Your kiss on my forehead reassures me I am loved, valued and cared for, and therefore that I am Loveable, which I continually doubt. It is like a spell from the good fairy: you warm and reassure me. Jean told me to repeat

I am loved, loving and loveable

which I could almost accept intellectually; and now I have had that heartfelt experience of feeling loveable, I may realise it.


Do you know, I continually wrong you?

We hugged, and you kissed my bare skin; and I left, and was so distressed I phoned another to unload my misery. As a person is presumed to intend the consequences of her actions, I felt you were toying with or torturing me: how could you not know how I would be affected?

And yet I wrong you. Why on Earth would you torture me like that, if you have any awareness of my feelings at all? That image of you gave me a pang; I wanted to look at it; then I wanted to look at it again. I think, a woman aware of inspiring such feelings and not wanting them would not do this.

There may be mixed messages, and yet that kiss is unequivocal. There may be a lack of trust- in the World, if not in me- but there is affection there. That is what I want. I too find trusting difficult, yet my trust and love may permit yours.


At the Frank Auerbach exhibition at Tate Britain there is a glorious coup de théâtre. The first room, from the 1950s, has his thickly layered paint up to an inch from the board or canvas, down to the canvas level, a sculpture yet also a two-dimensional painting. And there is this self-portrait, peering through the London smog or rain. The diagonal smears on his shirt echo those in the background, as if he is submerged in it; yet there is a beautiful sensitivity to the portrait; and he looks straight out at us. He is confident enough. All the paintings in this room are near monochrome. This sensitivity is a burden.

Frank Auerbach self portrait 1958

In the second room, all is in the brightest colours. In the 1960s, he makes his unique paintings with complete self-confidence. “They make my mouth water,” said a woman. I find them beautiful. That combination of sensitivity and exuberant self-confidence is difficult to pull off, yet irresistible. I may yet manage it.


That kiss on the forehead. Some self-confidence is necessary to accept the other kiss as a gift rather than a curse. Both are gifts, and I am grateful. They open me to the intensity of my feelings, which are also gifts. I want to be this open, because otherwise I am dead.

If you come from transiness, welcome. Lovely to meet you.

4 thoughts on “Open

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