Hate and love

My thought that someone was more intelligent than I provoked amazed disbelief. So you’re very very very intelligent and she’s- pause to count the veries- very very very very intelligent? Yet I got a 2:2. I did not want to do the work. Or I wasn’t clever enough, or not engaged and interested, or had other desires, or-

it is important to see these things clearly-

“Have mercy on yourself!” said Menis, and “You are very hard on yourself” said Andy. I judge myself harshly. I did less and less voluntary work and job-seeking until I withdrew, and still half of me was kicking the other half in the kidneys shouting “Get up Get up DO SOMETHING!” Now I am still frightened of the future, frightened of possible homelessness, yet with little motivation.

I have no partner, children, house, job, savings, pension. I am alone and vulnerable.

I have been so ashamed of who I am. I was Worthless, only of value for what I could achieve, yet wanting to hide away because anyone seeing my Shadow (most of me) would be revolted. In Carl Rogers’ terms, my self-concept and organismic self felt separate. Then I found my Vulnerable Bit, soon renamed Real Self, and more recently as I come to accept my shadow, I feel ashamed of denying it for so long, and ashamed of hiding away now. Shame is my Iron Maiden.

And I am beautiful. All this in me which I have denied and repressed is beautiful. Because I have repressed it, I have no partner, children, etc…

So from hating and despising myself for not being other than I am, more intelligent, with more energy and motivation, I could move to hate my parents for screwing me up quite this badly, except that they always did their best, and I have first “forgiven” them then Accepted them, delighted in their struggles and strength.

And I could move to hate the World. It has Oppressed me! All those evangelical Christians, and the unthinking despising of Queers and anything not Normal, which came from Victorian times and lasts, in pockets, even now; those Evangelical “Christians” or Catholics who write that LGBT is “intrinsically disordered” or Against God’s Will, the Tories wanting to repeal the Human Rights Act…

I have met people more intelligent than me before, but two men stick in my mind- the one who came to CAB about his pension, had read the regulations and tried to explain them to me repeating incessantly “Are you wi’ me, are you wi’ me?” I wasn’t, but did not realise that until later, I wanted to be the one explaining. And, more tragically, a big man in a thick black coat, stinking of- probably urine- a mass of anger almost unable to speak, radiating

Resentment

An anti-role model. A place I might yet not avoid.

I want to transmute it into love. As with my parents I see their strength and struggles, so with the World: to see all its beauty, all the support I get- for while my life has never seemed easy, it really has been- all the progress, Good, Healing.

If I see the World as it is
there is nothing I can do but

LOVE

Renoir, Patineurs au bois de Boulogne

Happy

I was happy.

It is strange thinking of it 24 hours later, tired, a little hung over. I wondered at the time why the thought “this can’t last” comes to me more insistently when happy than when depressed. Initially I said I was high, but then thought, no, happy. Because of that. Such small encouragement! A friendly email!

Still, crikey! Happy! Enjoy it while it lasts!

No-one has agreed to be welcomer at the Quaker meeting, so I pop out to get milk, put flowers on the table from the garden, and stay outside to welcome late-comers- none, within ten minutes. There are seven of us. I am concerned for my meeting. Have we the people to keep it running?

I think of a time working in Swanston, at a Children’s centre, trying to do a claim for child benefit on the internet. In theory simple, I ran into complications, first having difficulty connecting there, then with the website. I felt I appeared demanding to the centre staff and incompetent to the claimant. At the time I felt I was botching, disorganised, incompetent, and now I feel I was

great-hearted.

Struggling courageously on as best I could.

Godric ministers. Our ancestors came down from the trees. Why? Trees are lovely at this time of year. He wants to return to the Blake quote he has shared before: .we are here a little time, to learn to bear the beams of Love.

Just before the end, Marion and Karon joined us. Marion wore the jacket she wore for their wedding one year ago. How can I put this? The first real wedding I had ever been to, none of this tedious heterosexual stuff.

It feels it was a good meeting. I served the tea and we chat happily; there is always more energy after a good meeting. We go outside to take photos of Marion and Karon by the meeting house.

They sing “Happy Birthday” to me. At one point I would have been embarrassed, now I enjoy it, and bask in the Love. “Because I’m worth it”- there is wisdom in the strangest places. Then Marion sings the Findhorn birthday song, which I find lovely. A large group singing it as a Round, she says, is really special.

To you we sing
And happiness we bring
To celebrate your birth
An angel here on Earth

I have nothing planned for my birthday, so Peter offers me lunch. We talk until ten, with wine, and he offers me his spare room to spare the taxi fare. I would have got a taxi, but now accept the gift, and the friendship. And writing this morning, feeling the frustrated desire helps me strip away the overlay of fear of the feeling, for the only way I can bear it is to allow it to be, and pass through me.

bench

After the Gender clinic

This is a serious Trans post, which will give all my other fans warm fuzzies about Self-Acceptance and Personal Growth, even though the title is yet again click-bait for t-central. After counselling, I went to the Tate.

I loved Sculpture Victorious, and after eating my packed lunch in the sunshine went for a tour. The Tate is deserted for the Chelsea Flower Show, and I talk back to the guide: she asked if I was an art student, I don’t think sarcastically. We end with the base of a crucifixion:

Triptych base of a crucifixion

-You know about Francis Bacon?
-Didn’t he write “No man is an island entire unto himself”? I am on a roll today.

She gives her interpretation, then I give mine. “I want to give an LGBT interpretation.” There he was, Out when it was really dangerous, a Sodomite or Invert because “Gay” had not been coined, a “promiscuous homoSEKKKKS-ual” inspiring disgust in right-thinking people, who would fail to see his courage, and deny his humanity. These are self-portraits. They are he, they are I, blind, screaming, yet Not cowering away. They stand there and face outwards. I will not hide, or run.

Bacon said he wanted to paint mouths like Monet painted sunsets, she says, and if you look at the layering of the paint you will see he did just that. His father was an army officer, who threw him out of the house, so he went to Paris and lived with a sugar-daddy, she tells us.

She sends us off to see more Bacon. I am not sure this was the one she had in mind:

Bacon Triptych August 1972

25 years later, these may also be self-portraits. To me, they are all in the moment of orgasm. Pools of ejaculate cover the floor! Again, he says, I AM HERE but in a more joyous manner, though still with something which a day ago I would have seen as twisted monstrousness. No longer.

She had said that in 1947 people hated the triptych, and I understand. Looking at a work of art or reading a novel I like to sympathise with the subject. Knowing that it will be impossible for normal people to sympathise, he flings this ugliness in their faces. I Love him, and I love these creatures.

Arted-out, I walk to the Tube. I told Serra that I want to fear less, but no: I want to fear more! I want to rejoice, exult, luxuriate in my fear, let it effervesce in me, for it is my vulnerable Power. Part of this is because of Mrs Mounter, whom the guide showed us. I see in her fear and confusion, yet she looks out at us or the artist, resigned. There is self-respect and even authority there.

On the train I chat to Izzie, who is 25 and teaches PE at a fee-paying school. She tells me how facilities in state schools are really poor, and how her class sizes are 15 tops. She has had a job interview which lasted from 9-5 the previous day. She got fed up telling different people the same things, but is not fatigued because she resides in the pupils’ living quarters, so is always on duty. Her best sport is netball, her worst tennis. She is not bad at Badminton, because like netball it requires a loose wrist.

At the bus stop four women and I pet a pretty, friendly staffordshire bull terrier cross, and chat to her owner. So much connection!

At the Gender clinic

To Charing Cross Hospital, to see my psychotherapist. Serra is a psychologist, who starts by taking a history: how do I feel? How have I felt?

Right now, wonderful. I met Ian on the train, and he told me a lovely story about increasing confidence in his daughter, who is 22. He is married to a Quaker, meditates with her, and proposed that we meditate together. With my eyes closed I was aware of the young grandmother’s banter with the toddler, and my passing thoughts, so varied, so unimportant. The train was over half full, and I asked someone to move to a vacant seat so we could sit together: I would not have had the courage to do that, at one time, but the man moved readily. I asked Ian what his mantra was, but he could not tell me, as that is part of the Rules and Ritual which give it meaning. He got it from the London School of Meditation, who will give him a new one when it wears out. As we walked through St Pancras, its bricks appeared brighter.

The waiting room contrasts with Serra’s. The whining air conditioning irritates. I eye up the bonny young trans men. The receptionists are disdainful: after, one asks me to wait for an appointment letter for next time, but finishes other work before printing it for me. I think of that Trans Privilege conversation: a week ago I saw it from H’s point of view, and now do not. I am twenty minutes early, and she is ten minutes late starting.

Serra is about forty. Her left eyelid droops: her right eye is on me all the time, but when her left eye looks up at me it has all the force of sudden eye-contact. She is friendly in a brisk, professional way. At the gender clinic, I can say “I have come to terms with autogynephilia. I don’t believe it, but I don’t need it to be untrue,” and “I have come to terms with how feminine I am, and how femme-phobic I have been,” and have that just accepted. She agrees with me about my trans privilege conversation that this is not privilege, and notes (with approval?) my comment “I did not see her and she did not see me”. I tell her of my Blessing. This will continue. She clarifies- I am unsure of the distinction between “will” and “shall”, but I am predicting, not stating a grim intention to cling on.

My main problem is that I am work-shy, or phobic. I had a series of difficult experiences (I said that to other-H, and she said “Doesn’t everyone?” I wanted more sympathy)

-Do I have to give the details?
-Tell me how you felt.
-I have to give the details. So I do. I felt angry, frustrated, out of control, frightened. Her face shows sympathy, twisting in pain at one point. This is a contrast to psychotherapy in 1998, when I found it difficult to recognise feelings and the man refused to treat further, saying the risk to my defences was too great. And I can be confrontational.

Do I want to come again? Yes. Eventually, I am tearful, but not too much. She asks me to set goals, which is a lot easier than last time:

  • To be less frightened
  • To support myself
  • To make a contribution

We will set more goals, she says.

I go to the Tate.

Sculpture Victorious

How wonderful to see a sculpture which so beautifully expresses my sexuality! It is at Tate Britain, their exhibition Sculpture Victorious whose last day is tomorrow (Monday). Here it is:

Hylas surprised by the Naiades

The description on the wall calls Hylas Hercules’ “beautiful boy companion”. Ha. He gazes into the eyes of his abductress in surrender, symbolised by his water-jug, lip downwards. I love her determined look. The other, abandoned, smells his hair. I note the position of their hands, restraining his arms, waist, neck and shoulder. I know his leaning slightly back like that is a wonderfully vulnerable position. I moved on to the rest of the exhibition, but went back to examine it: the depth of pressure of their hands, pressing into his arm or side, the curl of her hair flowing down her back, their postures; and drinking in that gaze. The commentary, “the obsession of grown women for a boy”, misses the point. I think of Simon’s meeting with Axel: I identify with the boy, and it is a gorgeous feeling.

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 3

The exhibition starts with two busts of the Queen, young and pretty then venerable, and an explanation of how busts could be reproduced in miniature with a machine. Softer materials were better for this: at one time between 3,500 and 6000 elephants were slaughtered annually for the British ivory market. We move into a room of church sculpture, and my disgust increases. A model for the restoration of the tomb of Philippa of Hainault has huge kings and waist-height angels. Of course, there were no portraits of Baron Saher de Quency, part of the Magna Carta putsch seeking power for themselves, so the face and figure are from imagination. The commentary notes the complex detail of his chain mail, but I see his noble manly yet modest face in his helmet, eyes downcast: he’s an ideal Victorian!

In anger and disgust I turn to the Eglinton Trophy. The Queen of Beauty, Lady Seymour, giving out the victor’s crown, is an exact precursor of a Disney princess. Nearby is a heavy silver top to a bishop’s crook, the very contradiction of Christ. What a wonderful start to the exhibition, showing the Victorian Values I so despise, showing how alien they were!

The next room has the Naiades, and the Paul Comolera peacock. I can’t imagine it being made now, but I find it completely beautiful, its jutting chest, its strong talons, its Colours! It is taller than I. On to the Greek Slave, her wrist restraints so delicate and tasteful, contrasting with the chains. She inspired music, poetry and obsession. Then there is the Abolitionist John Bell’s The American Slave, a contrast to it.

Finally, William Reynolds Stephens, a Royal Game. I love her erect carriage, and her legs, and note the complexity of detail on her dress, and her jewelled necklace. There is also a Burne-Jones, with the man silver and the creatures gilt. The picture here does not do it justice: he shines.

Friday was a day of magic, liberation, new understanding, amazement and delight. More on this tomorrow.

Mindfulness II

There are things I should do. The most important is walking in the sunshine; but first a phone call to the Samaritans. This time, she gave me an hour and I ended feeling satisfied of progress. I need to think about that job, but I called because I was crying over that.

I want to be Normal!
-What would normal look like?

A fair question. It has varied. At one time I would have been a solicitor in Edinburgh with a wife and two or three children: the eldest would have graduated by now. Now, I suppose I would have a job, which though it would have a share of drudgery, tedium and stress, would also have moments of pleasure, either in human contact or a feeling of having achieved something; a partner, so  I would not be so lonely, and a sufficient income.

The oil-seed rape is fading to green as the flowers turn to pods. It is still overwhelming as I walk though it, as some is neck-height and the path is through a slight decline.

Sunshine. Bird-song. Engine noise, not enough to bother me at any time.

Where a tiny stream drains over the path, some effort has been made to make it passable. Logs are dug in to make raised steps, and old planks go round the edge. Water is flowing though it has been dry; it would not be easy in a wet March.

Several times I stop to watch a bird fly overhead.

The borage is spreading. Is it overwhelming those nettles, or the other way about? No camera, of course, but here is a picture I took last year:

butterfly 4

That distinctive leaf. Sycamore? Oak, Google images tells me now, I am not good at identifying anything. Still, it has my attention.

At one time “normal” would have been a heavy mask, clasped to my face with tight steel bands, with bits of Real Me, or shadow, oozing out from behind- visible to everyone but me, subject to my desperate denial and feeling of utter inadequacy. From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves…

This ecosystem is 3.5 or 4 billion years old- I don’t keep up with the journals, I don’t know the latest understanding- and it has produced this wonderful creature, her soft, yielding femininity, her gentle kindness, her heart full of Love. It is so beautiful, even though oligarchical capitalism might be hard put to set a value on it.

Two or three years ago, the wardens built a den here out of willow cuttings. Well watered, the cuttings took root and their branches are woven together. The path suits someone under ten, but I enter, as I want the experience, once- I stand surrounded by the willow, leaning in but not quite domed over me.

A woman stands off the path, holding her black spaniel back. “Thank you,” I say, then notice the milky discs. “Oh! Its eyes-”

Yes, he’s blind, she confirms, smiling. She is a few years older than I. I love her loving care for her friend.

Oh! This awful life! Yet, no- it has wonderful moments, and is bearable for me. The main difficulty of it is my fears for the future, and my desires.

In part this is inspired by Louise. Her lovely account of some frustrations and tensions in, well, being normal- marrying and having children- and the way the family works together- brought a moment’s resentment, as so often I hate being queer. I do want to be normal. I would have blathered on about how my great-grandparents’ families have produced so few in the generation below me, as some sort of excuse, or rueful exercise on the way to Acceptance…

-childlessness is just one of my failures-

Going, I held my arms bent, above the rape-plants. Returning through that field, I relax them and let the plants brush them.

This creature is beautiful. This experience- yes, all of it- is beautiful.

Trans privilege III

With a shock, I realised. She’s- working class!

I had not noticed until sitting with J and another friend of hers in her kitchen. I found their conversation of little interest. Then J complained that some people resent her large house, thinking she had “got above herself”. She often comments that she and her husband have done so much of the work on the house themselves, that she has got furniture second-hand, that her (beautiful) clothes are from charity shops. Clearly some friends do not object; but the stifling pressure of fearing being judged as “getting above yourself” might prevent a person reaching her potential, or traumatise her as she left behind her social group.

I have one particular privilege: it was expected that I would go to University, and my sister did not, initially; as our teacher my father saw that our IQ scores were similar, though I have the edge; she wanted to be a nurse, not then a degree profession, and got her nursing degree in her 40s while holding down a job and caring for a family. Though she was in rebellion against our parents in her teens, and peer pressure rather than parental expectation would have been more important. I remember writing “It is time to rebel against my parents” in my diary. I was in my thirties, or at least late twenties.

And working class boys were not expected to go to university, generally, by parents or peers, though an inspiring teacher might drive them on, and H was from her grammar school.

It is not as simple as “male privilege” that boys have more education than girls, and in any case I have squandered any advantage from my degree, and always earned less than my sister, whether because of a miasma of cis-sexism, or other psychological difficulties.

Indeed I won’t get slut-shamed, but my sexuality still frightens and confuses me, and is arguably immature as I have had little experience of adult sexual relationships.

Here is a male privilege checklist. Despite the last, I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege, I don’t think the ones relating to ones current position apply. I get read. If I am not seen as a weirdo, my fear of that is as restricting as the reality. I doubt being trans is ever an advantage in a job interview.

“If I complain to the person in charge, the person I see will be of my sex.” No. I am considering visiting my new Tory MP, to confront him about some of his attitudes. I will have power as my authentic feminine self and not otherwise. The problem here is the woman feeling powerless. She has power if she only realised it.

To me, the greatest trans privilege is my weirdness. Other people may muddle along, more or less, in conventional or fashionable ways of being, because they fit well enough. I have had the great blessing of completely not fitting, so being forced to find my True Self. (Every cloud has a silver lining.)

My emotions overwhelm me- the analogy I use, with bitter irony, is being pre-menstrual. It may be down to the hormones. I started them to feminize my appearance, not thinking they would so intensify my anger, fear and misery. But at the time, I was beginning to get in touch with my feelings, and perhaps suppressing then finding is the cause. So “We get medical treatment with unknown side-effects”. Not a privilege.

Boldini- Madame Doyen

Mindfulness

I have just chosen what to have for lunch:

Mmm. What do I want, now? I don’t yet know all that I will have, but I would like an apple. I pick it up. It is beautiful, with so many different reds, and some very slight bruising which interests rather than offending me. When I bring it close to my nose and inhale deeply, its aroma is clear. So rich!

I take a bite. I stand still and close my eyes, to be aware of it. I hear the crunch of my teeth forcing into the apple, taste its sweetness, feel its juice flowing down my throat. I chew, aware of taste and juice, and then swallow. The next bites are not so intense, but I remain aware. My apple has all my attention, while I am eating it.

What next? I choose a bread roll, with cheese. (I forgot I had Branston pickle.) I could scramble eggs, cook something more substantial, go down the street for a cooked brunch- by bicycle or walking or bus- or have oatcakes and cheese. I spend some time contemplating my bread roll, then get out the bread knife and the side-plate knife and lay them on the work-surface.

And I will have tea. 750ml in the kettle- too much? No, just what I want.

I did not breach with my usual habits, but I chose, consciously, what to have for lunch, and gave it my attention. I always have the same things, because that takes no thought at all, and nourishes my body above the acceptable minimum.

What about that damned woman? There is nothing I can do to bring us together, for an hour or a month, so I call on resentment to free myself. Try playing these games with someone who is “in your league”, and see where that gets you. What I can offer is rich, deep Love which will nourish and heal you, but if your complex feelings and past hurts get in the way, then fuck off. I hurt too, and my feelings are difficult for me.

To state the problem again, I am work-shy. While I go out into diverse social situations with pleasure, the thought of going into a place of work and doing stuff to achieve some end– warehouse work or statutory drafting, being told what to do and doing it, whether or not for money, terrifies me so much that I go into avoidance behaviour, and that if my ESA stopped I might just not bother with JSA, but curl up into a ball. I’m going to get sanctioned anyway, so why bother?

Or-

What about that wonderful woman? Possibly she will approach, and we would come together, seeing each Other; and possibly she will not, and I have no need of her. Allow the intensity of the feeling, and allow it to go. (Though I may have driven her off with two ill-judged emails. Oh No! Not the Send button! I know my judgment is less good, at midnight! If I have, I might never hear again from her. The Unknowing hurts!)

just

be-

I can’t do that with work, yet. Before I started as a solicitor, I thought- “I cannot endure this job. I have to enjoy it”. And then fought the flow and denied it, and sought my pointless illusory goals in pointless illusory ways.

Could mindfulness help me bear the world, and me in it?

Boldini, Anita de la Ferie, The Spanish Dancer

Samaritans

Samaritans be myselfPhone call to the Samaritans.

-Well, we’ve had a good long chat about your feelings.
-Are you saying you need to get on? She won’t answer that straight out. Instead, she says, carefully,

-We’re always available if you need to call us. So I said,

-I ask you a question, and you will not give me an answer. You lead me to understand that you wish to end the conversation, though I do not want that. I feel manipulated. Though I also feel quite pleased that I can state my feeling, rather than just be disappointed and acquiesce. That is new for me. Do you want to end the phone call?

(pause)
-Thank you for calling
(pause)
-Goodbye
(pause)
Click

It was only 27 minutes. What I wanted is a listening ear. I know all the fucking wisdom-bollocks.

Live in the moment.

Accept what is.

Samaritans shtI know my objections are ridiculous, but they remain my objections. Just before the call ended, I told her that I was seeing a psychotherapist on Friday, and one of my reasons for calling was to find a corner of the Gordian knot at which picking might be behovely. (Then thought that expressing that in that way was to make it beautiful for me, rather than necessarily communicative. Then thought that I am judging her as less cultured and intelligent than me.)

-Can’t you just let the session take its course?
-Oh yes! Absolutely! It will be what it will be! But I thought that stirring the pot beforehand might bring things to consciousness which might not otherwise come.

Those adverts, a guy looking really rough, unlike normal advertising picturing people the target audience aspire to be, and the caption A Samaritan helped me take control of my life. Perhaps she wants to Give Advice. Well, perhaps she will say something helpful, and perhaps I will make all the connections and she is just a listening ear. That’s good too.

Emotional turmoil. Friday, wonderful time with amazing person. Saturday, email- delight! She feels it too! Sunday tantalised, Monday immiserated- When will I see her again, if getting to one afternoon in a coffee shop takes two months! That email had warm promise, and also a list of other things she really has to do which get in the way of meeting, just like the other things which led to cancelling our last two arranged meetings and delaying the first arrangement for seven weeks. It does not help that she is more intelligent than I, as well as out of my league by every other possible measure.

A job interview!

And, having discovered and accepted my Rightness- my femininity, expressiveness, playful childlike nature, will-power, beauty,

I am left with my Wrongness, how I sit around watching TV or scrolling facebook, choleric at the shared articles, not tidying the advertising leaflets- at least not chip wrappers or dogshit, it’s not as bad as the worst home visit story I have heard- lying on my floor for the last week. I don’t see how it would improve things, or something,

and the question of What to DO????

Note the sexism of the posters. Picture of man- “A Samaritan helped me take control of my life”. Woman- “For once, I could be myself”. And I couldn’t.

1000 speak is up again.

Fenny Drayton

St Michael's Church Fenny Drayton from the south west

Pilgrimage with Quakers to Fenny Drayton, where George Fox was born. There is a pretty church, with 13th century bits and some additions.

Some Purefoy or other

There is this huge monument to some local bigwig or other who died in the 16th century, so the spectacle of his wives and children praying round him is subversive for the time. Here he is, either looking up his wife’s skirts or contemplating the family crest:

Fenny Drayton, a view of the family crest

East of the rood screen, there is another Purefoy monument, from the early 17th century, in Latin. I can’t remember whether it is East of the altar rail or not. The other arch contains a Hagioscope, or Leper-window, partly sealed up, where undesirables could have seen the celebration of the Eucharist from a concealed place, so that they would not disturb the decent worshippers.

Fenny Drayton, two arches

The effect is to turn a place of worship into a memorial for the Purefoy family. Paul did not object, seeing it as a historical accident. I find it disturbing centuries later. George Fox was christened here and would have known these huge monuments. Perhaps this church helped form our testimony to Equality.