-How do you feel? What do you want?
My friend is not unsympathetic, yet still I cannot speak. I cannot find words, cannot squeeze words out, cannot even think of what I might say. I have shared personal experience here, experience of being suicidal, of female embodiment fantasies, and now I am reliving a personal experience I cannot describe myself. Under the protective cover my feelings are boiling, but I cannot name even to myself what they are.
When a friend heard you speak she was unimpressed. She, and I, disagree with you. She wondered why you spoke in abstractions rather than talking of personal experience; and I know, because you have shared some of your personal experience with me. Some personal experience is too traumatic to share- certainly publicly. From what you have shared I imagine you feeling chronically powerlessness in the face of deadly threat. Chad Sanders says why he does not want to talk about his feelings right now, in a way that might fit you: When you tell me I can share my feelings with you, it is an act of forced intimacy and prods at the detachment I’ve purposefully built up over time. You force me to excavate deeply painful feelings I’ve buried for my sanity.
How could either of us persuade others? I share personal experience. Thereby I awaken empathy in my audience. They may relate better to me as a human being. They see I am harmless and hurting, and they want to help. Though even this sharing makes me a supplicant, makes my acceptance conditional on being winsome, rather than taken as a right. How much worse to share personal experience and for it to be a reason to doubt you. Well, you are hurt, and so you are lashing out. No, you do not need protection, instead others need protection from you.
Just as I am, you are standing up for your rights and the rights of vulnerable people. My personal experience chimes with the views of this audience, can be used as evidence that what they thought was right. Your failure to share yours is held up as reason to dismiss you, even though if you shared it, it would be dismissed as not enough.
Then there is the abstract reasoning, which does not persuade them either. Well, you are wrong, and while you will gain passionate adherents, and others are moving to use you for their own purposes, all the good, nice decent people will agree with me. That’s because you ask for something which will do you no good and harm others including me, but it’s still your decision.
I was frustrated because, as usual, there was difficulty connecting to zoom, and the way I thought I would get round that difficulty didn’t work. And then I was wordless. I could say nothing to her.
I am sure this is an echo of the past. It does not relate to the current situation. In the past my desperate desire meets incomprehension, and there is no chance I will get what I want. So whether it is impotent rage, frustration or misery, the feeling is too painful to admit, and I neither want to say “Yes, you’re right” to the Powerful one, nor express pain which will not be heard. If I swallow the desire, and say nothing I have minimal dignity. I don’t think just one disappointment could have the effect this seems to have on me.
And it echoes now. I cannot speak. I can swallow. I can suppress. I can’t say what I want, or how I feel, I can’t trust myself or the other to find a way forward (emotionally. Trusting myself and the other intellectually, which I do, is not enough.)
This is part of my desire to hide away. This lack of trust, this fear, protects me from disappointment at the cost of- everything, really. And the disappointment in the past has hurt so much that I appear willing to pay that price. Could I find a way to trust?