, not yet eight years old, has hit me and kicked me, yelled at me, threatened me and slammed the door behind me as I retreat from the room.  I feel like a FUCKING FAILURE!  I mean please, what kind of mother has an eight-year-old child that swears at her and hits her on almost a daily basis, sometimes several times a day?  I am ashamed, not of my son but of myself.  It weighs me down this shame.  It drags behind me, clinging to my shoulders as I try to go about my day with a smile on my face.  It lies in my chest like a lump of cold hard rock, locked there so I can be sure my son feels loved and accepted.  Locked there to protect him from the judgement and disapproval of people who don’t see this side of him, but hearing it could not help but change their opinion of him.

High functioning autism is a beautiful gift and a dreadful curse, all wrapped up in the mind and body of my beautiful, first born child.  It will never go away.  Accepting that it’s not simply a failure in our parenting style is actually really difficult.  Because we are failing, almost every day, to give Freddie what he needs to live a calm and peaceful life.  His rages affect us all.  Not in the least what it must feel like to him, to lose control.  To struggle to find peace.

I’m not sure where this post is heading, perhaps it’s just a release of the intense sadness I feel today, having the time, alone, to indulge in my feelings.  Acknowledge them and accept them.  Share them.  Not having to push them to the side, Keep Calm and Carry On.

The sky is grey, heavy with rain and thunder rumbles.  Even the weather joins me today.  In quiet grief.