Imagine everyone in straitjackets, all tight-laced up the back. I cannot loosen my own straitjacket at all, but I can loosen yours slightly- though it is very hard work, and I am so concerned with my own bonds that I do not want to address yours. If I loosen yours slightly, then you might loosen mine a bit, and eventually I might be able to loosen my own. I am aided to accept myself if others accept me. I can deal with non-acceptance from others, but that needs my own self-acceptance, and that in turn needs some acceptance from others.
I posted that on Facebook, and Z responded with a long warm message of how if others do not accept me it is their loss. I am grateful. How does acceptance by others interact with acceptance by self?
I journey into self-acceptance from a place where my instincts and spontaneous reactions were entirely wrong, probably inculcated in early childhood. When I transitioned, I was accepted, and treated warmly, in the Quaker meeting and the Citizens Advice Bureau where I worked, and random insults in the streets from strangers meant far more to me than that. The insult would affect me for days. I went back to the Scottish Country Dancing in South Manchester, and was a little late. I was putting on my dancing shoes when a man came in, and as he took off his coat he said hello. I smiled at him and he-
He read me in that moment. I am certain of it. I do not think he was comfortable with a trans woman in the club. I never asked him about it, and nothing was ever said, but with fifty million years of evolution as a social animal, I trust my instincts on this.
It is normal for women to dance on the man’s side, there are usually more women than men, but in Cardiff the SCD class I attended had a number of poor dancers who insisted on dancing on the women’s side. So I danced on the man’s side until I got too upset with this, and burst into tears. My inner critic told me I was indulging in manipulative play-acting, and I was upset. I am not a man. I was welcomed there, accepted, I danced on the women’s side. One of the men- I noticed I was flirting with him, noticed my words and body-language, and was uncomfortable and embarrassed at my own reaction. I was frightened, I felt ridiculous, I feared being snubbed.
I am at least two beings, the one who cries and the one who reacts with contempt and fear at the crying, and the latter seems more under conscious control to me- I can consciously work out that I need to react with compassion to my own crying as I would react with compassion to someone else’s, it is behovely to do so, I can choose to do so. And if I do, if I accept my own anger, the anger grows less, like a child no longer clamours for attention once heard.
I am accepted by others. I want to pay that my full attention, to hear it, to take it in to myself. It aids me in my work of self-acceptance. I am not accepted by everyone. I am sensitive to that on a semi-conscious level, and it raises echoes in me.
Actually, now I am adult, I think none of those internal restraints are profitable. They hold down my emotional reactions, which get stronger to be heard; I do not feel and accept the emotions, so old emotion comes up and clouds my judgment.
“Sensei- Rei” comes the command. Already kneeling, we put our foreheads to the floor. This morning (Sunday 23rd) I felt moved to do that in the Quaker meeting.
On my mind was the thought of being two, and how this did not work for me. Terry pressed on me his copy of Self-Hypnosis for Cosmic Consciousness, a way of attaining mystical experiences which the author, Ronald A Havens, PhD., believes are accessible and beneficial to any human being, and not connected to any God. I thought how that more conscious I resisted, and how the more unconscious I prevailed: in transitioning to female, in my current Refusal.
I thought, “I must submit. It is the only way out of this impasse.” First I put my hands together in the prayer pose- Gasshô, Reiki practitioners call it- then felt moved to kneel, and finally to put my forehead on the floor. This is not my final surrender, and it is a step towards it.
“This is silly and self-indulgent” said Johanna my inner critic, and I thought, yes, and isn’t it Wonderful! And- what I loathe and detest in myself is my Submissiveness, and this is where my Submissiveness fits, and has value, and is Good, good for me and good generally. It would not have been possible but for that kneeling in the Dojo, and that kneeling is my habitual posture in my Ritual space. And I feel fear of that submission.
Driving home, Terry talked of severing the corpus callosum, and how the different hemispheres had different personalities. Well, yes. That is my favourite Materialist explanation of the Muse, or the Inspiration of the Spirit. So it could be two halves of my brain, in conflict. This puts me- conscious-I, I suppose- in fear and withdrawal. And yet I feel and think that Submission is my path.
Acceptance is submission.
Or, at least, I have opened negotiations with a characteristic of myself, that submissiveness, which I have found vile, in an attempt to find its value, respect it, and integrate it in a better-functioning self.