“I accept that the things that make me seem mad are also the things that make me incredibly productive, a loyal friend and someone with buckets full of empathy.”

Sunitha‘s #MadCovidDiaries 12.01.2020

TW: Suicidal thoughts

Everything feels overwhelming but not in the way that you would expect; I actually feel like my life is slowly coming together. If you’d told me two weeks ago that I would have managed to sleep before midnight for a week as well as waking up before 7am, I would have laughed. The way that I would describe how I feel is that I am possessed by a version of me that hasn’t existed for so many years. For me, I am a night owl, not only because I love the safety that being awake at night created for me growing up and in my adulthood, but because I also love the feeling of interacting with the other night owls even if there’s the horrible sinking feeling when I hear the birds singing and I realise, I should be asleep. When I’d been off work for a while, there was a long period of time when I considered that maybe I should just find work where I can work at night and sleep in the day, which meant when I helped put on a techno & performance night with other queer friends, my stamina was incredible. Yet, here I am, awake at 7:30 in the morning having woken up at 6:30, listening to an amazing soulful techno mix from my incredibly talented friend, and feeling almost transformed to that space where I thrive the most, a dance floor where I am just someone connected to the music.

I have spoken a lot about music in previous posts and for me, I had the privilege of learning piano and violin when I was growing up, which was motivated by my parents giving me the opportunities that they were not given as children. As my mum reminds me, aged 7, I told her that I wanted to learn the violin so that I could sing whilst playing. Although when I sang whilst playing the piano one day, my brother and mum laughed at me and so ended my dream of being a famous musician. I jest, as honestly, I don’t think that would have suited my personality at all but I grew up having the most wonderful piano teacher who taught me how to play classical music and when I was at home, I’d play pop music or Disney music when I felt like it. The music that I enjoy changes depending on recommendations from my friends, ranging from music my parents grew up with like Abba and the Beatles, playlists that my partner has made, as well as music that my younger cousins have forced into my head. On Thursday, I walked to work and listened to some choir recordings when I ended up listening to a song that we recorded when one of our choir family was given a month to live. It made me sob so hard, remembering how she made each person within our choir feel as the song really captured her energy and impact on people. The emotion for me was also compounded as I thought about the impact on her family. She was one of the best people I have ever met, though writing about her now is making me think of all those beautiful souls that die far too young. Whilst I have seen a few of the people in choir during the pandemic, I recognise that something has prevented me from reaching out to them. Sometimes seeing people on a regular basis as with choir, takes the pressure off trying to maintain contact especially in these unprecedented times.

Sometimes I find myself getting really anxious in group dynamics, as I am definitely someone who needs to be comfortable with each person individually before I feel at ease in a group setting. People meet me and probably realise that I am an introvert as I have that vibe about me but they often also think that I talk far too much. I understand that it’s hard for me to pin down what aspects of my behaviour come from mimicking people and what is just my behaviour adjusting through trauma. I would say that on the whole, I feel more comfortable when I am one to one with people because I am able to be open and vulnerable without the vast myriad of different masks that I wear in order to survive the world that we live in. At my core, I am a gentle soul but sometimes, especially with my family, I am often abrasive as gentle has got me nowhere. In a male dominated family where there is a lot of sexism and my choices are often ones of contention, I have grown thick skin but also a strong backbone so that I can challenge the criticism.

When I consider that one day the contents of this blog might find their way to my family, I think in the past, I would have been worried and afraid. However, I am now of the opinion that living my life as authentically as I can, allows me to compartmentalise and so I don’t have to tell my whole family about my gender or sexual orientation. If they find out themselves, I will deal with it then but until then, it’s an aspect of my life that I choose to share rather than must share. It’s slightly absurd that almost strangers know these details whilst my extended family don’t, however, I now understand that my existence is no less valid because I decide to be open about this to select people. Yet, I know at some point, especially as my younger cousins get older, I need to ensure that they grow up believing that there is nothing wrong with being someone other than a cis-hetero person. Part of that is because they need to respect everyone around them irrespective of gender or sexual orientation, and part of that is in case they feel that they might be someone other than that. Change takes time and generations, as well as much persuasion. Recalling when my cousins asked my partner about the stupidity of many genders, expecting him to agree, he turned around and said, people should have the right to identify how they want. Even though I had spoken to them on the topic for at least an hour, his words carried more weight as they felt they related to him more than me, the militant feminist in their eyes.

The feeling that people around me think that I am in some way radical makes me chuckle at times. My mum for example has struggled with the choices that I have decided to make and has expressed her belief that she thinks I do it on purpose sometimes, to be different. However, in the last few months, my mum has suddenly seen her child transformed in front of her eyes from someone who was at the brink of giving up to who I am today. She finally recognises that the way I lead my life is entirely my own choice and it has led me to feelings of happiness. Whenever she hints at things that she wants for me, I often understand her reasoning, but I think we have reached a mutual understanding that she is allowed to want those things for me and I am allowed to reject said things. The truth of the matter though is that I’m happier because I accept that the things that make me seem mad are also the things that make me incredibly productive, a loyal friend and someone with buckets full of empathy. My love for myself has come from understanding that whilst I definitely find life harder being the way I am, I am done apologising for the way I have come to behave. As a result of trauma in my life, I altered my behaviour negatively so that I would avoid being vulnerable again. However, through acceptance and adjusting my behaviour, I am learning to accept the personality traits that led me to be vulnerable in the past without it leading to the same result.

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