I met U by the urn when I went to make coffee. I touched the kettle with my wrist, burning it slightly- halfwit- but did not want to interrupt the interaction.
-Give us a hug.
She will not, because I have asked in that way. It is like an order, a claim, and she does not respond well to orders. -But it is just a way of speaking, I would not order you- No buts. Even though she would like a hug, she will not share one unless I rephrase. Oh, OK.
-May I have a hug?
We hug. We have long hugs in this group generally, but U and I have particularly long hugs. I cannot remember what we were talking about, but she objected to something I said, and tapped me lightly on the back of the head.
-You hit me!
-It was a love-tap.
This time I will not let it go. You can’t just hit people! And neither will she. It was a love-tap. It was completely unobjectionable. I went off to cry in the bunkhouse- where I met S, who listened and cared and shared, and then S came and looked after us both.
I did a share in the large group. I am not here, I said, to have a relaxing weekend with friends. I am here to experience intense human interaction so I can get better at it. It takes courage for me to be here.
Up go the hands, in the I Love you sign. Lots of hands. I chortle delightedly, indicating them. -Ha! A full set!!
The day before was a Goddess workshop taster, and I got Kuan Yin, Bodhisattva of compassion. The picture I had was simpler, even prettier and more feminine. Speaking in the group, I felt self-conscious in speaking in a very high voice, and saying that I had met her, and she had put her white robe on me. And it felt right.
“You’ve changed,” said Anna. “All the anger has gone from you.”
I emailed U, saying “I ask your kindness. I do not feel you were kind to me this morning.” I dare to say that this, and my preferring to stroke Talking Tom than hit him, and other reactions, are “feminine”.
Can you imagine how much hurt and baggage I have around that? I have called it weakness. Remembering the example of Thomas Hardy’s character Christian Cantle, who was weak, stupid and cowardly and called these characteristics the virtue of Christian Meekness, I am wary of naming a weakness or vice as a virtue or positive characteristic. I tried to make a man of myself for 34 years, which took me to ridiculous places- a court solicitor who hates conflict, forsooth! Still I am wary of being this feminine, which feels so achingly vulnerable. And the Radfems would leap on it, saying I have no right to say what is “feminine”, the word is Patriarchal and I am an Oppressor. Being who I am is so wrong, in so many ways!
The compliment which has delighted me most over the last forty years is, “You can be serious, but underneath it all you are a joyful, playful child”. This weekend, I have amended that:
I am a joyful, playful adult.
I am feminine. Please tell me it is alright for me to call myself “feminine”!
That burn was superficial, two days later the redness is nearly gone. And- it was in the shape of a heart, on my wrist.