A bit of a read, but worth it – 3 years ago I took stock of how far I’d come from the Germaine everyone but myself defined for me. Reading this, it’s good to know I’m still on the right track of recreating myself for my self.
(Written in May 2013):
Take a bow, Germaine de Larch. Take a bow. – My year in review.I normally write a year-in-reflection birthday post because I find that my sense of self and my sense of happiness depends on knowing where I am. And I can only work out where I am if I look at where I’ve come from, and from that work out where I’m going.
I didn’t write a birthday post this year because I was waylaid by The Lurgy – and yes, the physical rather than mental kind (people who know me well always respond to any unwellness on my part with a question as to its bodily or psychological nature, and, as I’ve learned to laugh at myself, I take this in my stride). But now that I’m better I’m taking the time out to do the introspective piece because it is important to me – and my questionable sanity – to mark the rite of passage of the passing of another year and to take stock of where I am, where I’ve come from and where I’m going.
The 2012/2013 ontological year can, undoubtedly, be classified as the year of Germaine de Larch. It has been an incredibly successful year for me and I need to acknowledge that, because without the accompanying gratitude and sense of self, I was and will be lost.
And boy do I know about lost. In order to fully appreciate the strides I have made in the last year I need to remind myself that this ladyguy before you was told by Those In The Know that as she had Borderline Personality Disorder and suffered from Severe Chronic Depression, she would spend her life in and out of mental institutions and would never be able to function fully in the world. And I took on that label and diagnonsense and spent my 20s touring the psychiatric institutions that Joburg has to offer, including the likes of Tara and Sterkfontein, the latter to which I was committed, certifiably insane and kept behind lock and key for a not-so-lucidly hellish 40 days. Thirteen hospitalisations later and it certainly felt that They were right and that I was Insane, Dysfunctional and Incapable Of Life.
And then I got over that shit and chose life.
Was it difficult? Was the journey from Insane to Celebratorily Eccentric trying? Was the trek from Psychotically Dysfunctional to Quirky With Aspergic Tendencies a bit of a schlep? In a word, fuckyes. Introspection is not for sissies. You need a serious pair of balls to ask yourself from the other side of the door, “Who’s there?” And then, pale and dripping with sweat, and trying really hard not to vomit from the effort of staring at a self you hate, to answer that question through a sick and twisted determination akin to pulling out your own fingernails with pliers. And then, in a Herculean effort, sweeping up the little pieces of your self, your life and your future, discarding the useless bits (which most of it is), gluing the not completely shattered bits together again, and then filling in the rest of the picture with bits and bobs you create yourself. From fucking scratch.
So yes, fuckyes, it’s not a walk in the park. But I did it. And I know I did it because I can stand here today as a completely remade Germaine; a product of my own creation.
Not only have I not been hospitalised in 6 years, but I’ve come to celebrate and truly be grateful for my insanity. It is, after all, what allows me to see the world in the completely queer and bizarre way that I do. And I know, for a fact, that I can’t live in a world the way other people see it. I’ve come to work around my little eccentricities, have built them into my way of being and no longer apologise for them. I am who I am, take it or leave it. This attitude has allowed me to build around me a circle of completely wacky and nutball friends who get me without me having to explain myself. And I’ve learned the hard way that explaining yourself is completely overrated. And exhausting. And pointless.
I’ve also held down a job that I don’t completely loathe and that’s good for me in innumerable ways for over 18 months now. A record for the fuck-the-world-and-everyone-in-it-especially-me Germaine of a few years ago. And because of that stability I’ve been in my home for the same period, something this 36-year-old has not had since she was 16. Which, to put it mildly, was not fun. I’m also, for the first time, able to start the slog of getting myself out of a mountain of debt and other delights courtesy of my stint with immaturity.
In this year I have also found my life partner. Something I knew with unshakeable certainty was not possible, because, haven’t you heard, damaged people don’t find or deserve love. But I’ve found it. And I deserve it. My little Ang, besides the me I’ve created, is the best person to ever enter my life and I am really and truly and miraculously HAPPY. Hope works, people. And the Fulfilment of Hope exists. And unlike those other fads, holding onto hope really, really pays off. If mixed with hard fucking work.
Speaking of hard fucking work, I’ve done a lot of that in the last year. It involved the simple and pedestrian task of jumping off cliffs. A lot of them. I brazenly declared myself an artist, changed my name, after a month of taking pictures with my cellphone approached seriously established people to take their portraits with a camera I had just bought and still can’t work properly, created opportunities for creation even when it meant committing the universal faux pas of taking way too many self-portraits, wantonly pasted self-proclaimed art all over Facebook and trigger-happily committed innumerable professional sins as a complete amateur, and, as if that weren’t enough, declared myself the poster-boygirl of Queer and submitted my recently formed thoughts as GlitterGospel to anyone and everyone who would listen.
And the result of this brazen, wanton, sinful … dare we call it … courage? I am the most me I have ever been, the most creative I have ever been, the most fulfilled I have ever been. Because for the first time in my 36 years I not only like who I am, but love who I am. And that, ladies and gentlemen, coming from a suicidal, self-harming, loonybin-frequenting fuckup is no mean feat.
And the universe’s response to this has been an overwhelming, and sometimes deafening, Hell Yeah! A Hell Yeah, we love your bravery, your honesty, your you-ness. And as if loving it and you isn’t enough, here’s a large and ever-growing group of supporters, appreciators of your work, mind-blowing collaborators and a debut solo exhibition within the first year of your life as an artist.
I cannot express my gratitude enough. I still look around at this thing I now call my life and exhale a sigh of wonder. Thank you, World, for reciprocating and for rewarding the hard work that I have done. A pat on the back, Germaine de Larch. It was all worth it. Take a bow.