Hospital

Mound-I woke in a world ruled by women.

I leaned forward, conspiratorially. “You like that, don’t you?” His face changed, a fierce joy in admitting something one does not, normally.

-They’re not aggressive like we are.
-Like we’re supposed to be.

And then S came back, and we talked of other things. I wanted to get back to this subject, but could not get him to talk of it, though I alluded to it later when we were alone. It occurs to me that if we do not have an accepted cultural way of expressing this, and are forced to find our own ways- there is no “Community”- I might find other ways of expressing it painful and embarrassing. Androphile and gynephile trans women can bicker about which are the real, or primary, transsexuals, and oppression by kyriarchy could divide us, rather than bringing us together. I have fear to overcome before I can empathise.

I walked along the North Bridge, and took photos of Calton Hill, and it seemed to me that I was monitoring all my movements, all my responses, like a spy in a foreign country. I must not express myself in my body-language. It seems this is my normal way of being, inwardly focused all the time, and it seemed to me a small child’s way of being, and I could just stop. I reset myself, into Presence. I am here, now, and OK as I am. The poison becomes the medicine.

I took my father out. We used his walking frame, designed for indoors only, and we walked out of the ward to the lifts, down to the ground floor, out the main doors and to a bench about twenty yards away, to sit in the sun. I love my father. I hate to see how he is fading away, his judgment impaired, his walking unsteady, and now he has had his third minor stroke. He broods, unhappily, about the past and gets disoriented. And- he is still alive, and I get to hug him, once a year or so. His stroke is the excuse for my current visit.

Then I took the bus back to Princes St., and spent some time trying to photograph the gulls flocking by the shopping mall. One picture worked. To the Royal Scottish Academy summer exhibition (no photography, unfortunately). There is a video of a woman’s face- “Study of a face perceiving itself”. She looks down, then glances up at the monitor, slightly to the side of the camera. She could be nervous or irritated. She is not beautiful or stylish, but she draws me in, and I am high on art. It is speaking to me directly, and moving me. There are eight discs of polished stone- gneiss, basalt?- on the wall, which are beautiful, and a sculpture of a mud-monster walking with thick legs and arms. His expression could be threat or perplexity. I got chatting to an Irishman, who agreed some of it is beautiful and immediate, and some just dull. A “Stewart’s Cream of the Barley” whisky bottle, with words blacked out so it reads “wart Cream”; and a metal tripod supporting a rock over a round metal bowl filled with water and, surprisingly, weeds and rocks- I love the contrast. When it swings- the man’s wife pulls on it, to my consternation then delight- it does so majestically.

A cure for anger

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/John_Everett_Millais_-_The_rescue_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/706px-John_Everett_Millais_-_The_rescue_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgI want to be loved and happy, and to feel I am doing something worthwhile.

Awareness plus compassion gives Choice.

Three of us are ANGRY now, a furious miserable anger- everything could have been alright, and it Can’t be, now, at least not that simple and instant way. Our anger can create nothing: anger with ourselves- I/she could/should, anger with the weak fool we care for. There is no point in being angry. And yet we are, and we niggle at each other. Mourning the loss of possibilities.

On facebook, I see a Nelson Mandela quote: As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. Well, yes. Er, how?

I need to let this feeling go, but not deny it; I need to accept it and myself in the World- this happens, and more is possible.

Oh, that exercise is so potent. Choose someone in the group, and look into their eyes. The trouble is that the other person may have chosen someone else; and others may also have chosen her.

Memory is not trustworthy. I remember S being in conflict with a colleague, and wanting her sacked because she was useless, and worried that the colleague would complain about S, because S had failed with some trivial matter. I learned this in conversation about two years ago. And now, S has a colleague who does not pull her weight and gets bogged down in unnecessary matters, but has no idea of any fight or particular problem in the past. So, “I http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Millais_The_Order_of_Release_1746.jpgdid”, “I said”, excuses and reasons and justifications, have no value or reality: they cannot change the situation now, and they might never have existed.

Then, say to that person: The essence I see in you is… The way you express it is… Some of us are not chosen, and I almost ignore the one who chose me, and cannot speak to the one I chose as others are speaking to her. So, again give up. This illustrates my patterns so beautifully.

I say my piece in the group share. The essence I see in you is charisma, the way you express it is Being. Then Menis asks, and how do you see yourself. I wanted to explain, and he would not let me- shell and vulnerable bit within, centre of the Universe and Worthless; and he would not let me. So I speak from my vulnerable bit, my authentic self.

 I am fragile, beautiful, loveable. 

I am a Survivor. I am safe. 

I am OK as I am, and

I am just beginning to enjoy it!

Others have other words for me, seeing my courage, strength, patience and love. This is what to remember. And- I see something in another, because it is in me.

We mill, face people in turn. We imagine that they are someone from our past, and say something to that person for closure.

Mum, I hold your hand rather than reading, at your deathbed.
Dad, our femininity is OK.
The woman I loved, who terrified me, thank you for all you taught me.
The man I used to be, it will be alright. All your feelings are OK.

The cure for my anger is hope.

Using the rules

File:La Belle Dame Sans Merci2.jpgWhat do I want? To be loved and happy, to feel I am doing something worthwhile.

My exercise was to watch people struggling with a puzzle, first in a group discussion, then individually, and not be able to say anything, just watch my feelings. I felt terribly frustrated. I knew what they should do, and could not assist- frantic gestures, come on come on just a wee way more, were within the letter of the rules but were deprecated.

How might I need less to fix others and help them? One becomes an instant expert on friends’ relationship and work problems, but ones own persist. Possibly by seeing it differently: people are so difficult to fix, that the slightest improvement is to be celebrated; and perhaps they should decide what being fixed looks like, or learn from their own mistakes. Sometimes the journey has value- though my own has been so painful, that can be hard to believe.

I recognise this is a pattern which arises in my life, but in the context of this workshop it became so much clearer. Person suffering and getting it wrong, me with the wisdom to understand exactly how it could be put right. Harry Enfield nailed it years ago.

Or even, I could use my family patterns.

Now, I am playing with words and understandings. What happened? What did it feel like? How could that feeling be better? It felt as if I http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/The_Banshee.jpgmissed an opportunity on my first group share, and it could have led to a better understanding, a new technique. Menis challenged me to say that I love and accept myself, and I did. I wanted to say it truthfully, but after, it felt wrong, it felt that I had said it hypocritically: this is the thing I have to say, here, now, the right way to appear, so I say it. I do not love myself, really. I am still trapped in the rules.

That is my family way of doing things. We find out what the rules are, and obey them, in order to have a quiet life. I dreamed of that: two dreams in which I know the rules, and the powerful people circumvent them so take away the advantage the rules should give me. It is not fair.

Now it seems that this is OK. The rule is to say I love and accept mysxelf, and so I can say I love and accept myself. This is a good thing. Fake it to make it. “You’re just saying that”- well, at least I am saying it.

Mmm. Positive thinking about positive thoughts. Am I boring you?

I was a lawyer, and have done useful things with law since. That story was again on my mind- using the materials to get what I want– Oh, my anger and frustration came out, because doing it as well and effectively as I wished was a rare experience. I did want perfection, after all.

So, use the family trait. The rules are not as I saw them. The rules for better living are, say “I love and accept myself”; insofar as is possible, love and accept myself; do not try to fix others obsessively, though if I notice something useful I can do I can try it, not being attached to a particular outcome; and have mercy on myself. Ah. Good rules. Try those.

“Have mercy on yourself”, said Menis, quietly and urgently.

Celebrating the male Mother

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/Chopin_1838.pngI need words, for how may I see without them?

I have something utterly beautiful, sweet, vulnerable, precious, fragile, creative, and I need to describe it. It is male: it is proper to, and the common experience of, some people with testicles. It is Feminine in the best sense of that word. It is well known, for we have many words for it: sissy or submissive, which I have put in my permalink in a flagrant attempt at attracting searches. Our words are contemptuous: “she wears the trousers in a relationship”, he is a “male lesbian“, he is a sissy.

Our sexuality is a part of this, and there are spaces for it, and we feel ashamed as we seek them out. The internet offerings are porn sites and professional dominatrix sites: it may be that there are fewer women able to make a satisfying relationship with us than there are of us, or they know and accept themselves even less than we do.

There is an ideal of manhood, the warrior male, and so rather than being seen as having an equal and alternative way of being male, I am seen as an inadequate male. Just as with homophobia, I internalise that, desperate to fit the ideal of manhood.

I am slightly different. I am a trans woman, a trans lesbian, and I see the continuity in the spectrum from men with no desire to File:Die junge George Sand.jpgtransition who want a woman to wear the trousers. That perplexed and distressed me- seeing the maleness of my way of being, I wondered if my desire to transition was just a diseased fantasy (as if I needed yet another reason to wonder that). By the way, it isn’t.

We want a woman to wear the trousers. Or-

WHAT?

How may I put this positively? Casting around for positive role-models, at one moment I consider the camp gay male, but that is not it. That is not me. That is not this man I am thinking of.

-who want a woman who complements them, and allows their eldritch fey feminine to blossom and flourish.

My culture is deficient, and suffers for it. We need a way of delighting in this wonderful gift, or otherwise it becomes a curse.

Looking for pictures has been so difficult. Chopin seems to fit; but I cannot think of another, and looking under “fop”, “dandy” or “effeminate” does not seem to produce another, so I pick Georges Sand faute de mieux. This RuPaul quote is spot on: There is a definite prejudice towards men who use femininity as part of their palate; their emotional palate, their physical palate. Is that changing? It’s changing in ways that don’t advance the cause of femininity. I’m not talking frilly-laced pink things or Hello Kitty stuff. I’m talking about goddess energy, intuition and feelings. That is still under attack, and it has gotten worse. But RuPaul did not seem to fit, following the drag queen tradition, normally gay. The gynephilia of my group feels intensely important.

Something has happened, which brings this into terribly sharp relief for me. I had lunch with Liz, and said that I have to be authentic, and self-accepting, and to integrate myself. I found it difficult to get the word authentic out without verbally putting ironic quote marks round it, mocking myself. But it is true, and saying it gets easier.

Hell

File:HansMemlingHell.jpgHell is a popular topic on wordpress: ten posts in under ten hours. Someone calls his home state “Hellannoy”, and there is deathless poetry:

living in my 2Ă—2 cell of private hell
days spent listening for freedom’s bell
i loved you with my broken heart
your love just fractured it farther apart

Milton’s claim about “Rhime being no necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse” is conclusively disproved.

Reformedstudies sees Hell as a real threat:

When was the last time you shared your faith with an unbeliever?

Approximately 150,000 – 200,000 people die every day, and most of them are perishing into a hopeless, Christless eternity. There are two great tragedies in this: first, these people have wasted their lives and will spend eternity separated from the only source of everlasting joy. Second, and most importantly, these are people who owed worship and allegiance to Almighty God, and who instead of honoring their Creator as He deserves, they spent their time worshiping lesser things.

Do you care? If you claim to care, do your actions back up that claim?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0a/Hellmouth.jpgMy point of agreement with him is that following Christ must involve making our lives in this world better. My disagreement is about “Satan the god of this world”- I see little pure evil; most people are doing our best under difficult circumstances, and evil acts come from damage not wickedness.

And in the trenches of this [spiritual] war, if I had to choose between standing beside a doctrinally-confused Arminian who is willing to preach the Gospel, or a fellow Calvinist who thinks it’s not his job to share Christ crucified, I’d take the Arminian any day of the week. My Christianity is further from his than the Arminian’s.

Clay was born again. I was born again on 14 February 1999- in the John 3:3 sense, but not necessarily the Born Again sense- but Clay has a time, 10am. Having rejected God’s offer of salvation over and over during my 52 years – an offer I was well-versed in, File:- Google Art Project.jpgas I grew up hearing the gospel preached time and again – I was without hope and bound to spend eternity that way. And, as I believe in a literal hell as described in the Bible, that’s where my rejection would have landed me. Now, Clay is headed for Heaven, which is like:
think of the greatest thing that could ever happen to you – winning the world’s biggest lottery; …– and multiply it by the largest number you can think of.

Clay’s Christianity has much in common with my own. He has peace, purpose and blessing in his life, now. The fundamental difference is what happens to the non-Christians.

I debated with Andrew about Hell. Huffington Post had six things Christians should stop saying including “Jesus is the only way to Heaven”. Andrew disagrees: what he says instead is “Christological claims to exclusivity for salvation” is an “essential doctrine”. Perhaps he thinks we should use longer words. I tried to get him to admit that most of those 150,000 a day would be going to Hell, if that were true, and he refused to say that. Possibly God would save infants and the mentally disabled, but capax adults had only Christ, which is tough on the Buddhists. “I can do nothing but speak the truth” says Andrew, but he avoids the H-word almost completely. “I don’t take the doctrine of Hell lightly.” I find Reformedstudies more honest.

As for me, I am with Origen and possibly CS Lewis on apokatastasis, the final reconciliation of all created things to God.

Oh, and here is a site with “science” in its address, on Hell.

Moral thinking

armaments don't give securityCan reading moral philosophy help my own morality?

I am consequentialist. An action is good insofar as it promotes the flourishing of human beings. If I accept certain rules, such as the principles of natural justice, that is because I can find consequentialist arguments for them. I would find an ought from an is: because this is a good result, it follows that we ought to seek it- unless my definition of “good” makes that a circular argument.

Moral philosophy might help me discomfit opponents: a blog said homosexuality is Wrong, and a comment called the blogger’s thinking “deontological”. That might be a good tactic, to bamboozle another with long words. But how much of my morality comes from moral rules? Is my belief in the equal value of human beings a moral rule? I could make that consequentialist: another human being has more value to me as a free collaborator than as a slave to do my will.

Is gay sex immoral? Clearly not. Next question. The claim that it is causes suffering. But then, I would say that wouldn’t I. Here is a conservative evangelical who says that her lot are far too obsessed with us queers. She heard a sermon about gay sex indicating “relational brokenness” and believes the preacher should have considered instead sex before marriage, adultery, divorce and remarriage, and many other inappropriate relationships that permeate the Christian church. I agree that if preaching against sexual temptation a preacher is better to address the temptations of the whole congregation rather than a small part of it, but-

She met a man recently who had left his wife, because she had the same chronic condition from which the blogger suffers. My heart goes out to both women. Having freely vowed “til death us do part”, he should have kept his word; but just possibly she has as much self interest in preaching about other sexual sins as I have. I do not imply that her husband is considering leaving her, merely that it is easiest to empathise with a person when you can imagine yourself in her position.

Even when I seek what is “Right”, or what has the best consequences, having been socialised into civilisation, there may be self-interest there. That is why Quakers have such involved ritual and myth around our decision making. Yesterday, having ate together at my meeting house, we sat in silence, then spoke to matters of business one by one, each knowing that we must set aside self-interest in seeking the Good, and having experienced the Good emerging before. We minuted a decision only when we could unite behind it.

A modified ritual is available for an individual who wishes to make a decision, to sit in worshipful silence with others and seek together for the Right.

Integrating

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/Hikonebyobu.pngI decided to be completely open in my last counselling session: no games, no resistance, just answering honestly. It was better than that.

Early on, I found myself expatiating on evidence based medicine. Sit back, crossed legs. This is not what I want. I sit forward, legs slightly apart, left elbow resting on left leg, palm up. Open. I want to be Open.

I want to be open all the time. I want to be this open, and- playful. I want to integrate that discussion mode with this, so that I slip between them and mixtures of them, rather than the effort of changing- it really feels it is an effort, an act of courage. It needs practice. I talk to her, openly, but with eyes closed and slowly, and in a higher register of my voice- here is the ultra-femininity of my Real Self.

Later, I get upset. I feel [word], [word], [word]- Rejected. “Rejected” took effort. Ah. It is a judgment. Notice that, how hard it is. I am judging others, things outside me.

We talk about previous counselling. My last long series of sessions ended in 2009 with “The monster will get me”. That is child-language, says Yvonne. Well, yes, it is my mother- and since then I have moved on, I see that she really did her best. I have forgiven her.

Look after yourself, she says. No. The shell is my protection, a wall through which I cannot touch another, or be touched. I want to get rid of it completely. I am Safe– until I am not: in the world we are OK, generally, our fear gets in the way.

What do you have to look forward to?
-I am going camping.

 I want to work on my self-acceptance and integration.

Ah! I have a desire! Something I Want! Not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself. Hope would be hope for the wrong thing- work on this, a bit, and maybe I will want something else.

Could I see her again? She will speak to Dr Lambert- but she reformulates this until it is just, she would see me again if the GP and I both think it worthwhile, which is trite.

Godfrey said it is good to have a structure: he has a day out each week. I could not afford to go to the V&A for a day out- or I could, but the money might run out. He thinks in my doldrums I could consider voluntary work. Mmm. I will go on as I am, for a bit.

I leave, feeling quite good. I find you can get to the lock by going past the Diamond centre, and go to take photographs.

What my camera can do

Prow

Prow 2I love this building. I love where it is, and approaching it, and especially its design, and my optic system can do so much more to appreciate it, than my camera can do. Fortunately I have a digital camera, so can take those hundred shots for one picture. What picture can I take which best communicates that love?

As I look down through the planking, I see the sunshine making a ripple-effect on the lake bed, and reflecting on the surface. My eye moves, and unconsciously I edit out the planks, taking in what I see through the gaps. The photograph shows

Decking

something quite different from my experience, though it might be thought pretty. Similarly with the whole building: I have an impression of it which is different from a realist picture, which is hard to failCygnetsconvey in a snap. The acute angle at the corner of the decking looks particularly like a prow, and yet point and shoot at the building and deck produces something I find dull, without that feeling. It might look better with the tables and chairs, or even people.

Lying down looking up at those shrouds produces something more satisfying.

What do you think?

CentreOh! Cygnets!

Bedford II

river

lamppostIt is lovely to approach Bedford town centre along the River Great Ouse. I had plenty of time to notice things, like the view of the church from that bridge, or the knitting dressing the lampposts and benches. The woman I asked said it could be something to do with the Race for Life at the weekend- or just joie de vivre.

Bedford has three amateur orchestras and a chamber music society, and sufficient shops and facilities for reasonable needs all within walking distance. London is close enough by train. I put off writing this post for two days, unable to face it.

What did I expect? What would anything else look like? I was in a rush for the bus, then hot in it, and a driver shouted at me after I crossed the road too brazenly for her. I shouted back. I got to Godfrey’s house, west of the park, at the time agreed. He got it in 1970: it called to him even from the newspaper. He lives there with his male “friend”-
-Partner?
-Partner? he repeats, non-committally.

I sat in the large living room with its grand piano, a classical sonata of Beethoven on the stand, chatting, after we had effectively agreed to go our separate ways. So much for mentoring with the Friends Fellowship of Healing. Well, he was appointed my “mentor” a year ago, and I have not done anything to contact him, really, before today.

We went up to his healing room, and I talked of my ambivalence. There is a definite experience of warmth, and it seems little more than placebo. I do not like the showmanship, claims spoken in apparent certainty.

Do I want to exercise my compassion? That feels wrong to me, egoist, it is as if I step out of the way when healing, it is not my gift to my patient but a phenomenon which feeds and delights me as I share in it rather than give it. Though that might just be a hand-me-down idea I have picked up somewhere, not what I think at all but something shiny that seemed attractive- so I pretend to it, not recognising my own hypocrisy. Oh, I am so confused.

Why have I not been in touch? Oh, I did not like the course, or Elizabeth leading it, and Claridge House appeared stuck in the 1950s, though there is hope with its new manager. He mentions the lack of money for en-suite rooms, but it is not just the bedrooms. Feeling the need to justify myself to him, though I do not know anything I want from him or this meeting- “see what happens” is not good enough-

I explained to him about my sensitivity. I am not seeking to suppress it now. That feels like greater understanding and freedom. Justifying to myself: I am doing something worthwhile, now.

One other thing, he said something about “protection” when outside. This revolts me, actually. Outside, I am safe. There are few lost, violent souls about, more dangerous to themselves than to me, needing my compassion rather than my fear. (Acting good to myself, again?) No. No protection: I want to perceive the light and glory and beauty and darkness, I want to be Open not closed, even walking down the street.

I suppose I wanted rescued and to be told what to do, and as I did not ask for anything I have severed the link myself. He surprised me- “Can I see you again, if I feel the need?” Of course, he said- but it is I who have left him. As I had an hour before the bus, he told me the less direct and prettier route to the bus station.