The Crime of Father Amaro

Father Amaro is a sex abuser. Paula Rego painted an avenging angel. Here is my version:

Where would I find a sword for this version, but the Bifrost Guard at the Lakes? They will train there weekly from now on. Here is the armourer and compère.

He explained the different arrows to me. Why does it have a pyramidal rather than cone point? I worked that one out: to cut through chain mail. A cone would apply force to the ring evenly, a pyramid applies force to four points around the ring. He also had an arrrow with a cage for a cotton wad: a fire arrow.

Why does the sword have a hollow running down the centre of the blade? To make it lighter. I got that one too- he said it’s nothing to do with a channel for blood to flow or to make it easier to pull out of a wound. The hunting arrow has two barbs- as the beast runs away, the arrow catches on trees or undergrowth, and tears the flesh further.

Then they did their fighting demonstration, with much shouting. The photos do not show their movement: they look as if they are standing round. The movement was quite fun, but they were taking great care not to hurt one another. To get feeling into a shot, I would want to take it from below, as if about to get killed.

Quakers and politics

It is deceptively difficult for Quakers to discuss politics.

Being left-wing, I am in near despair. Publications I trust- The Guardian, Paul Krugman in the New York Times- tell me that cutting taxes, particularly corporation tax or higher rate income tax, does not promote economic growth as Patrick Minford and Liz Truss say. I read that the new Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, will be tougher on immigration than Priti Patel was.

So it is a sad pleasure to talk of this with some Friends. Like me, they believe Liz Truss will take the wrong course on the climate crisis, the cost of living crisis, the Sterling crisis- I read a suggestion that parity with the dollar is possible- and will increase division and suffering in the country. We say things like “I thought Boris Johnson was bad, but Liz Truss will be worse” and agreeing brings us together.

It is tempting in these conversations to say things like “The only good thing the Tories have done in twelve years is Equal Marriage”. I thought of writing that, drafting this, then thought of other things the Conservatives have done of which I approve. I must guard against hyperbole.

My impression is that most Quakers are left-wing, like I am now. Our testimony to Equality seems to point that way. When I went to my first Monthly Meeting the Friends taking me said their children were in the Socialist Workers Party but their values were the same- and I thought, that’s a bit extreme. At the time, I voted Conservative. I have canvassed for the Conservative party. Perhaps it is my bias to imagine people to be like me. Perhaps it is that right-wing Quakers usually keep quiet about it. There is no one right Quakerly view of immigration, leave alone economics.

In a letter to The Friend on 4 August 2022, Deryck Hillas wrote, “Johnson is the worst prime minister in British history and we will be well rid of him”. In a reply in The Friend on 8 September, Clive Ashwin wrote, “Boris Johnson will emerge as … a great prime minister for his far-sighted and effective handling of unforeseen national problems”. For too many Friends, one at least of these opinions may set us off. We get angry, and think of all the contradictory evidence. On social media, we may start typing, delighting in our rhetorical flourishes. Face to face, I go into that kind of conversation where I am planning what to say rather than listening.

Reading the Guardian, I get a different impression from those Quakers who are Times readers. Things which seem obvious to me are not obvious to them. The risk is that if we argue, both will lose. The one with the sharper rhetoric and debating skills may have the last word, but that is a hollow victory if the other is hurt and the trust in friendship is lessened.

Speaking to a Quaker Leave-voter, I was reduced to hearing his views expressed calmly and definitely, and feeling that if I contradict him it will do neither of us any good. That was better than arguing, but there is a more excellent way.

We can each state our views, without interruption or contradiction, so that we know where each stands without attempting to contradict or persuade. Or, we can worship together and see what words will bring us together in Love. We can check our own understanding: I see my temptation to fall below “strict integrity” in what I say. Especially when disagreeing about politics I should take care to be truthful, and listen carefully when someone with a different news source gives a different perspective.

These things matter. Last winter I spent some time each day wrapped in a sleeping bag cuddling a hot water bottle. I will be colder this winter.

How can I speak the truth in Love, so that I have the best chance of being heard?
Am I better to remain silent, when speaking truth as I see it will merely divide us?
Can I properly hear people who disagree?
How can we come together in Love, to know and respect each other better?

Entering the forest

The intensity of it shocked me. It had all my attention. It exhausted me. I felt complete misery. And yet I also felt some joy, or pleasure, because it was my feeling. This is me, feeling authentically. This is me, being me. It is like feeling the burn: pushing myself as hard as I can, feeling the effort near exhaustion and pain yet also exultation. Perhaps it is even like the pain of labour- dreadful pain accepted in producing what you want and need more than anything else. I give birth to myself.

I feel trepidation about that metaphor. I fear people will think me self-aggrandising, or ridiculous. I am unsure I am worthy of it. And I want to face the pain because it is mine, because it is what I need for freedom.

To avoid feeling the pain, I numb out by repeatedly clicking facebook, mail, blog stats and checking my comment upvotes. I do this to feel some simulacrum of human contact, a tawdry dopamine hit. It is worse because rewards are variable: sometimes there is a big hit, sometimes none. Or I numb out watching TV. Or I do wordle and its imitators.

Feeling the pain of the misery, I understand and accept my desperation to avoid it. Yet the palliatives do not work. I feel the depths of my misery at my loneliness.

There is some evidence that I am a lovely person. Someone told me that on Sunday 28th. Another told me I give off a lovely vibe and make her feel safe. Another said she had wanted to talk to me at Greenbelt (“Prospect Farm”) last year and felt God had brought us together so she could talk to me this year. Oh Wow!

Yet I feel so anxious, and lacking in motivation that I see no better ways of getting the dopamine I crave than the palliatives I know do not work. I have continued clicking them this weekend. My anger frightens me so I suppress it until it bursts out, surprising me. I have been kicked out of somewhere I loved for getting angry when someone said women were uncomfortable with trans women in women’s loos, and silenced me. I pleaded, and tried to explain, then blew up.

On facebook, I see M on video, gently swinging in a hammock among trees, first the legs then the smiling face looking artfully unselfconscious. Is she naked? There is a caption hiding certain parts. Seeing that delights and tantalises.

Avoiding the misery I feel about my life traps me.

When I wake in the night, I normally go to the loo, perhaps scroll fb for a bit or read the Guardian, then drift off to a podcast. In June I woke in terror and misery. But I know someone in Tennessee: that’s Central Time, so 3.30am here is only 9.30pm there. She agreed if I was in that state I could call her.

Saturday morning, I did. We zoomed. She said she gets up and goes to bed early, and had in fact got up to speak to me- but she was willing to wake up for me, and had kept her phone on all night since I had first proposed this. This made me feel loved, yet tense and anxious.

I am the one saying this is impossible rubbish, projecting that view onto you, and I believe that tension comes from waking in misery as a toddler, even perhaps younger, wanting comforted and not getting it. To put it harshly, I have not got over that in over fifty years since. To put it less harshly, I am still scarred from it. That clamped the mask on me. The mask was essential to satisfy my mother. Now, talking and writing from the vulnerable inner child, I feel suppressed pain. I welcome it. I am an adult child.

Someone has worked hard to stop searches reaching my blog. In July and August, I got four hits from Bing, seven from DuckDuckGo. If you search on them for “Clare Flourish” my blog always used to come first and now does not. If you search for “Trans widows” my post came on the first page and now comes nowhere. So my hits are way down, especially the posts telling the truth about autogynephilia, or trans more generally.

I am blogging less, because I am working on a twelve step programme and writing for somewhere else which is more well-regarded than a blog, and I get more readers.

Anger and the Inner Child

“Blessed is the lion that the human being will devour so that the lion becomes human. And cursed is the human being that the lion devours; and the lion will become human.”

I am destabilised. Under the tree, I look at that baby, rigid with rage and terror. Could I pick it up? It is a baby, but it is also chaotic blackness which might consume me.

Kate asks, can you hear its anger? Pick it up and hear it?
I can’t explain its anger, I say.
Can you understand and sympathise with its anger?

I don’t want this resolved, I say.
What is lost by resolution?
It’s not for me. It’s not to heal me but to silence me and get me to conform.

Well, it works that way if I am crying and someone says, Don’t cry. It’s not they want to console me, but to make me pull myself together. This is different: I don’t want resolution because that would mean accepting the angry part.

What does the angry part want?
Impossible things.
To be loved. Accepted.

What does the heart lose in accepting the angry part?
Safety? Control? But I have neither.
I lose the moral high ground illusion.
My self-image is that I am not violent. Others have assaulted me. But really, I just shout.
Others experience me as angry. The anger is there whether I am conscious of it or not.

What would the heart gain?
Cerberus, my guard dog. It sniffs out the threats, so that I see the world more clearly.

I need to love my anger.
Anger would become energy to confront threat or insult, rather than as a terrifying thing I must suppress. When I attempt to suppress my anger, people see I am angry, and I am paralysed. It is a disaster for me.

What’s under the anger?
Self-respect. A sense of my worth.

The only time I am comfortable expressing anger is when I am sucking up. Someone is angry with The Thing Which Angers All Good-thinking People, and I am angry too, to show I am one of the good people. I hate it afterwards. One such memory when I was eighteen causes me lasting shame, because the thing the Good People were angry at was my crowd, and my anger at my crowd did not make me one of the Good People, just divided me from my crowd.

Kate says the value of Internal Family Systems for her is to honour the voices within her. She treats them as people, with feelings and needs, which may be stuck somewhere with a limited perception of the world. The whole person is much more than that individual voice, but the voice is someone she can greet with compassion.

Then, I had one of my I Am experiences, and it felt the I Am- what I thought of as my Heart, or Inner Light, was absorbing the anger. Was able to admit anger to itself, perceive anger, not try to suppress anger, and therefore use its energy. That felt really good.

A Friend ministered on being spanked as a child, and gave a great deal of detail about how hard her mother’s life was and how good her mother was and how bad she had been so she absolutely understood her mother doing it- and then of how it has affected her whole life, believing that when something bad happened to her a vengeful God was punishing her. Then I watched a baby held by delighted grandparents as he tried to get his legs underneath him and push down with his feet, and my lovable, joyous, inspiring Friend in a hospital bed.

I identified the I Am as my heart, my higher power. And yet, I could be knocked out of it. I lied: my ego produced a plausible falsehood to make me look better. My heart had no access to my anger and fear. I take Thomas’s Jesus to mean, if my anger devours me I am cursed, but if I absorb, accept, use my anger I am blessed.

At the Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACADF) group, the question was, “What do you do to improve conscious contact with your Higher Power?”

I thought what I called my Inner Light or Heart was that higher power in me. The ACADF group is studying the Loving Parent Guidebook, based on Internal Family Systems, and I thought, that is not for me. It is too rigid. I have an Ego and an Inner Light, which does not map on to this system of Caring Parent, Critical Parent, Inner Child and Inner Teenager, so perhaps I should look elsewhere. However I got the kindle sample of the ACADF 12 step book, greatly expanded in 2016, and Claudia B’s introduction destabilised me again.

We honored each other with acceptance for where we were, precious children and now adults struggling with what is called our false selves. We learned to project this false self to the world in an attempt to hide our inner thoughts and feelings. The preciousness of the Inner Child was tapping from within, asking and hoping to be heard and acknowledged.

Not inner light- inner child. That makes total sense, and turns my world upside down- again.

So what now? I learn more about IFS. I seek my Loving Parent. I identify the Heart as my Inner Child rather than Inner Light. The Inner Child had already this week been shown to be wanting- lacking access to my fear and anger which it is now seeking. Now the aim is to parent my inner child.

Naming of parts

The baby lies under the trees. His mother told me that is where he particularly likes- in his pram, looking up at sunlight dappling through the leaves. I notice he lies rigid, all his muscles tense. He looks frightened and angry, but is still and silent. I want him to relax. I wonder about picking him up, but it would not relax him.

I wonder what I want from this friendship. Is it the drama? No, it’s that R is a troubled soul, and I get to look after her. However it is not working out that way. She keeps asking me questions about a woman I hurt. Then I shout at her, and the moral high ground falls away beneath my feet. Perhaps it was never there.

R is not here to be cared for, but to teach. I have spoken about my issues, and people have recommended “Internal family systems”, but R shows me the videos. Together we do Dr Richard Schwartz’s “One part” exercise.

IFS explains that we break off bits of ourselves which stay unconscious. So does Carl Rogers in client-centred therapy: he wrote of the “Organismic self” and the “self-concept”, which was different. Jung wrote of the shadow. The baby holds my rage and terror, the anxiety I am almost never conscious of, the anger which makes others fear me. Unless they tell me they fear me out of a malign attempt to gain power over me.

IFS postulates a loving parent, which can manifest through my conscious self, and look out for the unconscious parts. So there I am, not holding the baby.

This freaked me. As well as the inner critic telling me it was a made up scenario from old fantasies, I now worry that the Heart, or true self, which I was speaking from has no real conscious connection to my rage and terror. And I have just finished “Run towards the danger” by Sarah Polley, a sublime account of incidents in her life. Her brilliance and bravery shine through, and I am now an adoring fan. It ends with an essay on concussion, saying she cured hers by giving no concession to her headaches and difficulties. I ask myself whether my retreat from the world is doing me no good at all.

I want to tell R that’s not her loving parent she’s coming from, but, would we both not end up in the ditch?

There is a directory of IFS practitioners, and I email several of them. One writes back to say she could offer Identity-orientated psychotrauma therapy (IoPT) on the same principle of working with parts of the self.

IoPT was created by Dr Franz Ruppert. His editor in English is Vivian Broughton, who has written a book on theory and practice of IoPT for therapists and clients. Ruppert writes of his experience growing up unloved and unwanted. Then in 2017 he was lying awake, restless and tense, and he heard a voice in his ear which said,

“You are allowed to cry!”

So now I know what to tell the baby.

I thought I was speaking from the Heart. Then someone asked, “What are you Brits doing here?” And I lied. I went straight from Heart into Mask, or Ego, and gave a plausible reason for being there. I was there out of my need, but perhaps feared saying that.

That lie has really bothered me. I can be in a place where I feel heart-centred, truthful, expressing my true self, and then be knocked back into the mask. It is not the question that makes me change like that, but my own unconscious fear. However, the fear, anger, sadness is almost entirely unconscious for a reason. I am terrified of it still.

J told me of different 12 step programmes. All forbid cross-talk: my Emotions Anonymous script tells me to use I statements, and not to interrupt, speak directly to another, or give advice. At one Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families meeting someone ritually answers each share “Thank you [N], you were heard”. At Co-dependents Anonymous, however extreme anyone’s share no-one responds at all, as to hand them a tissue might be to start a “caring”, or co-dependent, relationship.

R gave me an utterly gorgeous duvet cover. It’s cotton with a 300 thread count, and an embroidered border. I would never get such a beautiful thing for myself.

This is the eleventh anniversary of my blog. I started here, and all the optimism and hope of that moment is being fulfilled.

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman should not be attorney general. Her speech to the Policy Exchange, where she spoke about anti-trans discrimination, demonstrates that.

The attorney general is the chief legal adviser to the government, advising on questions of international law, human rights, and devolution. The government has great power to amend the law, with a working majority of 71. The Attorney General should say what the law is, not what the government would like it to be: if they do not like it, they can change it.

Even under the Conservatives, previous AGs have usually had far more experience than Braverman. She was called to the Bar in 2005, and elected to Parliament in 2015. From 2010 she was on the Attorney General’s C panel of counsel, the entry level, undertaking basic government cases. Her predecessor Geoffrey Cox was called to the Bar in 1982, appointed QC in 2003, and elected to parliament in 2005. Dominic Grieve practised as a barrister for seventeen years before becoming an MP. Jeremy Wright only practised for nine years before being elected to Parliament, and made the appalling decision to prosecute anti-deportation protesters under terrorism legislation. The Court of Appeal said there was no case to answer.

Policy Exchange is a “highly opaque” think tank which refuses to reveal the identities of its donors. It recommended legislation to prevent their victims from suing the armed forces, and to establish schools funded by government but “free” of some regulation and inspection. In her speech on 10 August, Braverman spoke against Equality legislation, and said that legislation for trans rights should be interpreted in such a way as to make it easy to exclude trans people.

Braverman congratulated Policy Exchange on its arguments for reducing judicial power, and thereby correction of any acts of government against the law or human rights. She says there are trade-offs in allocating rights, which is true.

She asks, “Do our feelings about who we are, change the rights to which we are entitled?” Clearly. A right to marry a woman is no use to a gay man. His right to private life, and so to equal marriage, depends upon his feelings of attraction. My feeling that I am trans is remarkably consistent, despite my attempts to overcome it, including aversion therapy. She means, it’s only a feeling, so unimportant. Against feelings, she balances “the facts of biology”- as if my lack of a uterus is important at all, except if I were trying to bear a child.

But feelings are at the heart of being human. My feelings make me me. She wants to impose some other understanding, which she might call objective reality, to subjugate my feelings, and perhaps her own too- but Reality includes trans people’s feelings. She is the reality denier.

If feelings did not matter, the objection to trans women in women’s spaces would not matter. Braverman privileges the feelings of prejudiced people over the feelings of trans people.

Then she says something truly damaging. She says businesses are going beyond their legal obligations, misinterpreting the law. It is clear she means including trans women in women’s spaces when they do not need to: later she makes this explicit.

She gives a definite, but misleading, interpretation of the Equality Act as it relates to trans women in women’s spaces. She claims trans women, being “biological males”, can be excluded from any women’s space which would be entitled to exclude men. She says this applies even if we have a GRC, though s9 of the Gender Recognition Act provides that my “sex” is female. She says the permission to exclude trans people from women’s services is in fact permission to exclude trans men.

This is completely wrong. It is contrary to the EHRC’s code of practice, and all previous understandings of the legislation. Robin Moira White, barrister and expert on trans law, commented she would have a lot of work if businesses interpreted the law the Braverman way.

Braverman is also wrong on trans schoolchildren.

Does it matter that Braverman is wrong? It matters if businesses or their public-facing workers believe her, or if cis women anti-trans campaigners take this as a licence to complain about trans women in women’s services. A tiny proportion of these matters reaches the courts.

It means that ordinary trans women may face abuse, confrontation and exclusion going about our daily lives. I hope businesses will be aware of a better interpretation of the law, but I am more and more concerned that I may have to endure confrontation, and even threaten legal action.

Step four part one

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Someone says the original AA older guys were narcissists. They needed taking down a peg. I could use this as a tool to beat myself up. First I need to love myself. So I decided to start with what I hate about myself, how I might value it, how I might love it. Has it any beauty in itself? Is it clumsily seeking a worthwhile goal?

I told a Quaker this, and was affirmed. Later in the chat, someone wrote, “You are heard and seen and cared for! You have a face beaming light!”

On Tuesday 9, I started my list. I hate:

1. The inner conflict itself. It paralyses me. And it is powerful parts of me, each trying to advance my interests, parts trying to protect me, a real me which will not be suppressed.

2. My anxiety. I despise it. It is wrong- there is no need to fear going to Aldi. And- there has been so much to fear, with my attempts to hold my feelings out of consciousness as well as deal with the world, that-

there is something to be anxious about. If I go to Aldi I might become conscious of a feeling. I might run into something unexpected or unpleasing. But then part of the suppressing things out of consciousness is denying that that might make me anxious.

So I am glad of the anxiety because it makes that way of being, suppressing feelings, impossible. The feeling grows until it cannot be suppressed. It affects my actions. It is part of the process of my liberation. And it is my feeling. I will not hate my feeling.

There Is no “I” separate from my feelings. Anxiety is uncomfortable, and I will Love it, not because it is useful, but because it is me.

In the NYT, I read, ‘According to Lisa Genova in “Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting,” chronic stress “inhibits neurogenesis in the hippocampus,” damaging the brain’s ability to create new memories”.’

When I read that I started wailing hysterically. It is vindication: remembering Dad saying to Mum “He lives on stress”, not remembering much from childhood. I need vindication because I doubt myself completely. The levels of stress eventually made me incapable of work. It started in my teens, or before.

People who demonstrate the qualities of enthusiasm, kindness, focus, calmness and openness are seen as powerful by others, says psychologist Dacher Keltner.

Jamie suggests one response to anxiety: “That makes sense”. Breathe into it, being with it. Say “Hello old friend.”

I love my confusion because I am confused. It is me, where I am. I reject the idea of self-improvement and self-correction. Untangling might be good. The problem is self-rejection.

By Thursday 11th, I realised it was not enough to try to find some value in uncomfortable traits- whose values? I will love myself. I will not love myself instrumentally, in order to gain something or change myself. I will simply love myself, in all my confusing beauty. I need love. I will give myself love.

I love my desperation, my hard work.
I love my anxiety.
I love my sulk, stopping and protecting myself.
I love my confusion. I admit I do not know everything or perceive everything instantly.
I love my perceptiveness and intelligence.
I love my beautiful body, and all it can feel and do, and if it is hurt I will love it and care for it.
I love that I can speak from the heart, from my inner truth.
I love my desire to be safe.
I love my need. I will not curse it or suppress it.
I love my failures. I love my successes. I love my attempts to judge.
I am a trans woman. I have not worked for eleven years. Because of anxiety, I rarely go out, except to particular places that I particularly want to go to. There is nothing the Accuser can say which makes me unworthy of love or incapable of loving myself.

I love my self-suppression, seeking safety where there was none. I was constantly stressed, and I survived.
I love my true self, never entirely suppressed.
I love my human perfection:
I love my unknowing, unseeing, finitude, uncertainty,
which allows me to love my uncertain knowing, my conditional perception.
I love that I am enough.
I love my error and failure, which are a sign of my trying.

I love my hurt. I love my pain, which shows me the truth of the world. I love my “negative” emotions- there are no negative emotions.

I love my playfulness.
I love my creativity.
I love my appreciation of beauty.
I love my courage.
I love my generosity.
I love my desire to connect.
I love my openness.
I love my willingness to hear and see others, and to love them.
I love my desire to learn and grow and express authentically.

I felt worthless. I am not worthless. I created an illusory powerful self, which I thought was the centre of the universe. I am not the centre of the universe, and having lost that self-image through experience I resorted to bullying blaming exhorting and whipping my worthless self. And now I am that real self.

I love myself. I will love all of myself which is too scared or shy to show itself. I will love all of myself that delights me, and especially any of me that does not. I am loving and lovable.

Breaking the rules in the art gallery

Thirty pieces of silver, by Cornelia Parker, is utterly beautiful. I sit on a stool, contemplating it. The wires glitter in the bright light. Some of them are taut, some are loose, where one of the pieces of flattened silver sits on another. Because the wires are so long, when they sway like a pendulum they swing very slowly. They move, gently, in the air currents generated by people walking by. I looked at the narrow passages between them, and thought, how lovely it would be to walk through.

I was almost ready to do this when the Tate worker came in.
-You know, I really want to walk through it.
-Yes, he said. That’s almost like a corridor.
-I can’t do it with you there, I said. You couldn’t go round the corner so I could?

I looked round, and he was, indeed, moving into the next room so he could not see me. In a state of total relaxation I sidled through the beautiful thing, taking care not to touch the wires. Unfortunately, right at the far end a flattened fork got caught in my skirt, and pulled it up. A woman plucked it free.

Then I saw the guard again. He is an artist: he makes sound sculptures. He also does painting. He makes constructions of plywood and other materials, with a speaker inside, and plays electronic music he composes through them. I told him I write poetry. He said literature is an art form anyone can practise: you need no materials beyond memory.

I asked him if he would photograph me dancing through it again. He took my phone. I spent a moment readying myself.

I am centred and collected.

I am just about to move through the sculpture

when he says no, he can’t let me do it. Oi!

Or perhaps, as I am a story-teller, I chatted to the guard for a bit, but got a friend to take the pictures and embellished my desire to walk through into a story of how I actually had. I would hate to get that lovely man into trouble.

Also yesterday, I met a woman who asked me a few questions. I decided to answer rather than deflect. She then told me, in a tone of voice she would use as if it were obvious, as if she expected me to agree, that women do not like men in women’s toilets. She does not like male cleaners in women’s toilets. It’s the cleaning companies trying to reduce costs. She told me about JK Rowling at great length. Women must not be erased. I thought her spectacularly rude, but also impervious to any argument, so I simply let her monologue until we had got where we were going.

Delight unspoiled by disgust?

I crave dopamine. I dislike the fb highs even as I chase them, and the lows when the highs recede. They give me a sense of human contact and affirmation, and disappointment when I click and do not receive. I share something I know will get likes, and then try to restrict myself, not clicking less than half an hour after the last click.

My 500 words were published on Thursday 4th. By Monday, my painful anticipation was growing. I craved the dopamine hit, and feared I would not get it. So I created my affirmation with the intent of being less dependent moment to moment on clicks.

I am a person whose speech, writing, and way of holding space are valued.

Of course I shared that, and clicked every half hour or more to see the likes mount up. Twelve likes, eleven loves, two cares, four comments agreeing, so far. It is true. I love to write, hold space, and be heard, and I know my service has value. The day after sharing it, and the 500 words, I am in a state of craving.

My affirmation is true. It does not assuage my craving. Perhaps it mitigates it.

Perhaps I would be better off if I had more actual human contact. I need family! A like is a sugar rush of candy, a hug is like a ripe peach, whose sugar is absorbed more slowly. And, family can be a place of pain, exploitation and misery. My isolation at least protects me from the worst of it.

I discussed red/amber/green behaviour with K, and agreed going there was absolutely in the centre of the red zone. Being tantalised, illusion, desperation, misery is all that can come of that. Next day, I went there, and was rewarded. She mentioned me! In the most unflattering way, and yet my delight lasted two days. Now she likes my affirmation. It is hard to untangle the complex emotion, but perhaps- I hate myself for feeling delight. Or, I fear my delight, because it will end in pain.

Well, all things come to an end. But how can I enjoy this delight when it is so fleeting, so much less than what I crave?

Augustine sought “delight unspoiled by disgust”, which he could find only in God. I do not believe in God the Father Almighty, but there is something in each human being which is so wonderful that calling it “that of God” is not hyperbole. I believe I can hear God in others if I have ears to hear. I believe I can speak and act from that of God in me all the time, and that that is the meaning of “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing”.

There is nothing supernatural about The Light. It just is. Why do we shield ourselves from it? For me, breaking through to it was an amazing unsought blessing, then a struggle with all sorts of fear and misery, and now-

It is meeting my true self. And it means acknowledging all the stuff buried in me, painful as well as glorious. I have so much fear and sorrow.

As a Doctor Who fan, it reminds me of the Ood, who had a second brain, outside their bodies, which they held in their hands. Humans enslaved them, and removed the second brain, replacing it with a device through which they could communicate in English. In their original state, they were telepathic. That seemed ridiculous and far-fetched at the time. I identified with the humans, not seeing the wrong of oppression immediately, then human normality broke down.

It is clear why I would suppress my Light- to escape awareness of that congealed sadness. From the ego state, I can imagine reasons to enter the Light, but they are impure, for what the ego can get out of it. If I go into Light in order to achieve an ego-aim, my state will be unstable, retreating into ego as the aim appears uncertain of success. Then the ego will fail in its aim.

Perhaps there is no red/amber/green behaviour but only the ego pursuing its aims by desperate and ridiculous or socially acceptable ways, or the Light, being.

Others find joy in being in the moment. It is a spiritual state. I find sadness mixed with joy. Now I wonder if the Light holds my Need, as well. Is ego a way of attempting to meet the need, or manage it, in failed, unsatisfying ways? Ego is the familiar, Light is the painful acceptance that all things are made new. So I become as a little child to enter Heaven- curious, trusting, accepting and seeing the unfamiliar, dancing with it. And at the same time I become an adult and put away childish things- old, failed ways of trying to meet my needs.

Human kind Cannot bear very much reality. Illusions are comforting, but they have led me to this unbearable place. “We only live… consumed by either fire or fire” still seems melodramatic, but perhaps Eliot was on to something.

The Deep Sharing group query is, “Does your faith help you deal with regrets?” I don’t have regrets. I tend to think I have always done my best. At worst, this is blaming other people or the World for my situation. Possibly it is not being able to imagine how anything better might have been possible. Possibly, if I took more responsibility for my life, I would feel regrets. Possibly I feel regret which is too much to bear consciously. If I lived my belief, and entered the Light, regret, need, sadness, fear would confront me. “For God all things are possible”?

My ego hopes the Light would see possibilities, and flees the Light, because they are not the possibilities the ego craves. Among my unanswered questions are whether I have any addictions or damaging myelination affecting my Light.

When I went to the deep sharing group, and spoke of my step four desire to cure my inner conflict. I hate myself. I hate all sorts of aspects of myself. So, I will name the things I hate about myself, and find how I may love them. Regret seems like a useless emotion, and I am not generally conscious of it- so, I invite regret into my life.

About to leave, I have the sense of moving from heart-authenticity in speaking and listening to ego, and a revelation. I experienced ego as dull normality, all there is; then as oppressive and constraining, and now, I experience it as protective, perhaps for the first time. This produces amazed joy and delight, and also pain: when I believe suffering will be interminable I minimise it, and when it is relieved I truly feel the weight of the burden I have shed.

It hurt so much, and- It’s Stopped!

I said that, and Ruth said, “Love you, Abigail.”
Well, people do. It is one of my great blessings.
It is time for me to love myself.