My head is a safe space for my insanity.
I do not know that woman. I catch glimpses of her. I have heard the evidence of her formidable intellect. I have seen no sign of her hurt, though I have heard of difficult experiences she has had. I see a self-contained individual with a face on which I have not read emotion, though I would not aver that it does not show feeling.
I am being careful. I must not insult her. Not knowing her, I can create a myth from the inklings I have about her, for my own use, about human possibility- about what is possible for me; or understanding myself by contrast. The construct I create in my own mind for this purpose is that self-contained, not impassive but calm in appearance, controlled person. The real person is no more an archetype than I am, but I use thoughts of her to get in touch with an archetype, one who does not show emotion immoderately.
I greatly value conventionality. It is important to me to appear normal, and when I do not manage that I am distressed. The impassive, non-reacting individual, making the right response to any stimulus- garbage in, the appropriate thing out- is who I must be, for my own survival. I have achieved that by suppressing all feeling that does not produce my correct response. That is, I was middle-aged at five and have been growing younger since. I have locked parts of myself away, and the guardian dragons have been my fear resulting from horrible childhood experiences which I could not resist or process at the time. I had been incapable as a child, and felt I would always be incapable. But I am an adult now.
There is so much in me that does not fit that conventional stereotype, and I called it on Sunday morning “insanity” and now I call it “chaos”. It is not integrated. I am semi-conscious of parts which I find rebarbative, and so it bursts out of me, demanding to be heard. If I can accept all of my humanity, then it will emerge for the community as my love and creativity direct, for Good.
I spoke twice in the meetings for worship at the Quaker Life Representative Council. The weekend was about children’s meetings, and I spoke on Saturday morning about being a deep, rich soil for children to grow in. People appreciated the metaphor, I know because they told me. One or two told me they appreciated my speech on Sunday morning. Possibly it was ministry. That is, it was where I was, and it powerfully articulated that for me, drawing on what others had said; and possibly it had value for others. I said, my head is a safe space for my insanity, spoke a little about that which I can’t remember, then said I had a choice of words:
my full humanity.
I can’t yet. My fear and distrust of myself inhibits my consciousness of myself. Then aspects of myself are distorted, and express in rebarbative ways. I am a chaotic individual. The way to sanity and integrity is to pass through that chaos. My love and creativity will protect me, and reduce the harm I do others. As I love and accept the chaos, it becomes less threatening or dangerous.
In “Gifts and Discoveries”, a Quaker course from 1988 which I did in the early Noughties, we meditated on the story of the Gadarene swine. When we were told to imagine ourselves as the madman called “Legion” looking into the eyes of Jesus, I ran to another room and curled in a ball on the floor. My friend Beck, a children’s social worker, came after me and gently laid her hand on my shoulder.
I am now the human curled in a ball in terror, and the human laying a gentle hand- making contact in Love. In meditation on Friday that terrified human was pain and sadness, but being in touch with it was sweet. This morning, it was playing: I want the rules and regs of Quakers, which we are about to rewrite, to be so beautiful we give them to new enquirers to inspire them to join us.
Yesterday I saw Lucie from Shaw Trust, paid by the DWP to get me back to work. I told her something of my mindfulness experiences. Don’t teach me to suck eggs.