Entering the forest

The intensity of it shocked me. It had all my attention. It exhausted me. I felt complete misery. And yet I also felt some joy, or pleasure, because it was my feeling. This is me, feeling authentically. This is me, being me. It is like feeling the burn: pushing myself as hard as I can, feeling the effort near exhaustion and pain yet also exultation. Perhaps it is even like the pain of labour- dreadful pain accepted in producing what you want and need more than anything else. I give birth to myself.

I feel trepidation about that metaphor. I fear people will think me self-aggrandising, or ridiculous. I am unsure I am worthy of it. And I want to face the pain because it is mine, because it is what I need for freedom.

To avoid feeling the pain, I numb out by repeatedly clicking facebook, mail, blog stats and checking my comment upvotes. I do this to feel some simulacrum of human contact, a tawdry dopamine hit. It is worse because rewards are variable: sometimes there is a big hit, sometimes none. Or I numb out watching TV. Or I do wordle and its imitators.

Feeling the pain of the misery, I understand and accept my desperation to avoid it. Yet the palliatives do not work. I feel the depths of my misery at my loneliness.

There is some evidence that I am a lovely person. Someone told me that on Sunday 28th. Another told me I give off a lovely vibe and make her feel safe. Another said she had wanted to talk to me at Greenbelt (“Prospect Farm”) last year and felt God had brought us together so she could talk to me this year. Oh Wow!

Yet I feel so anxious, and lacking in motivation that I see no better ways of getting the dopamine I crave than the palliatives I know do not work. I have continued clicking them this weekend. My anger frightens me so I suppress it until it bursts out, surprising me. I have been kicked out of somewhere I loved for getting angry when someone said women were uncomfortable with trans women in women’s loos, and silenced me. I pleaded, and tried to explain, then blew up.

On facebook, I see M on video, gently swinging in a hammock among trees, first the legs then the smiling face looking artfully unselfconscious. Is she naked? There is a caption hiding certain parts. Seeing that delights and tantalises.

Avoiding the misery I feel about my life traps me.

When I wake in the night, I normally go to the loo, perhaps scroll fb for a bit or read the Guardian, then drift off to a podcast. In June I woke in terror and misery. But I know someone in Tennessee: that’s Central Time, so 3.30am here is only 9.30pm there. She agreed if I was in that state I could call her.

Saturday morning, I did. We zoomed. She said she gets up and goes to bed early, and had in fact got up to speak to me- but she was willing to wake up for me, and had kept her phone on all night since I had first proposed this. This made me feel loved, yet tense and anxious.

I am the one saying this is impossible rubbish, projecting that view onto you, and I believe that tension comes from waking in misery as a toddler, even perhaps younger, wanting comforted and not getting it. To put it harshly, I have not got over that in over fifty years since. To put it less harshly, I am still scarred from it. That clamped the mask on me. The mask was essential to satisfy my mother. Now, talking and writing from the vulnerable inner child, I feel suppressed pain. I welcome it. I am an adult child.

Someone has worked hard to stop searches reaching my blog. In July and August, I got four hits from Bing, seven from DuckDuckGo. If you search on them for “Clare Flourish” my blog always used to come first and now does not. If you search for “Trans widows” my post came on the first page and now comes nowhere. So my hits are way down, especially the posts telling the truth about autogynephilia, or trans more generally.

I am blogging less, because I am working on a twelve step programme and writing for somewhere else which is more well-regarded than a blog, and I get more readers.

Anger and the Inner Child

“Blessed is the lion that the human being will devour so that the lion becomes human. And cursed is the human being that the lion devours; and the lion will become human.”

I am destabilised. Under the tree, I look at that baby, rigid with rage and terror. Could I pick it up? It is a baby, but it is also chaotic blackness which might consume me.

Kate asks, can you hear its anger? Pick it up and hear it?
I can’t explain its anger, I say.
Can you understand and sympathise with its anger?

I don’t want this resolved, I say.
What is lost by resolution?
It’s not for me. It’s not to heal me but to silence me and get me to conform.

Well, it works that way if I am crying and someone says, Don’t cry. It’s not they want to console me, but to make me pull myself together. This is different: I don’t want resolution because that would mean accepting the angry part.

What does the angry part want?
Impossible things.
To be loved. Accepted.

What does the heart lose in accepting the angry part?
Safety? Control? But I have neither.
I lose the moral high ground illusion.
My self-image is that I am not violent. Others have assaulted me. But really, I just shout.
Others experience me as angry. The anger is there whether I am conscious of it or not.

What would the heart gain?
Cerberus, my guard dog. It sniffs out the threats, so that I see the world more clearly.

I need to love my anger.
Anger would become energy to confront threat or insult, rather than as a terrifying thing I must suppress. When I attempt to suppress my anger, people see I am angry, and I am paralysed. It is a disaster for me.

What’s under the anger?
Self-respect. A sense of my worth.

The only time I am comfortable expressing anger is when I am sucking up. Someone is angry with The Thing Which Angers All Good-thinking People, and I am angry too, to show I am one of the good people. I hate it afterwards. One such memory when I was eighteen causes me lasting shame, because the thing the Good People were angry at was my crowd, and my anger at my crowd did not make me one of the Good People, just divided me from my crowd.

Kate says the value of Internal Family Systems for her is to honour the voices within her. She treats them as people, with feelings and needs, which may be stuck somewhere with a limited perception of the world. The whole person is much more than that individual voice, but the voice is someone she can greet with compassion.

Then, I had one of my I Am experiences, and it felt the I Am- what I thought of as my Heart, or Inner Light, was absorbing the anger. Was able to admit anger to itself, perceive anger, not try to suppress anger, and therefore use its energy. That felt really good.

A Friend ministered on being spanked as a child, and gave a great deal of detail about how hard her mother’s life was and how good her mother was and how bad she had been so she absolutely understood her mother doing it- and then of how it has affected her whole life, believing that when something bad happened to her a vengeful God was punishing her. Then I watched a baby held by delighted grandparents as he tried to get his legs underneath him and push down with his feet, and my lovable, joyous, inspiring Friend in a hospital bed.

I identified the I Am as my heart, my higher power. And yet, I could be knocked out of it. I lied: my ego produced a plausible falsehood to make me look better. My heart had no access to my anger and fear. I take Thomas’s Jesus to mean, if my anger devours me I am cursed, but if I absorb, accept, use my anger I am blessed.

At the Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACADF) group, the question was, “What do you do to improve conscious contact with your Higher Power?”

I thought what I called my Inner Light or Heart was that higher power in me. The ACADF group is studying the Loving Parent Guidebook, based on Internal Family Systems, and I thought, that is not for me. It is too rigid. I have an Ego and an Inner Light, which does not map on to this system of Caring Parent, Critical Parent, Inner Child and Inner Teenager, so perhaps I should look elsewhere. However I got the kindle sample of the ACADF 12 step book, greatly expanded in 2016, and Claudia B’s introduction destabilised me again.

We honored each other with acceptance for where we were, precious children and now adults struggling with what is called our false selves. We learned to project this false self to the world in an attempt to hide our inner thoughts and feelings. The preciousness of the Inner Child was tapping from within, asking and hoping to be heard and acknowledged.

Not inner light- inner child. That makes total sense, and turns my world upside down- again.

So what now? I learn more about IFS. I seek my Loving Parent. I identify the Heart as my Inner Child rather than Inner Light. The Inner Child had already this week been shown to be wanting- lacking access to my fear and anger which it is now seeking. Now the aim is to parent my inner child.

Naming of parts

The baby lies under the trees. His mother told me that is where he particularly likes- in his pram, looking up at sunlight dappling through the leaves. I notice he lies rigid, all his muscles tense. He looks frightened and angry, but is still and silent. I want him to relax. I wonder about picking him up, but it would not relax him.

I wonder what I want from this friendship. Is it the drama? No, it’s that R is a troubled soul, and I get to look after her. However it is not working out that way. She keeps asking me questions about a woman I hurt. Then I shout at her, and the moral high ground falls away beneath my feet. Perhaps it was never there.

R is not here to be cared for, but to teach. I have spoken about my issues, and people have recommended “Internal family systems”, but R shows me the videos. Together we do Dr Richard Schwartz’s “One part” exercise.

IFS explains that we break off bits of ourselves which stay unconscious. So does Carl Rogers in client-centred therapy: he wrote of the “Organismic self” and the “self-concept”, which was different. Jung wrote of the shadow. The baby holds my rage and terror, the anxiety I am almost never conscious of, the anger which makes others fear me. Unless they tell me they fear me out of a malign attempt to gain power over me.

IFS postulates a loving parent, which can manifest through my conscious self, and look out for the unconscious parts. So there I am, not holding the baby.

This freaked me. As well as the inner critic telling me it was a made up scenario from old fantasies, I now worry that the Heart, or true self, which I was speaking from has no real conscious connection to my rage and terror. And I have just finished “Run towards the danger” by Sarah Polley, a sublime account of incidents in her life. Her brilliance and bravery shine through, and I am now an adoring fan. It ends with an essay on concussion, saying she cured hers by giving no concession to her headaches and difficulties. I ask myself whether my retreat from the world is doing me no good at all.

I want to tell R that’s not her loving parent she’s coming from, but, would we both not end up in the ditch?

There is a directory of IFS practitioners, and I email several of them. One writes back to say she could offer Identity-orientated psychotrauma therapy (IoPT) on the same principle of working with parts of the self.

IoPT was created by Dr Franz Ruppert. His editor in English is Vivian Broughton, who has written a book on theory and practice of IoPT for therapists and clients. Ruppert writes of his experience growing up unloved and unwanted. Then in 2017 he was lying awake, restless and tense, and he heard a voice in his ear which said,

“You are allowed to cry!”

So now I know what to tell the baby.

I thought I was speaking from the Heart. Then someone asked, “What are you Brits doing here?” And I lied. I went straight from Heart into Mask, or Ego, and gave a plausible reason for being there. I was there out of my need, but perhaps feared saying that.

That lie has really bothered me. I can be in a place where I feel heart-centred, truthful, expressing my true self, and then be knocked back into the mask. It is not the question that makes me change like that, but my own unconscious fear. However, the fear, anger, sadness is almost entirely unconscious for a reason. I am terrified of it still.

J told me of different 12 step programmes. All forbid cross-talk: my Emotions Anonymous script tells me to use I statements, and not to interrupt, speak directly to another, or give advice. At one Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families meeting someone ritually answers each share “Thank you [N], you were heard”. At Co-dependents Anonymous, however extreme anyone’s share no-one responds at all, as to hand them a tissue might be to start a “caring”, or co-dependent, relationship.

R gave me an utterly gorgeous duvet cover. It’s cotton with a 300 thread count, and an embroidered border. I would never get such a beautiful thing for myself.

This is the eleventh anniversary of my blog. I started here, and all the optimism and hope of that moment is being fulfilled.

Delight unspoiled by disgust?

I crave dopamine. I dislike the fb highs even as I chase them, and the lows when the highs recede. They give me a sense of human contact and affirmation, and disappointment when I click and do not receive. I share something I know will get likes, and then try to restrict myself, not clicking less than half an hour after the last click.

My 500 words were published on Thursday 4th. By Monday, my painful anticipation was growing. I craved the dopamine hit, and feared I would not get it. So I created my affirmation with the intent of being less dependent moment to moment on clicks.

I am a person whose speech, writing, and way of holding space are valued.

Of course I shared that, and clicked every half hour or more to see the likes mount up. Twelve likes, eleven loves, two cares, four comments agreeing, so far. It is true. I love to write, hold space, and be heard, and I know my service has value. The day after sharing it, and the 500 words, I am in a state of craving.

My affirmation is true. It does not assuage my craving. Perhaps it mitigates it.

Perhaps I would be better off if I had more actual human contact. I need family! A like is a sugar rush of candy, a hug is like a ripe peach, whose sugar is absorbed more slowly. And, family can be a place of pain, exploitation and misery. My isolation at least protects me from the worst of it.

I discussed red/amber/green behaviour with K, and agreed going there was absolutely in the centre of the red zone. Being tantalised, illusion, desperation, misery is all that can come of that. Next day, I went there, and was rewarded. She mentioned me! In the most unflattering way, and yet my delight lasted two days. Now she likes my affirmation. It is hard to untangle the complex emotion, but perhaps- I hate myself for feeling delight. Or, I fear my delight, because it will end in pain.

Well, all things come to an end. But how can I enjoy this delight when it is so fleeting, so much less than what I crave?

Augustine sought “delight unspoiled by disgust”, which he could find only in God. I do not believe in God the Father Almighty, but there is something in each human being which is so wonderful that calling it “that of God” is not hyperbole. I believe I can hear God in others if I have ears to hear. I believe I can speak and act from that of God in me all the time, and that that is the meaning of “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing”.

There is nothing supernatural about The Light. It just is. Why do we shield ourselves from it? For me, breaking through to it was an amazing unsought blessing, then a struggle with all sorts of fear and misery, and now-

It is meeting my true self. And it means acknowledging all the stuff buried in me, painful as well as glorious. I have so much fear and sorrow.

As a Doctor Who fan, it reminds me of the Ood, who had a second brain, outside their bodies, which they held in their hands. Humans enslaved them, and removed the second brain, replacing it with a device through which they could communicate in English. In their original state, they were telepathic. That seemed ridiculous and far-fetched at the time. I identified with the humans, not seeing the wrong of oppression immediately, then human normality broke down.

It is clear why I would suppress my Light- to escape awareness of that congealed sadness. From the ego state, I can imagine reasons to enter the Light, but they are impure, for what the ego can get out of it. If I go into Light in order to achieve an ego-aim, my state will be unstable, retreating into ego as the aim appears uncertain of success. Then the ego will fail in its aim.

Perhaps there is no red/amber/green behaviour but only the ego pursuing its aims by desperate and ridiculous or socially acceptable ways, or the Light, being.

Others find joy in being in the moment. It is a spiritual state. I find sadness mixed with joy. Now I wonder if the Light holds my Need, as well. Is ego a way of attempting to meet the need, or manage it, in failed, unsatisfying ways? Ego is the familiar, Light is the painful acceptance that all things are made new. So I become as a little child to enter Heaven- curious, trusting, accepting and seeing the unfamiliar, dancing with it. And at the same time I become an adult and put away childish things- old, failed ways of trying to meet my needs.

Human kind Cannot bear very much reality. Illusions are comforting, but they have led me to this unbearable place. “We only live… consumed by either fire or fire” still seems melodramatic, but perhaps Eliot was on to something.

The Deep Sharing group query is, “Does your faith help you deal with regrets?” I don’t have regrets. I tend to think I have always done my best. At worst, this is blaming other people or the World for my situation. Possibly it is not being able to imagine how anything better might have been possible. Possibly, if I took more responsibility for my life, I would feel regrets. Possibly I feel regret which is too much to bear consciously. If I lived my belief, and entered the Light, regret, need, sadness, fear would confront me. “For God all things are possible”?

My ego hopes the Light would see possibilities, and flees the Light, because they are not the possibilities the ego craves. Among my unanswered questions are whether I have any addictions or damaging myelination affecting my Light.

When I went to the deep sharing group, and spoke of my step four desire to cure my inner conflict. I hate myself. I hate all sorts of aspects of myself. So, I will name the things I hate about myself, and find how I may love them. Regret seems like a useless emotion, and I am not generally conscious of it- so, I invite regret into my life.

About to leave, I have the sense of moving from heart-authenticity in speaking and listening to ego, and a revelation. I experienced ego as dull normality, all there is; then as oppressive and constraining, and now, I experience it as protective, perhaps for the first time. This produces amazed joy and delight, and also pain: when I believe suffering will be interminable I minimise it, and when it is relieved I truly feel the weight of the burden I have shed.

It hurt so much, and- It’s Stopped!

I said that, and Ruth said, “Love you, Abigail.”
Well, people do. It is one of my great blessings.
It is time for me to love myself.

Valuing it all

“Beating yourself up is completely useless,” I tell myself, irritably. Instead, I will look at all those parts of me that shame or frighten me with love. “Love might buck them up a bit”- um. Love might heal them.

Beating myself up is a reflex for me. Gentle humour, rueful laughter, might help with that- oh, that’s what I’m doing, again. Traits I despise become more intractable. Love and appreciation might turn them around. So, start with beating myself up. What does it achieve for me?

It may get me to work harder. I don’t think it does: I work pretty hard already. Eventually it drains my motivation.

Beating myself up is conscious and unconscious. It becomes conscious when it is not working on an unconscious level. I have some ego or fear-based desire to do something. I beat myself up about it, unconsciously, come on, get on with it, and I do it. Beating myself up becomes conscious when my motivation is just drained. The ego-response becomes conscious when it has failed.

Desperation is a feeling I have rarely acknowledged. I was despairing. When I was procrastinating at work, I could not do a questionnaire or claim to the level of perfection I demanded of myself, the safety of knowing I was good enough, so I did not do it at all. Thoreau said it was everywhere- Walden, chapter 1:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

I don’t only beat myself up about not doing what I ought to do, but doing what I feel I ought not to, or what I feel is counterproductive or self-destructive. Every act seeks to meet a need, however unlikely it is to succeed.

In the Quaker meeting, someone ministered that silence is good, talking over each other builds conflict, then mentions “identity politics” and I am triggered. I want to come out with my detailed explanations- Liz Truss plays identity politics, I just want human rights- as cover for my sadness fear and pain. Heaven knows how I would have responded had she named “gender ideology”. As I was in meeting, I did not speak, but sat with my discomfort. Let the inner voice cry its angry or pleading arguments. Why does it do that? I felt my fear and sadness, which those arguments hide from me and express.

I flinch away from hurt. I am so sensitive to hurt. There may be a difference between processing sorrow and dwelling in it. Processing is necessary to get beyond denial. Dwelling is using it as an excuse. Or, dwelling is just processing it very slowly, or the conscious sorrow is masking something else. Whatever, I am not going to accuse myself of dwelling on any sorrow or hurt.

Self-harming acts make me feel intensely. Sometimes I want to feel intensely.

I want dopamine hits, and facebook is not the place to get them as the rewards are variable. That is a way to get addicted. They are no substitute for human contact and affirmation from other people. I want to be useful, to serve, and when people praise me I feel good. Or when I see my writing published. I recited my poetry, and someone wanted to see more of it. I was published two weeks ago. But dopamine from fb makes me want reassurance that I have value repeated far more often than that: I am wondering when/if I will be published again. I sent something off.

Possibly I should rely on my own inner light’s love for my whole, imperfect self. I could speak to myself as if to a toddler, like a parent with infinite love and patience who will not tolerate second best.

When I say “I am beautiful” I am not repeating an affirmation, but stating what I know to be true.

I want to spend time with people who value listening, speaking and living from Source/Light/Authenticity. M had a cartoon on her fb saying, roughly, religion < spirituality < consciousness. I commented that I would admire her if she managed consciousness all the time. See above, re triggering. She replied, “Consciousness is always there, I just don’t always reach for it.” I thought, oh, how admirable, I need to be with people like this.

I thought to find myself I need to know my own desires. I do not know my desires. But part of the thicket is my beliefs, my withdrawal from the world. I will not withdraw any further. That, from sex-addicts anonymous, sex and love AA, codependents A, is red-zone behaviour. I  read of Allison Bailey and at first thought, that is it, I am going to stop reading the Guardian. But that would have been withdrawing even further. There is not much further to withdraw, barring catatonia.

Step One

It is time, I thought, to work on my Fearless Moral Inventory. I will make myself sane. Then, carelessly and thoughtlessly, I did something wrong, and am ashamed of it. I hope it will not hurt the people I wronged, and guiltily hope it will not have adverse consequences for me. There is one thing I could do, but considering it, it might not help the others involved, or even me: it would remove my current uncertainty, but replace it with a different uncertainty.

So I thought, I need to work on step one:

We admitted that we were powerless over our emotions- that our lives had become unmanageable.

There are three heavy words there: admit, powerless, unmanageable. I decided I would write about them, to make them real for me. This is as far as I got:

“As I move from blaming another, through blaming myself, I see the experience more clearly. It was intense. Then wounds and pressures collided in a clusterfoul, and I lashed out. I no longer blame, and feel I have learned something. There was a huge amount of joy in the whole complex experience.”

That is about acceptance.

K’s mental health review tribunal was set for 13 July, but could not go ahead as no psychiatrist who had treated him was available. He attended worship on 14 July from hospital. He wrote in the chat, “When I told a junior psychiatrist that I thought I was about to become the Albert Einstein of psychiatry he just said, ‘No you’re not. That’s why we’re treating you’.”

In the worship I felt such sadness, then hurt, fear, love. I could name these feelings. They make me feel more vulnerable but be less vulnerable: I fear them, but if I am aware of them and accept them they do not burst out of me in embarrassing ways. My body convulses with the feelings. My camera is on and I do not care. I see my dear Friend in tears. I feel joy, though I doubt and question it.

K’s camera showed what looked like a metal wall and a binbag, then cut off. Perhaps zoom is transmitting from another universe.

I am not, of course, overwhelmed. I am still sitting. My body has moved in waves. My face has expressed. I have shed tears. And I have always been conscious of my Friends.

I wanted to write on Tuesday 19th, then Wednesday 20th, and did not. I shared, with one other then with the LG, on my wrongdoing. I said I need to embrace being an arse sometimes, and hope I do not do too much damage. J called this a deep vulnerable share. I wrote,

I seek safety in perfection
but perfection is impossible
I seek safety in hiding
but there is no hiding place
I seek safety in understanding
but I cannot analyse this
I want to be safe
I cannot be safe.

I want to connect.
I want to be seen and heard.
These things are not safe-
not predictable, manageable, explicable
I am so scared

What may I do, with my one, wild, precious life?

I want to analyse “Accept”, “Powerless”, “Unmanageable”. I can’t, I can only accept them. I felt the terror I had been blocking out. I want to be safe, and safety is impossible, and that desire overwhelms any other desire I have.

At another Quaker zoom, K enthusiastically shared his delusions. Before, I have felt irritation at this. What will people think? Then, I just felt sadness. I am responsible only for myself. Understanding Powerlessness does not come from analysis, but from within. I only see God when God has passed by.

In another, we talked of violent death and of terror, where people we knew were involved but we were not personally, and I noticed I was listening less authentically to my Friend. I was instead thinking of what I wanted to say. I needed to get it out of the way. So, I asked my Friend for a moment, permitted myself to feel my own Sadness, and let my body convulse. She finished her story, and asked me what had happened. I am feeling Sad, about that and about other things, and I so fear and resent my sadness. Surely I should be over that by now! And, if I block my sadness it curdles in me, becoming an ever greater burden. Telling her, with long pauses and with tears, I saw my sadness and my struggle with it more clearly.

Probably I should arrange to see a psychotherapist again, and concentrating on this stuff for an hour terrifies me.

That body-convulsing thing is really not British. I so want to contain the feeling without showing any sign of it, process it instantly so there is no interruption of my listening, and I can’t. The way I can process it, which I might not do even with all Quakers or 12-steppers on zoom, and feel would be problematic for me in the street, is to convulse. Maybe closing my eyes and breathing deeply could work.

A saner view of sanity

I have discarded the thing I said gave meaning to my life. I will find meaning somewhere else.

I have not earned money for eleven years, and thought, but I am in a process of healing and self-discovery. I am improving. This was my first indication that something in me did not like that idea of improving, and I had forgotten it. The problem is the thought of what the improvement will look like. I will get a job and support myself. My feelings will be regulated. I will be normal. That is, I will finally achieve what my ego has always wanted. My wild untamed spirit will be tamed. So I rebel against myself.

I went to the Friends General Conference gathering by zoom last week, with three to five hours a day in workshops and worship sharing, and on Saturday 9th felt mindblown. The idea of progress, effectiveness, service which I said gave my life meaning at the start of the week was exposed as a hollow sham. Step 2 is “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”, but I had imposed on myself an insane understanding of sanity. I have no idea what sanity would look like. Yes, an end to my internal conflicts, allowing feeling to flow rather than blocking or suppressing it, knowing my own desires, and finding what makes me come alive would be sane, but not Becoming Normal.

My healing proceeds in its own time. This is not a consciously controllable process, and attempts to force it in a particular direction make my sickness worse.

The other grit in my oyster of the week was Quakers opposing something I passionately desire. That it is not thwarted, rather, consideration is prolonged, makes my hurt all the greater. Why would they be so horrible? Well, because they thought it was the right thing to do. I have no idea which incident has provoked the action- January 2020, January 2019, January 2017, Winter 2009/10 spring to mind, and it could be something else. They don’t know about April 2022. Oh, and it could be A, just being a tit.

I blow up sometimes. I have always thought of that as exceptional- I am soft, gentle, peaceful, etc- and, there is a pattern. In some of these occasions, I have lost it after wanting to exercise my love, generosity and creativity in a particular way and when I can’t, I can’t cope with my own sadness.

K reminded me of Step 1- “We admitted we were powerless over our own emotions, that our lives had become unmanageable”. Powerless. Well, the ways I manage my emotions, restricting interaction, rarely going out, have taken over my life and still I lose it occasionally. Part of my insanity is my attempt to manage the feelings. Fleeing insanity, I become insane. Those who want to save their life will lose it. I am not completely powerless to control my emotions all the time, but the attempt makes my life unbearable.

So I came up with the slogan on Saturday, “Be less Arsehole”. Don’t blow up. It only hurts me. If the things I do when I blow up hurt others then that hurts me more. I noticed how harsh the slogan was, and part of it is being less cruel to myself. Part of it is taking responsibility- not in the insane attempt to be normal, but in the sense of valuing my happiness and my desires, and wanting to interact better with others.

Also at the Gathering, I was working on deep listening, not as a Beneficent act (though it can be) but as a matter of self-interest. Someone irritated me, then showed their vulnerability, and I was not irritated any more.

My flat is tidier and cleaner than it was last week. I resist the strong temptation to qualify that statement- “It won’t last”, or whatever, the judgment of the condemning ego. For example, I noticed my front door was dirty, and it occurred to me to clean it, and a week later I did.

S’s mental health tribunal is on Wednesday 13th, and he was at zoom worship on Monday. I thought, “I don’t know how to love him”. I know the question is, is the compulsory medication required to stop him being a threat to himself or others? So, talking of being a Bodhisattva connected to other universes is probably OK, talking of using suicides to prove reincarnation is best avoided. I wanted to get that over to him. I thought, I don’t know how to love him, that is, I don’t know how to take away his pain and difficulty. Then I realised I don’t know how to love any of them. Sometimes, I may be prompted to say something constructive, but I can’t make rules for that, or anticipate it.

After people left, I talked to S. I get the impression that he knows what to say and not to say at the tribunal, so he may get off the meds, as he desires. Probably, this is because the meds have stabilised him. Then his delusions will become more florid until Something Happens and he gets sectioned again, or he dies.

Rita praised the Emotional Freedom Technique. She said our beliefs sit in our system, and are innocent. We agreed about being physical animals, and discovering feeling feelings in our bodies.

Welcome and entertain them all

I am interested in this man, and we talk. He tells me of his life, work, and power, and I am tongue-tied. I might retreat into small-talk, and cannot bear to: just to pass time, until the time is passed. I want to open my heart and be real together, and my heart prompts me to say, I have not worked for eleven years, and I rarely go out. Shame stops me. My brain comes up with various things I could say and stops me saying any of them.

What is this shame? What good can it do me? It might have been introjected to bind me. It might be my own. I retreat from the world, hoping to heal, hoping to get to know myself and be able to face it again. I am not sure but I might be making progress.

In that moment, the shame was fully conscious. I feel it now. Is it shame because I ought to face the world manfully, and bestride it? Have I a right to protect myself in this way? Well, right or not, I protect myself. What now?

I sit in my room, numbed out, noodling. The Feelings are there, all the time, mostly out of consciousness but not quite- fear, shame, anxiety, perplexity, sadness. Occasionally one leaps out and floors me, paralyses me, overwhelms me.

The only thing that can free me from Love is Love.
I see you. I imagine you active, happy, determined, triumphant
worried, perplexed
and resent you have no thought of me.
Cursing myself for being ridiculous does no good.
Wanting nothing from you, I might feel free to love.
Loving, I might let go and want nothing.
It feels like a virtuous circle too far above me to reach.
The resentment is mean, small, ineffectual.
It has my worst qualities, and my face.
I reach out to touch its cheek.

Then what?
It sucks me, screaming, into it?
It enters my heart, and my heart expands?

The resentment is not a problem to be solved
or dross to be transmuted.
It is a companion, a guide from beyond.

Can I love myself?
I was taught which parts to love, and which to fear.
Fearing, I held my heart down until it changed shape.
How can I love it as it is now?

I do not know what I might be.
I only know I must love as best I can.

On Monday, five of us wrestled in conversation. It was the right people at the right time. We did some good. I played my part. I gave myself wholly and entirely to a problem which could be easily solved by hurting someone, searching for a better way, and in the process learned something about myself and about boundaries. I was taught to discount the good. I must recognise and celebrate all the good.

Facing the shame and the guilt:

-What are you doing with your one precious life?
-I am healing myself as best I know how. Sometimes I take action which seems good to me. It never seems enough to me, and I doubt I am making progress in healing, and sometimes a feeling seems to hit me like running into a wall.

I want to be sure, and I am unsure of anything.

Rumi says, “You have to keep breaking your heart, until it opens”.

Two thoughts at once

Content: suicide, though I hope with a faint light in the darkness.

I have been chronically suicidal since the 1990s. I want to die- not all the time, but the idea of “blessed release” appeals. Life is painful. I have argued myself out of it. For example, I thought, I must not hurt anyone- so to avoid hurting relatives it must appear like an accident, but I could not just crash a car into someone coming the other way, as that might be murder. I want it quick, efficient and relatively painless, and I can’t think of a method that meets all these criteria.

But now, I don’t want to argue myself out of the desire and the feeling, but to accept them. On Sunday morning I woke wanting to die. The pain is too great. Very well, I want to die. I have not actually acted on it so far. The criteria still apply. I want to sit with the desire.

I wanted to talk this through, and had my opening line to the Samaritans ready.

-I want to tell someone I want to die, who won’t tell me that’s a bad thing, try to persuade me against it, or work out techniques to stop me.
-OK, he says. Why do you want to die?
-This isn’t a prank call, but I don’t want to talk to you.

I always prefer to talk to a woman. The second time, I say something like “I want to talk about what that feels like and accept the feeling”. I want to accept my desire, which may not be for death itself but for release from something. I want to accept my feelings of pain rather than seek to deny or suppress them. Maureen tells me if ever I am frightened of the supermarket I could phone the Samaritans and chat to them as I walk round it. I don’t need that service but am glad it could be available. In the call, I affirm myself: I don’t feel I have reached my potential but do feel I am progressing as best I can.

I want to face the darkness.

On Friday a book in Magazine Heaven so moved me I was nearly crying, and thought, I can’t get emotional in public like that. The Monster will get me. And it won’t, because the Monster no longer exists. I can get emotional like that, even when people can see me. The world does not end.

The hiding increases the hurt and the hiding is all I can do and in the hiding I began to heal by facing and acknowledging the hurt I could not acknowledge when out in the world. I want to die, and hold some slight hope that sometime in the future I might no longer want to die.

I want to die.
Facing, recognising, accepting that I might pass through it.

I want to die, and that is OK because I am not going to kill myself. I also want to live.

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Reconciliation?

Our mutual friend asked about the possibility of reconciliation. Is that possible? I fear the obstacles to each trusting the other are too great. I don’t know each values the other enough to make the necessary effort.

Neither accepts the other’s understanding of the wrong done to them. Both, being hurt, might not dissociate the other from the cause of that hurt. The obstacles are lack of trust, lack of commitment to the process, and focus on past hurt.

It might be a relatively less risky start for each to state what they like, value or admire in the other. Even that might become a power struggle. And if I held back my resentment, in order to state only positive things, might it burst out of me?

Is care for the other possible, and can it coexist with the necessary minimum of self-love?

It could not be going back to a previous way of being together, and I don’t know what another way of being together could look like. That would be an ever tempting cul-de-sac, to escape the bitterness and frustration of the moment into a fantasy of idealised past. Then the reality of its ending would break through.

Another barrier is sexual attraction. I don’t know that I could get over or past that: resenting my own attraction to the other, wanting to reduce it. I would feel it, now, and that would bring back my hurt and misery.

I do not see the person at all clearly. I saw the mask. I could imagine a different person behind that mask- unsure, hurting, vulnerable- based on the clues I have. With such an imagined person, I could coexist if I had to: the human is near me and I perceive my image of her. But that would not be reconciliation.

What I strive for, here, is complete self-revelation. I don’t recommend it to anyone. I do it because my own ego-mask was inimical to my real self, and I still retain an inner critic shouting out in rage and fear that what I know is my real self is a lie, it is weak and disgusting, I am not like that. I have to pass through what I most fear in order to become what I might be.

We live in society- people who do not know ourselves trying to show a mask to others who see us imperfectly, with a thick layer of group or individual false understandings getting in the way of seeing. If you do what I expect most of the time, if your act mostly fits my understanding of you, then, perhaps I see you as you are. For you are what you do.

Then the expectations diverge wildly and both are angry and upset. Could we be truthful with one another? Could we stop conflict and the desire to dominate or control the other? Could we even imagine what that would look like?

For humans to be together there has to be a way both want it to work. Negotiating that is usually subconscious, a curious dance of minds hearts and souls. But, having given away all my power, I now want at least equal power in the relationship. I do not understand power, or my relationship to it- how I accumulate or surrender it.

In order to grow spiritually, I need spaces which hold me in supportive love, so that I can speak from my heart. Experience is knowing directly, but now I weave a framework of words as a safety harness or support: I feel safer with an understanding of the world expressed in words. The real human is fluid and unknowable, but I can form a better image of myself than the one my ego created.

If others hold me in love I can weave that web of words, and love them in return. Sometimes I find myself in potentially spiritual situations where people talk over each other, and am desperate to get my words in- which makes the situation worse. Noticing that desire, and how it is self-defeating, I might let it go: if I have loving spaces where I can be wholly myself without a mask.