Recovery from burnout

Only achievers burn out.

I got that lying doctor sacked. Then I am on the balance of probabilities sure that the second one was lying, was certain of it at the time, and think any disinterested party would agree. The Benefits office and their medical services were not disinterested, wanting to assert that they did nothing wrong ever.

I went into the tribunal and accused the examining doctor of lying. The doctor on the tribunal laid into me. How dare I impugn the integrity of a professional man? So I went back to the waiting room, burst into tears, and soon after I stopped doing benefits tribunals. I took a demotion and went round people’s houses filling in attendance allowance claims.

I found that I would not give up until I am dangling on the end of a rope, and at the time I was proud of it. Rightly proud, that ability to push myself that hard is strong. Yet there is a flaw in it. It might be better to recognise that the work was tiring, and stop before I fell. I had done a reasonable amount of work. And having got the first doctor sacked, with set-back after set-back over months, I might have been better to realise that it was above my paygrade, not my job, and possibly too difficult.

I had to burn out before I gave up. I had to be reduced to tears and unable to go on before I would stop.

Then there was that dinghy sailing course on Cumbrae in my teens. There was a swell, we had to paddle the boat to the jetty, and I was paddling really hard. I feel the man paddling on the other side of the boat sensed I was frightened, and am still peeved, because I was not frightened of the boat capsizing but of not paddling as fast as he was. Possibly he was merely surprised at how hard I was paddling.

So how can I recover from this?

You are recovering, she says. You recover by exercising your intellect. You have ambitions. You don’t feel strong enough to fight or confront, you don’t feel resilient, but will become so. Have faith! You have this capacity for energy and enthusiasm, though not all the time. It shows in your face. Burnout only happens to achievers.

I did not know when to stop. Burnout was the only way I could protect myself. Just as when I went home from work to kill myself and then realised I did not want to die, just to get out of there immediately. If only I could take avoiding action before I got to that stage. I am worth preserving.

I was weeping on the phone with the Samaritans. I can be the Rational Man, suppressing feeling but Angry, and then if I accept the weeping and give myself to it I can be the Dancer.

-A petal or a razor blade, she says.
-There might be something in the middle.

-Why is fighting masculine? Is that indoctrination, that boys are strong, girls weak?

Something in the middle- a flower, not just a petal which falls to the ground.
-How about a whole garden?
A bush, I say, putting forth flowers, seeds and thorns.

I am away for the weekend soon, with HAI, then for a week with Quakers. All lovely, open people.

-I am glad part of you takes time to have fun.

There might be something in the middle. Either I am worthless or the centre of the universe. Either I work as hard as fighting for survival or I hide away and do nothing. I am fighting for survival, because there is the parental judgment, now internalised, if I do not work hard enough I am No Good, and that is a threat to my existence. And you can’t fight for survival all the time, especially if it is not real. I gave up because I could not work that hard all the time any more. These responses are unconscious, I just do it without consciously choosing, and I wonder how much good analysing them does.

Art, Life, Beauty, Wonder

Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

At the Tate, I become bigger.

There’s Forward, by Erik Bulatov. It is imposing, and slightly ridiculous; it is made vulnerable by the Ρ lying on its side. In it, there is a group of young women, laughing and photographing each other; a pair of young women, talking and taking photographs, more quietly, and me. The pair were happy to take my photo. This temporary art work outside the gallery relaxes us, makes us open and receptive. In the same way the exhibitions move me and open me up. I see beauty, and a representative sample of an artist’s life’s work, and it changes the way I think. It knocks me out of my groove.

A counselling session. I am proud of my formulation: I am Love, Will, Curiosity, Playfulness, Need and Courage. This may replace my former view, “I am Worthless”- I recognised that former view was wrong twenty years ago, but could not shift it; finding an alternative view to replace it may be the way to break its hold on me.

What do I do? How have I spent these six years of unemployment?

I interact.

I talk to people, including strangers. I write, here and for print. I entertain, challenge and provoke: others see things differently because of me. Some of my NYT comments have hundreds of recommendations, and hundreds more readers.

I heal.

My self-analysis makes me better able to flourish in the world.

I serve.

Over the last six years this has been most clear with Quakers. In Quaker roles I have tried to achieve the good of my Friends, as I best saw it.

And the opportunities for interacting and serving have been so minimal! I remind myself to be positive, to value what is. I have sought opportunities as my self-worth has permitted.

I need to achieve!
I hunger for Action!

I could easily afford to go in to London twice a month to the Tate, then perhaps to see a friend or go 5-rhythms dancing, getting train tickets two or three days earlier and cycling to the station to limit costs. So why don’t I? I find what I want when I see what I do. I love it when I do. Possibly I have some worry about doing something simply for the delight of it, or possibly I don’t like the faff of the travel, four hours or more travelling which is not particularly pleasant. Recently I have not had good train conversations- on Tuesday I asked a woman if she liked to talk on trains, and she said she had only little English, then went to the seat she had pre-booked. Why have I not done it? I don’t know, but those could be reasons.

I have not explored my world, and yet I have- with a bit more thought, I could put that less paradoxically. I still see the world as a threat. Or, I have not learned all the positive lessons from my explorations. I am careful and frightened, and I seek to look after myself. I am generous with a ruthless streak- humans cannot bear very much reality, and we are rarely so confronted with reality that our ruthlessness becomes apparent, but I think I have ruthlessness when in a corner.

That could be Love tempered with Will and Need, she says.

It seems you feed Curiosity, probably Will and Need, but possibly not the others equally, she says. Possibly you could see which of the six you do not look after as much, and make space to serve them too. Have you considered writing for children, for your toddler self?

I am tantalised by art, life, beauty, wonder. I have some experience of them, but not enough for my taste.

Deep in our bones lies an intuition that we arrive here carrying a bundle of gifts to offer to the community. Over time, these gifts are meant to be seen, developed, and called into the village at times of need. To feel valued for the gifts with which we are born affirms our worth and dignity. In a sense, it is a form of spiritual employment – simply being who we are confirms our place in the village. That is one of the fundamental understandings about gifts: we can only offer them by being ourselves fully. Gifts are a consequence of authenticity; when we are being true to our natures, the gift can emerge.

– Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow

Who am I?

Who am I?

I am Love.

The question “Who am I?” is a toddler’s question, and I approach it as a toddler. I did not learn this lesson well enough as a toddler- how blessed, to be able to go back to it!

I am Love. I am a human being, one of a social species, unable to live alone, needing a tribe, needing to bond. I am Love, which may have the advantage of promoting bonding but which I experience as delight in others and will for their good. I am Love, for God is Love, Love is God’s essence.

I am Will.

This is the toddler’s hardest lesson, which needs the best-adjusted, most loving parents to accomplish without some trauma. I want things which I do not have, even some, perhaps, which I cannot have. The parent can use this to teach deferred gratification, co-operation, sustained effort, hope and trust if the parent knows these things, but any difficulty the parent has with these will pass to the child. The sins of the fathers are visited on the children.

I am Playfulness.

I am joy, laughter, and delight. I have an affinity for every beautiful thing. We can bond and learn to know and trust each other in play. We can imagine new paths and possibilities. We can relax, completely.

I am Curiosity.

I am interested in life, and anything new or different. What is it? How could it be used for my purposes? Who are people, and what makes them tick? I want to know my world, to bless me and all whom I love.

I am Need.

I cannot live by myself, without the help of others. I cannot accomplish my desires. I have skills and gifts I may offer, but I cannot be independent. This too is a difficult lesson for a toddler. The parents can use it to dominate, to crush the child’s will. Yet it is part of being human- I would not want to be a polar bear, self-sufficient in the arctic ice.

I am in Meeting when I produce this list. I don’t know how it came to me, but I sat down about 10.10am reading a pamphlet on Love, noticed who is here, and found this around 10.40. This is who I am. I am certain of it. I wanted to know myself, and this is the foundation of knowing. There was one more lesson before the end:

I am Not worthless.

And I was pain. I was the pain of the lesson I learned as a baby, of my Worthlessness, the pain of carrying that lesson all my life, at first so deep in my essence that it affected everything in my life though I was not conscious of it it was just the truth part of the air I breathed or the reality I walked in. And then when I became conscious of it and found, intellectually, that it was not true, it was still there like a spider with its claws in my back, so that I could not shift it.

Now I have laid that burden down. I am Love, Will, Playfulness, Curiosity, Need. I am Not worthless. At best I have laid the burden down, at worst I have broken its back so that it may have some effect on me in the future but less and less. I am Not worthless. I am beautiful and true.

At home, I come up with a further characteristic.

I am Courage.

I will face down threats and go where I need to go. It is only human, after all.

To engage with all that I am

Goodness is a bad thing. Goodness is weak.

Why would you want to be “good”? To curry favour, perhaps, to be safe by fitting the rules. For goodness is an external standard, goodness according to someone else. It does not fit reality, your situation or what is the ethical or truthful in that situation. Goodness is slavery.

When I was a solicitor, we acted for a debt collection agency with Scots and English clients. 90% of the debts were recovered without court action, and 90% of the court actions were undefended. I, a second year trainee then a newly qualified solicitor, dealt with the defended actions.

I have some sympathy with the clients. They felt they had fulfilled an order and were entitled to be paid, and I wrote to them saying I needed several senior staff in Inverness or Perth on a particular day to prove it, or I asked them about a defence they thought spurious. I put the defence to them, and some complained to the debt collection agency. The English office wrote to me and said I should not write to their clients direct, but to them, and they would write to their client. They rewrote my questions in their own words, sometimes misunderstanding the point of the question. Getting the letter dictated and typed took days. Then they did the same with the client’s response. I would wait weeks and get a response that was little more use than “They tell us the debtors owe them the money”.

There are risks in this. You might be able to settle the day before a hearing, but you might not. The creditor might not accept half the debt in full and final settlement. The debtor might sense weakness and not make an offer- one defender’s solicitor refused to negotiate, saying I had attempted to bully him. I am a careful soul, I like to dot all the ts and cross all the is, and found this stressful. The partner could have backed me up, but he was a chancer. Later he was sent to prison.

I joked to him Responsibility without power- the plight of the cuckold through the ages. But I did not analyse it clearly enough: we should have warned the agency, our client, of the risks of their policy. I don’t know whether we did. Instead, I tried to make it work, pursuing a claim without enough information. In the end I got sacked over some other error, but I am sure the stress of this contributed to that error. And now I notice the hindsight: I was not good enough to make that work. I should have done something else. Or Alistair should have. It is my bad qualities, such as lack of resilience, and even my agreeableness, not wanting to confront, was weakness in that situation.

At this point a sign comes up on the screen that there is an internet connection problem and Skype will try to restore the connection- but I can still see her movements, and we can hear each other, so that appears untrue. We carry on talking, hoping we will continue to be able to. Eventually the sign goes away.

Is agreeableness a bad thing? I should have more self-respect, more care for my own rights and well-being. Whether the problem is my neither making that system work, nor changing it, the problem is my failure and my inability to see, my bad qualities. Hindsight is a curse unless mixed with forgiveness.

I have told of that man before. He was a pitiable creature, but I felt disgust first. Before I saw him Andy told me he was a paedophile, and when I met him he put on the table a key ring with two or three keys and about five fobs, each with a picture of a child in it. I could not take my eyes off the keyring. I had to ask him to put it away, it revolted me so much. He said it was his grandchildren. What had he been in prison for? “USI”, he said, as if that were an abbreviation everyone would understand- underage sexual intercourse.

Later he phoned me and complained about various things, but I could not find what had gone on. Security guards had ejected him from the hospital, and he wanted to complain, but I could not find out what had happened. After twenty minutes, I asked him what he thought I could do for him, and he said,

“I want you to make it so I don’t have to fear any more.”

My heart went out to him. I wanted that too. Others would see him as a paedophile, and the important thing to prevent him from being a threat to vulnerable children. I saw him as a vulnerable human, lonely and frightened. For the avoidance of doubt, I would want to protect children from him- but not by destroying him.

Soft-heartedness is a bad thing? It is Love. Love is not a bad thing. Love is me, and I am Love. I would not be other than I am. But caring can make life difficult.

Soft-heartedness can be a bad thing, but when people lost their benefits they wanted someone to sympathise, and did not want to answer my questions until I showed I did. And they wanted to tell me the problem the way they saw it. I had strict time limits imposed by the Legal Services Commission, but my attempts at robotic time-limiting, insisting on my own questions, did not actually save time. Sympathy oiled the wheels.

I might slough off “goodness” for integrity. I was inadequate to the challenges.

-Being a person of great intellect and deep emotion is a bugger, she says.

As usual at this time in the session, my intellect seems to be bringing it all together, just one piece missing or one piece too many, and I change it slightly then desperately and my incipient Great Understanding all falls to pieces again. How could I either bring together that Intellect and Feeling, or separate them?

-I see you as a person of honour, integrity, intellect, deep feelings and distress, she says. What steps can you take, so that you can engage with all that you are?

Confidence, acceptance, belief? Trust?

Toddler II

I was delighted to find this gender analyser, which says my blog is written by a feminine person- this post was 84% female. It was 94% negative, but I was stating the problem. You need to see the problem before you can solve it. Though even after the election, writing about fun, I am only 50% positive. That text was aged 31% over 65, 21% 51-65. I am not insulted by this: wisdom comes with age. It was leavened with 12% aged 18-25.

Do I care? Do I look like I care? I thought I was re-doing teenage, but a lot of what I do is toddler lessons. I find what joy, anger, fear, complex mixes of emotions not immediately nameable are like. They bubble up within. If I do not hear and acknowledge them- yes, something is Feeling, somewhere else in the brain is Acknowledging or Accepting- they manifest in delighted wriggling or a clenching of the back muscles, or other movements; highly affecting memories which I may have processed but which are symbols for feeling Now; or deadening, when I suppress them and therefore suffer loss of energy, inability to perceive Now clearly, and nameless disquiet.

You need the wisdom of age to write about these things.

I fear the deadening the most. It is my old tactic, what I learned when I failed at Toddlerhood, setting me up to fail at life. It locks me into prescribed responses and steadily increasing pressure until nothing is bearable any more. Or, it worked for a time, it kept me alive, scrabbling to survive, suicidal and self-hating but sometimes effectual. The first time I could prove a doctor was crooked I got him sacked. The second time I might have proved it I ran away screaming.

Historically, we have taught children at all costs to avoid the visible, physical manifestations. They are even a mental health symptom: in strong emotion, rocking can help some people process it, but rocking, or screaming at the floor, is deprecated. When you tolerate it in yourself you are clearly mentally ill. Suppression achieves that, motionlessness rather than stillness, at worst robotic learned responses to all situations. How am I supposed to respond? We knew “Children should be seen and not heard” was wrongful, because repressive, when I was a child, yet my family practiced a less severe form of it.

I find myself trusting myself, but only in part. I had vegetarian lunches with Quakers and in the evening craved a bacon butty. So, I thought, though factory farming is monstrously cruel, especially of pigs, I cannot be vegetarian because I crave meat. Then I find that if I use a lot of olive oil I do not need meat. I want fat. I want less sugar. Is my desire for chocolate an addictive (bad) or nutritional (good, but unlikely) craving? Or could wanting a mild stimulant be good? I am exploring my world, but slowly and too carefully, having lost trust. That is another thing you can teach a toddler, and it is more difficult to learn for yourself, later: I am trustworthy. I have experiences which might tend to indicate that, but others which do the opposite. Or, I have to trust because not trusting makes things worse. Could I-

My toddler lesson is that feeling the emotion fully, using its strength to respond, is the best, most mature adult skill; but wriggling, cringing or rocking can be an aid towards that. It embarrasses me; it is a hard lesson.

S.O.S.

accidental good

I’ve been listening to some Ariana Grande.

A little less conversation and a little more touch my body

It is not aimed at me, but I see good in it. In the videos, the singer dances around in her underwear, but is clearly singing for female fans. “Dangerous woman” might even have a slight lesbian vibe. She sings that her boyfriend better shape up his ideas and consider her wants and needs. I am all for Millennial empowerment. This seemed a proper response to the Manchester bombing, to hear what the dead had gathered to hear, to spend time with what they loved.

Ministry this morning had a perfect shape. One spoke of Manchester coming together. I spoke of racial tensions: the picture is more complex than the stories we tell. Thesis- Antithesis: the synthesis was beautiful.

I lift up my eyes to the hills
from where will my help come?

He says the hills were the dangerous places, where there were bandits and lions. You might die. I had not thought of the psalm, whose words I know well, that way before. Ah. Complexity, darkness, comfort- in the Meeting.

I can’t remember what she said because I was interested in how, rather than what, she communicated. “It’s —— 4 ——-, written —– 4 ——” and she gestures in the air, writing the first word, the 4, then the second word. She repeats the gesture. “Oh, —– 4 ——” says the other, gesturing. They emphasise the 4 in their gestures. But both write from left to right as they would see it, in the air- so from the other’s point of view it is less comprehensible, seen right to left. I watch, intrigued. I would always, gesturing like that, use mirror-writing to be more comprehensible, and expect to get my meaning over immediately. You could say “The 4’s a digit”. We ended up absolutely clear, except that I do not remember what it was 4 what.

It’s worth listening to Ariana to understand how Millennials think. After all, when I am eighty they will be running the country, and I would like to not be completely confused. And, try to find something good in it. That is like in education, she says: however poor the student’s attempt, you should start with praise. No, actually, a teacher should encourage students, but this is different: you should find good in it because that is a better way to understanding it. If you are simply dismissive you don’t see it.

I share my joke. I am disappointed with it, because it works beautifully from a linguistic standpoint- the last word changes the idea round completely- but the concept is too horrible. So it does not work as a joke. Here it is:

I scatter lots of bird seed on my lawn. I do love to feed the cats.

One laughs, one does not. I hurry to explain that I don’t think it works, and that is the first time I have shared it.

The “Gifts reserved for age” in Little Gidding have haunted me since I first read them. In Meeting, a pastiche came to me, which I wrote down after to ensure I could remember it:

Things done right, and accidental Good
to show your “thoughtless bumblings” are virtue

Sometimes you can go into things in too much depth. We tell ourselves stories about reality, we have words and concepts, because understanding everything is impossible. Trying to understand too well may paralyse action. Know just enough to make the next step good enough. I am a good person really. Totally failed at life? From an absolute standpoint, possibly I have- no family, no job, no savings etc- but from a relative standpoint perhaps I have done alright- I am still alive!

The meandering route to recovery

I spend a lot of time with those who come under that “shirkers and scroungers” banner, and I often help them claim benefits. They nearly all have reasonable physical health – but quite severe mental health problems. What I see in them is not laziness and a desire to have others run around and support them – but rather that they are so damaged by life’s circumstances that they have endured that they have no capacity to help themselves. If they get sanctioned (i.e. benefits completely stopped) then they just lie down and take it – like a dog that’s been beaten one too many times…

People who are loved – and they may need that love for many years – can slowly start to believe in themselves again. With patient encouragement to take one step at a time, and constant support – lives can be rebuilt. And personal responsibility will then develop too.

-From a facebook thread.

Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength that … allows us to bear witness to … suffering, whether in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state of compassion … is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with sympathy for all living beings, without exception.

– Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness:
The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

I need to know my limitations, and they are hard to accept. I used to work with people after heart attacks claiming benefits, who would often say that sitting down, they felt completely normal, like before, so they went to get up and felt shocking breathlessness and pain. One imagines the default, the normal, often even after repeated proof of the lesser ability. Denial is just one of my blind spots.

I find my energy levels varying, and here am I even now thinking, “I can do that this afternoon!” When it comes to this afternoon, I won’t feel the energy.

Of course I want to see how to improve and build abilities. I am doing my best, all the time, because people just do. And, rather than writing this blog post about limitations or going out leafleting for Labour I am whiling away my time on heated facebook threads, about whether a Quaker can be a Conservative. Some who are both resented the challenge. I was going to write, “I went into my why can’t we all just get along? mode,” but really I sought to bridge the gap. I put my energy, care and expressiveness into explaining each to the other and finding common ground. Not all I wrote was perfect.

Whiling, or practising, or even engaging in a medium where feelings are strong, though transitory?

Menis said to me, Have mercy on yourself.

One Conservative voter messaged me, Thank you for coming to my aid on fb. You are a kind Friend indeed! When we got to 😇😇😇 I said It is extremely important to me to see myself as a good person! which provoked her XD XD .

So, there. Self-nurturing, as well as thinking things through with words, and practicing writing. Not a waste of time at all!

I recognise myself in those first two paragraphs above. I knew I have to write about what my difficulties are, because without that, plans can never work. Plans which do not take account of difficulties will founder on those difficulties.

Everything I do is for my good; and not everything I do forwards those conscious plans. Some ways forward proceed unconsciously. Of course I know I must write of my difficulties. I must get to know them from patient observation of what I do, rather than imagining I know myself, or that I really am that normal default- because I am sitting in the chair, and not exerting myself to rise from it. And I get to know them, consciously and unconsciously. After hours on that facebook thread, thinking, writing, reading and re-reading, I showered at 1pm, and in the shower my Assertion surfaced, and I said, emphatically, insistently,

I am
I am writing it

I am writing my account of my difficulties. I was working on it then. Just, not consciously.

 ♥♥♥

The road to recovery lies through a full and complete understanding of limitations. I know that I am loveable. I love myself. I like myself. This is great progress. And, I have no trust in myself or others. I have experiences of my failure and others’ angry or hostile reactions to me, which matter to me, which affect my conduct, thought, anticipation and planning, and however much I think of my success and others’ favourable or supportive reactions to me, however many examples I retrieve from memory, they are insignificant beside the weight of bad experiences. I think,

It was ghastly!
It will be ghastly again!

If I can win my own trust, I need to develop trust of others. I might delve into why the bad experiences have so much weight- perhaps they are from early childhood, where it really was as black and white as it seems now.

So I retreat, and I fiddle, and I don’t do what I obviously must do to improve my lot

even while I work to improve it, in unimaginable or ridiculous ways

I follow my heart, however much my head knows it is right.

Motivation II

I continue to get to know myself as I might get to know another, by observing myself. I know lots of sensible stuff-

-Strike when the iron’s hot
-A stitch in time saves nine

I would tell you that it is good to start a task plenty of time before it needs to be completed. This is obvious. I would brook no argument. Except when it comes to it, often I don’t. This morning, I knew I had to do something, and thought, ah, I will cycle to Swanston for a food shop first. Then I thought, if I do that I will be too tired in the afternoon, and put it off until the evening; then I will be too tired in the evening, and put it off until the following day. And I also have leaflets to deliver for Beth Miller, the plucky Labour candidate standing against the nasty Nationalist, liar and destroyer of the public services. I will do all I can against the Tories. I got the leaflets yesterday.

There is never a great deal on my to-do list, but I still manage to not do it. Even, my teeth feel a bit yuck, but I do not clean them. I observe dirt on the pad when I cleanse, but do not cleanse. My living room is untidy. (I leafleted for the local elections last week, and went round to the candidate’s house. We chatted in her yard, but she did not want me to come in as her house was a mess. It may be fairly common, people tidying for ten minutes before someone else arrives, except in my case where the place is too untidy for ten minutes to do.)

There is that task which I must complete even though it may not do any good. I am terrified. Homelessness is not completely impossible. I have not started it. I thought, ten days ago, that buying the CPAG Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook might be a good idea, and today I phoned them to order it, a week after I could have done. I am glad I did it today. The sense of foreboding is fended off a little by doing something about the threat.

I thought also of speaking to the GP. Am I in any sense “ill”? I lack motivation, I am happy enough watching TV all afternoon, I cannot see a better way of looking after myself than what I do. Do I lack energy, am I traumatised, should I take anti-depressants or counselling? I thought of it but have not arranged it.

And, on Sunday, I thought of taking a photograph to advertise the Quaker meeting for the Greenbelt festival. I did it without any care, because- well, better not say in public. Even though x will make it almost unusable, I could still have taken more care over it to make it less bad. I took ten and looked at them and thought they are all dreadful, worse because I did not y.

Or, I was so unhappy at x I stopped caring or thinking of it. Well, that one is probably the best.

I know how I respond; how I do not do something because I must do something else first, except the something else never gets done. Well, this time I sent the email about Greenbelt before going off to Swanston. I just did. I know the wisdom, and I know myself, and I defied my own expectation and did the sensible thing. I do sometimes. Or, I might be getting better. There may be hope for me yet.

Stating the problem IV

Like many pop songs, it has just one good line, but it is a very good line:

We are, we are driving
we are driving too fast
we are, we are driving
we could crash

starting fire
fire when we crash
starting fire
fire when we crash

Skype counselling session. I have my love intimacy and sexuality weekend coming up, I am going to see someone I have not seen since about 2001, and tell her not to transition, and I have lunch with Quakers tomorrow.

I love the Human Awareness Institute. I will find their weekend distressing, useful, challenging, wonderful. My aim is to pass through distress to enlightenment, to bring my repressed unconscious to consciousness. I love their slogan, “Creating a world where everyone wins”.

I will tell Hannah not to transition. Long term, it is a mistake, though short term it is wonderfully liberating.

I will ask those Quakers what they expected- that I would just vanish? I cycled on Sunday for 55 minutes to Kettering, about 55 minutes back, because Quakers are my main social outlet. I am sociable, and today my longest conversation has been buying apples, lettuce, grapes and plums at the fruit and veg stall. I want those, he wants £4.09, no other chat took place.

Life now is as good as I can imagine it. This is the best I can do. I don’t want to work, even though not looking makes me more vulnerable to the biggest threat in my life, losing my benefits. My life is in Limbo, and a kick up the arse might do me good? No, this is the best I can do. Work would be some of the time horrible, most of the time just unpleasant and dull.

I am in the best situation I can imagine, though it is not sustainable. In the future, when my benefits stop, the best will be worse than this- some horrible job- but all I could do is embrace that worse now, and that makes no sense.

-How do you think people will react to you turning up as a man?
-Some will think I’m an arse, some will see how beautiful and fascinating I am and like it and express that.
-Will you hear them?
-Yes. I am beautiful and fascinating.
-Why so distressed and angry and frustrated?
-Because beautiful and fascinating is not good enough, and I can’t achieve better than this.

Now, I am distressed, frustrated (in Limbo) and frightened, and I think of Rebekah. She lives in Tel Aviv. I met her in London, for less than half an hour, and at her suggestion we facebook friended. Most of her shares are in Hebrew, and pre-AI translate is poor, but she posted some wonderful pictures of her in a wedding dress, feeling delighted, and looking wonderful. She is paralysed and needs a motorised wheelchair but she is blissful.

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

-I am beautiful, fascinating, highly intelligent, creative, loving
-Unloved. I wish we had another hour to go further into this, she says.

We make another appointment. Perhaps work so revolts me because the only authority figure I can conceive is my mother: unjust, unyielding, capricious and wrong.