An Unsettling Feeling

An Unsettling Feeling

I was awoken again, last night, by a deep crying in my sleep! A strange, unsettling feeling filled the room.

In my dream, I had just cleaned the house in readiness for a visitor, but couldn’t see who! The house was mine but I didn’t recognise it. I was standing in a bright but dusty room, looking down the stairs at an open-plan kitchen, with a sitting room off to the left. It reminded me of our house in Howth where the children were small. The kitchen was cramped but the sitting room had French Windows, opening out to give a sense of space.

I was unsettled at not knowing my own home!

Without notice, Robbie stood at the bottom of the stairs. He was without doubt, my son, but bearded and older now. A deep sense of loss came over me. I called out to say hello but couldn’t speak! He seemed uncomfortable – even disturbed! He had a sense about him that reminded of my brother Paddy, who had died some ten years earlier. I started down the steps and as I did, Robbie started cooking something on the electric stove standing close behind him. I was in the sitting room now and he complained again that I had no idea how to use the stove. He moved a small frying pan to an element at the back, indicating that that’s where I should have placed it, in the first place. I knew he was right and I was upset I hadn’t noticed the extra element on my own stove.

His anger was palpable.

I felt a deep sadness within, like I’ve rarely felt before. I cried again, this time from an even deeper place within. I missed my son terribly and my body shook uncontrollably. As I started to wonder how I could ever heal this gaping wound, I suddenly awoke.

I was relieved it was only a dream, but at the same time, I was deeply disturbed and uneasy. I was somehow now, completely aware that it was my own long buried grief I was feeling. It was the grief I buried the year I lost my Dad and got shipped away to school for my troubles! I sat with the feeling this time. I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand and as I did, I remembered more of the dream. I had become angry with Robbie. I had grabbed him by the collar, shouting loudly in his face “I lost my Dad at 13 you know and I swore I would never let my children suffer the same fate!” I was shaking him, as if to wake him up. I wanted him to know that I had tried my level best but the sense of failing him and my only daughter Genevieve, was totally overwhelming.

Over the years, I’ve done my share of personal healing work, especially around my sexuality and separately, around my gender and the feeling that I’d love to live my life as a woman. I hate that I feel that way but denying it is killing me. I’ve wanted to dress in ‘girlie things’ for over sixty years and in many ways it’s been the bane of my life and has been coming to a head recently. It’s amazing how subtle denial can be. I love to dress in frilly things, I always have and yet, I make excuses still.

I would love to have lived my life as a girl and I still would. I just hate how foolish I feel about it!

As a boy of six or maybe eight, I was given a choice. Stop dressing in frilly girlie clothes or lose both your Mammy and your Daddy! A no brainer to a child! My choice today, as a supposed adult, is still the same but speaking my truth has made me realise that my primary relationship is with myself and myself only! Happiness is an inside job – they say! Remembering this has enabled me to change my choice! Having been born with a male body, I was naturally perceived as a boy, but I wanted to be a girl or at least I wanted to live like them, dress like them, talk and relate like them and of course, be accepted like them. It felt safer to be a girl in our house but the cost of being myself was more than I could bear. Being a frilly boy seemed like the ultimate impossibility! I denied my feelings and hid them deep down within, as you do!

My first memory of self-harming was back around that time.

At thirteen, Daddy was killed in a plane crash and instead of feeling that pain on that day, I buried it deep in my soul. What choice did I have? I was shipped off to boarding school that same year and whatever hope of facing my grief was left, was completely destroyed with that particular move. But again, I never dared to notice the pain. There are, it seems, somethings in this life we simply cannot bear to see.

I’ve lived a life, for many decades, like a bull in a china shop, unaware of what I wanted and worse, unaware of what I was doing and the hard truth of that is, that my fear of facing my grief has hurt those around me. So, my healing work and especially this dream are very important it seems. Choosing to be the frilly person I am, rather than creating a ‘big-man’ persona, to make others happy has lead me back to myself!

This nightmare has shone a light on the simplicity of the workings of this particular human being and for that, I am deeply grateful.




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