It’s simultaneously both revelatory and utterly fucking disturbing that so many old memories have insisted on bobbing up recently. Revelatory, because I’m incrementally, a teeny smidge before I hit 50, getting closer to working out who I actually am. But it’s also quite disturbing to be constantly reminded just how powerful denial can be when it’s tyres are being kicked by trauma. Of course I get that to have realised who I was back when I should have realised who I was, would have most certainly led to me suffering far worse trauma, yet I am still often left wondering how I have made it this far, having managed to, even if only temporarily, stuff so much of what quintessentially should make me me into a collection of unmarked boxes and then abandoned them in the deepest storage levels of my brain.
One of my most recent flashbacks was to either a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon in early 1986. I was 16. I hadn’t thought of that particular afternoon for many years until several weeks ago when Youtube’s algorithms helpfully suggested that I might like to watch a music clip from the mid 1980s. It was spot on. I was a huge Mental as Anything fan in my teens, and in early 1986, their member Martin Plaza had just released his monumentally successful solo cover of Unit 4 + 2’s Concrete and Clay. I had somehow managed to get my hands on a promo poster for it, which I guess, with hindsight, must have come from a friend’s copy of Dolly or Cosmopolitan. I remember looking at the poster that I had just blu-takked to the bedroom wall (shared then with my younger brother), almost nearly recognising that my universe had just rotated a little, yet it has still taken me until now to realise what had actually shifted that afternoon. Martin Plaza had just become my first nearly-outward man crush, yet my denial was so strong because of the time-and-place layers of my existence, that it has taken me another 33 years to be able to visualise myself in my teenage bedroom gazing longingly up at Martin Plaza gazing longingly back at me. He was sexily clad in a pair of mechanic’s overalls and his face and hands were liberally smeared with grease. To perfect the scene, both of his hands were tightly wrapped around the biggest wrench you have ever been lucky enough to clap your eyes on. Swoon.
Until 2 years ago, my attempts to retrieve memories of my life up to, and including, my late teens had mostly drawn a blank, especially where my gender and sexuality were relevant. Thanks to some stellar help from my most excellent psychologist, and some really intense memorial excavations on my part, the past two years have witnessed a deluge of returning childhood memories, all neatly slotting into place in my psyche like a game of Tetris, all helping me to contextualise the trauma experienced from attempting to squash my gender into the ultimately misguided binary male/female model. I am confident there are many more memories and revelations still yet hidden, possibly memories that will cause even more trauma in their resurfacing.
On the one hand I want them all to resurface now. I feel that the more memories I have Tetrised, the faster I will be able to get on with the rest of my life. On the other hand, the sudden resurfacing of each additional memory brings with it the trauma that it was packed with, like so many foetid foam packing peanuts. As I am limited in the amount of additional trauma I am able to process simultaneously, I have decided that it is probably best to sit back and let them rise up at a time and place of their choosing. I have crossed my fingers that they are clever and kind enough to self-organise in order to pace themselves out.