Forgiving the teenage self

I find myself deeply upset about an incident forty years ago. As Louise says, the feeling comes from how I am now. She also says I should let go of the past. I feel that I have to process it first. I judge myself harshly and reflexively, so the incident upsets me.

I have forgiven myself a far more serious incident. Aged about twenty I drove a gay couple from my church. I was authoritarian, seeking safety in rules, including that Unmanliness was wicked, and utterly self-righteous about this at the time. I have come to accept it. I did wrong because I knew no better and was under particular pressures. I have accepted my femininity, and that enables me to accept other people too. Christianity is about living well, which is not about obeying rules.

The two new ABBA songs reminded me of a comparatively trivial incident, when I was around fifteen. There was a boy a year younger at school. I cannae mind his name, call him Iain. Like me he was unpopular, comparatively friendless. Now, I might call him a “nerd” but did not know the word then. His parents drove him to Obaig for the day out, and allowed him to bring a “friend”- he invited me.

I don’t know why I went along. I was remorselessly ungracious. I think I thought I should patronise a younger boy rather than be friendly. We listened to ABBA in the car, because he liked it, and his mother asked me, “Do you like ABBA?” No, I said. Then they were thought of as naff. Since then they have gone from guilty pleasure to Premier Pop/Rock Group of the Seventies. Also, I knew pop music was meretricious, only classical music had value.

There were no more friendly invitations.

Now, I don’t know what’s hurting me. My unfriendliness, my loneliness, my inability to anticipate the musical taste of my middle-aged self? The child could do no better, any more than the young man could. Some confusion and resentment of the time, which I have carried unprocessed since? The inner gaslighter’s ability to persecute me for anything and second-guess all my actions however long ago?

There was a trauma which made me want to make a man of myself, find myself repulsive and inadequate, worthless but for what I could achieve, unable to attain the perfection I demanded from myself. Recognising that trauma and the concomitant idea that all the imperfections which shame me are blameless, or at least not my fault, felt like a huge step forward, and now I have this to deal with.

In worship, I started thinking aimlessly of things like where I put dried goods so I used those bought earliest first. Such things are my biggest concerns, now. Then I thought of going to Obaig with Iain and am gasping with the pain of it.

It’s not just forgiving the mistakes, it’s bearing the confusion and pain of the child. I remain in pain and confused. And I understand more, accept more, than the child could. And I am safe for now. I can look after myself given the pressures on me now.

Monday morning I still feel wrecked. Writing this was what I had to do. From Greenbelt I have the concept of “body-mapping”.

I have an outline drawn round my body on two long rolls of paper by a woman I have met before. In that exercise the lifechanging event was the pandemic, but mine might be this: making an inventory of myself and- I hate to write “my struggle” because it makes me think of Hitler, but the challenges I have faced.

My responsibilities are to care for myself and to use my gifts for the good of the World. No pressure there, then. All these questions are worthwhile.

Or maybe, my responsibility is to care for myself and heal myself, which requires all my love and courage, and leave the World to look after itself for now.

Sadness

Learning French, I had only two weaknesses- grammar and vocabulary. Now, I have only two things I feel sadness about- my relationship history, and my career. There was a third, and I seem to have talked myself out of it. I hope this is a positive post, finding a way to let go a burden. That needs facing and accepting the sadness.

The current theory is that if I deny sadness I do not deal with it, and it builds up in me. My parents did not let me acknowledge my own sadness, perhaps unable to acknowledge theirs, and so I made defences against it. Stop whining. It’s not been that bad. You have nothing to complain about, I told myself. I trudged grimly on.

It seems that the sadness accumulates because my defences say to me, there is no real problem, don’t worry about it. The sadness accumulates and I become less able to bear it. I trudge on until I stop, but am effectively still doing the same stuff that didn’t work before, even though that now means being frightened to go out.

The inner bullying made it hard for me to conceive of my life being any better than it is. It is not that I accept reality freely, but that I am forced to, and resent it, and rebel: and so am even less empowered to improve it.

I trudged grimly on, but now I have more or less come to a stop. I am like a fly on its back on the windowsill, buzzing but unable to turn itself over. (Pesticides kill most insects now, and the birds seem fewer, without insects to eat.)

I had conventional understandings of how to improve my life, but they did not really appeal to me. They did not “make me come alive”. That means that I am more likely to give up: “I tried that, and it didn’t work”. I don’t know what would make me come alive.

On Tuesday 6th I was thinking of my relationship history in the shower. There was that, and that, and that… and then I was wordlessly wailing.

I did not acknowledge until 2013 that Mum controlled and dominated Dad, and Dad liked that. Just before he died he acknowledged it in our only honest conversation about it. I was 47. Before then I had not seen what would fulfil me in a relationship, to take a supportive, “feminine” role. Instead I wanted a relationship like a gay man’s “beard”, so I could pretend to myself to be a normal man.

I want a relationship. I want to see and be seen, love and be loved. I fear not being attractive to anyone and not being able to connect sexually. I feel sad that I have missed so much, been hurt repeatedly, been confused and in denial.

I have been hurt by a lack of language for describing this kind of relationship, and a lack of positive role-models. I have no way of draining the shame I feel at being who I am.

I feel trapped in an inner conflict. My sadness is mostly unconscious, but the burden is my mostly unconscious struggle to deny it, minimise it and claim not to be bothered- to keep trudging. I want to use “It really was that bad” and “It really has been that bad” as keys to freedom from the burden. X was not something I should just shrug off but X was ghastly.

The thought that “All this sadness is unbearable” is a problem. It only means I shove it out of consciousness. It does not mean that I cease to have to bear it. I have the additional burden of the work to suppress it.

On Tuesday I wrote, I feel not joy exactly- but something of the joy I feel when in a state of aware presence. Or I am closer to that aware presence. I also feel tired after the struggles of this morning, the inner conflict surfacing. I felt I was re-aligning in my attitude to it, accepting the sadness of my emotional being -or, perhaps, my Inner Light- which might help me bear, or even process, digest it.

I came to the thought, My gifts are not wasted. I am beautiful and valuable, and if my gifts are used for nothing more than keeping me alive, they are well used. (This is a New Thought!) But I would like them used for more of the Good of the community. I think I expressed this better two days later:

If all I can accomplish is my own survival,
then my gifts are well used,
because I am valuable.
And I accomplish more than my own survival.

Valuing myself seems essential to building myself up and recovering.

“In Our Time” led me to consider hope. It could be a fantasy, “Something will turn up”, leading me not to act. Or it could be an antidote to the despair which would keep me from acting. Christians have hope in a loving God. To be open to opportunity, you need hope.

The twelve steps might help. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” I don’t have a problem with alcohol, but perhaps- all the sense of control I have ever had has been illusory.

Admitting I am powerless, or my ego/self is powerless to enforce its illusions on the world, may help. I had not before yesterday read the twelve promises of Alcoholics Anonymous- the twelfth is, “We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves”. The God I believe in is the Inner Light of the evolved human being, freed from the illusions of the Self. I believe in the Tao, flowing like water:

Help thou my unbelief!

Freeing the Spirit

If ego is wrapped around spirit like ivy round oak, how do you become spirit
naked spirit
unencumbered spirit
free spirit?

Is it by letting go of something?

I do not let go words. “Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life.” I might let go words which distract from that.

Can you stop seeking to persuade? A multitude of words to persuade that trans women are harmless amid a long scream that women need to exclude us and are entitled to.

Descriptive words- words drawings and symbols describe a Saturn V rocket, and if you followed those words you could send people to the moon again.

Words as truth. Words as poetry. Recognising that words always have a tincture of persuasion or judgment, and of inaccuracy, so I cannot set down a set of rules to follow. I get better with words.

What of Desire? Trauma? Let go of illusion and the Idol, the wish to seem.

Should I let go of fear of the future? There’s a way of thinking I don’t like- imagining a particular threat, and pleading with it, or shouting at it. That’s not fair or this is what really happened or its wrong to do that, when I feel others will not agree with me but I’m still right. Partly it’s rational, thinking through how I could be most persuasive. Partly it’s denying reality, emphasising the truth of what I say and the complete wrongness of how I believe/know/fear/am unsure about how others will see it. Partly it’s picking up a particular fear and dwelling on it without doing anything to improve things.

Possibly I only hate this habit of mind because my experience is often that others don’t agree with my arguments, when I eventually put them. I am like William Brown, desperately or defiantly but pointlessly crying “I was just statin a fact”.

I can escape that habit by making my life so simple that there are few of the threats that would engage my attention in that way. Maybe I have faced so many threats that I can’t bear them any more.

A more horrible experience of rumination is replaying incidents in the past. For those ten years old or more I have mostly distilled these to “I was right, they were wrong. It didn’t matter.” For ones less than ten years old, it’s “It was what it was. I suffered more than I deserved, perhaps. I wasn’t perfect.”

A woman who used to research and write articles for a think tank had a traumatic brain injury. Now she finds her mind is as quiet as she had wished. It is in a state she had sought through yoga before the accident. It could just be that her life of argument is wrenched from her, and all that remains is her recovery and being able to “run errands without getting lost”. The kinds of issues she was writing about no longer matter to her, so much of the content of her conscious thinking has become unnecessary. It’s not that she does not care about the homeless, it’s that she cares about them as fellow suffering humans, rather than as a topic which affects her own position.

Then there’s the experience of the divided mind. You know the quote “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?” Well, judge myself harshly, go into denial, freeze. I know I ought to X. But I don’t want to, because it will be uncomfortable, and involve admitting I was wrong, at least in the sense of making the wrong decision when full information was not available.

I am seeking spiritual enlightenment, that “inward stillness”, in order to be better able to engage with the world. Enlightenment does not mean no longer having to face conflict, loss, or error. It just might mean having a trick, or a knack, for dealing with what Kipling called “impostors”.

Calling it a gimmick is showing disrespect. I am serious now.

I want that inward stillness to be large enough to contain my fear and hurt so that it does not simply burst out of me, so that I am conscious of it, and can bear it. The law, the method, the way, seems to me to be Love. I judge myself- my fear, anger or resentment is unbearable- I deny or suppress it- it bursts out of me- I suffer. I love myself- I accept my fear, anger or resentment- I contain it, and see how best to act. I love the world- I see it better- I respond and act better.

Love is the answer. Love is the way. Yes, spirit is like the oak, and ego like the ivy- though they might look like one plant, spirit provides all the strength to hold ego up, as both seek the sunlight, which is the love of God. I am bombarded by experience and my emotional reaction to it, even when I rarely go out. The only way to bear all that is to love it all. It’s not letting go, it is accepting.

There are other spiritual lessons to learn. Accepting the fact of your death is a big one; but the greatest of anything is Love.

Trauma and the Idol

There is something of God in every human. Therefore God suffers. We need to cherish God.

God is in my reaction to life and events. Something hurts me, and God feels that hurt. This God is crushed beneath the weight of ego. Ego is concerned about how I appear to others and myself, and has taken into itself false ideas about safety, which are an idol: much of my effort goes to propitiating its ideas of safety. This involves denying my own, God’s, reactions, which threaten my sense of safety.

I am still dwelling on that incident in 2003. I will continue to dwell on it until I have extracted all the wisdom I can from it. I faced an injustice. I tried to fight it, but it was too much for me. This made me miserable.

I could not face that misery, because it felt like a threat to me. The false idol of my delusions of safety was threatened by it. Why?

Because if I can overcome even such injustice as that, then I am powerful, and so can keep myself safe. If I am not, I feel unsafe.

Because if I make such a contribution, then I have value. If I cannot, then I feel worthless, which makes me feel unsafe.

These feelings of unsafety come from trauma, the imminent fear of death. With Winston Smith I scream “Do it to Julia”. The terror is so great I will do anything to avoid it. It completely distorts my perceptions and desires.

I carry the weight of an increasing burden of distress, all the accumulated evidence that God in me does not fit my terror’s need for its omnipotence. Only omnipotence could have saved me. The threat receded, by luck not my actions, and I made myths about how I could avoid it in the future: I created the idol.

The burden got so great that I collapsed under it.

God is loving, creative, powerful, beautiful. That Love is in us. Cherish it, and it grows in us and guides us. My feeling- that distress- is a guide for me, telling me of the World. If I deny it, I block out all the positives too.

Someone wrote that I am “calm, sometimes passionate, always mindfully considerate, equipped with a fine sense of humor”. Zoom chat is a rich seam that I mine for appreciation of me, and will, until I take it into myself. When I can process the misery I will be able to process the delight.

My Friend who does good works, and never thinks they are enough, sent me her article on Dorothy Day, who did great works. I felt crushing judgment, and projected it onto her: I imagined she was judging me, but it was my Idol. I should be doing worthwhile things too.

Then I realise, I don’t want to save the world. Not at the moment anyway. That would be an ego desire, to prove that I am powerful and worthwhile so could keep myself safe, but I can never prove that to the Idol’s satisfaction.

My task now is to cherish God, that God’s love may grow in me, and nurse the idol gently until its screaming demands for tribute are lulled away. The trauma was unbearable, but, look around through God’s eyes.

I am as safe as I can be, for the moment. I am safe enough.

I keep going back to this. Each time, the Idol says, “Oh Goodie! The spiritual work is done, now you can go back to feeding my fantasies of invulnerability invincibility inviolability.” Each time, I go deeper.

This post is suffused with Advices and Queries paragraph 2.

Compromise

I burned out because I could not compromise. I kept on fighting the things I could not change. This is neither to be admired or condemned, but noticed.

I came out of the tribunal, burst into tears, and shortly after stopped doing tribunal cases. Tuesday 19th evening, I was weeping over the same incident with the same level of distress. I wrote in 2013 that my actions showed integrity, creativity and bravery, and I still assert that, but the problem was taking failure so badly.

Given the difficulty I had with earlier cases, it was something that had very little chance of success, possibly none. I could not persuade the people I needed to persuade. They were too invested in the integrity of the system to accept the evidence I could produce from someone in my position.

I am lying in bed the next day, typing, and considering the level of that distress. I still feel it. (Another failure comes to mind, which still distresses me.) I am not crying, now, but gazing with wonder at the depth of my misery. It is the pain of not being all-powerful. I should have been able to overcome all these difficulties. It is linked to the fear of death.

Divorced from reality? Contemptible? My inner critic is quite capable of berating me, scourging me, both for failing to get Dr Pyle sacked and for stupidly imagining that I could.

The other failure I am thinking of now is from about 2008/9, a killer argument in an employment tribunal case which I did not spot until I had settled it for the contemptuous sum of £200 from the employer. I should have spotted it earlier. It was obvious, I berate myself. I imagine spotting it the day before the assigned hearing and begging the tribunal to accept the documentary evidence late. Obvious in retrospect. Now I am berating myself for not seeing it before, still being upset now, and the intricacy of my fantasy of what I should have done.

This is to be noticed. The distress is there. “Have mercy on yourself,” said Menis. Ideally, perhaps, I would have dealt with it by now but I did not because-

that deserves further thought, perhaps, but now I think-

I was-

I was unable to admit to myself that I could not accomplish these things, see the obvious argument in time, put the evidence over convincingly. It was all linked to the fear of death. That I still feel the distress now, more than ten years later, shows it still is in some way. And yet I am still alive.

All that I could ever fear
has come to pass, and I’m still here.

Now I am thinking of that job interview in Bedford. I got all the questions on DLA and IB right, in the written test. Towards the end, the interviewer exclaimed, that’s the first time you’ve smiled. People tell me I have a beautiful smile, and I hate it. After, everything I said I smiled. I did not get the job, burst into tears, and could not bear to apply for benefits jobs again.

Now, sometimes, I am frightened to go to Aldi. Have mercy on yourself. I imagine trying something, fearfully, as if I reached tentatively out with broken fingers to see if I could grasp something, dreading the pain. “You’re covered in scars,” she said, more than twenty years ago.

Love, mercy and understanding heal me- my own love, healing me from my own introjected judgment.

My friend wondered if I judged her for smoking, then decided she was projecting on me. My eyes followed her cigarette, and she noticed across Zoom. There is endless judgment. The packets are full of judgment- “Smoking Kills!” “Smoking makes your kidneys fail!” “Smoking prevents you enjoying sex!” There is judgment, everywhere, of everything, perhaps the pitiless selfish gene demanding its continued existence and using our suffering to drive us on. When we disagreed about covid, I saw how my trust in my ability to select and absorb information about it, and to change my view as the information changed, is bound up in my sense of self, which again is a matter of terror of death, exacerbated in the case of Covid which really does kill people.

I have hazy ideas of what I might do. I could notice and praise every thing I did: any small act towards cleaning the house, perhaps. That is the idea of Behavioural Activation. Notice and delight in your doing stuff, and so build up your ability to do stuff. I am Loving Awareness. There is Love, and acceptance for the terrified, scarred, hurting being that I am.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I was berating myself for having so little to show for all my gifts and talents, and that does no good, for all the gifts are in the hurt self. Only love can work now.

24 May: I noticed  I had difficulty motivating myself to do something, because my way of doing it had to be precisely right. There were clearly wrong ways, but a variety of OK ways- one with one problem, one with the opposite problem, but satisfactory. The difficulty of choosing between ways, which on analysis I found satisfactory, stopped me starting the action.

Becoming the whole self

Trying to make a man of myself was a betrayal. How can I heal that trauma now?

Quakers will be considering trans rights in August, and I am optimistic and pessimistic at once. Possibly we will have a revelation, as we did with equal marriage in 2009. And Quakers can be conflict-avoidant and arrogant, imagining we know best and we can reconcile conflicts. So some well-meaning Quakers might try to find a reasonable middle line between trans people and the anti-trans campaigners. And some Quakers are anti-trans campaigners, imagining themselves good and righteous and wanting all trans women out of women’s spaces, and all treatment for trans children to cease.

I must convince them trans is real.
I fear nothing I can say will be enough.

I thought, if I can show trans people cannot be other, are not making a lifestyle choice but expressing our essence, then they might accept trans rights are at least of equal importance to others’ rights. If we could be other, I would be. I fought to make a man of myself. I paid privately for aversion therapy. I asked a priest to lay hands on me to heal me.

And I am weeping helplessly, wordlessly, convulsed in my pain and grief, screaming and moaning. I fought like that to make a man of myself because the fear of death was in me.

There is a me that just wants to survive
That, with hands round my throat holding me underwater
will do anything.
There is one goal.
What I preserve of myself there is mere life.
Everything else is stripped away.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is a metaphor. Being drowned is the only metaphor that captures the fear for me. It is the small child, dependent on parents, distraught when love is taken away. And, to forgive the betrayal of ceasing to express me, becoming the male-acting automaton, I need to fully acknowledge the threat I experienced. I was forced, and it was not my fault.

That was when I was broken, as a horse is broken.
After, I would do anything to avoid being underwater.
I worked it out, so I did not need telt.
I forgave my mother’s, and the world’s, betrayals:
there is nothing to forgive.
The betrayal I cannot forgive is my own.

I want to be Perfect-me,
that being that does everything I ought to do,
want to do,
would like to do
have to do to survive
effortlessly.
Without perfect me
all I have left is failure and betrayal.

There is no perfect-me. My betrayal of myself was under pressure I could not have borne.

I take a postmodern view of Wisdom-sayings. If it has some meaning or value for me, I accept that, and I don’t care if that is its “true” or “original” meaning. If it’s a proper wisdom-saying, I doubt it could have one true meaning. If it has no meaning for me, I can let it go. Sometimes, when I loathe a wisdom saying, it can be particularly fruitful. I can’t get my head round Jamie’s idea of the “walking permission slips”, being ourselves and allowing others to become themselves too.

I know I am myself
interpreting a statute
comforting a friend in tears
cycling uphill and downhill
confident and assured, or doubting and fearful.
Always there is the sense of threat.

And there’s something there, of being fully aware of the feelings, of being in the doubt and fear without regressing to the traumatised child, who felt fear and shut down. Fear must not be a switch, to turn me off, or to beat me. It must be integrated into my adult self. So there’s another bit to my verse which is true but difficult. I don’t want to say it and it is just cheap consolation.

Oh the beauty and wonder of it
It is too much for me to bear
and it is all glorious.

The glory comes if I can feel the feelings fully, and still function. The glory is in being fully myself, feeling all my feelings. It is not easy.

Then, to a Zoom group. How is S? I saw his email. He is detained in a mental hospital, and desperate to get out. I am pretty sure he needs the anti-psychotics, and he hates them because they mute his spiritual experiences. Right at this moment I sympathise. Feeling the full range of feelings seems insane: people will be shocked and disgusted. I feel disinhibited, tempted to behave inappropriately. I want to stop twitching.

A Black woman went to Kenya when she was twenty, in a gap year, and saw a picture of Jesus Mary and Joseph. She could see it was them, the haloes proved it- and they were Black. It was the first time she had seen such a thing, just in a souvenir shop, hunting at the last moment for tatty souvenirs. It touched her deeply, and she expresses that. And I am feeling all the sense of liberation I imagine could be in that moment. I am remaking myself, closer to the image and likeness of God.

All glorious? I want to insist on that. Everything that is. All of humanity. And one says the larger the church, the more evil can hide in it. Yeah, s’pose. Possibly the glory is me, the full feeling self. And I am not alone.

This is not for everyone. My colleague was born again, and felt liberated from a life of drunken sexual promiscuity. The rules felt protective. She wanted something formal, secure and comforting. And I want something more: the Glory of God, the full glory of my whole self. To be the whole human, and give permission for others to be whole too: answering that of God in every one.

Sunday 16th: before worship, I read various stuff on conversion therapy, including a transphobic lie. I am wound up. Then in worship Dugan quotes QFP 2.12. Suddenly

I am the light. I am the Fullness.

I am the light, noticing, accepting, loving. Rather than descending into that part of me which is wound up, and stewing in it during meeting, or attempting to suppress it, I am the Light, aware of it, noticing, accepting, loving it. Noticing, accepting, loving, all of me- body, thoughts and feelings- and being in the Love. It makes me think of George Fox’s instruction to dwell in the power of life and wisdom. Ministry moves on to the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. It is hard to hear this in love. Now, there is my reaction and the other person as well, to hold in awareness and to love. Finally there’s the sound of a music keyboard through someone’s zoom account. That’s against the rules. What is he thinking? Still there can be the other person, my reaction, and me in the Light, noticing, accepting, loving all. That would be a dwelling-place of tremendous power. It is something to practice. It is a religious experience this morning, an hour of fabulous wonder, and I want to take it out into all of my life, so it becomes my normal state. I ministered, explaining some of this.

Recovering from internalised transphobia

Perhaps only the unexamined life is worth living. You are brought up by loving parents, you grow up, find a job and a partner, have children, contribute to your community, help bring up your grandchildren and perhaps meet your great-grandchildren before you die. Each life has heartache, puzzlement, difficulty and loss, but that would be a life well lived. I envy it because I have no children.

I wanted to do a meaning of life post. I wanted to articulate the value of my life, because it has value. My start was with the life I do not have. Communities can be oppressive, and can change so completely during a lifetime that someone in a strong supportive community at marriage could be unmoored by old age- I have both an intense desire to be Normal and resentment that I am not, and a desire to attack that Normal as illusory even for those who most approximate it. Starting writing helps me understand who I am, and find what is behind my conscious thought.

A woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touched Jesus and her bleeding healed. Jesus turned, saw her, and said “Take heart, daughter: your faith has made you well”. Matthew does not mention it, but Luke and Mark say Jesus felt power go out of him. Someone explained this: a woman seen as unclean, so outcast, who had no business touching anyone, acts as if she is not outcast, and is healed of her outcast status.

No, that wasn’t how he explained it. That’s me explaining it in a way that omits what is the most important thing about it for me now: when he explained it, I felt a weight was lifted from me: I am that woman. I have outcast status. Come into my full humanity or power and I have it no longer.

In that moment I felt a weight lift from me. A day later I am trying to recapture the feeling. I want to make it permanent. Loving acceptance helps: then I was with people, now I am alone. I was on Zoom, but that counts.

This is a blog. I am allowed for my thoughts to be inchoate, to start typing, find my thoughts wandering, publish it anyway. To struggle towards what would be the first sentence of an article. To reassure myself that it is true, and I mean it, and bring myself to write it, and note the process:

The meaning of my life is recovering from internalised transphobia.

Or, possibly,

The meaning of my life is recovering from my ingrained sense of worthlessness, a lot of which is internalised transphobia.

If I can do this, see how I am doing this, and communicate it to others in such a way as they might see their own value, then my life has value. If I can do this, only a little, even so I do not fully step into my power, even though I tell nobody, no one sees, and no one else benefits,

my life has beauty and meaning and value simply because I exist. Everything that is, is holy, as William Blake says.

I am not sure I have that first sentence yet.

And, how does the story help anyone struggling with self-rejection? I don’t want to make a dogmatic statement about that, but a suggestion. There is a power of Love which loves and values you. Possibly if you are completely alone you can access that love within yourself and heal yourself. Possibly some other person will love you, and communicate that so it gets through to you. I am thinking of an observation a woman made, that changed my perception of myself for the better, and my friend was talking about that particular story and not particularly addressing me and I took what he said and applied it to me-

I am just getting more confused.
Take from this what you will.
Recovery from self-loathing is difficult.
Recovery from self-loathing is worthwhile.

Others have said things which I have seen the value in, but not seen the value in for me. Years ago a hypnotherapist told me to say “I am loved, loving and lovable”. I have only really accepted that intellectually. Periodically I get the phrase out and consider it.

I want to heal myself.
I want to heal everybody.

I saw two wise men, filmed, talking of wisdom, and I thought, I want to be the third there, talking equally with them. I wanted it more than anything.

Fear and love

What would it mean if I looked upon myself with the eyes of Love? I say what I feel: horror, worthlessness, misery, fear, unknowing (which is painful)- and I hear that, and still hold myself in sympathy and respect?

-I’ve done some good things
-I know.
-I’ve faced some hard things
-I know. That’s all past. You are here, now.

I feel bewilderment. My intelligence should be capable of sorting this out, and I can’t.

The fear is usually unspoken, unacknowledged, unconscious. It’s always there, but I don’t feel it in the sense of fear that spikes my blood with adrenaline and makes me need to run, or able to run, or know what to run from.

-Yes. It’s fear of the whole situation, not one thing like a bear.
-I feel tired.
-That’s the response to chronic fear.

I am seeking. I feel questioning, determined. Love and respect for myself, accepting the fear and sense of worthlessness, helps me see that. I am not all bad.

I have inestimable value. Saying that does not seem arrogant, just a statement of the truth.

Reason is the slave of the passions. If I think my life is mere existence now, it can be otherwise if I want it to be otherwise, but I have to want that. I am unclear what I want, beyond hiding away and not being seen, in order to be safe.

I know that I experience delight. Being in the Now, so that I am perceiving what is around me rather than thinking about past or future gives me delight. Then seeing flowers and birds gives me delight. Seeing beauty, including in an art gallery, delights me. Sometimes reading delights me: new understanding, seeing things in a new way, an idea beautifully expressed.

Creation delights me. I wrote a poem. I love it, and sending it to an editor made me feel high. I enjoy writing for The Friend. I am less sure about blogging because that is linked to receiving attention online, which seems more addictive and less nourishing. You cannot be addicted to human contact, it is a human need. However when you don’t get enough human contact you can be addicted to the ersatz contact of facebook likes and WordPress views. But, heck, I still like writing.

I like talking to an audience. I like making something new. I like joking around, and laughter. I like listening to someone and helping them think things through, even advising. If I make them feel better, I love that.

Denial of reality is a huge part of my life. I suppose it is like bracketing feelings. I won’t face that now, I will consider other things. Possibly denial takes energy. In CS Lewis’s depiction of Hell, people built huge houses, as large and complex as they liked, just by imagining them, but they did not keep out the rain. Am I beating myself up again? No, I think just acknowledging. This is something I do.

Whom do I love beyond myself? Family? I have no sexual attraction at the moment. Covid has reduced my human contact.

People tell me I appear “serene”. I don’t feel serene. I feel numb, which means there are feelings under the surface too terrifying to acknowledge. I feel dissatisfied, but that is a common feeling among humans. It is why we change. Dissatisfaction without change is another image of Hell. Or, thinking of what I could do, ought todo, but don’t want to do, there is no fire or life in it.

My life is governed by fear, sometimes felt, sometimes just a dead weight. I live with emotional pain. This produces depression. Rejecting and denying them makes them stronger.

Fear, pain, depression:
treat them with love, acceptance, respect

Not as a problem, but as part of the human process.