Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Monday, March 07, 2005

No good deed goes unpunished

This is going to be quite a long post, and it's going to take quite a twisty path to get to its destination; but hopefully it will repay the time and effort of your reading it. I'm going to apologise in advance to any readers of the Blogdiggers "Women in Podcasting" group; as a member of that group, there's nothing I can do to prevent this post appearing in its entirety in that group (because I publish a full RSS feed, and all posts from this blog get copied to that group). If you decide this post is not for you, please "mark as read" and move on. Anyway, back to the story; in which I will explain precisely why I have decided *not* to do as I undertook to do in the third post I made in this blog, in October of 2004, i.e. "So, I'm going to write about what happens to me on my journey. But that journey has already started, so along the way I'll probably fill in some of the back-story to give the innocent reader a framework to build on." For reasons I'll explain in this post, I'm not going to fill in that back-story in this blog. But, for those who are interested (and judging by my email inbox, there are some) I'm going to point you towards a pretty copious archive which will serve just as well. Probably better, in fact.

When I wake up each day (and, sadly, that's usually at a disgustingly early hour, but at least I wake up at all) I make two promises to myself and the universe:

1) I will not commit suicide today; and

2) I will face today to the best of my abilities as they are, *today*; I will make such decisions as I need to and take such actions as I must with all the resources and good intentions I can muster, and I will either celebrate their successes or learn from their failures.

Sound a little melodramatic? Not at all; I have battled clinical depression for years and have on multiple occasions been driven to attempt suicide. Those attempts all pre-date my acceptance of myself as who I am, and certainly pre-date the process by which I am becoming (physically, socially and legally) who I am. Do I expect to ever be driven to that action again? No, I don't. But I take this as seriously as a recovering alcoholic needs to take alcoholism, i.e. I don't make the mistake of ever thinking that I'm "cured" and can go back to the patterns of behaviour of the past. Like a recovering alcoholic, I take it one day at a time. Whatever life throws at me, I can take it for just one day. And then tomorrow, I'll take it for just one day. And so on.

The second promise helps me to remember a lesson I learned, very painfully along the way. Hindsight is a marvellous thing; and a terrible thing. Because it can cause you to torment yourself with all the things you did that you should have done differently, or the things that you didn't do that you should have done. *Particularly* if you are prone to depression, or low self-esteem, where the automatic reaction (for me at least) was to forget the successes and magnify the failures into disasters. Which is not a terribly helpful or constructive thing to do! ;-) Therefore, whatever happens today, I will not beat myself up over it in the future. I face each day to the best of my abilities that day; and really, that's all that any of us can ever really do.

I don't believe in a divine power that guides us; but I do think that sometimes events combine to indicate either that some action long-considered but long delayed should now be taken; or indeed to reveal the action, and inspire the courage to do it. In the last five days, four things have happened that have convinced me that now is the time to write this post, settle the past, and move on. Two of them happened, quite unexpectedly, today. The time is propitious.

Are you intrigued? ;-)

The first event was my decision last week to start recording and podcasting some occasional audio shows about my personal experience of living with gender dysphoria. I made a decision, which I stated publicly, that I would only record those (or write about transgender issues on this blog) until all my surgical and legal processes are complete (which is likely to be in about a year's time) *or* I think that no-one is particularly interested, whichever comes sooner, and I'm going to stick to that. The reason, as I explained, is because I want to live in the future, not dwell on the past. I stand by that decision.

The second event was to discover, through the agency of Amy Gahran's "Women in Podcasting" list, a fellow podcaster whose current work is, to my mind, beautiful, but who has packed into a life (of probably a similar span to mine) a range of achievements, experiences and accomplishments that, frankly, astound me. I looked at what I have achieved (and I thought I'd lived a bit!) and realised that, really, I've been half asleep in comparison. Blow that for a game of soldiers! :-) Time to start living and achieving something close to the potential which I suspect has been stifled for too many years by the combined effects of depression and the unresolved gender dysphoria which undoubtedly fed it.

The third thing was listening this lunchtime to yesterday's edition of "Daily Source Code", Adam Curry's podcast. I love this show in general; but yesterday, Adam interviewed his wife, Patricia Paay, and played some of her enormous back catalogue of recordings. Quite apart from the quality of those recordings (the opening track, "Misty", played with her father's band, is the best version of that old standard that I've ever heard) the obvious love and affection between these two (which is also evident in earlier editions of the show, both in occasional interactions when Patricia crosses Adam's path while he's recording, and in how he speaks about her from time to time when she's not there) is an inspiration. Love him or hate him as a celebrity or a person, the pair of them show patently know how to make a relationship work, grow and flourish. Respect! Or, I suppose that should be, "boing!" Anyway, having stroked their collective egos a little, the *point* of this paragraph is to draw attention to something that Patricia said, right at the beginning, when explaining why it had taken so long for him to get her to sit down and record this podcast; her explanation was "... I don't like to look back... you never hear me talk about it... I always look ahead..."

And the fourth event, in the half-hour break between an hour of facial electrolysis and fifteen minutes of electrolysis on the unmentionables was listening to another podcast, this time of Susan Smith Nash reading her own poem, "Five Times Into The Prayer". When she got to the lines:

"I bow my head --
will today be the day I finally forgive myself?
Tears dripping softly onto the surface
I'm tired of too many failed attempts,
too many dark nights of the soul."

The tears that were dropping softly were my own. From her opening comments before starting to read the poem, patently it was written with an entirely different intent. But I heard those words and thought of my own "long dark nights of the soul"; of my own "failed attempts" (which now, frankly, I'm glad were failures); of my own tears, then and now; and thought that, yes, today is the day I finally forgive myself and move on.

Four events; only one of them did I initiate. The universe is trying to tell me something; for once, maybe, I'm listening. I think it's telling me to not just *say* that I'm living for the now, and the future, but to *do*. So, for that reason alone, I'm not going to fill in my back-story by writing it here; the most I'll do is to refer to tiny portions of it, in any sessions of CrossOver where it's necessary to give some context (maybe some justification); but that's it. From today, I'll write about today and the future.

However... as I said, I know from my email inbox that some people want to know more. Well, the best I can say is this; quite a body of my writings already exist on the internet, and it would not take someone who was particularly interested too long to find them. I've never been particularly bothered about "covering my tracks", because, seriously, I've nothing to hide. So the simplest thing, to my mind, is to give a link (for those that are interested) and they can go and delve around for themselves, if they've the inclination. Do I post that link here? Only one thing stops me; doing so might draw one particular person's attention to this blog. Which, of itself, wouldn't be a problem to me; but I know what the effect would be... which would likely be to pollute the comments of this blog with some of the sickest, foulest invective you can imagine. Which again, wouldn't be a problem for me; but do *you* want to read that? In a post about the pros and cons of allowing comments on blogs, specifically *this* blog, I wrote (in answer to a hypothetical explanation for why some people might not want to leave a comment):

" "If I put a comment up, you'll only remove it again" - no, I won't (with one exception; words that are hurtful, spiteful or dangerous to someone other than me). If I was worried about what people might say about me, I wouldn't have started this blog in the first place.*

Well, I stand by that; I'm not afraid of harsh language, or people that disagree with me, but trust me, *you'll* have to have a pretty strong constitution not to be disgusted by some of the comments that may well be posted here if a lay a trail to that online repository of my maunderings and a certain person follows it back here. I can deal with it; can *you*, gentle reader?

What I suggest is this; if you want to delve around in that archive, send me an email (or leave me a comment) and I'll send you the link by email. Or, convince me (by email or by comment) that the potential for seeing a few stomach-churning comments turn up here is small in comparison with the opportunity to learn a little more about my (frankly, tedious, in my humble opinion) back-story. Either way, I've lived my past, and no longer intend to discuss it here. Because from today, as Patricia Paay said, "I always look ahead..."

This blog has been migrated to new software on a different server ( and comments on this post on *this* blog are now closed. All existing comments have been copied to the equivalent post on the new blog. If you still wish to comment on this post, please use the equivalent post at:


  • At 7:30 am, Blogger susan smith nash said…

    This is beautiful, courageous, and infinitely inspiring. Thank you so very, very much for being willing to reveal the part of you that has brought you pain, but which brings us, the readers & listeners, strength and hope.

    Please consider putting together a book of your thoughts... it's wonderful.

  • At 3:47 pm, Blogger Koan said…

    Susan, thank you so much for these kind words! The best way I can think of to respond to the suggestion you make in this comment is to begin another post; see


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