Saturday, 23 December 2017

My Fault

Sometimes, in the dead of night, when the lights knowingly slink away and wicked thoughts come scuttling from the shadows with a nocturnal hunger, I will find myself lying there. Awake, silent, yet pinned down by the weight of a restless mind. Not in deep contemplation, or mile-a-minute thought... I mean yes, that happens too, but that is the norm. Sometimes, just sometimes... I lie there in the stillness, and feel my conscience... burn. Insatiable consuming cinders form a canopy behind my eyes, an explosion desperately trying to become.

It burns with everything I long to do. It burns with all that I know I never can do. It blazes unbearably with this uncontainable persistence, like a force of nature compelling itself, irrepressibly, against a tarring counterforce, the unbreakable chains that deny it. As I burn, I am also lost. Ribbon-thin razor wire binding the wolf in my mind, entangling and enveloping ideas in the labyrinthine web of broken neural circuits and a fizzing electric field that groans with undiffused frustration. The passages my thoughts long to find never quite connecting, never managing to conduct from idea to action.

This burning boils and cracks my shell until all the fuel is expended and my will breaks yet again to this nightly torture session. Heat drains away and the overheated circuits run cold as frustration gives way to apathy. But still it sits there... braying, urging, stabbing. I can give up hope, but I cannot silence the compulsion. A tangible need to be, bending reality against itself like two immutable stone facts standing in opposition to one another. I live in contradiction, tilting at the windmills in my own mind. I am, but can never be. I will, but live as a ghost.Were it an enemy I would submit, but the face of my tormentor is my own, and how he relishes the neverweres.

The paralysis of mind. How could I ever convey that experience to one untouched by its venom? To know what you want to do, what you need to do, but honestly not be able to do it. To have nobody and nothing to blame but yourself and the unconscious choices your treacherous brain makes against your will. Is it worse than the worst form of bodily paralysis? No. Is it even in the same ballpark as serious mental retardation or agonizing genetic disease? Not at all. It is merely different. The phantom nature of my demon, however. The cruel way it hides from view and disguises its meddling, that's what can bring a man to tears. I am just normal enough to have no valid excuses, and just broken enough to be unable to ever rise above my limits.

But I don't say this as a cry for help. I'm not seeking empty "you'll be okay"s or "believe in yourself"s. Sympathy is something I never cared for, learning quickly not to befall that tricky safety net. More often than not, every supportive remark is delivered by the back of the hand. Using praise to justify trivialization. Trying to explain over and over what effect this problem has on me to various unconvinced faces can only get you so far. Beyond that, you pretty much have to grin and bear it when they wipe their feet at the doormat of your rotting mind and call it a fixer-upper.

The worst part is not knowing how to battle it. There's this wall that separates you from everyone, an insurmountable "never" that sets you a plane apart from any possible insight another person might have. Advice will find its way to you, words of wisdom that attempt to motivate while inadvertently belittling the challenge. "Have you tried having a positive attitude?", "Well, you got this far, so clearly it's not THAT bad", "Stop worrying about it and just do it!". The experiential wall widens, each attempt at helping, or motivating you, chips away another tiny piece of your will to keep fighting. How do you tell someone who is honestly trying to help that they're just making it worse?

No problem can simply be wished away, no matter how internalized it may be. It's great when someone tells you that they believe in you, it really is. But when it comes packaged with the expectation that you will miraculously leap from your mental wheelchair because they said so, all they have given you is a chance to disappoint someone new. Attitude is important, this is true, but that's only the software. When mental problems are concerned, people tend to forget that the hardware matters just as much, if not more. Except there's nothing you can do about that. So where do you start? How do you set about rewriting the code of your own mind?

Really, it quickly descends to just putting out fires. You spend your life treating the symptoms. Lack of organization skills breed a messy and cluttered home life, which then further compounds the issues of poor memory and withering motivation, as one needs to know and remember where one wants things to be, and then compel oneself to put them there. But like adding to a pile of sand everything you fix in place crumbles again because you were never organized enough to do a good enough job, and you can't multitask or anticipate the next collapse, so you're constantly stuck on one simple yet somehow eternal task while the rest pile up higher and higher behind you.

At the same time your mind is clumsily juggling with those little, insignificant tasks that everyone else seems to find so simple. Remembering appointments, obligations, learning the new systems and locales that are all linked in with this mess and trying to keep a mental map of how it all interrelates. It's like trying to juggle with people who are, themselves, juggling.

Inevitably you find that one thing can't be done until another thing is done first, and that thing is codependent with another thing which further requires an extra thing to be done at the same time as another thing which is somehow part of the thing you want to get done in the first place. Before you know what's happening a simple mission like buying groceries or cleaning a room descends into this Tomb Raider-esque quest to obtain the golden key to open the gate to get the map to find the statue to point the way to find the treasure and it all just becomes way more of an ordeal than it should. And every appointment or birthday lost to the chaos along the way is your fault and becomes a further source of drag on this endless labour.

It seems so easy for other people. They seem to just sail through the things I cannot wrap my mind around with insulting ease. But they're built for it, like Newton was built for math. I'm sure that seemed easy for him, too. I'm built differently. Some things I excel at, but others, particularly those simple little things, just don't fit correctly in my mind. I am not stupid. I just live, from my perspective, in a world of Newtons. I am not dumb, you're just all special and I'm not. And there's nothing I can do about it. I see these every day things as daunting, immovable obstacles, and as much positive affirmation as I throw at them, it's about as effective as commanding a rock to not be a rock.

And the best part is, this is all happening in your head. In the outside world, onlookers really just can't understand why you can't simply do this incredibly easy thing, and for the life of you, you really just can't understand how anyone else can. Is it just me over complicating matters? Perhaps, but then, that's the whole problem isn't it? How do I not think the way I do? I can't be anyone other than myself. I'm not choosing to do this, this is just how the process of thinking naturally happens in my brain.

But people can't understand this. They see what's wrong with you as a matter of low self-esteem, rather than actual disability, and so they will attempt to create arguments against your disability, as if they could define it out of existence on some technicality. Three times I have struggled (which is an understatement of such magnitude you will never comprehend) to a therapist's office only to go storming right back out because one of the first condescending remarks out of their mouth was "well you made it this far". BITCH, I don't need you to *refute* my problem, I needed help.

I don't need the fact that I hit rock bottom so hard I actually bounced up a few inches used AGAINST me like it somehow proves the magic was in me all along, the fuck you think this is a fairytale? These ableist responses probably evolved to common practise in a positively Darwinian sense because their priority is not to get you better, it's to get you to stop coming back. That's the victory in the government's eyes. Doesn't matter if people are homeless or depressed or dead, just so long as they are not using their healthcare, benefits or entitlement services, we get to say we're combating the problem.

From strangers, "Well, you seem very intelligent", is the one I get the most. Thanks for telling me that people with disabilities = stupid people to you, I guess? Coping mechanisms make struggles invisible, being brave makes the spiritually crippling marathon of turning up to an appointment look like no big deal, To get taken seriously you end up having to exaggerate just to show them what's really going on inside, because people simply refuse to accept what they can't see, and then you just feel dishonest. Refusing to be dishonest in that way strands you, like a mortal having to fight alongside the gods, and you have nobody to blame but yourself when you fail. The hardest part of all is accepting the help you need when you are finally presented with it, because life mercilessly teaches you the opposite over and over, and that other people always let you down.
Friends and family are the same way. They will say they understand while at the same time still holding you accountable for every mistake you make, and who can blame them? If you drop something and break it, YOU still broke it, even if you are genetically clumsy. If you forget something important it's STILL your doing. The division between the reality of your situation and what other people see through normal eyes, the very division between you and other people in general widens the closer you look until it is a vast chasm. A fault between you and everyone in your life.

Other times they will take your solemn confessions and holster them to use against you at a later time, and your vices become accusations used to put you down the moment you cross a line they aren't comfortable with. Failing that, they will compare you to others they know who also have disabilities, refusing to understand that these things are a spectrum of degrees and effects, never the same for two people. They'll tell you they once knew someone with your problem and they could do X or Y perfectly well. Well then they did not have the same problem, did they?

But that's how people are. The nicest of friends when they think you're not a threat, when they think you'll bend to their whims. But the second you say no, the instant they begin to suspect you're not an ornament in their friend collection, but a thinking being with thoughts and opinions of your own, a shaking rage overwhelms them, and suddenly everything you have shared with them becomes a weapon they will not hesitate to use against you. Sometimes I think the tribulations of being like us imparts a higher sense of honour than the average person is likely to develop. You need to have been restrained in order to appreciate freedom, and the people you would choose to spend it with.

They understand the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar. They see non-existent motivation, and they understand it as being a vestige of the similar concept they know well as "laziness", not grasping that the lack of energy is against your will, that this "laziness" is forced. You say depression, and they hear "sad", despite the vast scales of difference between those two concepts. They see choice because they see things that they cannot assimilate into their reality, and can only comprehend it as something you desire. And so they tell me I am weak because I choose to be. That I give in to this, that I let it take me, and that if I really wanted out that want alone should be enough. It's all my choice.

Choice. Let me tell you about the choices I've made.

I was still quite young when I stood before a tribunal of dark, towering people, monolithic in their authority and porcelain in poker face, and pled as sincerely as I possibly could for them to reverse their decision to take my support away. A decision made by a doctor whose "45 minute thorough assessment" involved him asking me three questions and checking to see if I can carry a keyboard before declaring me fit to work. So I appealed, and I stood before that guiltless triumvirate. It took all the energy I could muster, but I was fighting for my own survival.

I told them under no uncertain terms that by doing so they would literally ruin my life. Despite my open heart their porcelain remained unmoved. But boy did I show them. Over a decade later and I have done literally *nothing* with my life. Looks like I proved myself right. Oh, how vindicated I feel. And occasionally suicidal. Understand that this is not an exaggeration. This is not casual hyperbole. I cannot accurately convey the extent to which I have done absolutely nothing but basically lie in a bed counting every excruciating second and meticulously filing each one away in my failure archives. I have literally. Done. Nothing. 

Here I am with my heart open again, and yet I can hear the frigid ricochet of my words carrying no purchase on some statuesque face out there. You CHOSE to do nothing with your life, this person says. Did I? Did I really? But what does it mean to choose something? Is it merely the act of decision? Because here I am, right now, deciding not to live this way. Can I now just sit back and watch my will unfold into some sort of mystical Rube-Goldbergian chain of events that delivers me to my goal?

Obviously not. Further than deciding, one must take action.

So what good does it tell me to say I made my choice? You’re damn right I did. Every single day, every second I am actively choosing to the contrary of how my life works out. But WILLING something does not make it happen. What we’re talking about here is EFFORT. But where does that come from? WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? I am seriously, honestly asking. Because whatever it is, I don’t have it. I don’t even understand it. I am the mental equivalent of a diabetic, I don’t create my own insulin, this mysterious energy the rest of you seem to have. So I just lie there and burn with my will, unable, UNABLE to focus it into the actions I REALLY WANT TO DO.

So how am I choosing this?! THINK about what I’m saying, please, really process it. There’s a gigantic hurdle of ingrained associations and preconceptions that you need to vault over before it will even occur to you what I am actually saying here, and we need to get you over that hurdle together. Think logically about this. Think about what it is you think I am failing to do, versus the “excuse” you probably think I am leaning on as an explanation for not doing it. What is it that I am NOT doing? It’s not making a decision, we’ve established that. So if it’s effort, what SHOULD I be doing to secure this “effort” in order to complete these tasks?

Because that mechanism, right there, is what I am telling you I do not possess. I don’t have that bit of software you are loading into your brain right now. I do not have it. I cannot do what you do. It’s like telling a wheelchair-bound man to get up and dance. I just can’t. You might say it’s just because I don’t WANT to. I DO want to. This is me telling you I want to. You might say I’m just lazy. What does that mean? Is laziness CHOOSING not to get up from the wheelchair? Or can the wheelchair-bound man CHOOSE to get up and still not be able? What am I doing wrong? You might say I just need to become more disciplined.

Well, okay, fine. Let’s use discipline as your word for this mental insulin I seem to lack. How do I get discipline? PRACTISE I hear you scream.  But how do I practise when – when I CHOOSE to start practicing, the practising still doesn’t happen? How do I practise when the raw force of making myself go against the grain of this bad mental programming is so exhausting and agonising that it results in the psychic equivalent of a broken hip that sets me back by literally months?

Think about what I’m saying, because everything you, my phantom interlocutor, might be saying as a way to avoid admitting I have a hard limitation comes down to me ultimately not doing *something*, whatever you want to call it, that I am telling you I am genuinely trying to do. So at what point does it simply become a more plausible explanation that I simply DO have this limitation? I guarantee you I have tried every single solution you are trying to contrive right now, and a thousand more you will never be creative enough to think of. 

No amount of "choosing" makes this cycle simply stop. We're not talking about a conscious decision to NOT be motivated being made, and then following that, an action (or inaction). We are talking about the spark which incepts decision. The prime mover of mentality. It is that which is stolen from me. The primal, genetic urge to be. The very seed from which the IDEA of "acting" can sprout remains unsewn. Because of this, I am frequently unable to do even the things I WANT to do, let alone those things I am repelled by. Despite my love of writing, five minutes in and I am emotionally and spiritually drained as if I just performed surgery on a rollercoaster. THIS VERY BLOG POST took me four years to complete. Where is the choice in any of that?

It isn't procrastination when you WANT and are ACTIVELY TRYING to do something, and it just won't happen. And this is me being weak? Hardly. I am strong. I am strong despite myself. Or perhaps to spite myself. The part of me I hate. The part that I can't cut away, that begs me to stay asleep and never move a muscle. I walk in a body of lead, and am accused of weakness because my steps are slow and clumsy. How far would you get in such a body? How would YOU resist the numbing of a mind that doesn't allow thought and action to connect?

You have no idea the strength it takes someone like me to just appear average on our best day. You wouldn’t believe the mental gymnastics it takes just to get through the week for someone like me, and if you suddenly had my defects, you would be *paralysed* by them, because motherfucker, I’m dragging the moon wherever I go and while I can’t keep up with you, I can still, *sometimes* manage a gentle stroll. Think you could? The hell you could.

I am strong enough to resist what I know in my heart to be an addictive personality (and by that I don't mean people just love to be around me), despite not yet harbouring any real addictions. Strong enough to have never touched a drop of alcohol, never gone near a cigarette or tried any drugs, despite the constant dreams beckoning me to do so since I was a kid. Strong enough to resist the overpowering urge to "cut" that I've felt since that age, and which frequently flares up in my mind with the same thumping tenacity as the instinct to pull back from a steep ledge.

I am strong because I am weak. Because I have no choice. Because if I let myself have a "first time" with any of these items I know I will never have a last. I push these things out of my mind, these temptations that my weaker self longs for just to sample a new way to seek comfort. If I didn't, I probably wouldn't be here any more. So you see, I am strong, just strong enough to barely break even against my weakness. It isn't one or the other, that's a false idea. You can be both at the same time. And that's the problem.

I am torn open., bleeding will in buckets while holding myself together at the seams. Imagine trying to save money up with a giant hole in your pocket that drops everything you put in, and yet you have nowhere else to store it. I am fractured. A busted container barely able to maintain the flow of its own loss. What energy I CAN raise is expended in the eternal battle with myself, because this bleeding animal is so tired it just wants to crawl to familiar surroundings and die. How tired and dilapidated would you be if you had someone at your throat every day your whole life?

I have granted myself very few weaknesses, vices I will let myself indulge in: Food, which I kind of need to live so can't really avoid, sleep, same thing, caffeine, which sort of happened by accident, and those things all humans need and so cannot feasibly resist. All these things became in their own way addictions, staggeringly powerful drives that would almost dominate my spirit. The most likely reason for this is when a soul that is tired of life finds something that can bring a moment of joy or let you forget the struggle for just a few minutes, it doesn't want to let it go. So this is why I resist anything more. Why I will always resist temptation. Because if I ever slip, I may never recover.

I live with crushing depression in a world filled with distractions, colourful treats and soothing chemicals, which I can never touch. If you lived in a black, dark world and were told the only source of light you could ever see was inside a little box at your feet... how long could you go before taking just a peek? So tell me not that I desire weakness. That I don't try, That I secretly just want to live an easy life. If I did, I would have plenty of options to choose from. I just choose not to lose the dark world I know, because the light is too comforting to turn from. If I only took the easy path, I very likely wouldn't even be here.

You'd think it gets harder with age as this wears on you, but it actually gets easier. Those vices you already have become more firmly rooted, but the temptation to turn to other comforts gets duller and duller as you slowly stop believing in the concept of happiness. I've never accepted helping hands of any kind, or at least did so begrudgingly when I ended up having to. When you scarcely have the will to get out of bed in the morning, the idea of sinking further into sloth, depending on other people, feels very much like circling the drain. This has probably backfired, however, as never accepting help probably made my own journey through this much harder and slower than it needed to be.

And then... then there is the issue of self-worth. The desire to be something of some value in this world, to be accepted. Just the way you are. It's bad enough to feel so flawed that you don't fit anywhere, like a splinter in the skin of the world that it constantly tries to drive out. But then the question of "fixing" yourself comes up... and there are no words to convey how that makes you feel. The idea of taking medications, seeking help, being repaired. Understand, this... fault inside me... that IS me. It's my perspective, the broken lens through which I view the world. I don't know any other way to be. So when we talk of "fixing" that fault, we are talking about incising from this body the disease that is... me.

Can you understand the rejection inherent in that? Rejection from life itself, from the world, from my own self. For me to take such a drug, accept such a treatment... it would be like stepping into a suicide booth. I would be saying "This version of me tried. He did his best... but he wasn't good enough". I've tried so many times to explain the plethora of emotions that this idea drips with, but I can't. I don't think anyone could possibly understand it unless they have been put in that position. How do you hold up your hands and say to yourself, without compunction, that this thing, this being, this ME that I am... it wasn't enough. I can't do this alone. I can't be me. The world doesn't want me, doesn't need me. It wanted somebody else, and got me instead. That even on my best day I'm not enough.

So fix me. This is my fault. My weakness. Take this voice from my head, and put someone else in there. Someone who can do this better than me. Could you do it? Could you walk the black mile to the electric chair? And we're not even talking necessarily about the idea that I won't still be "me" afterwards. Maybe I would be. It's not about oblivion, it's about the fact that you tried your best. You worked with what you had, and you honestly, truly, tried to be the best YOU that you could be. And the result, this thing that you made, this person. That's the reject. That's what people are telling you can never be acceptable unless you give up trying to do it yourself. Unless you augment it.

The best that I can be. And it will never be enough. I need drugs to make me whole? Then would I really be me if I took them, or would I be something that someone else built out of pathetic string and straw that was all I gave them to work with? I know that, functionally, it's no different than a crippled person needing a crutch. People take medications for all sorts of things, and I am NOT saying that reflects negatively on them. Obviously the diabetic is not inferior because they need insulin, and intellectually I understand this. I'm not saying my logic is sound, only that this is the thought process I go through. Irrational though it may be. Because, you see, a diabatic is not their disease. ...I am.

He/she is a person, a self wrapped up in their disease. My disease is my own self. My mind. I am cancer. It's sort of like going through years of professional art schooling, and then only being able to paint something that your mother barely finds worthy to put on the fridge like a child's scribbling. At the bottom of the fridge. Underneath someone else's picture. I don't want my epitaph to be "He tried". I don't want to know that I will be forever unworthy of the world no matter what I do or how hard I fight to improve myself. Why does there have to be a hard limit on how far I can get? It feels as though I attempted a massive DIY project, and cocked it up so badly that my landlord had to hire in contractors to do it properly.

Only the thing I tried to build was ME. I am Frankenstein's monster, and I am left to the wayside while someone works to make something more beautiful. More perfect. More "right". Because that's what I am. Wrong. Faulty.

I suppose that's the trauma I have been struggling to put in words. To be a failure. I gave it my all. And attained only a step backwards. So go ahead, I guess. Strap a life-support system to my identity. Wire me up with synthetic add-ons and prosthesis until I'm a marionette with some redundant flesh strapped to the side. Maybe, with the right intervention, I can be made to imitate a real boy. But it won't be me doing it. How can it be? I'm just the broom that had all the important parts replaced. The persistence of singularity, however, would surely have been left behind.

But when my time comes I will swallow that pill, just as I swallow all the platitudes and the anemic accusations that lack any substance of thought or intelligence. I swallow my lot in life and wash it down with a wave of cold-burning rage. The unconducted potential energy of all the patterns I see but cannot arrange to make them visible to others. That jagged, maw-like rift which divides the ignorant from the ironic.

But I can't blame anyone else, not even for their callousness. I cannot ask or expect that anyone else understand. I can't even ask you not to tell me I'm wrong when I try to describe for you what it's like. I don't ask these things because I know that you can't possibly know what it's like. It's beyond your paradigm.

You don't know the indescribable frustration of feeling the breakers get flipped in your brain over and over again as you try to instigate a thought and your brain just won't let you complete it. The absolute non-compliance, with no external force to blame or lash out at. Like you're punishing yourself, trying to break yourself. You don't know what it feels like to have to summon the kind of mental will that grants a woman the strength to lift a car to save her child just to BEGIN to speak with any passion, because the volcanic energy you're riding is falling out of you and diffusing faster than you can maintain it, only to be told at the pinnacle of your rusted motion that all this does is serve as proof that you really do have it in you after all.

You don't know how it is to live your life in weakness, and then be persecuted for the first ember of strength that flickers inside you. To have your smallest victories used as ammunition against you, to undermine you. For people to try to make it seem like taking one step proves you can cross a desert, when the truth is that one step was already a desert for you. You still have the whole expanse to cross, and you can't opt out. Each step a longer and more arduous voyage, while those gifted with rocket ships by nature's lottery sail by with callous accusations of laziness.

You don't know, and so I can't hate you for your ignorance. This trivialization comes from a place of kindness. The manipulative scorekeeping of my failures and successes is not an act of malice, but a twisted form of encouragement from those who don't understand why the concept of tough love holds no virtue with one who is honestly, actually trying and not just being self-pitying. People can only judge by what they know, and so if you spare no rods in trying to squeeze an extra step out of me, I cannot hate you for that. In your world, it makes sense.

It's me I hate.

I hate the fact that I am this way.

I hate the fact that, because the way I am is an integral part of my identity, this means I hate myself.

I hate the fact that I feel guilty for hating myself because other people have way worse shit to deal with.

I hate the fact that I can't turn this off. Any of it. Not even these exact looping thoughts.

I hate the fact that these are facts. I can't change them.

I hate the fact that what I'm complaining about is ultimately me, and therefore I am to blame.

I hate the fact that it's still my fault.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Doctor WHAT!?

As with last time, I decided that I was going to try to avoid any Doctor Who related news so as to be genuinely in the moment when Capaldi finally regenerates and shows us his next self. Three seconds after making this decision, the internet became a blazing inferno of people screaming about the Doctor being a woman.

Annoyed, but resolute, I soldiered on, certain I could do my usual internet stuffs without stumbling into any depictions of just who, exactly, this new "guy" is or what she looks like. "Good luck", forewarned my roommate with a prescient tone that conveyed both his amusement at my inevitable failure and the weary frustration of having obviously been bashed over the head with the news multiple times already.

"Psshh!". I noised, more resolute than ever to make it to Krimbo without seeing one glimpse of her face. And then I refreshed my Facebook feed to see this as the very first loaded post:

Thanks, "friend".

So with the catfighting out of the bag, I surrendered to curiosity and watched the teaser of her introduction, and took some time to digest my thoughts on the matter.

I am not happy.

I am not happy for several reasons, but the biggest reason is resonant to the emotional response *you* just probably had to me saying I am not happy, and this is something we will get to in time. Oh believe me, we will get there.

My more ruminated conclusions about this response fall less under the purview of what some have inelegantly argued to be "tradition", than "consistency". The Doctor is an ever-changing flower, constantly blooming in new colours. We know this. But the essence of what he is - the FLOWER remains consistent. Across all forms, there are aspects to his personality that remains the same.

Through all of his changing personas and switching quirks, there are consistencies that make the Doctor, fundamentally, what he is. Aspects that keep him the quintessential "Doctor".The question is... is there a "maleness" about that entity, or am I unknowingly imposing my own perspective onto an abstract? This is something I have experienced before.

We are, thankfully, entering an age of more ubiquitous acceptance of Transgender individuals, to the point where it is not at all uncommon for anyone to know someone who has transitioned. The first time I encountered such a situation was several years ago. A very old and dear friend of mine confessed, with a certain heart-breaking self-deprecation, that "he" was really a she.

Being no stranger to alternative lifestyles, I didn't hesitate to accept her as she really was, however I also promised to be honest with her about how I felt as we continued to discuss it. The first thing I noticed was a stark change in her personality. She seemed more open, happier, but also just very, very different from the "man" I had known. This left me with an odd cognitive dissonance.

You see, her personality changed so drastically that I couldn't help but feel she was a stranger to me now. A stranger I was happy to know, and to continue getting to know, but still. What had happened to the guy I *used* to know? I understood, intellectually, that "he" was a mask, a false persona she wore in part to deflect suspicions about her true self. I get that.

But that was the persona I had gotten to know. That was the one I was friends with. I had no issues about her changing, and I wanted her true personality to come to the surface without obstruction. I just couldn't help feeling like I didn't recognize that guy in her anymore. I had gained a friend, but also lost one, even if the one I lost was never real to begin with. Was it right to mourn that? I *honestly* don't know. But I did.

So with that in mind, I do know what that cognitive dissonance feels like. To suddenly find that someone you know is a different gender. To feel that they just don't "work" as that gender, because what you have gotten to know is so different. This is what people are trying to articulate when they say "The Doctor has always been male, it's tradition". They're trying to say "This is how it has always been, and it made sense that way". In other words, changing it now takes something away from that history, it makes it, retroactively, not make sense anymore.

But of course, the difference between my example and this, is the Doctor is NOT putting on his personality. It's not a disguise, it's simply who he is. And IS there a maleness to that character? I think there is. And before you start shouting sexist from the rooftops, yes I know that females can hold any of the same personality traits as males and vice versa. This isn't about what CAN be, it's about what IS. And there ARE general differences between how males and females behave (otherwise the entire concept of being transgender would be rendered meaningless, right?)

It's not just machismo, either. I am not lauding his strength, sense of duty or vigour as a manly sort of thing. I'm saying that The Doctor is Father Time. He is an old, wise man who has watched the human race struggle to walk from infancy and watches them run about with kind and knowing eyes. He's seen a lot, and he's seen it all from a male perspective. Which isn't to say that he couldn't benefit in new and interesting ways from a female perspective, but all of that collective experience *reinforces* that male perspective, for both him and fans of the show. I mean if you woke up in the body of the opposite sex tomorrow, would you just toddle on with your day, assuming that role?

I know his persona changes when he regenerates, but as I have argued, SOME parts of it remain the same, and they are paternal, masculine, even somewhat human. If we change him THAT drastically, are we not simply removing from that character the essence of what he is? Does the show not become something else entirely?

And yes, I know they've been setting it up in a really sort of contrived and forced manner by doing the other Timelord male to female regenerations. Which isn't to say I am not in love with the Mistress, who isn't?! Michelle Gomez is *AMAZING*. But it's clearly just the new "deadlock seal" or "Screwdriver can't do wood" of the show. Brand new rule introduced that was somehow now always there but never mentioned before. I am not a fan of that sort of writing, it lacks grace.

Instead of jamming a retcon into a script, why not point out some old inconsistency (Like the 2nd Doctor remembering things that happened immediately before his regeneration in The Five Doctors) and THEN write in a retcon that EXPLAINS it, and looks planned from the start. They teased such an idea with the Hybrid plotline, harkening to the Doctor's possible human heritage mentioned by number 8. THAT is good writing. More of that, less of the "SUDDENLY all timelines go out of sync when we meet ourselves and thus inconsistencies are magically erased" rubbish.

But I digress (sometimes violently), forced retconning aside, the fact that the Doctor can change sexes is not a point of contention from a mythology standpoint, as it is a feeling that the character we have gotten to know for so many years, those aspects of him that remained consistent, simply don't suit a feminine form. He's Father Time, not Mother Nature. And I have nothing against the latter, they are both very fine archetypes, but they are *different* by essence of themselves, and this is what makes the new Doctor feel wrong.

All of that being said, while I find it to be not to my personal taste, I am okay with the decision. I am curious to see where they go with it, and it's definitely going to be an intriguing footnote of his journey through time, sure to be referenced often by future Doctors to the dumbstruck faces of his future companions. I'm okay with something wildly different and new happening, and I think it could be healthy for the show to get shaken up in that way. I want to see what they manage to build out of these new pieces, and I'm sure I will greedily gobble up every last scrap of Whittaker's screen time they toss me.

But there is still the issue of that "main" reason I am not happy about this. And that's you. Ya bastard.

Specifically, those of you who were sharpening your pitchforks the second I said I wasn't happy. I am sick to the goddamned backteeth of people who are just mobs looking for something to be outraged about. Now the Doctor is female, if ANYONE doesn't like ANYTHING she does, they are just going to get branded a "misogynist" and will have to shout over a crowd of angry idiots just to continue their thought. Remember that dreadful Ghostbusters movie with the all-female cast? It was clearly TERRIBLE. Unfunny, unimaginative and just plain dumb, but the feminists crucified anyone who dared to say it.

And that's going to be the way of things until this nonsense ends. Some people get so used to being warriors that they don't know how to stop fighting. You fight for equality, and when the world finally gives in to your point of view, suddenly you realise that your whole identity is raging against a machine that no longer gives a fuck about stopping you. So what do you do? You bottle up all those feelings like a grenade of pure wrath and you just fling it at the first person who says ANYTHING even vaguely connected to the topic that was once your battlefield. And in the end, does this help us to BATTLE divisiveness, or just make us more divided?

As of this moment, the world of Who will become a senseless battleground with teeth-grinding women and their shining white knights marching beneath a burning bra on one side. and the depraved army of trolls who exist just to rile up anyone who is easy to rile up on the other side, with a little island of seven dudes who actually hold the sexist views that the hysterically angry want everyone to think so they can justify their hysterical anger. The rest of us? We're just the casualties.

I was in disbelief when I read the comments of the reveal video to see many thousands of threads that have already been created by people who are furiously lecturing the "sexists" for how wrong and stupid they are for being so opposed to this change. And then get further confused as I kept looking to see who they are arguing with and find. Nothing. THERE. They were arguing with NO ONE.

By now, however, the mere presence of feminists ranting about this has only begun attracting anti-feminists at this point who are just ranting about feminism itself, not the issue of the Doctor's gender. Meanwhile, the few trolls are chuckling like Muttley as they detonate every thread with remarks designed to provoke. Trolls, by virtue of being trolls, tend to have the loudest and most obnoxious voice in the room. They are self-designed to look big and representative of whatever group they are imitating to goad a reaction.

But the people who ACTUALLY care about this are far fewer in number, and the ones who are bothered for genuinely sexist reasons are even fewer. And I'm not even annoyed at them, they're the spiders of the Web, you expect such people. It's everyone else who is pissing me off, and tainting an otherwise harmless, even if ill-advised, in my opinion, story twist with a toxic atmosphere of rage and idiocy.

I'm annoyed, not because of the decision, but because people are too stupid to be trusted with their own stupid opinions. And now everything Who related is going to be charged and overdramatized and the ratings may suffer, who knows how bad it will get? It could even lead to the cancellation of the show. All I know is, boring old normal people like me won't be able to so much as voice a dissenting opinion on the matter without having to construct a stupidly long blog post explaining in very clear detail where we are actually coming from, and most people aren't dumb enough to waste their time on something so asinine.

As for me, my tiny little nugget of text will have to suffice, and despite not LIKING this change (if you recall, I said the exact same thing about Capaldi, and boy was I wrong) I look forward to being proved wrong again. I hope the writer's knock this out of the park, I really do. As a writer myself I am already imagining new and interesting scenarios. Girltalk with the Mistress, the Doctor meeting up with and slowly falling for a male version of the Corsair, despite knowing he will eventually die. Imagine what a more feminine take on the TARDIS interior would be like? The possibilities are endless.

But please, guys, let's not overdo it, okay? Just the one female Doctor. I'm happy to embrace change, but I don't want to build my home there. The Doctor is male, and as far as I am concerned, HE (which is not an attack on gender expression, merely an affirmation of my own interpretation of this particular mythology) is just going through a phase. I'm interested to see that phase, but I think I speak for many fans when I say, as at least a general rule - keep the Doctor male. I really do believe that is intrinsic to his nature.

And if you have a problem with that, I'll send you a sonic screwdriver of your very own, and tell you where to stick it. People are entitled to their own preferences, and it doesn't have to come from a place of hate. STOP being a mob first and a person second.