I pretended to be male, and people did not guess I am female. Then I transitioned, and I was still doing the benefits tribunals, and I kept the same mask. The same way of being with people. I don’t think it works. Being without it, though, feels naked and vulnerable and confusing. If you have worked this one out, please let me know.
I had a rare opportunity to come over all professional yesterday. C asked me to come to a meeting. He had five of us there, and stated the problem in a way I found tedious and long-winded. I have no idea how big a problem it is, from minor inconvenience to life-changer, because it is not C’s problem: he was lending R a hand. Can we help R? Oh, OK, I would think that worthwhile, but first I want to know what help R thinks he might need, rather than impose my solutions on him like Lady Bountiful. From giving R particular help for one afternoon, we have somehow taken him on as a client or protégé.
At the time, I wondered at C, thinking he was just not understanding and making heavy weather of something trivial. Now I see his generosity, including coming from the other side of the town to give me a lift in, an extra 14 miles. Foolish, or sweet? Two conflicting strong impressions of which I have been certain at different times.
Or there are A and B, a lesbian couple. B and I can be quite friendly, when we bump into each other. A stands slightly apart, monosyllabic. I could construct all sorts of stories around that. I am comfortable with B, and embarrassed with A, though wanting to be friendly.
I became aware of my mask or shell, and in February 1999 it appeared suddenly as if I was just me, without it. So strange. What of friends? Sunday afternoon I had lunch with S, and she was chatting away all the time. I really enjoyed it. I felt immediately at home with J, and have seen her since the snakes at the museum, for coffee. This is a friendship I could like. And- what really concerns me, bothers me, worries me, my midnight thoughts, I do not want to share with them because I fear they will judge me. Which may just be my judgment on myself.
I have met two men, beside the Polymath, who have seemed to me unsuccessful but fiercely intelligent. One actually stank- a bulk of resentment in a long black coat. But I have too big a heart to end up like that, surely, friendless without anyone to converse on their level.