Many, many years ago, way back in the mists of time, I was young, free and single. I had a job and some money in my pocket - even better I had paid holidays! After much persuasion I agreed to go on holiday with a friend on the back of his motorbike. We were going to attend a 24 hour bike race in the South of France. I will admit that at that time the South of France was more attractive to me than the bike or the race. In many ways that couple of weeks was a life changing experience, not least because I came back a race fan, and determined to learn to ride a bike (the following year I rode there on my own bike!). Interesting though all this is, it is not what I want to write about today, it was what happened after the race that came to mind when I was thinking about how to write what I want to say today.
After the race we left the circuit not having had a proper night's sleep for about three or four days, inevitably we had an accident, equally inevitably my friend had decided to save money by not taking out insurance, we had a broken bike, slightly broken bodies and no cover. We had no choice but to try and effect repairs as best we could and get home as best as we could. Remember my friend had broken ribs, and I couldn't ride, at the time I was also a good couple of stone heavier than him, this all turned out to be something of an endurance test. The journey home took a lot longer than the journey out, each morning we would check over our bodge repairs (twist grip stuck together with lolly sticks, torch taped to the forks as a head light etc.) each night we would stop, find an hotel for the night and indulge in some natural pain killers (beer), and it seemed as though every juke box in every bar we stopped in would be playing Elton John's "I'm still Standing".
Today is the first anniversary of my wife and daughter leaving me, how do I feel? well I'm still standing! I have managed to honor all of my commitments, I have reduced my non mortgage debt by over £3,000, it's been really tough but I am just about keeping my head above water financially. I have just entertained my Church Home Group with a barbeque. I am now much more honest about who and what I am, I have started the process of transition and am now undertaking the vast majority of my music making and much of the rest of my life as Paula. I am slowly changing the house around so that it is "mine" rather than "ours" I am increasingly active in both my music making and within organised LGBT groups, so I guess I'm looking like a true survivor.
But each time I take my daughter out, and have to drop her "home" to somebody else's home, not mine, then my heart bleeds and a bit of me dies. Each time I see my wife across a crowded room (sorry but it really does happen) she looks happy and fulfilled, I'm pleased for her, but I hate not being part of that. The truth is that I still love her, and expect I always will, and it hurts being excluded from her life. So feeling like a little kid. I think I understand that song a little better now.
I have embarked on a journey that will at times feel like it goes through battlefields, there will be casualties, there will be highs and there will be lows. Sometimes life's beach, and sometimes its a bitch.