My mother did not allow me to develop a personality independent from hers. My attitudes, opinions and desires matched hers. I rarely had any idea what I was feeling. Though we had moved several times, and local people spoke with a different accent, I spoke with hers, and still do. She died when I was 29, and years after that I decided it was time to rebel against my parents. I last voted the way they voted in 2010, though my politics had been diverging for years.
Do not resent the world.
Dance with it.
I still do not know who I am, but I am learning. I do not fit the mask my mother clamped on me. I am fey and feminine, and my mother brought me up to make a man of myself. The enmeshed relationship makes boundaries difficult. I was allowed no boundaries. Even now I have difficulty understanding the concept, leave alone- I understand the phrase is “creating healthy boundaries,” but have the foggiest idea what that might mean.
I have conflicting desires that I do not understand. My friend said, “It’s as if you want to merge into the background in the most eyecatching way possible”. I want to hide away, and I do. And I want to be seen: three times I spoke to hundreds of people last weekend.
The inner critic is quieter. It still says, “’enmeshed relationship’ is a diagnosis, you have no qualification to say that”. Well, I have no qualification in psychology, and I know what I experienced. It says, “Why are you still on about that? Why go round in circles?” And I reply, I still go on about that because you resist. I will stop dwelling on this when I have cleansed it, when I am merely myself. And, “I want to cultivate flowers as well as pull up weeds”.
I went to the Yearly Meeting, and looked forward to it for months, and Friends there noticed how tense I was. I played a part in our discernment, and am pleased with my ministry, recorded in The Friend. I like the idea of “Caste” rather than privilege: it is to whom you defer, and whom you expect to defer to you, unconsciously.
I stayed with Friends on Saturday night, and walking from Hammersmith tube to the bus station we passed three beggars. My friends gave them a few coins. I do not use cash any more, and gave nothing. One used a loud desperate pleading, almost a scream, which I find disturbing thinking of it days later. Returning, I looked out the window of the bus then the tube at the passing city, delighting in the rapidly changing impressions. My feelings flow better. I see them more clearly.
On Tuesday I went to the supermarket, and rather than merely put off going I felt the anxiety. Feeling it is so much better than being affected by it unconsciously. So I did what I had to do. And my inner critic says, “How trivial”. Well, I am where I am. I feel this is progress.
Someone ministered that the Way is not a straight road. Surrounded by darkness, having no idea where we are, we wait, pray, listen, and God shows the next risky footstep.
I love “Inside No. 9”, and this week’s episode is particularly good. You see the man with his ridiculous haircut and his pursed lips turned downwards, in the dark, old-fashioned house, and think, “Who is this weirdo?” At the end, he takes his first steps towards freedom, and I was moved to tears because it is a road I am walking too.
I would love it to be easy. Is it that, hiding away is my mother’s way, wanting to be seen is mine? That is an attractively simple view, and I am not sure of it yet. Even if I were wholly my own woman, there might still be paradoxes and inner conflict. The way to freedom is through accepting my own feelings, however challenging, threatening or incomprehensible I find them.
And I can. At any moment, I can step into the presence of my inner light. I do it when talking- sometimes I wear a mask, sometimes I speak from the heart. So, why do I not speak from the heart, all the time? What frightens me about it? What does- the other way of being- do for me?
My sexuality is completely different from what I was taught was right and acceptable. I want to be sexually overwhelmed, I want to be taken by a strong woman, and that was such a challenge to my fragile sense of self that I could only admit it within the last twelve years, though I had hints of it in the 1980s. So I have never really had a satisfying sexual relationship. Bound so tightly, I would have been a dreadful parent, though my true self, soft, gentle, peaceful, loving, creative, graceful, would make a wonderful parent. I feel such terrible loss, and waste of potential.
With that woman, I wanted a relationship, I wanted romantic involvement, and it appears she just wanted sex. I am complaining about “Of course I’ll still love you in the morning,” which as a cliché may be outdated. It activates so many of my insecurities. Yes. I am claiming to be a woman, with a woman’s reactions. Not all women, maybe. Not how women ought to be, necessarily. Yes I was born with testicles. And I am a woman, reacting as women so often do.