I lost Jake as a friend when I lost his benefits tribunal. You should not do tribunals for friends. He observed that I related to the tribunal chairman (before they called themselves “judges”) like teacher and pet, as if I awoke protective instincts in him.
In the horrible not-Quaker meeting at Cardiff, when I was overseer, I noticed that people tended to go into the kitchen to chat before meeting: so that the entrance hall was empty. This was not welcoming for people arriving, especially visitors. So I stayed in the hall. I felt terribly artificial, talking to people, so often. I was going to write that I am fine with people new to me if I have a rôle to play, such as in an interview, and not otherwise, but that is not quite it. I can be so artificial, using a constrained, small-talk manner, with people I have talked to several times. Like this morning, with Z- her female partner was just behind her.
I know Y, a rather doddery 70 year old, who turns on the charm something rotten with me though he can be brutally curt with his wife. He is so good at it, this playful sweetness, that I like it as well as not liking it. Mmm. Charm- creating and deepening friendships- good; flirting- sexual- bad. Um.
Oh, and there’s another bloke who seems to have the same protective instincts- up to a point, anyway. I met his three daughters, who seem pleasant girls- the oldest is teenage; I have no reason to suspect any problems in his relationship with his wife whom I have not met, and it does not feel sexual, exactly, though the protectiveness has a masculine-with-feminine feel to me. Oh, the desire to classify- it is not the same as the previous interactions, but it has a similar feel.
Not sure about this.
It seemed to me that this artificiality was a relic of my absolute need to hide my gender identity and sexuality, which so affected my ways of relating to other people that it still afflicts me. I hate what seems artificiality- seems, I am feeling my way here- and if I seek to get beneath it, Become Authentic, “let my hair down” I feel intensely vulnerable and ridiculous. It is flirting, it is sexual, it is taboo-
I hate it! I can’t stand the distance or the closeness!
Breathe. It is nice to have a wee tantrum here like that. Out comes the Inner Critic, for whom everything about me is rotten. It is not some great Spiritual Journey here, taking my clothes off, forsooth, but an attempt to get someone to rescue me. To invoke the protective instincts.
Someone observed that I am naturally extrovert but appear introverted because of my difficulty relating.
Oh, bugger. Being normal, talking to people like a normal person- er, what’s it like?
Photos by Richard Bartz