Trans and culture

Some people are gay. Get over it, as they say. More precisely, some people are same-sex attracted, and “gay” is a useful cultural response to that, a way of containing and explaining the various effects same sex attraction has on people.

Strip away the culture from trans, and what is left? People from widely different cultures live as the opposite sex. Hijras are hijras, Femminielli are femminielli, presenting as women but not seen as women. Elagabalus proclaimed herself “Empress” of Rome, rather than Emperor, a rare example of a transitioned woman with the power to insist. People squabble over instances of those found to be female-bodied after careers as soldiers or physicians- were they transitioning from identity, or were they women choosing that way to survive in a man’s world? Hijra have penis and testicles removed, and so do many modern European trans women.

What is the common factor underlying all these cultural responses? Whether people, either gay or straight, are promiscuous or prefer long term partnerships depends partly on circumstances; I read in the eighties writers disgusted by gay people who said they were promiscuous, and that was disgusting, but also immature and unserious and a sign that homosexuality was pathological, yet I am aware of life-partnerships from before 1967, the date of partial decriminalisation in England. So too trans responses may depend on circumstances. If transgenderists in the old sense, living full time presenting female but not using hormones or surgery, were seen by anyone as “women” I doubt they would object.

If trans women had surgery because they thought it made them women, or made others believe they were women, or believe that they had some medical condition which was properly treated by surgery and therefore they lost the stigma of a sexual pervert, that would mean surgery arose from circumstances, was a cultural response rather than a part of the underlying phenomenon. If the advantage you obtain from the operation is wholly symbolic, it is still an advantage; but society might be better if we could be accepted without having to be mutilated.

There is not only the phenomenon of trans, and cultural expressions of it, but reactions to it and cultural expressions of that. Some say it is a delusion, harmful to the sufferer and to other people who are affected by the sufferer’s actions, and some say it is part of ordinary human diversity. Decent people indulge arachnophobes, taking care to check whether there are spiders and getting rid of any, rather than telling them to pull themselves together.

I say there is a phenomenon of feminine or effeminate men, who do not fit the masculine stereotype, who transition because they fit the feminine stereotype better. If that is the case, the belief in onesself being a woman would come from shame at not fitting masculinity, then seeing the cultural expression of transition. Aha! An answer! The concept of transition arising from gender dysphoria does not require there to be just two genders, and everyone is either one or the other, only that the person transitioning believes that. So the concept of non-binary or gender queer will subvert traditional transition: I do not fit masculinity, but I can find some other way of being, rather than pretend to be a woman.

As people debate these questions, their motivations affect their answers. Are they trying to subvert rigid gender roles by supporting transition, or to protect people from mutilation by preventing it? Do they see trans folk as a threat? Do they seek our best interests, or seek to use us for some other campaign? Are they phobic about us, letting disgust and fear run riot because they imagine it is rational and reasonable, or are they objective?

In the world without Patriarchy, would anyone transition?

My right to exist

I am a trans woman. I have a right to exist as a trans woman.

The empathetic person wants other people to be happy, and unfortunately that can leave no room for me. I had great joy at work when people opened up to me, and it seemed to me they felt better for being heard. I saw myself as worthless, only of value for what I can achieve. How must I be? I asked. What must I do? It was never enough. So I burned out.

First I saw an idea(l) of manhood which I pursued, and then I decided to transition, and both times I was crushing myself into a box which did not fit me. So I am crushed. This is a failure, and it is not wholly mine, but a failure of society, which puts everyone in boxes and specifies what we are supposed to like and dislike. My first box did not fit at all, and my second box never fitted either. I realised at the time I did not fit a box marked “transsexual”, only a box marked Clare, and I proceeded to have a conventional transition.

Ah. The fear was there. I knew I did not fit, but tried anyway. I did not have the ability to forge my own way even if I knew it was the only way I could prosper.

The curse of intelligence is treating life like a problem to be solved. Not all intelligent people do this but it is our temptation. Having failed twice to fit in by conforming, I tried again. How should I stretch, squash or contort myself? And I can’t. You can’t please more than one person.

Having tried to fit in, I am trying to be myself, and finding it difficult. I paused to meditate, and then watch Star Trek: Voyager. B’elanna Torres visits the Barge of the Dead, and finds her honour. What do you want me to be? she asks the Voyager crew, desperately. Only yourself. Well, that’s a coincidence.

In meditation, the words Love and Charisma came up. I have to love the world. It is the only way. Conforming or contorting come from fear. And- I have Charisma, though I have no idea how to use it.

Start from where I am. We know God by participation in God, not by trying to please God from afar. God loves the real me, not some idealised or perfect me. Ah. Of course I have been before. I do not step through a door and find everything easy. Created half to rise and half to fall, I return to my vomit. And then come round in the circle again.

I am a trans woman. However I got here, I got myself here myself. That means I start from here. I have these ways of being and I will not apologise for them.

What do I want?
How may I get it?

I move my locus of evaluation into myself.

Ego states

I know what I must do. I know why. All this knowledge is eminently reasonable. It makes sense. And I don’t do it. It seems there are two ego states in me (and probably others)- the one which knows, and instructs what to do, and the one which refuses.

Ann, from the rational self, would cajole or command the feeling self. “Action,” she would say, then she would get up and go to do what she had to do.

There was that 15 year old who had to have his medication delivered overnight, by an electric motor driving a screw so that a syringe was precisely and evenly emptied into his arm through a tube. If he did not get it, he would become sick. His father had to get up twice in the night (repeated supervision, middle rate care DLA) to check that the tube was in, because if the son noticed the tube had dislodged he would not replace it. Why will you not? asked the tribunal, and the son responded with teenagerish inarticulate stubbornness. “I don’t know why he won’t”, I said, “but I do believe that he won’t”. The tribunal granted the benefit.

I do know why he wouldn’t, though. His father was completely controlling, and this was the only chance at rebellion he had.

This “feeling self” is of course rational.  I am not seeing it clearly, but trying to find conceptions which fit, and which possibly only fit it performing one kind of act; and possibly there is not one “feeling self”. And it does not precisely fit one of Eric Berne’s ego states, parent, child and adult, though I got the term “ego state” from him.

So I should get a cheaper flat. My position would be less precarious, and there are cheaper flats available. I know this, have known it for years, but I don’t do it. “This is why you should,” explains the rational self, and the feeling self is inarticulate and stubborn. It might be worth speaking from the place of the feeling self: why do you not want to? I am so sorry I have not listened to you before.

I love this place. I love its quiet and beauty. It is a huge part of my life.

There are depressive feelings too. I did not want to go to yearly meeting gathering (which was wonderful). I anticipated being cold and wet camping, not knowing what was going on. I could also anticipate joy, but that required thought. I don’t think I would like a cheaper flat. Finding it and moving there would be difficult.

I imagine bad stuff happening. That is a depressive, negative response. It stops me trying things.

For that job I need to do some preparatory work. Some part of me- the rational self, possibly- can articulate why I could do it well, and feels some pride in those assertions- so yes it’s rational but only because feelings are rational. Naming these ego-states can get in the way of understanding them. With encouragement, the feeling state can articulate reasons for apprehension or immobility. Some part of me is still not doing that preparatory work, and is not getting on with an application. I have been burned before. I would rather not try, if I might get an interview but no job. That has been just to painful.

I will be rejected. I am always rejected. I have pride, you know (though I might not see it)- even dignity, though it manifests as fear and withdrawal. You will not reject me. I will not give you the opportunity to reject or judge me. That could be a child experience manifesting in the grown organism now, the best pride- or defiance- I could manage at the time.

I don’t get Eric Berne. His “Adult” was the part of the human which learned and judged from its own experiences, but the “Parent” was recordings, memories, of things taught by parents and people in loco parentis. The “Child” was the child’s feelings at its experiences; but both Parent and Child were laid down before the age of about five. Berne thought these were real components of the personality, laid down in the brain: not concepts, but phenomenological realities. I am agnostic on that one. Possibly the ego states I describe are aspects of Berne’s adult, possibly they are aspects of different parts of his states, perhaps I- or even he!- misunderstand.

Showing respect to my inner No might have value. Why not? I will listen to you. You might agree one argument is depressive, but still insist on another. You might be persuaded, but I could make myself a neutral arbiter. All parts of myself must be persuaded, and agree.

I learned of Behavioural Activation years ago, and now see grime on doors as well as work surfaces. BA: I note what I do, and take pride in it. So I do more, feel more pride, in a virtuous spiral. So rather than berating myself for having a dirty house, each brief action of cleaning, each dirty square foot, is a chance to feel good about myself! At the time I learned of it, it seemed a way of getting me to do stuff. If I picture it instead as a way of feeling better about myself, it is more attractive.

Forgiveness II

What would forgiveness mean?

Someone wrongs me at work, such that I can’t bear to be in the same room. There is no way to complain about the wrong, and I have to continue working with them. I grit my teeth, or I “let it go”- I swallow the feelings of rage and resentment, and get on with the job. I have to.

Or my friend does something I might find objectionable. I learn they are not reliable. My self-esteem is so low that I just suck it up. Or I balance pros and cons, finding that despite this let-down friendship with them is still worth the effort. These are separate experiences, but in both the objectionable act is new information about the world and my place in it. In one, I see myself as worth little, and a little less after the experience. In the other, I see that I can trust my world less than I thought.

Or, I do not forgive. I decide I am worth more, and the world has better possibilities, and write the person out of my life. Which is best depends on which is right. Wisdom to know the difference, and all that. It is the same with that work situation: is it better to slog on, or can I find something better?

All this is happening within me, but it is possible that the other has feelings of remorse, and has learned a bitter lesson about themself. They will not be like that in the future. They apologise. Possibly, they really can change. That is something to add to the calculation, that it is worth still bothering. If I can enjoy helping them change that is my classic understanding of forgiveness, which is repentance and amendment of life, so that there is no need for punishment.

My experience of forgiveness is mostly from childhood too, though, bickering or fighting and being told to make up. Possibly experience of being forgiven colours ones understanding of forgiving.

Society is set up for the privileged. Are the police, social services, etc, on your side, or are they there to stop you stepping out of line? Are the rules of society there to make your way through life easier, or to advantage others over you? The privileged might find “forgiveness” easier, the resentment of the others might be too great. Or the put-upon have no illusions, make clear-eyed calculations, and waste no time or energy on resentment.

Coming back to that work situation. You have no alternative. You have to continue working with that person. You cannot get another job. Yet it is all too much, it sticks in your craw and you cannot do it, so lose the job.

Forgiveness- what is virtuous, or sensible, or creative and generous- depends on circumstances. Desmond Tutu writes, There have been times when each and every one of us has needed to forgive. There have also been times when each and every one of us has needed to be forgiven. And there will be many times again. In our own ways, we are all broken. Out of that brokenness, we hurt others. Forgiveness is the journey we take toward healing the broken parts. It is how we become whole again. If I have found some way to resent the world less, or “forgive” it, that is letting down a burden of powerless emotion, “giving up the hope of a better past”, benefiting myself.

Taunting God

Why should a conversation turn into a competition?

“Free Archaeological display” said the sign on the trailer, so I wandered in. Before I had got to the top of the stairs a pretty woman in her twenties came over and asked how I was doing. The display is about Umchester, only a couple of miles away. There is a video and some display boards. What do I think? A man of about the same age followed her.

I tell her of the mosaic at the Lakes. Not a picture of a God, or anything, just an abstract pattern- but still quite impressive, we agree. I am interested, I say. I watch the odd documentary on the TV.

-Don’t believe everything you see. If it’s [name] switch off immediately. Later, it emerges that his documentaries are about alien beings building the pyramids. A little hurt, I protest that I can trust BBC4. Channel 5 is a little dodgy.

She works with the public engagement team in London. She does not know much about Roman Britain, she is an Egyptologist by specialisation. I feel the need to show I know a little, to move the conversation to a higher level.

-So if I dropped a name like- I don’t know how to pronounce it- Khasekhemwy…
-That’s early dynastic period, isn’t it? asked her colleague doubtfully.

She starts telling me of Unas. He had unique poetry in his Pyramid Texts, saying he would use the bones of the Gods to scour his pots if they did not obey him. I said I would Google, and I have:

397: Unas is the Bull of Heaven, who (once) suffered want,
and who has decided to live on the essence of every god,
who eats their entrails when they come from the Isle of Fire with their bellies full of magical charms (HkA.w).

398: Unas is a well provided one, who has absorbed his spirits (Ax.w).
Unas has appeared as this Great One, lord of those who are at hand.
He sits with his back turned to Geb.

413: Lo, their soul (bA) is in the belly of Unas, their spirits (Ax.w) are with Unas as the broth of the gods, cooked for Unas from their bones.
Lo, their soul (bA) is with Unas, their Shadows (taken away) from those to whom they belong.

Fuckyeah. Badass or what? I can’t think of any other literature about Gods treating them with such disrespect. “Later kings are back to grovelling,” she said. The ceiling of his tomb is covered in lapis [lazuli] with tiny golden stars for the night sky, she says, with the awestruck tones of one who has seen it.

-Does that survive in the Books of the Dead?
-No, they are very respectful. She quotes a bit. I should read Miriam Lichtheim, she tells me. She loved those works, with transliterations, literal translations word by word then prose translations. “Is it Licht [as in “loch”] or Lisht?” she asks her colleague, but he does not know. Her teacher said Lisht. I google again, and find these are substantial academic works.

I like Gilgamesh, I said. “There is nothing new under the Sun”.
-You can quote it? said the man, impressed. Well, it is a fascinating quote, “Nothing new” in the oldest story we know.

In London many of the objects unearthed are Victorian. She finds them quite interesting. Her colleague is not interested in anything newer than Georgian, he says. He drifts off.

I look down at the displayed objects. There is a coin, a black disc I would not have thought was metal without the context, and the broken pin of a brooch. “You should volunteer!” she says brightly.

-Mmm, in a ditch with a brush.
-Not really, a trowel more often. Though there might be human remains, we would use a brush then. Sometimes people use mattocks. It is very good exercise, she says, winningly. I imagine volunteers with mattocks and archaeologists like her with brushes doing the interesting stuff, sometimes showing it to sweaty, muddy volunteers.

I don’t know how this one started, but we were on Romans in Britain including black people, from Africa, and I remarked that there were Emperors from all over the Empire, but not from Britain. She said there were rulers in Britain. I made myself clearer: there were Emperors from North Africa, or Syria, Emperors of Rome, but none from Britain. She said Britain was a Roman concept, not a concept from before Roman rule.

-I don’t know how I am failing to communicate. There were Emperors from all over the empire, Emperors of Rome, from Syria or North Africa, but not from Britain.

She tells me that was about being closer to trade routes. And when I say that the tribes before the conquest had no writing she said just because none survives does not mean that Boudicca could not write her own language. On African soldiers on Hadrian’s wall, she says the concept of black slaves is a modern concept, we think of slaves coming from Africa; but I meant that the population could move around the empire, and would not all be white.

I want to share poetry with her so ask if she has heard of Hafiz. She has not. I quote some. It is translated by Daniel- but I cannot remember “Ladinsky”, his surname, until later. She goes to talk to a man who nearly fell on the stairs. “You could go down the ramp,” she says helpfully. He had not seen it.

Jewish translator, I say, but she is engaged elsewhere.
-Jewish?!

Self-confidence

Do trans women have male privilege?

I avoid actions, and ways of being or responding, because of disapproval in the past which no longer exists. I acted, I sensed another’s disapproval, I absorbed the judgment that I should not act that way, I internalised the judgment that I, my instincts and actions, were wrong. Internalised transphobia is internalised self-phobia. Even if the judgment is my own, and no-one else’s, it still paralyses me.

There is a deep well of rage inside of me. Rage about how I as an individual have been treated…; rage about how others I know have been treated; and rage about the conditions that I’m sure affect many women and minorities, … and have caused many others to leave. Well, my own rage is there, but fruitless: I still am fearful of certain expressions, and the fear holds me down. I am depressed and lacking motivation. The rage could be energy for action, but my own judgment holds it down.

Women live in a society that presents as “natural” what they experience as arbitrary constraints. This can provide them with a particular sensitivity to injustices that are due less to individual ill will than to the structures of established practices and institutions. And I don’t. I accept the judgment on my femininity as weak and as less than masculinity, not an arbitrary constraint but the natural order of things, not historically constructed social categories. I find the quotes in italics, about feminist philosophy, here.

That feminist understanding of her own worth is an attitude I could learn from. The elephant could break the chain on its ankle easily, but remembering infancy when it could not, it imagines the chain as effective a restraint as it was then. My chain only exists in my imagination, but a chain there is strong.

This is the answer to the allegation that trans women have male privilege. The feminist says that my upbringing, encouraging me to act assertively, should benefit me. I argue, against that, that their internal qualities, allowing them to reject the arbitrary constraints on them, place them in a better position to be themselves and overcome the structural injustice. I could not assert myself, only assert a masculine act, which tortured me and which eventually I fled from.

Beside that masculinity which society values, my femininity seemed weak and worthless, even to me. We project our own judgments onto others. Others may read our lack of self-confidence and downgrade their judgment of us. So I am paralysed in acting. That article quoted a definition of “woman”- S is a woman [if and only if] S is systematically subordinated along some dimension — economic, political, legal, social — and S is ‘marked’ as a target for this treatment by observed or imagined bodily features presumed to be evidence of a female’s biological role in reproduction. I am systematically subordinated, at least. Or maybe I would be a woman if I passed as a woman rather than a trans woman. Because our oppression is so different, I could sympathise with a feminist caring more about hers than mine, or even not seeing mine as oppression.

Presence may be the answer. I still the critical voices in my head, and act from a single volition rather than my conflicted state. Others suffer from Imposter syndrome, and still act. Living in Presence does not mean not setting goals or seeking to achieve them, but being present to one’s atelic activities. “Atelic” means non-goal related, from Greek “telos”, purpose, I read here. One might also be present to telic activities. One might develop self-confidence, I theorise.

Presence II

I can be present, and when I am it feels like I am conscious and the rest of the time I am asleep. That is the ubiquitous metaphor: Wake up! various groups shout at other groups, spiritual leaders at their willing audiences, people of strong political views from all parts of the spectrum at everyone else. And it really feels like that. I am asleep. This morning in the Quaker meeting I felt I was there, present, conscious, open to myself and the world, Continue reading

Tiredness, energy, depression, motivation

I cycle badly because I am ashamed. That is, I do not want to switch down a gear because I am ashamed of needing to; so my cadence, the number of times a minute I revolve the pedals, is too low. People with a faster cadence cycle more efficiently. I rebuke myself that it is not what I see that should decide what gear I am in, but how my leg muscles feel. Wind, but also temperature, affect me, I may be feeling tired, and I can have good days when it feels like I am flying, and less good days. I am pleased to cycle up that steep hill, and glad for the work it makes my legs do, and I might do it more easily in a lower gear. I drive myself hard, and it makes me less efficient.

I feel tired all the time. That is so common it has a doctors’ abbreviation, TATT, but also is fake-reassuring: if only I got enough sleep, I would not “feel tired”, yet somehow I always feel tired despite dozing in the afternoon. And generally if I do something in the morning, I just want to watch TV in the afternoon. Today is quite a good day, actually (strike through the words I habitually use to minimise such things): I did a post this morning, I have done a washing and a little cleaning, and am not writing again. And there are bad days when I just read on the computer in the morning, and watch TV later.

I am tired, and sometimes have energy, sometimes have none; or I am depressed, and sometimes have motivation. I need to go to buy food. Maybe later, not now. I know I need it, and have no motivation to deal with that. Or, yesterday I was in the caff with R and I realised that now I feel energised and motivated enough to go to the supermarket, but soon I will not and it will be too much effort. That’s useful. I do the minimum, usually, and I need to know when I can.

I don’t tend to bully myself with the word “lazy”. I choose “useless” or “no good”, words which do not even say how I might improve, instead. “Get on with it,” I tell myself. “Action,” said Ann, and that generally seemed to work for her, but I heard little joy in it. I like the idea of behavioural motivation, that I would praise myself for the little actual amount I had done, be happy with it, and so be motivated to more, but I have not got round to that.

Perhaps sometime I will not feel tired, or will have motivation. I hope it is a carrot rather than a stick which makes me feel that. Sticks have the opposite effect, in my experience. I wonder if a different way of conceptualising it would make me feel better. Bullying myself does not. I must no should (hang it) might “come to delight in every tiny fragment of good” or something. Or face reality – no, that’s judgmental too, that is saying I don’t, now.

I am a good person.
I do my best.
This is where I am

I am frightened

Gender and sexuality

I read a gay man conflating his gender and his sexuality. He said that all his interactions with other people were influenced by his sexuality. It made him a good nurse, non-threatening to vulnerable people and unobtrusively efficient in caring. His sexuality suffused his whole character. This was several years ago, when homophobia was normal in large sections of society. His was a winsome way of appearing non-threatening, as well as a courageous coming out. He also made his sexuality acceptable, part of everyday life rather than some weird exotic perversion. It is a tactic that could win over a thoughtful conservative, brought up to see “homosexuality” as disgusting.

We would say gender and sexuality are completely different. Gender is not sexuality, because lesbians can be femme. Trans women’s idiosyncrasy is a matter of gender, not sexuality, so the word “Transsexual” is no longer acceptable, and it is nothing to do with sexual desire (because female embodiment fantasies are so shameful). Gender and sexuality are different aspects of being human.

I want to conflate them again. I relate to a partner as my whole self. My sexuality is not some abstruse, separate part of me which I get out only with partners or potential partners but part of my way of relating to anyone. Some people may preserve professional detachment, I never managed it, but if in the office I sought to put people at ease I would reveal my humanity, which means my personality.

Transition is not a sex thing, we say. I do not transition because I have a particular sexuality, but because I have a female gender identity. I am female rather than male. This does not mean I can bear children, and transition means I cease to be able to father them. What does it mean? There is no gift, talent or virtue which one sex has and the other does not. Feminists observe that their gift of leadership may be rejected by men, and even by other women, and call that an aspect of Patriarchy, a system of oppression. I observe that gifts are more valued in one sex than the other, and different ways of being or expression are welcomed, tolerated or deprecated in each, and therefore I am culturally a woman, seen by my culture as a woman because I fit the ways of being and expression welcomed in women by my culture.

Though it is normal, and normative, for a woman to be attracted to men, and I am not.

But for that man, his gayness was part of his essence, which also made him a good nurse. Being a nurse is good. Therefore being him, which includes being gay, is good. Being a nurse is good for a woman and bad for a man is a social norm he does not recognise or value.

Being like me is right for a woman and wrong for a man is disputed, and why should I assent to it? Because it relieves social pressure, but now I say the cost is too great. I always wanted to fit in, so I transitioned, because I thought I could accept myself and yet fit in. It did not work.

It is my sexuality. It is the way I relate to others and express myself. My gender is feminine, not “woman”.

Memories and reflections

Two memories from my employment tribunal practice stand out. In one, the Respondent forged three letters which, if believed, were a defence to our claim. We sought a notice payment, and he forged the contractual statement of terms and conditions, to show the notice should be less. But the Claimant had retained her T&Cs, showing the date she started work there.

He would rather go to a hearing, spending considerably more on solicitors, than pay her her due under the law. He lied and cheated. And through her responsible action, I wrote a delicious letter to his representatives- we will settle now for payment of the claim in full, but if you go to hearing we will seek costs and press for perjury to be investigated. He paid up.

She had angina, and he had sacked her after six weeks’ sickness absence. Had he left her to cope with the changes, and learn how a GTN spray affected her, she could have gone back to work shortly after. The stress of the tribunal application stopped her recovery.

And the other: usually a defence to a claim would be accepted late, as it is in the interests of justice: the Claimant’s loss is only a few weeks’ delay, but if the defence were refused the Respondent loses their right to be heard. The motion to accept the defence late is usually a routine, with a pretty apology for lateness enough. I found the arguments why it should not be accepted late. I wiped the floor with them.

As I typed that paragraph I spoke two of the arguments I had used aloud into the empty room, with passion in my voice, controlled contempt suitable for the tribunal room. I remember them in detail. Eight years later these things still matter to me.

I am occupied, in my retreat, in my reclusive existence, with the nature of humanity. How do I see myself in my world? Those stories form a huge part of it. The wicked will fight like rats in a sack, without humanity, quarter, or thought of justice, for their own wrongful interest; but sometimes through luck and brilliance Right can win. A recent story I heard of a court action confirms that: a man resisting to the last moment, only caving when he saw the right must win.

I retreated from the monsters. I could create the brilliance and have the luck only intermittently, and the losses that I saw as My Failures, My Inadequacy, My Wrongness crushed me.

I am concerned above all with safety. There are monsters out there, which can hurt me. I sought safe spaces. Quakers seem nice enough, and I formed an ideal of what a Quaker meeting should be, a false view less and more than what it is really, of people conforming to an ideal humanity rather than being their whole humanity. Quakers were my safe space, then I found during the election campaign that Labour party members, campaigning, were good people too.

I am safe, day to day, retreated to my living room, but not month to month. All I have to do today is buy food, and if I do not I can do it tomorrow. And I am not providing for myself, so I am not safe. My income could be stopped any day now. And I find the safe spaces I sought are more complex than I knew, inhabited not by people following rules I thought I understood but human beings behaving in complex human ways.

I cannot predict what is going on. I can only see it. Or not see it, blinded by my understanding of what should happen.

So I look back on my experiences, and my perceptions, and try to force them into another framework of understanding. I face repeated set-backs. It could be recovering from my childhood, if I cease to see set-backs as I saw them then, as proof of my worthlessness, as the failure which kills me. The monster will get me and I shall die. Instead, I might see what I have lost, if I have lost anything. I have to see what is rather than react to what I imagine out of my complex internal illusions.

I have lost nothing. I have time, and my human gifts. Try again, fail again, fail better is the fashionable Beckett quote, now Keep calm and carry on, parodied from the beginning, is forgotten. Once more into the Breach! I am terrified, because it was so ghastly. I am depressed, which for me means seeing what I clearly must do, and having no motivation for it. Come on! I admonish myself. Action! Get on with it! I am crushed by my experiences. That was a source of judgment for me, proof of my worthlessness, though I assert- it really does not matter whether I underwent experiences which the most courageous, gifted and resilient person would find unbearable, or experiences a worthless, useless weakling should find unexceptionable- I am crushed by them. Can I create a new world?

I put the bin out this morning. It is sunny, and sunlight glistened through a long string of raindrops on the washing line. There is so much beauty outside my living room!