Friday, 15 November 2013

Who I Am; Chasing That Fairy Tale

Every person has a personality. That's after all how a person is defined. Since we don't wish to create a recursive dependency we therefore say that a person is the culmination of a collection of skills and experiences, i.e. a personality. Add to this an intelligence capable of reasoning and voilĂ . I think, therefore I am. But what am I?

Personalities generally tend to fall apart into broad categories without any major distinctions between any number of personalities. One is a tad more of category #54, the other a bit more from #34 and #21. After over 7 billion permutations of all possible categories and associated strengths there's not a lot of uniqueness right there. This results in only the most exceptional ones still showing up in the thronging masses, either through exceptional skill, experiences or a combination of both.

As far as my own personality goes, I guess I'd qualify for both. I have experienced things which aren't very common and I'm gifted with the ability to rapidly make any skill my own. In the past I have on occasion received praise for my skills, particularly in the area of creative writing. Most recently I have received recognition for my set of experiences, as the international media has discovered me as an expert on the topic of intersex and associated topics. Currently I receive acknowledgement of my skills via my work as a software developer, but I also work on a number of rather exceptional projects.

Most of my days have a reassuring regularity. I get up around 7 AM, go downstairs, eat breakfast (2 slices of bread with tea), do work, have lunch (2-4 slices of bread with tea), do work, have dinner (various, but vegetarian), do more work, go to bed. One could say that since high school when I first got my own computer most of my life has revolved around computers. To me they're the representation of a universe and world where I can do anything, think anything and be anything. To thus spend most of my time in front of a computer is to me perfectly normal.

Part of this regularity also has to do with the stressful nature of my life from a young age, no doubt. As the eternal social reject and ever feeling like the ugly, clumsy kid, I never got much self-confidence and I still don't have it, really. There is still far too much stress and uncertainty in my life for that to be the case. Talking just about my body, for one. It's still hard for me to accept on an emotional level that I am in fact a hermaphrodite. Without that last surgery to restore the female side I don't think I can ever come to accept it. Every day this painful uncertainty, doubt and resulting self-loathing continues.

Beyond my body there is that of general acceptance by my environment. On primary school I was the odd one out and got bullied a lot while never making any friends. I felt dumb and useless. Beyond reading lots of books very quickly I didn't seem to have any particular skills. During HS I finally got the first real recognition of one of my skills through a writing competition, where I easily won the competition with a story which 'could have been written by an adult', as the jury put it. These days I know that I'm apparently good at writing and programming, because people tell me so. It's still hard for me to believe, though.

What I'm mostly used to from a young age is bracing for the next blow. Getting bullied a lot, including getting kicked off my bicycle, ridiculed by a large group of fellow students, ignored during PE classes when picking groups and being made to feel fat and ugly. After HS I thus didn't feel like doing anything involving a study any more. Then during the latter phase of my life being told by physicians, psychologists and the Dutch Minister of Health herself that I'm basically a whining brat who is seeing things who aren't there and is probably suffering from delusions or worse.

Every time I find myself looking forward to something fun, or talking about something which would really improve my life, I feel this sense of certain doom creep over me. The only certainty in my life is that I'll suffer more pain until I can take it no more. I'm not even talking about just one's current situation, because compared to, say, a year ago my current situation has quite improved. It's just that all the pain, uncertainty and frustration I have felt since I was a child aren't gone. Now that I have reached a point where it's all coming together in this media attention, the writing of my book and my long-awaited departure from the country which has hosted my torturing for all these decades, it's all coming to the surface.

I can't say I haven't slept well in months now. For the past weeks I find myself waking up every night with my heart racing and my thoughts a jumble. The nightmares - when I can remember them - are becoming more life-like and horrific, to the point where they're more and more merging with the waking day. I try not to give into it too much, but it's getting to the point where I can only properly distinguish between being awake and asleep by whether I am feeling tired and longing for a real night's sleep or not.

Meanwhile I see the preparations around me at the place where I am currently staying for the move as the house is put up for sale. Just another month at most, maybe. I thought I could get that house in Germany before then, but at this point I can no longer fight the thought that it's all failed. Yet again the feeling of failure and rejection, resulting in this horrible feeling of depression which leads to tears from terror and desperation as that silken voice keeps urging me to finally give up on this futile attempt to get that life which is only achievable by normal people. Not born freaks like me. Suffering is what I deserve, and a lonely death.

Part of me wonders whether I simply asked for too much when I looked for that house in Germany and shouldn't have settled for a small flat somewhere, the paranoid part questions the help I was said I'd receive in finding it. Another part simply curls up and cries while lamenting the excruciating pain of merely existing. All that goes on inside my head as I just run through the daily routines and try to pretend that I'm not on the verge of breaking down mentally. I'm totally fine, really. See, I'm smiling. Nothing the matter with me. I'm doing my job. I'm even making a difference in the world now. There's no resonance of anything I say inside of me. There's just the dark abyss of despair that this is the end of me. This personality.

One of the projects I'm currently working on for my company, Nyanko, is a speech synthesis algorithm, based on linear predictive coding (LPC), also known as the source-filter model of speech production. It ties in quite well with another project I'm working on for an American company which uses the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT). The speech model employed by humans to produce speech - glottis, vocal tract, lips - is quite basic and yet fascinating in its simplicity. It fills me with a great deal of satisfaction and joy to be working on such projects, which also includes a 3D model synthesis tool and an advanced AI model.

Nothing would please me more than to be able to work on such projects every single day. Yet the truth right now is that I lack the energy and ability to do much outside this daily routine, forcing me to rely fully on salvation being offered from Germany. For someone like me who always disliked being dependent on others, it's just another source of stress. I wish I could hope for a good outcome here, but I don't see it happening. Escaping from the Netherlands is a fairy tale for me. Always was, always will be.

Just another month...


Maya

1 comment:

Jason Speechley said...

Maya.
I have seen you change so much in such a short time, yes it's been a hard journey for you and it's not over yet.
But if this really is a fairy tale then I honestly think you are now the crystalis, the protective shell. hopefully soon you will emerge the strong beautiful sexy woman that you are with your inner demons vanquished and horrors released.

I just wish I was a worthy Prince Charming