Triggers and avoidance

The triggers can be anywhere.

Self-discovery is impossible without knowing where you came from. “Understanding your past and the family you grew up in helps you to understand who you are now and what you value.”

Well, yes, you might say. The best I can say of this is that it reminds us of something we know, before connecting it to something I had not previously connected it to. Perhaps I am just reading this magazine article for the comfort of being reminded of stuff I know, plus the odd wee nugget of new information. It scores low on the enragement index, as the most enraging sentence I have found is this: “We did not know if the existing scientific literature on predicting successful marriages would apply to poor families, because it was mostly conducted on middle-class families,” but they went on and spent on “marriage education” for poor families anyway. Or, A young wife became convinced- after a “Marriage clinic”!- “that her husband’s straying was a result of her failing to do her duty by taking care of her looks and keeping a proper home.”

These are not enraging by comparison with, say, this on Brexit. The marriage article names continuing injustices, but the particular applications are far away and in the past, and don’t directly affect me. The Brexit article introduced me to a new arcanum, the “Consent mechanism”, whereby the Northern Ireland Assembly can reject the agreed border regime. Theresa May agreed Britain would follow EU rules, to avoid a border in the Irish Sea. Johnson put the responsibility onto the Unionists in the NIA. They can either break the Good Friday Agreement and make the border with the Republic an international trade and customs border, or they can effectively end their union with Great Britain. Johnson’s betrayal of the rule of law, in his quest to destroy the British government’s power to influence regulations on corporations in order to protect consumers, employees or the environment…

you can tell I am nearly frothing at the mouth on that one. I typed that sentence completely without thought, linking the new “betrayal of the rule of law” to the central Brexit vandalism which enrages me, and will affect me, almost certainly impoverish me further. I enjoyed videos of Ed Miliband explaining Johnson’s multiple betrayals in the House of Commons (here’s the full thing) but the Internal Market Bill still got its second reading.

And still it did not affect me like “Understanding your past and the family you grew up in helps you to understand who you are now and what you value.” I instantly wanted to avoid. I could check that facebook post.

“Mars is in retrograde,” said someone, and I thought, yeah yeah, astrology blah. But Mars is in retrograde- apparently going backwards, from a Ptolemaic perspective- because it is in Opposition, the other side of the Earth from the Sun, almost the closest it gets to Earth even though this is not a particularly close opposition. I took the bin out and looked up, and it was amazing. So I posted about this on facebook, and got seven likes and one comment, though none since I checked an hour ago.

Instead I analysed my impulse to check facebook. I want to go into something even more undemanding than reading articles saying mostly stuff I know, and potentially get a dopamine hit from another Like. I want to go into comfort blanket mode, because of that sentence. My upbringing actively prevented me from understanding who I am, destroying? Badly damaging at any rate, my relations with my relatives now, impoverishing me, and ruining my life.

Yes, it is that bad. Ruining my life.

So, rather than checking facebook, total avoidance activity, I sat with the pain for a few moments, then came here to analyse the impulse. I feel I should finish that marriage article. I should not be deflected by triggers. But then, I know “You can’t avoid marital conflict, but you can learn to handle it better,” and I am not married, because of that upbringing.

I should not give in to my trigger. I should complete what I started.

Mmm. Rules like that kept me going, and now I feel it is a failure not to finish the article. And yet, reading the article was not much better than avoidance activity in the first place. I think the liberating thing is not to finish the article, but I am feeling conflicted about that.

I will sit with my hurt for a bit.

More analysis first, though. The upbringing and the introjects were to enable me to follow a safe adulthood. They were so far from “who I am and what I value” that they broke down, and now there is the shattered wreckage of the introjects and the hurt.

I will sit with my hurt for a bit.

Hit “publish”.

Check stats.

Christian Science

I thoughtChristian Science was about Christianity for scientists, then I heard it was much nuttier than that. It has to get over beliefs like this- Has it? Can it?

The Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good. She wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in 1875 that sickness is an illusion that can be cured by faith alone. Such can be deduced from certain Bible verses, such as “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” and “God created humankind in his image”. If we are perfect, in the image of God, we cannot be sick. People tried to convince themselves that they were not sick.

I hear the anger this belief still engenders sixty years after my friend ceased to believe it, aged 12. Her father had migraines, and tried to believe they were not there. Her parents read Eddy’s book, understanding the Bible through it.

How is it Science? Because God is understood to be unchanging Love—the infinite Principle that is constant, universal, inclusive, eternal, the only true power and source of all good. It explains the spiritual laws of Love that enabled Jesus to heal sickness and sin. This divine Science also answers our fundamental questions about evil, reality, and eternal life. And as the word science implies, it is reliable, consistent, and provable, bringing healing to individuals and humanity through a deeper understanding of God. It isn’t, in other words: the term sounded good. Mary Baker Eddy turned wholeheartedly to God when she experienced a critical injury in 1866. As she read accounts of Jesus’ swift, powerful healings, a new sense of God, Spirit, as the only reality flooded her thought and healed her. Impelled to understand the Principle behind this experience, she continued to search for and find in the Bible the underlying laws of God that would form the basis of her teaching and practice of Christian Science. One coincidence or delusion for one charismatic, persuasive woman, and people throw out real medicine. Children have died and parents been convicted of neglect because of it.

It would be so lovely, if only it were true.

Our true nature is spiritual, Eddy decided. No. We are animals, physical creatures. If I am tired I need to sleep. They still teach that if we accept and believe Jesus’ promises, follow his teachings and understand his spiritual laws (as explained by Ms Eddy) we will be healed- so if we are ill, it is our fault.

Aura reading

She had a message for me, from some spiritual source. Sometimes, she gets these messages and the imperative to pass them on. She would tell me of the colours of my aura. My path is the violet ray, one of the most difficult paths.

Some years ago my aura would have been silver, that is, merely reflective, hiding my true nature. She would not want to engage with someone like that because they are not telling their truth to her.

Now, my aura is green and brown. Brown means attachment to material things. In the end, my aura will be purple, purely spiritual. I should wear amethyst for protection.

I was taken aback by this, by her intensity and certainty of the message itself, and by the message. I liked the thought of being spiritual. Possibly, I should just have heard it and left it, to percolate in my unconscious; but I treasure such things, so wrote it down.

When I saw her next day, I asked her what green meant: I had forgotten green, and it is often what I forget that is the most important part. She tells me green means growth. This means I am taking in energy from others, in order to grow. I do not want to be dependent- but what I heard then was forgiveness for my dependent state. And brown also means grounded, for we are material beings and material things are important.

Indeed it is not concern for material things that is spiritually problematic, but fear for the future held back by a belief that material things protect us from threat and an undue concern to accumulate material things and make permanent ones access to them: for no thing is permanent. But this is a thought I have had afterwards.

Then, I thought that her reading was not difficult to make. I had said I was trans, and she probably saw it before anyway. So self-concealment, at least in my own understanding, would fit. As for now, I am Quaker so of course would see spiritual growth as important; and some concern for material things is necessary, though it is a balance, and ones concern may be too great or too little. I am not sure what the violet path or purple aura would mean.

Though my thought after her first discussion was that the path will unfold and speculation about what later parts of it will look like get in the way of seeing where I am, and I value that thought.

I wondered if the purple related to the rainbow, or the crown chakra. She told me of a meditation, consciously calling my own energy back to me, and shedding energy I had absorbed from others. Worry without progress can use energy. These metaphors seem useful to me.

What do the colours mean? Here I learn that violet is the most sensitive colour, revealing psychic power, intuitive, visionary, magical, artistic. Yay! Here violet is also attunement with self, futuristic and idealistic. Though silver, there, means other than she said. Here is one page on the violet ray.

aura colours


We have been discussing horrifying things, and we both have bad news, so why am I so cheerful? Trigger warning of extreme violence and a rape which child abusers might find appalling.

I did not get the job. He notes that this means I will not be leaving Swanston, and is happy about that. That’s OK, you are allowed to be selfish, and counting my blessings I note that I do not have to uproot myself again. I have friends here. We go on to the evisceration of social care. The Severe Disability Premium is abolished in Universal Credit, as “Social Services will address needs”. That is monstrous: they cut £61.85 a week from the income of disabled people on means-tested benefits, the most vulnerable group in society apart from the homeless. And Social Services, facing crippling cuts, cannot meet the needs they were juggling already.

He asks if he had ever said why he could not be a social worker. He has not: I would have remembered this story.

He had seen appalling things at the hospital. He had been able to continue working, and control his own feelings, after the case of a man who had broken into his former partner’s flat, smashed everything there, and broken just about every bone in her body. Then he was involved in a case where a baby a few months old needed reparative vaginal surgery after her own father had raped her. He was physically sick on the way home, and could not be involved in social work any more. So he changed his Master’s degree from social care to social policy.

I always seek empathy. I imagine the man, holding his daughter and not seeing her, holding a baby and not seeing a human being, but a lump of meat on which he relieved sexual urges. Or, perhaps, finding a way to attack the mother, and make her insane. My mind recoils, I cannot imagine it. I can imagine violent acts undertaken in anger- Hume’s example of preferring the end of the world to a cut on my finger comes to mind- but not that. I do not recognise him as a human being. I hope the other men in the segregation unit killed him. I want him crushed like a bug, expunged like a virus. My lovely, gentle friend- too gentle, perhaps, for his own good- had murder fantasies about him. I had heard of the lie that sex with a virgin would cure AIDS, and an epidemic of the rape of babies in South Africa; but even that has a motive, and is less monstrous than this.

Someone has to deal with such people- but not me, or my friend.

Why were we cheerful, after? Because he is still affected by it, decades after. He remains angry. I could hear his anger, and sympathise with my friend; and drain a little of his hurt. So I validate my friend’s feelings, and we feel together. And cheerful, after, perhaps because we could leave the abomination behind.

I will not be affected by it. I was not involved.


I like to get chatting on the tube. Reading over the shoulder of the pretty French woman on my left, I saw she was reading about energy healing, in particular chi massage for vital organs. So I asked her about it. The passage she was reading was keen to get the healer protected against sick energy from the recipient. Healers may take on the sicknesses of those they heal. The young, with greater vitality, may live with this for a while, but the sickness breaks through.

-What do you do to protect yourself? she asked.
-I don’t know. Perhaps all I do is to protect myself.

She got off at the next station. I try to protect myself, and it is not working.

I went to London to see my psychotherapist, but when I got to the GIC she was not there, and had not informed them where she was. I was very glad I had set out before they tried to contact me, because that meant they paid my train fare. So I went to Tate Modern to see the Agnes Martin exhibition for the third time.

The Islands is a series of twelve 72×72″ canvases, each covered in white acrylic paint. Each is divided into horizontal stripes, with no vertical lines: the edges of the stripes are one or two graphite pencil lines. Some of the stripes are lightly shaded with graphite. Before I entered I found a single stool leant against the wall, which I took, to sit before each canvas in turn. 1 ¾ hours later, I ceased looking at the twelfth, and went for chocolate cake and coffee. As I left, the guard said “Thank you”.

They are sublime. Any other art work I have seen I can impose my own rules, my own understanding on it. It fits within my world. We make our own understandings, something less than Reality but something each of us can more or less function in, and place new experiences within that framework- which is why it is so hard to get an inkling of what another human being is really like. But these, I cannot. I look at the wash of graphite- the words make no sense, except they express the feeling of it- at first feeling that I know how these stripes work: except that they do not follow my Understanding. They are Themselves, wholly other.

In that time, I seek to open myself to the things in front of me, as if meditating, and at another time curl up into a ball, protecting myself from them, but still looking. I rock: friends have rocked while sitting, for comfort, and I have not felt moved to do so before.

Looking at the edge of one, it is as if the darker stripe is divided into darker and lighter narrow graphite stripes. Looking at the middle of the wide stripe, I am unable to confirm this. So both understandings are possible.

Possibly because of seeing this art work, I could say today I am entirely of myself. Possibly, it liberates me.

They are beautiful things. The white acrylic paint shines in the well-lit gallery. They are on show at Tate Modern until the end of the exhibition on 11 October. They are normally at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which wants its url on this post. The photo is fair use, as part of non-commercial criticism of the work.

The Islands at the Whitney museum of American art

Sketch 7, Draft 1

1927_Klee_Variationen_anagoriaThis is not what I do. This is not who I am. This is not what I believe. But it might be. And that might be good.

When do you change your mind? There was a time when I was absolutely certain of my former understanding. Now I know different. In between came a series of experiences challenging my earlier view and opening me to a different one, then confirming that different understanding. I have moved from right to left, Caliban to Ariel, rationalist to mystic, self-denial to self-expression, and in this experience my old way fractured from top to bottom, and green shoots of new life poked through.

Noticing everything is bliss and danger, distraction and- I notice everything. I see the marks on the floor from the wrong kind of training shoes, the bars on the walls and the ropes from the ceiling, the sound my footsteps make, Anthea’s footsteps though I do not see her, no, I glance at her then drop my eyes. The sports hall expands, its ceiling the sky, its walls miles away, and I sit on the floor, resigned to whatever might happen. The way of being in me which would have been dismissive, judgmental, denying any possible value in this is silenced by my pain, but I am not, yet, a believer. I fear, but have sufficient trust in Anthea’s good-will and ability to hold the process that I go along with it. I see no alternative.

Anthea creates a flowing circle of healing energy around me so that only the highest and finest energy may come through, and asks me to focus on my chakras, a concept new to me. What colours do I see? I have no mind’s eye, so if I close my eyes cannot see anything, such that if I imagine a room I will imagine a verbal description of it. She insisted, and I plumped for red.

“Imagine your coccyx uncurling beneath you, extending downwards into the Earth. It roots you in the Earth, in our Mother Gaia, and energy from the Earth flows up for your healing.”

I try. I really do. I imagine my coccyx warily pushing down into the Earth, but it pulls back, unable to trust.

I speak my pain. I am begging that psychiatrist. “Do you have any idea what I feel? What did you do to diagnose? Can you not see that I am female?” Then I speak my anger at my mother. I imagine her on her death-bed, in the middle of that sports hall, and I prowl round it screaming at her. The foam is on her lips. “What did you mean, you still have work to do? Did I ever smile? Did you ever smile at me or touch me?”

I hear the Carpers at the back of my head. There are three of them. Anthea tells me to sit them in a chair in front of me, then bring them into my heart and love them. At this moment I realise:

I can channel the healing energy of God.

The first is like a baby whom I can pick up and cuddle. The second has a chalk-board and chalk, to lecture me. The third is black, a mass of energy. I need to make friends with it, as with a wild predator. I need to integrate, love and calm these aspects of me.

God’s Love is intimate.

At Anthea’s suggestion I have a shower then go to bed. In the shower I feel the healing energy of God channelled through my hands.

This piece comes from the Writing 201 course:
What’s your angle;
intros and hooks;
finding your key moment;
setting the scene, putting it into practice.

Here is the whole piece, most of the sketches tacked together in more or less the order I want, but needing quite a bit of editing.

Summer Gathering (Sketch 5)

Efflorescence, Klee, in part“You are on a very long journey,” said the woman. Oh yes, Caliban to Ariel- but I did not have the words for it then, only the struggle and the anger. A week on a campus with Quakers was the perfect place to poke my illusions, and show me what matters to me.

We are an odd lot. We like to imagine ourselves calm and wise, so avoid the appearance of conflict; and “Plain-speaking”, so dive into it. I like getting to know people. Here is a man who has led a committee of twenty and 125 volunteers for two years fundraising for a statue of Walton in Oldham, where Walton was born; they have raised £3000, and would have been better spending their time in menial jobs for the money. I joined a couple walking across the campus, and when the wife went off to get coffee the husband said, “Do you mind if I speak bluntly? Are you having a sex change?” I could wish these people less perceptive, sometimes. They notice so quickly. One said it was obvious I wore a wig, because it was flat, not moving like real hair.

We were assigned small groups, to spend an hour together each day, but our two facilitators had not had time to discuss how they would run the group beforehand. A woman told me she had been playing croquet when “this idiot” came over and demanded her friend go to discuss the group. Of course she refused. I got irritated that we spent the first of our five hours together discussing how we might spend the time- I wanted more structure- but when Philip produced a conch for people to hold, so that one person would speak at a time, Peter picked it up and said he did not want to proceed in that way. Next day some were missing.

We hurt, and we open. Jeff was alcoholic until he decided he had to Be Himself or die. When I said I had avoided suicide by deciding that I must not hurt my father, a woman said how serendipitous the conversation was, as she sought to console her friend whose daughter had killed herself. So I shared about how angry I felt about the oppression of my kind and the lack of self-worth we feel, and how liberating transition is- like moving from monochrome to technicolor.

During the week, I went to Leicester to consult with Dr Khoosal, a psychiatrist. I needed a second opinion so I could have my penectomy and vaginoplasty. He told me I was not ready: I needed laser treatment to remove my pubic hair and speech therapy. He thought I should not have testosterone suppression. Until I sorted all this out I could not have the Op. When I finally brought myself to open his letter weeks later, I found he recommended surgery: he had seen my distress, and changed his mind. However I left Leicester unable to express my misery or anger. I curled in a ball on the floor, and my friend covered me with a blanket.

I met a woman who had transitioned ten years before. She told me that she had put transition behind her and was simply a normal woman- an enviable state, I thought. Then she moaned about her wife and about transition experiences: she still felt the same anger. I asked a solicitor in the Blue Group what was the effect of a decree nisi without a decree absolute after ten years, and she revealed she was the trans woman’s daughter. Despite all my sharing, she had not thought to tell me before.

Before transition, I had loved country dancing. I could get high on movement, music, touch and eye-contact. I travelled to Germany in a demonstration team. Now, trying it in an afternoon session, I got angry with the others bodging, and laughing at their mistakes and ungainliness- this can be so much more! Worse, I was embarrassed and uncomfortable dancing on the man’s side, and confused on the woman’s. I left early. On the Friday evening I danced in the closing Ceilidh. Yes, I see other people are enjoying themselves, and still feel angry. So I went to find Anthea, the healer.

Efflorescence, Klee, a bodyWe went into the deserted Hazlerigg ballroom. This Healing stuff really is ridiculous mumbo-jumbo- but having nowhere else to go, I go along with it. She places me in a golden circle of light, so that only the highest and finest energies may come through it, then asks me to focus on my chakras: what colours can I see? None. I do not have a mind’s eye. We both insist, and eventually I give up, picking red.

Can I imagine my coccyx extending downwards to root in Mother Gaia? No. I try to extend it, and it pulls back. The base chakra is tribe and family, or roots. Sit on the ground to root- but I cannot trust. I express my anger, not at Dr Khoosal, I am pleading with him: how did you diagnose? Can you not see I am female? Have you any idea how I feel?

Then I am back at my mother’s death bed. I look down on you with the foam on your lips and scream at you. What did you mean you still have work to do? Did I ever smile? Did you ever smile at me or touch me?

I hear the Carpers at the back of my head. There are three of them. The first is like a baby, I can pick him up and cuddle him. The second has chalk and a blackboard, to teach me. Anthea says I should help him write out his feelings, then burn the paper. The third is a mass of energy, a black hole destroying light. She says nothing. I try to touch her hand, to make friends as with a cat in the garden. I need to integrate, love, and calm these aspects of myself.

Anthea suggests I have a shower and go to bed, and in the shower I find myself channelling healing energy through my hands.

Efflorescence, Klee

No need for panic

My dream- beach with people walking and boatsCounselling again, a year on. Am I making progress? Well, tortoise steps…

One way into it is this problem. A year ago, local Quakers gave a Romanian family permission to use part of our meeting house as a temporary home. At the time, we thought they would be out by now. Five years after accession, Romanians have the same rights as other EU citizens. They could get social housing, benefits, and he could get a job.

It has not worked out that way. The father’s English remains poor. He is apparently getting some help with benefits from the Sunlight centre and a benefits advice service, and a Quaker, M, is helping with bids for social housing. On Sunday, she mentioned the dread words “local connection”, an allusion to a rule which I don’t understand but which might get in the way of them getting social housing. Housing issues are part of her job, but M. doesn’t understand either.

The Government’s great scheme to prevent Europeans from getting Housing Benefit might stymie them too. M. has sent me the circular the Government sent to local HB offices, and I learn the great scheme, or part of it, is the Social Security (Habitual Residence) Amendment Regulations. That should be OK. I got my new Welfare Benefits Handbook on Friday, and all I have to do is get my head round the circular, the regs and what the WBH says about them, and I can give an answer. We should be able to argue a right to reside, from which entitlement should flow.

Since January, he should have been entitled to about £116 a week child tax credit. We don’t know if he is getting it, or whether a claim has been made. In theory, one claims with a phone call.

As for Quakers, there is no great harm leaving the family where they are, or even individual members spending money and effort if they wish trying to help the family. Possibly, if he can’t sort himself out here, he would be better in a country where he speaks the language, which is a nicer way of saying “send him back where he came from”.

I have no motivation at all in this. It seems there is a goal only a few yards away, and a firm, metalled path leading straight there, and as soon as I step on it I find a bottomless pit. The goal of the family being housed securely with a secure income, and the goal of getting a clear opinion on HB entitlement, appear alike impossible.

My dream 3Here I got upset. Possibly Charing Cross will help me sort my feelings out, I will see the psych next week.

I know I have good qualities- intellect, love, creativity- which ought to get me through these problems, and I know that others respect me more than it feels they do. The paranoid thoughts are not true. Feelings of my own worthlessness are also not true. There is that in me, call it inner child or whatever, that I have to convince. I am respected by others- and the terrified child self does not see that, either.

So with Yvonne again I got upset, to the stage of being unable to speak, nearly crying, in probably the safest environment I could be in. I feel incapable of achieving anything. I stay at home doing almost nothing to avoid feeling that way.

Walking home in the sunshine, I was still a bit emotional

and it feels that this emotional, feeling state is the only way to
move forward
the only way to be not shut off

my dream 2yet I see that it is so painful, and I have good reason to avoid it. So- If I were living with someone, I would need panic attacks- being unable to breathe, getting visibly terrified, being exhausted after- to convince her that I Needed Help. Having no-one to convince but myself, there is no need for panic.

Bladder cancer

Moonlight, a Study at Millbank exhibited 1797 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851To the hospital. We stop in the coffee shop, opened 1991, and the lino on the floor is a bit scuffed, it could do with replacement. I do not like hospitals. The place is too crowded. Striking tattoos on that man.

-When does visiting time start?
-We can go up any time you like.
I do not say, then why have we stopped for coffee?

Could my hands get warm? I could offer healing for comfort.

B is semi-reclined, her hair neatly brushed back, looking lively enough. The flower pattern on her nightdress and the pattern on the bedspread are pretty. Out of the window, there is not a cloud in the sky. I hug her, and say what I wanted to say: as she introduced me to the Sibyls, I might not have transitioned without her. Then I hold her hand. Yesterday, she was sleepy, but today she is better. I meet her daughter, F.

I had to come, to say goodbye, but having said that I don’t know what else to say. She is comfortable enough on the morphine. She was sitting up for a bit this morning: I saw the slippers, and say I thought that was a good sign. I told my Macbeth joke. And that story about the lion. What can you say? The cancer has metastasised. I went there to see her for the last time. F goes out for a walk in the sunshine, and brings her back a choc-ice. The hand-holding is the most important thing. In comes a “housekeeper”- she is going off shift, and she tells us this is her twentieth wedding anniversary, and they are going out for dinner tonight. F tells us the staff are all lovely like that.

She is mostly comfortable on the morphine. She tells us she had a very bad night last night, but actually F later tells us that that bad night was over a week ago. She just remembers it. So F has to remind her of the good things- wasn’t it lovely to see Clare today?

B is getting a bit sleepy, so we leave. F comes out with us, and tells us the cancer, originally in the bladder, has spread to both kidneys and one lung. Suddenly we have a lot to talk about. She tells me how feminine and attractive I look, which I think is a trans reference- though she did not say “for a tranny”, she said “not like me”. I said I think she looks lovely.

B’s other daughter is back in the US. She keeps referring to her “dad”, which irritates us. I suppose she has a right to use the word.

On our way home we stop at the model shop: radio-controlled cars, planes and boats, £60-£120. Lovely things, and I would like to have a play, but not to use them more than once. Here is a helicopter the size of your hand. Dave would like one steady enough to hold a camera, as his hobby is archaeology, and it is useful to get aerial photographs.

The monster won’t get me

As a self-confidence exercise, I went round the supermarket this morning without my wig. Terry, who remained in the car, was more embarrassed than I was: people mostly looked at me so we could avoid our trolleys colliding. If people look at me quizzically, to be abashed by that is responding like a prey animal- and my response is my choice.

What irritated me was the way the check-out assistant started chatting to the woman behind me, while still serving me, and ignored me when I responded.

I give, or can choose not to give, permission to others to dictate my appearance; even if in some cases a particular appearance might help me achieve a particular result. This is an improvement. She irritated, rather than distressed, me. There was no overt insult, and if there had been I could have handled it.

I ended a course of counselling in 2009 with:
-What are you afraid of?
-The monster will get me.

As Yvonne pointed out, this is small child’s language, and it was the only way I could express it. I could not go further: in fact, so non-rational is this that my barriers against the realisation were great. I wanted to rationalise the fear, and find a proper cause for it. I saw later that the monster is my mother, and if it gets me I die. It seems I have moved on from then. The monster won’t get me.

In the park, families have paid to be taught and supervised building shelters for the night- a “Survive” event. They had a gorgeous warm weekend for it. I went into the woods following the path the 4x4s had made (AmE- “SUVs”) and chatted until told to leave by the “ranger”. He escorted me away, which irritated me again- why not just trust me to walk away, it is not as if I will scratch that motorcaravan (for use, perhaps, if a family could not bear it).

This is an improvement. I am not so crippled by self-consciousness that I cannot go out. I still have difficulty articulating anything I Want, which I feel I could achieve, or a way to achieve something, but a barrier within my own mind has melted away.

My distress is not as dangerous as it was. If my anger terrifies me, I freeze and can do nothing but suppress it. If I can notice and permit it, it can energise me.