I am this person

It is not that I like being humiliated,
but that what I like humiliates me.

I am this person.
I am this person.
I have done what I have done.
I have believed what I believed
and do not now believe.
I believe what I believe.
I do what I do.
I am this person.
I want what I want.
I am who I am.

Humiliation and shame and denial and judgment
Such judgment! Cruel, harsh, unsparing judgment
which judges me for being unable to bear it.

I have done the best I can,
which I resent, which horrifies me
because it seems so little.
It is as it is.

I like myself.
I am kind, soft, gentle, peaceful
and that pleases me.
I have done all I can,
understood as best I could
admitted and accepted as much as I could,
protected myself as well as I could.

I am where I am, and wish I was not.
I am this person,
where this person is,
having everything this person has.

This is a direct answer to TS Eliot, East Coker III:

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

“The darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing” has deeply moved me.

And this “Keep Britain in the European Union” meme:

blame-a-foreigner

I commented, I have indeed totally failed at life. Some people say it is not entirely my fault. However, I voted remain, and am fairly liberal in my ideas about refugees and immigration. It is a gross generalisation to think of Leave voters as non-metropolitan losers- some of us voted remain. Because I have totally failed at life, I really dislike this meme, and possibly it is not the best way to win over Leave voters either.

Someone replied, I did chuckle at the meme but take your point, made with such humility, in the same spirit[…] someone who can take responsibility for her own life’s path is in some sense more successful than most. If anything, I fear that you may be taking the self-blame too far, and hope that you do so in part for rhetorical purposes…

Perhaps I have achieved what I most wanted to achieve.

Trump lies

Mr Trump cannot be dignified, even when he attempts to imitate a dignified man.

CNN’s report from the time gives the detail. The NYT says that in 2001 Serge Kovaleski reported that the authorities had questioned “a number of people” who were allegedly seen celebrating the attack on the World Trade Centre. He did not report the thousands of Muslims Trump claimed to have seen because that was not true. He did not change his story as Trump alleged, because he never supported Trump’s fantasy.

What is a lie? David Leonhardt points out that some would say “Capitalism has worked better than any other economic system” is a subjective statement. He says it is factual. There is a moment where facts, whose denial is a lie, move into a grey area where there is honest disagreement. There are assertions which are the most accurate we can make, which are nevertheless inaccurate- Newton’s theory of gravity is wrong, but the best possible at the time.

There is also dishonest disagreement. Leonhardt’s second factual statement, Human actions are warming and damaging the planet, is disputed and minimised. It’s just weather, the climate has always changed. The disagreement comes to advance the interests of fossil fuel investors, who make money from releasing CO2.

Here is what Meryl Streep said:

An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

Trump tweeted,

Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….

“groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

Kellyanne Conway said, He has debunked this so many times. Why is everything taken at face value? You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart? You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.

Well, what is in his heart? Unquenchable malice towards anyone who questions him, or even inadvertently gets in his way, especially women. Playground insults, no sense of proportion, no dignity, just the arrogance of Idi Amin.

Unfortunately, politics in the US has been pushing the grey area of opinion further and further. No, there are dozens, not millions, of fraudulent votes, but Republicans proceed with voter suppression schemes, requiring photo ID which poor voters may not have. Trump extended their denial of climate change to denial of the ozone hole.

Trump, unsatisfied by big lies, wants lots of little lies. He showed Mr Kovaleski grovelling, he claims, and if his supporters accept his denial of climate change they will swallow that. Some of his lies depend on knowledge of detail: the intelligence services did not decide whether the Russians influenced the election, because that is not their job, but he tweeted, Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched! Before, he had denied the Russians were involved. Enough of the populace will swallow this, happy that their man is winning.

Our shared understanding of the truth is chipped away, and everything is disputed on the battle-ground that is politics. It makes working “across the aisle” near impossible. On The Hill, a commenter said, Babs,baby, haven’t you learned yet that if you hit The Donald he is gonna hit you back twice as hard. Go eat some rare caviar from endangered fish in your carbon spewing mega-mansion, fly around on your private jet while lecturing the rest of us how we are destroying the environment and leave the rest of us alone. Barbra Streisand is on the other side, and that is enough. The anger is so great at the other side that they repeat their own side’s lies as truth, and express self-righteous rage and demeaning insults: another commenter says, Old hags mocking fellow Americans and their country which made them millionaires.

The Hill affects a lordly position above the fray: Trump on Monday added that he had never directly insulted reporter Serge Kovaleski’s congenital joint condition, though he inspired outrage last year by making jerky body motions while criticizing Kovaleski, leading some to conclude he was targeting the reporter’s physical challenges. “Some to conclude”! Oh! But Trump was not “criticising” Mr Kovaleski. That is an obvious false characterisation.

In the interests of balance, here is a video saying Trump never mocked Mr Kovaleski. It has a news report at 2.50 saying an investigator said an apartment full of “suspects” celebrated the 9/11 attack. Not thousands, though, and only allegedly celebrating. “I watched in Jersey City, NJ, when thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” No you didn’t, liar.

A World of Women

I want a simpler world, where I might be given a task, see that it was worthwhile and that I could carry it out, and carry it out successfully achieving the desired goal, so that I would not feel so completely and entirely worthless.

Ah. “Worthless”, except for what I can achieve. This thought brings me to tears. It is an old understanding of myself- proof that merely understanding how my psyche works is not enough to heal it. A simpler world, for it is not possible in this one.

It is my feeling that this sense comes from maternal rejection in my first weeks of life, but I have no desire to debate that with anyone. I am satisfied enough of it. The inner critic does not like the idea, but it is rarely entirely right.

The NYT says one should not try not to think negative thoughts. Attempting to control them makes them more insistent. Instead, first notice that you are thinking negatively, and then challenge the thought, arguing with it. “I am worthless”- think of examples disproving this. I have achieved things. I have worthwhile qualities- I am intelligent, and kind. If a friend was so negative about herself, I would reassure her, and so should imagine the arguments I would use to another. That article recommends CBT, where it seems I am a conscious Grand Vizier with a particularly irrational, psychotic and power-crazed caliph, whom I must persuade and nudge into sane action.

I will not. Rather, I will Love myself around. The only thing I have to do, while my benefits continue, is ensure I don’t run out of food- or even, buy more before I starve. No matter of routine is essential. Managing myself into doing what external authorities or the culture or my rational self believes I ought to do will not affect that feeling of worthlessness; instead it will reinforce it.

Tina explains self-worth is not the same as self-esteem. Self-worth is unconditional acceptance: I have this weakness, and that is OK. I am not a real man. I am not capable of work. I am unreliable on Quaker obligations. All this is OK. I am testing my own self-acceptance, and will not advance those Quaker desires, unless I want to. I, the beautiful, loveable core of me, which is not worthless, not the psychotic caliph.

I recall much of childhood as not feeling good enough, being frightened and confused and feeling excluded. How did I feel when my father died? Relief. A running sore was over. There was the thing about not being able to talk to him, and him giving away all his capital, down to the last thousand pounds, to investment scammers- had he lived, they would have come back every few months and harvested any pension he had accumulated-

and that moment in the hospital, when he awoke, delighted to be helpless, managed cared for and controlled by women, the nurses. “I awoke in a world of women”, he said to me, in a delighted conspiratorial way. That is my own feeling. I understood completely. I confessed this to Tina and in that moment wanted

not to exist

I wanted a completely different person with completely different characteristics occupying my space

I felt revulsion and-

delight???

confessing this. It could just be that my kernel, seen as the caliph but in reality myself is the part that is delighted.

breslau-die-leserin

Defer!

I am not going to get off the path. It is a stone path across a patch of grass, and there is a bend in it. I will move to the edge of the path, and beyond that the person coming towards me can get out of my way. This has led a man to physically threaten me- he read me as male, and was rebuked by a passer-by who read me as female. I left them expostulating at each other.

The barber at Tarbert was indignant with American service personnel at Dunoon. They expect you to get off the pavement for them. He would not walk in the gutter for anyone. This might just have been one incident, even one incident which he had heard of rather than experienced, and here am I telling you forty years later, one small piece of evidence of American arrogance and why we should not tolerate their bases here.

It seems we sometimes move equally, and sometimes one person defers to the other; and we judge each other to see which should defer, as strangers, in an instant. At St Pancras station a tall, beautiful, and beautifully dressed woman said “What is Wrong with you!?” when I did not move aside for her. I was irked about something else, and suddenly could not be bothered stepping aside- had she not, I would have walked into her. I dislike her rudeness, and love her self-confidence.

Once, I moved towards a wall to pass a man, he went towards the same wall. It was a bend in the corridor, the person closer to the wall would walk less far, so arguably the person further from the wall would be deferring. We stopped about a foot apart, blocking each others’ way, and though either could have stepped aside neither wanted to. We said nothing. I was perplexed, perhaps he was amused. I had been working on a poem, and got out my notebook to consider possible wording, but he looked at what I was writing so I put it away. Eventually I stepped about a foot aside and pushed past, pressing him against the wall with my shoulder.

Are you judging me for this? Oh! What a horrible person! I am uncomfortable about the memory, I would like to imagine I was not quite that petty.

Instant judgement. How can I show I am the higher status animal, and they should get out of my way? Clothes are a big part of this, and I am in an old cheap nylon jacket, comfortable for cycling but not presentable. I may be more educated than they are, and have a greater general knowledge- this is important- but you can’t really show it in the second you have, under judgment.

I could glare at them, like the world number one starer and six times world champion S. Spasky- particularly dramatic moment at 1.47 in this video

Or I could catch their eyes and smile. That might work.

The meaning of life

with TS Eliot.

Everyone should do a meaning of life post occasionally. I refer to Portrait of a Lady, in which despite the first person pronouns, the young man reading the comics and the sporting page may not be Eliot himself. Yet it speaks to me most insofar as I am that young man, or the older lady.

I shall sit here, serving tea to friends

I have many memories of things going well, but one in particular, finding and making the perfect legal argument to win a difficult motion, and ten thousand pounds. My feelings, drives, intellect came together to achieve what I wanted, and it felt good. It still does, in retrospect, and I am aware of people whose working lives contain many such days- as well as a great deal of work to reach the standard where it is less of a fluke for them.

I don’t know. What do you think? Working in a challenging, rewarding job, where pleasure in success generally outweighs the frustrations- possibly, it is not the external circumstances which matter to anyone, but their own ability to take pleasure exceeding their frustration. It’s not what happens, but how you see it. Any expectation that that brilliant day would be often recurring for me was doomed to failure, but its memory is pleasurable and there are pleasures now.

The lady imagines life without her friends. “Nightmare!” Actually, it being Eliot and this particular lady, she says “What cauchemar!” I did not have the internet when I first read that. I get a feeling of making the best of it. She is so glad to have found such a sensitive young man, she says, and he realises, or imagines, or worries that it is not so, they do not have the intimately empathic understanding she imagines. Though why should his judgment be better than hers? She sees potential in him he denies. He is less than she imagines, he thinks, lolling in the park, reading the funny papers.

Velleities and regrets…

Her life is odds and ends, and what is his? She may talk of Michelangelo, but not write a thesis or give lectures; perhaps her observation of the Sistine chapel gives new insight to another of the young men she invites to entertain her. As my observation of the Baptistery in Florence pleased the Bishop of Beverley once.

Stacking the shelves of the supermarket may give a well-deserved sense of achievement, and so might tapping out a blog post, or getting a few Likes. And the world is full of contingent delights- dare eat the peach, and its juice may overwhelm you, or it may have gone soft without properly ripening, and that must be good enough. It is good to be her, able to appreciate Chopin, and he, wondering in horror Is that all there is???? might only realise that his own mediocrity is good enough, too, long after. This young man reads in the park, perhaps killing time until dinner at the Drones’, rather than working in the bank, or the publishing house. I read that happiness for the young is excitement, for the old, contentment, and that makes sense.

It is better to be alive than not. Any meaning one must find in what is, rather than what might be or what one ought to want. We are only living, and never “partly living”, and no Archbishop can save us.

breslau-morning-sloth

What to feel?

Not knowing what to feel or if I understand

The young man imagines the death of the Lady- well, she said she was one about to reach her journey’s end- and wonders should I have the right to smile?

What to feel. There is a right feeling, which the decent person should feel. Grief, obviously, at a death, perhaps love or admiration, perhaps gratitude for friendship and appreciation of a human being. Or perhaps revulsion- I shall sit here, serving tea to friends- at a life wasted in odds and ends. And pleasure at a lucky escape.

I have just heard Portrait of a Lady, read by Jeremy Irons– recording available till the end of the month- and it moved me, when it had passed me by in my teens when I found Eliot. I don’t know- it was cruel and pointless in its portrait of her, I did not know what to make of that narrator, I tussled with four quartets and found the thought of being consumed by either fire or fire exciting rather than terrifying or despondency-inducing. “Only Live”- what a calling! The calling was not yet impossible.

Where was I? Oh yes, “What to feel”. I may come back to Meaning of Life stuff- would I write sensible, continuous prose, or odds and ends?- but first I wanted to say

feel what you feel. It is the Only Way.

Feeling denied or suppressed sets up intolerable unmanageable revolt within you. It will not be denied, but erupts, in violence against others or self, smashing things or tearing at your hair.

Ha. Only the slightest pause before I typed “intolerable”- the inner voice still says, you could have managed if you had minimal abilities and I give it the slightest credence, then reject it.

The sadness is not that intolerable shirt of flame, even if it feels like it when it is there. Am I bargaining again? I feel the pain of sadness with the purpose of not showing it, not needing to express it. I want not to express it, and having failed to suppress it, perhaps feeling it authentically deeply, draining the cup to the dregs will be a useful technique not to express it.

Should you seek sympathy, anyway? It is all so much work. I meet a friend and all our time is spent expressing feeling and sympathising, unless it is sadness where one should pull onesself together. I don’t know, by the way. I start typing a sentence and its meaning forces me into considering its opposite. Perhaps Chopin’s soul, resurrected among friends would mean we would not have to speak, only understand together.

Bring all the feeling to consciousness!

Aha! I have an answer, a guiding light, a solution, a rule, which may be more valuable in contemplating than in practising it.

I could feel all my feelings then move on, my actions rationally chosen and effectual, responding not reacting, doing the right thing. One more way to avoid mistakes.

Avoid mistakes! I can learn, I get better at this stuff was the phrase which entered my mind, by which I mean living but not as good as I desperately want to be.

The young man at the Lady’s death might not feel what he ought to feel, but a cacophony of conflicting feelings, many of them mean and unpleasing to him. He really is that mean person. I am my shadow. I am a human being. I am beautiful! was an answer to this- I must admire and delight in the shadow-parts, the bits I do not like, because they are real- yet should I also bear the roiling change of it, confusing me, always behind it? If I only had a chance to contemplate, accept, move on, but I never have time-

Is he really better than she is?

That’s all, that’s all, that’s all. that’s all,
Birth, and copulation, and death.

Good night sweet ladies
Shantih

breslau-friends

Trump says

Headline in NYT begins, “Trump says”. It is their seventh trending article. It is a mess.

Mr Trump says something which is doubtful. This is not news- in public he lies more than he tells the truth. He says what would serve his interests for others to believe, even if it is blatantly ridiculous, because enough people will take up the lie- three million fraudulent votes! Obama Kenyan!

Starting with Trump’s statement muddies the waters. The full headline is Trump says intelligence officials delayed briefing on Russian hacking. Did Russian interference affect the US election? That’s a question for historians. What do we know about it now? What are the latest developments? Journalists tackle that. But this is not a new development, only a tweet. Trump tweets, and NYT expatiates, and millions read breathlessly, again irritated by the horror that is their unpresidented-elect. It is unclear whether Trump is receiving the President’s daily intelligence briefing, the article says, but we knew that: he claimed not to need it. Details mount in confusion, one topic or another, about how dreadful Trump is- but mostly a feeling rather than clear evidence, sorted in a rational way. And his supporters do not care. No-one will be swayed by this article.

Donald Trump is racist, and NYT had a long careful article documenting evidence of that. Now, “Racist” is not just a slur people can throw at him, or a feeling they have about him, because we can cite particular incidents. A useful op-ed or feature might categorise evidence of Trump’s lying, its purpose and effects; but this one is not that. We don’t know. National intelligence declined to comment, Administration officials disputed it. There will be a full intelligence report, expected on Friday, on Russia’s interference. That would let people know its extent; but it will be secret, as it would reveal how the intelligence services find their information. So Mr Obama will know the extent of the interference, and even Mr Trump might, if he keeps a rigid wall in his mind between his understanding of reality and the fantasies he spins for others, but not the public, unless someone sitting on his bed who weighs 400 lbs hacks it.

Has Mr Trump a mandate? Did his vote in swing states increase because of actions by a foreign power? What should patriotic Americans think of a president in office by such means? Americans decided to obsess over the Podesta emails, and Americans decided which way to vote- we could not know the result of the election in an alternative universe without the hacking. Did trumped-up scandals about Democrats outweigh in people’s minds the scandal of Mr Trump refusing to release his tax returns, and his lie that he could not because of an IRS audit? Were people influenced by scandals, character, or even policies or issues? Is Cambridge Analytica more responsible, and more dangerous?

Mr Trump is squirting ink, pretending he has a mandate. Well, he would. He seems to think Russian interference makes his mandate less persuasive, so he denies the interference, but his understanding is not necessarily true.

The Russian hacking is so important that daily articles are worthwhile, explaining any developments; but undue attention to Trump’s tweets about anything merely increases his malign influence.

I couldn’t immediately find an article analysing, classifying, enumerating Trump’s lies, proving him a liar. The Jackson Sun, part of the USA Today network, calls him a “black liar” but only fact checks some statements about his charitable foundation. Boingboing reports the Wall Street Journal editor’s refusal to call his clear falsehoods lies, as that ascribes a moral intent to him. Boingboing calls the WSJ editor an “asshole” but does not discuss it. Marion Schneider in Stock News USA says Everyone is hoping for the best and hope that Trump will be a good president in spite of his lying nature. The country and its citizens are relying on him to do his best. Residual respect for the office, and possibly libel laws, hold publications back. The Chicago Tribune and the Daily Freeman have letters calling him a liar. HuffPo has one of those non-story non-articles– Someone said something in a television interview! The headline Carl Bernstein: Donald Trump’s Disdain For Facts Worse Than Nixon was enough to get me to click, and my regret was almost instantaneous. HuffPo’s “reporter” prissily terms Trump’s lies “factually incorrect assertions”. People who make as many factually incorrect assertions as Trump are either fools or knaves, and those who love America and its people should not assume Mr Trump is stupid.

A similar non-article in Good Magazine led me to a facebook post and then this Washington Post “blog post”, which should have been first on Google News. Was Trump lying? The standard that [the WSJ editor] adopts — that there must be a provable intent to mislead — seems woefully inadequate to informing readers about what Trump is really up to here. Sure, it’s possible that Trump continued to believe these things after they were debunked. We cannot prove otherwise. But so what? If we accept that it’s possible to prove something to be false — which Baker does, judging by his own comments — then we presumably also accept that this can be adequately proved to Trump. And so, Trump is telling a falsehood even though it has been demonstrated to him to be a falsehood.

If we don’t call that “lying,” or if we don’t squarely and prominently label these claims as “false,” don’t we risk enabling Trump’s apparent efforts to obliterate the possibility of agreement on shared reality? Even here, there is a rhetorical question rather than a statement. Have the courage of your convictions. The evidence is there. Trump is a liar.

breslau-conversation-at-the-table

Sense of entitlement

“He had such a sense of entitlement!” she said. How ridiculous. We did not discuss what she meant, but she said something of him, and it seemed to mean that coming from a privileged background he expected his privilege to continue, though he was resentful of the greater privilege of people he knew. She had had to work for everything she has.

I added the phrase to my repertoire of self-examination. There is something wrong with me: I stopped work and like to stay at home. Human interaction troubles me. Part of its use is seeing how I might improve, but a lot of it is self-torturing: this is another way in which I am wrong and inadequate! I am angry with myself.

Self-torture is more effective when there is some truth in it. I was always the privileged child, expected to go to University and get a good job. That thought became mangled with ideas of male privilege: I had been brought up with it. The woman knowing she has to work for everything forges ahead, the- whatever I am- used to having things handed to them is bereft and incapable when things no longer are. That is not a good model of how my life has been.

It’s partly a lack of negative capability, the ability to be in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. I am unhappy working for something. I imagine all the things that could go wrong. I need to have an understanding. Things should be easy, and I should achieve them immediately, so I am baffled when there are difficulties.

I should achieve them immediately. That is contrary to all experience. It is ridiculous. Life is hard. That it makes no sense to me is another reason why I am unconscious of it; yet when I dredge it out of unconsciousness, it explains a great deal. It fits my actions and feelings, so may be what my attitude really is, however ridiculous it is when stated. I compare myself to the ideal me, which always manages things without effort, and so find myself wanting.

A sense of entitlement might be a problem. You do not do the work you need to do to achieve what you want, because you do not realise that you have to do it, or you resent having to do it so do not do it well, or give up. Or it could be a blessing: you know you are entitled to x, so you claim it, your brass neck overcoming obstacles, your self-confidence giving you the drive to succeed.

I want to be safe, just for the moment. I want not to be stressed, and having still been stressed though not working I want to let go of my instruments of torture, so that I would self-examine not to get me to do anything in particular- tidy my house, look for work- because I ought to do it, but to appreciate myself and to liberate myself, gently let go of this anguished stressed self-judgment and relax. I want to do that so that I might become more effectual; and I have the shadowy thought that this is- staying the wrong side of the Gate of Metanoia. I want to let go of any ulterior motive. Right now my work is self-care, accepting and appreciating myself- just that and nothing else, because I hurt badly.

breslau-les-modistes

Nervousness

The worst thing to say to a chronic worrier is “Stop worrying”. It only makes me worry more quietly. I must permit myself to be nervous. In social situations, I withdraw and protect.

Round and round the circle. “I must be authentic,” I wrote yesterday. Well, much of what prevents authenticity is nervousness. I noted this in 2012: The image of life as an apple tree came to me. I have been so afraid, of the other people around the tree, and of the tree itself, that I have rushed at it, collided with it and bruised myself on it, snatched at it so that I carry away nothing, or a dry twig, or some dead leaves. Whereas I may walk to it…and find the apple which feels to me most beautiful… if I touch it in the right way it will come off in my hand. That only says, it is good not to be nervous, and often there is no reason to be nervous. It is no more than the inner critic would say-

“There’s nothing to worry about. You’re useless, worrying.” So worry and nervousness become another indicator of my uselessness, and I suppress them out of consciousness. I probably am more nervous than I need be, but fearing and denying nervousness makes things worse.

My self-image is more important to me than events in the real world.

Oh wow! I suppose I knew that, but I have not put it into words before. Putting it into words makes me see it more clearly. That is why sitting wrapped up and still pretty cold, not going out or seeing anyone most days, is life just about as good as I could wish for. My self-image is a lie- clearly I am afraid, angry or nervous however much I deny it, probably I suppress other things as well. These feelings continue affecting me and my behaviour, more so because I must deny them. OK, I am nervous. If I am among other people I will get nervous, and if I beat myself up for being inauthentic when nervous, it will only get worse.

So: permit, acknowledge and welcome the nervousness. It is uncomfortable, but better than suppression. Suppression only works for a limited time, like holding your breath: you need to hold your breath under water, but after two minutes you become unconscious.

If I hear the nervousness, and recognise it, I might behave authentically.

That evening, I managed to make myself the focus of the group, and they were all irritated with me. They expressed that, and I answered without attacking but holding my ground. And after, chatting in a friendly manner with one of them,

It felt as if I was the REAL ME!

It felt completely wonderful. It has been one of my myths. I identified that real me as female, and hated the poem I wrote about it because I had to deny that. What if, it was just that at that moment I was no longer nervous and self-suppressing, because the confrontation had happened and I had come through unscathed? It might have made me seek out confrontation, for that feeling, but I am glad it did not.

I do not know much about CBT, but all the techniques I know are for thinking about present and future. And I spend a great deal of time analysing the past. Mmm. There was a better response which would have achieved more in that moment.  I am useless! I am not going to stop this, but might ameliorate it by appreciating all the good in my responses, and forgiving anything I might regret.

And finally, Donald Trump. He tweeted, Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love! And news organisations, and clickbait sites, round the world, breathlessly reported it. It is unpresidential- well, of course, we knew that. It pleases his supporters, and enrages his opponents. The answer is, not to be enraged, it’s only Donald being his ghastly self, but note it down: the evidence against him mounts.

illusion

If you have to be someone else, you imagine that you are.

Oh, I struggle to overcome! And tomorrow I will try again, in the Quaker meeting, sometimes in reality, feeling what I really feel, and sometimes in a stifling myth- this is weekly worship which we ought to do, because it is the right thing to do, and because it is right we all enjoy and value it. Sometimes saying to another what I mean, and believe, and want to communicate, and sometimes saying what I ought to say, the small talk which is reassuring because predictable- acting as if what I need to be true really is.

The real is terrifying, like being naked, and the false is stultifying, like being strangled, or swaddled so only the wool is there, not the breeze on my skin, or wearing gloves so I can’t actually touch anything.

At any moment there is what I ought to feel, which is different from what I do feel, like CS Lewis’ houses in Hell which can be huge and grand but do not keep out the rain, like a world without people, only actors, as if I am not there but watching a screen showing something completely different, but somehow below consciousness I know I wear the Emperor’s clothes. Like being at a concert, but wearing headphones which play different music.

There is what I ought to feel, and because I have to I imagined, believed, that I do. And others saw the anger I could not admit to myself. How can you see what is in your blind spot? By realising what frightens you.

It is possible to suppress feeling in order to bear a situation, but it gets more difficult.

I knew that I feared my fear and anger, that feeling fear and anger was Death, the monster would get me and I would die. And I learn that feeling the fear and anger is bearable. Even the sadness. I feared it would make me do something embarrassing and everyone would be angry, as in an HM Bateman cartoon.

hm-bateman-the-croupiers-who-showed-signs-of-emotion

But it didn’t. Feeling the sadness, allowing myself to be conscious of its full strength, I did not show a sign of it. And if I had, there would have been some sympathy.

But- there is what I ought to feel, and that mask comes off slowly. Sometimes I realise I am being that conventional me, saying things which are my own idea of conventional, holding myself stiffly, small talk, and cannot stop, for the real feeling is too frightening and I don’t know what it is. I know this is a screen and headphones not real life, I know I am an actor not a human being, I know I am inauthentic and I don’t know what authentic would look like. More often, I recognise it after.

How unsparing of myself I am! Of course I am a human being, even when reacting this way, it is a human reaction which I do not like because I feel that responding with real feelings rather than this falsehood would get me what I want.

Excuse me a moment, I have got my mask on again. May I try to find what my face might look like, without it? This is not what one does during small talk- stay still, close eyes, look within, try to connect-

I can’t just see what I do wrong, and stop, or see what I would like to do, and do it. Changing habits, even noticing habits, is difficult. Being naked and authentic is risky. What I have absorbed to imagine Conventional, and do when not being authentic, is dust and ashes to me- I know I am doing it yet can’t be otherwise, can’t find the real feeling. Meditation sometimes lets me find it, but I find that frightening.