Ever since I can remember, I’ve struggled with asking people for things. It’s a part of my own mental health struggles, but it seems that asking for things sends my anxiety through the roof like almost nothing else. Asking for things and telling people important things, nup, can’t do it.
The thing is, I know it doesn’t make sense, it’s completely irrational, but if my first reaction when I think of something is that it’s going to cause some type of trouble, my brain goes into a massive revolving circle of the black dog’s mixed loop tape of fear and flight. It’s not fun. Being the child of angsty divorced parents never helped my either.
For example. When I was in grade six each kid in my class was matched up with a kid from a school in England to be pen pals. For those of you under 40 or so, it’s how you used to talk to people overseas last century! So I had written my letter in reply to the nice girl that had sent me one, but it was a little late, so track one of the loop tape began to play. On top of that, I needed my Dad to post it for me … we’re now on track two and this is going to be a full LP, and not a single. Remember I said that this makes no sense whatsoever? Right. Good.
So, I still remember sitting down to watch the telly every night with my Dad, trying to get up the guts to ask him if he could post this letter for me. It would churn in my tummy and in my head, over and over, until it was time to go to bed and it would start all over again the next night.
Now I can look back and say to myself that what I was doing was just stupid, the longer I waited the worse it got, the later it was, all of that. Looking back I can also tell you that my dad had no idea how late that bloody letter was, and neither did he care. Because in the end I finally asked, and he said sure, and weeks of turmoil changed for something else.
So what does this story have to do with the journey of Squidlet? Well, thankfully, his approach to telling things that have needed to be said has been very different.
You never expect the Spanish Inquisition, we all know that, but sometimes you can also have no idea that a conversation is going to happen straight out of the blue that completely changes the world.
And that’s what happened one sunny Spring afternoon as we were driving down Belconnen Way towards the City. It was a conversation that would have taken me months to have with my own parents, shit scared of the implications, ramifications, clarifications and consternations involved, but for Jackson, it was as normal as asking to go for icecream. For me, it would have been an anxiety hell.
As we drove along, in the simplest of words and with no fuss, my daughter became my son. As quickly and easily in my mind as when that skun rabbit was passed over the screen to us on the operating table at their birth, things just changed, and it was so.
But in many ways that’s how the conversation is these days regarding gender and identity, things that would have blown my mind to hear when I was 15 have slowly evolved into being more regularly a part of the landscape, as it should be.
So as we drove along, there were some questions that I asked, which he answered. There would be so many more questions later on, and maybe I’ll write about them next time, but what I learnt that day from my was that it is better to ask and to tell, and to not to be afraid of saying what has to be said, than to let it sit inside of you, and eat you away.
We all have our fears, for some it’s spiders, or mice, dogs, peanut butter, clowns … I hate clowns … But I am so glad that my son lives in a time where he doesn’t fear who he is, or the repercussions of that, which suggests to me that he is going to be better as a man than his father ever was.