Anger and the Inner Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naming of parts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You are allowed to cry!”

So now I know what to tell the baby.

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

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

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

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

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

Step four part one

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Someone says the original AA older guys were narcissists. They needed taking down a peg. I could use this as a tool to beat myself up. First I need to love myself. So I decided to start with what I hate about myself, how I might value it, how I might love it. Has it any beauty in itself? Is it clumsily seeking a worthwhile goal?

I told a Quaker this, and was affirmed. Later in the chat, someone wrote, “You are heard and seen and cared for! You have a face beaming light!”

On Tuesday 9, I started my list. I hate:

1. The inner conflict itself. It paralyses me. And it is powerful parts of me, each trying to advance my interests, parts trying to protect me, a real me which will not be suppressed.

2. My anxiety. I despise it. It is wrong- there is no need to fear going to Aldi. And- there has been so much to fear, with my attempts to hold my feelings out of consciousness as well as deal with the world, that-

there is something to be anxious about. If I go to Aldi I might become conscious of a feeling. I might run into something unexpected or unpleasing. But then part of the suppressing things out of consciousness is denying that that might make me anxious.

So I am glad of the anxiety because it makes that way of being, suppressing feelings, impossible. The feeling grows until it cannot be suppressed. It affects my actions. It is part of the process of my liberation. And it is my feeling. I will not hate my feeling.

There Is no “I” separate from my feelings. Anxiety is uncomfortable, and I will Love it, not because it is useful, but because it is me.

In the NYT, I read, ‘According to Lisa Genova in “Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting,” chronic stress “inhibits neurogenesis in the hippocampus,” damaging the brain’s ability to create new memories”.’

When I read that I started wailing hysterically. It is vindication: remembering Dad saying to Mum “He lives on stress”, not remembering much from childhood. I need vindication because I doubt myself completely. The levels of stress eventually made me incapable of work. It started in my teens, or before.

People who demonstrate the qualities of enthusiasm, kindness, focus, calmness and openness are seen as powerful by others, says psychologist Dacher Keltner.

Jamie suggests one response to anxiety: “That makes sense”. Breathe into it, being with it. Say “Hello old friend.”

I love my confusion because I am confused. It is me, where I am. I reject the idea of self-improvement and self-correction. Untangling might be good. The problem is self-rejection.

By Thursday 11th, I realised it was not enough to try to find some value in uncomfortable traits- whose values? I will love myself. I will not love myself instrumentally, in order to gain something or change myself. I will simply love myself, in all my confusing beauty. I need love. I will give myself love.

I love my desperation, my hard work.
I love my anxiety.
I love my sulk, stopping and protecting myself.
I love my confusion. I admit I do not know everything or perceive everything instantly.
I love my perceptiveness and intelligence.
I love my beautiful body, and all it can feel and do, and if it is hurt I will love it and care for it.
I love that I can speak from the heart, from my inner truth.
I love my desire to be safe.
I love my need. I will not curse it or suppress it.
I love my failures. I love my successes. I love my attempts to judge.
I am a trans woman. I have not worked for eleven years. Because of anxiety, I rarely go out, except to particular places that I particularly want to go to. There is nothing the Accuser can say which makes me unworthy of love or incapable of loving myself.

I love my self-suppression, seeking safety where there was none. I was constantly stressed, and I survived.
I love my true self, never entirely suppressed.
I love my human perfection:
I love my unknowing, unseeing, finitude, uncertainty,
which allows me to love my uncertain knowing, my conditional perception.
I love that I am enough.
I love my error and failure, which are a sign of my trying.

I love my hurt. I love my pain, which shows me the truth of the world. I love my “negative” emotions- there are no negative emotions.

I love my playfulness.
I love my creativity.
I love my appreciation of beauty.
I love my courage.
I love my generosity.
I love my desire to connect.
I love my openness.
I love my willingness to hear and see others, and to love them.
I love my desire to learn and grow and express authentically.

I felt worthless. I am not worthless. I created an illusory powerful self, which I thought was the centre of the universe. I am not the centre of the universe, and having lost that self-image through experience I resorted to bullying blaming exhorting and whipping my worthless self. And now I am that real self.

I love myself. I will love all of myself which is too scared or shy to show itself. I will love all of myself that delights me, and especially any of me that does not. I am loving and lovable.

Delight unspoiled by disgust?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It hurt so much, and- It’s Stopped!

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

Step Three

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

I am Abigail, and I am powerless over my emotions.

I solemnly and sincerely affirm that I will work to gain emotional health and create a life reflecting the value and beauty of my humanity. I will take this forward by working twelve steps.

I know that my life is unmanageable. I know that in me there is an inner light of truth and integrity. There are also false ideas of what people expect, what safety is, and how to achieve it, which make me act against my own interests and prevent me from finding my own goals.

As an addict uses twelve steps to heal addiction, I will use them to heal my crippling self-hatred and inner conflicts, and my withdrawal from the world. I find the life I have created through these things unbearable, unfulfilling, miserable, dull and lonely. I believe that a better life is possible. I will concentrate on the things I can change, which most clearly include my own thoughts and behaviour.

I commit to acting in integrity from my inner light. I commit to noticing when I fall below this standard. I know that I have fallen below it through fear and hurt, but humans heal from hurts, and much of my fear is of things that cannot really hurt me. I will take responsibility for my own thoughts and acts.

I know that there is a power greater than my conscious self, which is, my whole humanity, conscious and unconscious, and the inner light of every other human being, whose wisdom I will hear if I have ears to hear. In that power, I will heal.

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In step four, there are different ways of making a “searching and fearless moral inventory”. Jeffrey Munn, in “Staying Sober Without God”, suggests looking at our “resentments, fears, and harmful actions”. For me, the main problem I have identified so far is my inner conflicts. So I will start with those. What things do I hate about myself, and what value or beauty could they have? What good can I see in them, and how could I love them?

Eating and sex are human needs. From sex addicts anonymous, codependents anonymous, sex and love addicts anonymous, and overeaters anonymous comes the idea of three levels of behaviour- call them red, amber, green. Eating a whole packet of biscuits at one go would be Red. Swiping yes on every woman on the dating app would be Red. But for me, I don’t know what I must avoid except withdrawing further. Something I see is clearly going to fail and hurt me but do it anyway- it is, however clumsily, working towards some goal. So, what goal has it, and how could I better achieve that?

Taking responsibility for my life seems important.

Valuing it all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Higher Power: Step two

The third step is to make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him. As an atheist Quaker I understand God as my inner light- God within- and the inner light of every other human being. Not everything everyone says comes from God, and, if I listen to others with openness I may hear God in what they say.

I have an inner light whence I can speak, such that it is as if God speaks. Humans are powerful. This light loves me, knows my qualities, values me, works as best it can for my good. The trouble is distinguishing it. I also have an ego, which is less, and living out of the ego will be less than living out of the Light. But what is Light, and what is Ego?

I am an animal with sensory perception and a nervous system to process the information, limbs to move me where I want to go, a gut to digest food and the usual tetrapod systems. I am a human, a social animal with human needs. I am one living creature, and my insanity or sickness is that I have mental conflicts. I am afraid of feelings so I suppress them out of consciousness.

Sometimes it seems I act from the heart. In February 2015 I saw a woman across a room, was strongly impressed, and went over to speak to her. I acted on the attraction before I was fully conscious of it, and from that incident had the realisation, I find what I want when I see what I do. Later that month God Within manifested while I was showering, and because of my conditioning and inner conflicts could only roar and weep, not even “NO!” but a panicked “Na-na-na-na-na…”. I know this was God Within, I knew then it was important, but what it could be bamboozled me.

And now, sometimes I speak from the heart, or soul, and sometimes I get to that place through weeping and pain, and sometimes don’t say what the heart prompts because the inner critic just stops it. The inner critic is only a brake- it always says, “You can’t say that!”- and I overcome it, or I don’t.

An alcoholic said something very like “I find what I want when I see what I do”- in her case, have a drink. She knows she ought not to, and she does. Could the Heart, Power, Soul whatever as I understand it lead me into self-destructive behaviour? Well, I think it does. The teeth-cleaning example:

I am depressed. If I think, I ought to clean my teeth, because that is what one does to get ready for the day, I feel no motivation to do it and notice half an hour later I am still lying in bed. I have said before, if I want to clean my teeth because my mouth will feel better, and I am worth this care and attention, I will feel motivated. And now I feel that is not quite it. Possibly, if the dead weight of ought subsides, something in me will spontaneously want to pamper myself by cleaning my teeth. I am in a sulk against myself.

Or, it is an inner conflict. In 1990, between June and December I bought women’s clothes four times, and threw them out shortly afterwards. I thought, it is OK to think, I have a stressful job, why should I not relax in this way? Or to think, I am a man, this is unmanly, I should stop. What I could not bear was switching between the two views. I had aversion therapy in July 1991, and transitioned in April 2002. At least sixteen times I purged my women’s clothes, which is like an alcoholic pouring their booze down the sink.

It seems to me now, I am moving towards finding my true self, and an essential part of that was transition, but I don’t know if anyone ever purges, marries, and Finds Himself in being a man with a woman, never cross-dressing ever again. In trans groups I only met people who had failed to do that, at least for the time being. I don’t know how a researcher could find a neutral sample, especially as there is such angry moral condemnation on the one hand for transition- medicalising and sterilising people, and Erasing Women- and on the other hand for opposing trans rights, because trans is how we really are.

It could just be an inner conflict. One side wins, and is thereafter the Heart, the Soul, the Real Me. This is not a crude existentialist view that one makes a choice how to be. When I did, I passionately wanted to dress female. When I did, I passionately wanted to make a man of myself.

There is an inner conflict. I cannot make a clear understanding of the distinction between Ego and Soul. Both have access to my rationality, creativity and expressiveness. Emotions appear to arise from each.

I can’t rely on deductions. I said, “I am loving, creative, powerful and beautiful”, making deductions from being created in the image of the Christian God in whom I then believed. Later, “graceful” seemed to fit so much better than “powerful”. Or, I could say the ego comes from the enmeshed relationship with my mother, and therefore anything my mother would have wanted is bad. It does not enable me to predict what this Light would do in some imagined situation. Would I fight, if I were Ukrainian? Absolutely no idea. Or, perhaps it does- but knowing character separate from an actual choice in the moment, or predicting the future, is tainted by the desires and self-image of ego, so harder to discern.

And yet- I love it when I speak with this higher voice. It can seem vulnerable, ridiculous, shameful, weird, but speaking from anything else seems less- hamartia, in Christian Bible Greek, missing the target, often translated sin. And even when it could only say “Na na na na na!” it seemed powerful.

I cannot predict it, and I do not really trust it, but in the present moment I can act and speak from it, and anything else feels less. Yet sometimes a judgment condemning myself seems right, rational, sane, whatever.

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.
The spirit of Life in Christ will set me free.

I wrote this, and it’s a bit angsty. I was anxious. In the afternoon I spoke from the heart and achieved what I wanted, then called a wise friend and celebrated my delight without stating what the delight was about, beyond speaking from the heart. I feel more confident in my ability to speak from my inner light each time I have done so.

A saner view of sanity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome and entertain them all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facing the shame and the guilt:

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

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

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

The Piano Incident

When I was eight, my mother wanted to show off my piano playing skills to her friend. She wanted me to play the grade 2 exam piece I had just learned. I did not feel entirely sure of it, so wanted to play the grade 1 exam piece I knew well. I insisted, and ended up weeping uncontrollably and humiliated for it.

In September 2009, having told this story to selected hearers with all the emotion of the shamed, weeping eight year old, ending with “She didn’t understand!” I suddenly realised, oh, right. She didn’t understand. She did not get the depth of my objection. It seemed all the pain of the memory left me, and I forgave my mother, or better, accepted her. She had done her best. She had not been superhuman.

On Saturday 25th, I saw it differently. The child was not particularly heroic- my mother wanted me to take a risk of getting the notes wrong, and I did not- but I knew my desire and insisted on it, and I felt my feelings and expressed them. These are things I have great difficulty with now. I remembered the piece I wanted to play. I still have it, though not the other one. It is by Thomas Dunhill, who wrote a great deal of educational piano music at different levels. It is grade 1, and I see the tricky bits- a chord staccato pianissimo? I have the muscle memory, though I have not played it for decades- I have to pull my hands in, as they were not full grown and I automatically stretch further than I would now, to play a sixth.

What if I could be like that child- knowing my desire and feelings, insisting, now?

On Friday night, I awoke in a panic. Normally waking in the night I am bored. I have taught myself to think of familiar, boring things, but I was thinking of the media anti-trans onslaught and of my recovery from M- after brief hatred, and making her words bless me, I hate the fact that I am thinking of her so much. On Saturday morning, I had a panic attack. Normally my anxiety is unconscious, but I felt it. I tried to hold it down: that is what causes the panic attack. If I am to be conscious, I will have to bear the anxiety. The alternative is numbing out.

Eye contact exercise. I am with someone I liked last week, and I wonder if I am merely a mirror to others’ feelings, echoing them to keep myself safe and invisible. My judgment is harsh: I am just a whore, having no self. Then the idea that could make me a “permission slip”, letting others be who they are. Another says that is her way to avoid her own feelings. Three interpretations- how could I know? Perhaps all are true. I want to put others at ease and connect with them.

We share on a topic, and as Jamie says my creative self can just come up with the words. I am surprised at my creativity. What I say sounds prepared to me, with beginning, middle, and end, and it was spontaneous. It is easier to create like that than to create for a purpose or to speak from the heart to communicate what I need to another human, but this playfulness pleases me. I contain playfulness and anxiety and will judge neither.

My intention when I refused to play the more difficult piece on the piano was to keep myself safe, and now that desire has taken over my life.

I would like not to be judging and fighting myself. And now I am sitting with and accepting my pain, exhaustion and perplexity. There is no need to think, or find a solution.