Hope for the new year

I want to be safe.

Yesterday, I responded to a request for words of conciliation with anti-trans campaigners. I wrote that for reconciliation they have to accept that I exist, and my needs are real. It might seem rational to say a man cannot become a woman, but it ignores how people are. In the same way it might seem rational to say gay love is objectively disordered, sterile, based on incompatibility, but some people are gay. The anti-trans campaigners must accept my nature and my needs.

So I wrote that, in a few elegant paragraphs, taking about fifteen minutes. Then I spent ninety minutes ruminating on it, reviewing certain facts and details showing how I was right, and verbal formulations which should absolutely persuade anyone who had an open mind. This rumination got me nowhere. I learned nothing. I achieved nothing. I just got wound up and bothered.

There is the thing I can do- in this case, an email to a particular group of people, which may or may not persuade them, may or may not influence what they eventually write. Or, when Labour goes canvassing I can go with them. It has the chance of producing a good result. And there is the thing I can not do: I cannot influence Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Alister Jack or The Times in their campaign to vilify trans people. The rumination is my excited, desperate assertion that I know The Truth, and that God or society or whatever should just accept The Truth. It does not work. I am like an infant pleading with a kindergarten teacher, but there is no teacher.

I cannot make myself safer than I am. Jesus said, For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it (Mt 16:25). The words “for my sake” are an interpolation: the phrase is more satisfyingly parallel without them, and makes more sense. I lose my life: I stop attempting to create safety by impossible means, and so gain it, gain the ability to go out into the world without worrying what bad things could happen, or that there are people who are anti-trans.

I have in me a confused and hurting child, traumatised by parental rejection, which seeks safety in such old habits as rumination. It is called the “Critical parent” because when I am conscious of it, it speaks to me like an angry parent. “You can’t say that.” “How could you be so stupid?” But it is the burden of emotions I could not process as a child, so which stay with me. It is my rage and terror.

The conscious ego, which I call the adjusted child, attempts to propitiate the critical parent, but never can.

That hurting child is a burden of shame, hurt, fear and anger from my childhood and previous generations. It blinds me to the world and to myself. I will let it go. I will become one whole integrated human being, accepting myself and the world, all my feelings and needs, and the reality surrounding me, including all other people.

I associate with groups of people who, however imperfectly, know the light within them and seek to manifest it.

It is a process of cleansing long ingrained dirt, of loosening cramped, constrained muscle, of eyes adjusting to bright light, of letting go false understandings. I may never fully complete it. But oh, I begin to dance, and it is beautiful.

I am never safe from fear, anger, sadness and hurt, but now old hurts and fears control and constrain me. I will let them go. This is a process which takes time. I will process those old hurts.

Unfortunately present matters echo the past, reinforcing it. New fears may make the old fears seem more real. I hope more clearly to discern what is real, and what is merely an echo.

In this process of healing, the present may be a symbol of the past. M is a real human being, on a similar spiritual healing to me, highly attractive and gifted, and also a symbol in my head of my abandonment by my mother and desire for co-dependency. I will chew that cud until I no longer need to. I wronged the real person, and should not approach her, but the symbol will live with me until I have processed it. This is a healing. It takes time.

I will find freedom to express all the hurts and fears I have kept inside and to free myself from the shame and blame that are carryovers from the past. I will become an adult who is imprisoned no longer by childhood reactions. I will recover the true self within me, learning to accept and love myself. This is a quote.

I associate with groups of people who, however imperfectly, know the light within them and seek to manifest it: Quakers, ACA, the Lovely Gathering, others.

I will bring myself to wholeness. This is all that matters to me now. It is my struggle to pupate, to bring myself to new birth.

Increasingly, I dance.

Letting go

I could not stand up for any length of time. My back got sore. Eighteen months ago, someone noticed my posture walking, and suggested I should tighten the muscles in my lower back. I found I could do that consciously, and then I could stand for much longer. I was delighted.

In August I found I was getting stiff. I had difficulty bending, and particular difficulty sitting on the ground, which was a problem at the Festival. On Tuesday 20th, I went with a friend to the Cezanne exhibition, and complained of this. She saw it was a muscular problem: the lower back muscles are too tense and resist stretching. If I release their tension, then I can bend.

I resent that I should need to be learning this now. My autonomic nervous system should handle all this. But I am glad I learn it now rather than not knowing.

My inner critic is like that tense muscle. It supported me. It held me upright. I found I could get through to speaking from the heart, the inner child, the real self, if I went through a moment of rage or weeping. I would cry, then I would soften into vulnerability and at the same time strengthen. I am no longer divided.

The critical parent and inner child are in conflict. The critical parent is used to being in control. Its fear and anger govern me: fear of me and of the world, anger at me for not being able to be safe. The inner child is in rebellion, and is where all my motivation is: I can only do something with its assent, and it will not be forced any more.

On waking, there are things I can do to bring myself into the state of presence. I could simply acknowledge the reality of the world. If I reach for my computer, I could read the daily meditation from ACA, which I get by email, or another logion from the gospel of Thomas in William Duffy’s commentary. He says the key to understanding Thomas is not Gnosticism, but Nonduality.

Instead I check my blog stats, facebook, email, and Guardian comment upvotes. This holds me in my addictive state, chasing after dopamine hits and the shared resentments against the government. My comment which got over a thousand upvotes elegantly expressed hope we would get rid of them in 2023. I am pleased I can attract that attention. My blog post saying the GRR Bill could not be blocked got 133 views, and a law professor and trans man called it “excellent”. I am pleased. I wanted to use my skills and knowledge to reassure trans facebook, worrying about the Bill being blocked. And, I am checking the stats again.

When I am doing that, or wordle puzzles, I descend into a mental fog, and time passes. If I want to do anything more constructive- even, read or watch video- I have to emerge. But chasing dopamine is what I do when the critical parent and inner child are in a truce- neither ceding control, both doing what they can barely tolerate the other doing.

I want to get out of that state. I want to be living from the true self: undivided, it perceives, decides and acts without propitiating the terror of the critical parent. Getting into that state has involved feeling intense grief or anger. It could be the pain of the inner child which frightens the critical parent so much, or it could be the fear and hurt of the critical parent.

I find myself calling out to the critical parent.

My darling. My darling. My darling.
Relax.
Come down from that high wall.
You do not need to watch for threat
or hold to a known rigid pattern of behaviour.
It is safe.
Let us go out to play.

Like the muscle, if the critical parent, my tense, defensive stance, can relax, then I do not have to painfully force it to bend before I can live from my true self. Sometimes I may need to be wary or reserved, but not always have my tension racked up to maximum.

My darling.
Let me cuddle and massage you.
You protected me with your constant vigilance.
Now that old threat is gone.
Let me lead you
by the hand
into delight.

I learned a word: a prosimetrum is a text which is mostly prose but contains passages of verse at significant moments, to increase attention or enhance dramatic effect. It was a common form in Mediaeval Europe and Persia, which I use spontaneously.

Accepted by others, accepted by self

I need a saint.

There is a woman I keep in my head, an echo of a real human, whom I am ashamed of thinking about. I don’t imagine sex with her, but talking companionably. I read or see something and imagine myself saying something about it to her. Occasionally I torture myself with the real human’s social media.

Philippa Perry writes, “Humans can feel we don’t exist if we live unwitnessed”. I don’t imagine this person saying anything to me, particularly, just being in my company with a friendly manner. I imagine not being alone, and not needing to present a face to another- to be allowed to be me. Then I am aware of my loneliness, and ashamed, because I am ashamed of just about everything.

My Episcopalian background made little of saints. We prayed to God. Jesus is human, but superhuman, able to cure disease by touch or even by the thought of him (for Jairus, if not for most of those people praying about cancer right now). I might imagine a Greek, Mesopotamian or Egyptian god, entirely on my side, or a Bodhisattva.

If I know what the echo achieves for me- I imagine being witnessed- I might construct a better way of achieving that. My new fantasy woman is Mary Magdalene. She is immortal: two thousand years old but still looks like this.

If she were my saint, someone in my head I could talk to occasionally, I might imagine her as portrayed in Dirk Bouts’ The Entombment. She is practical. She is a tower of strength in the darkness.

ACA advises us to awaken an inner loving parent. What would the loving parent say? Well, what would I say to the loving parent? I am ashamed. I am afraid.

Mary Magdalene accompanied Jesus. She suffered powerlessly as he went to his death. Then she had the great insight which founded the Christian church- “He is not here”. Jesus lives in our hearts and memories and what we know of Him. He is not in the past, but the present.

Then she was traduced by Patriarchy. How did she reach that insight? The Gospels say, a man told her. The church called her a prostitute. In so many paintings she contemplates death. Yet she survives. She is a tower of strength, just what I need.

I say “I am ashamed” and my inner critical parent says, so you should be. About everything. I say “I am afraid”, and the critical parent says how useless I am. There is nothing to be afraid of. Get on with it. My own personal saint might say, “Yes. Do not worry about it,” and give me a consoling cuddle. Or take me by the hand. I imagine myself a child with her. Mary has the strength and experience to witness and accept all that I am, so that I might, too. Yes, I am co-dependent. No, that does not make for good relationships. It might be better if I could deal with it in my own head.

Everyone? Even a successful straight cis white male might have parts of himself he denies or is too ashamed to show. Unable to bear living with myself, I might confess to Mary, who would absolve me.

The Adapted Child

I lived my life completely under my mother’s thumb, doing as she thought right. Then I left home, and lived the same way: I placated my inner critic as I had placated my mother. I had internalised her requirements so I would not get the wrong side of her, so the monster would not get me. I had internalised them so well they were unconscious, simply the only possible way to be. This is the adapted child, not a good way for an adult to be.

Since 1986 I have spotted ways in which the way I thought was insane, but still mostly persisted with it. The real me underneath began to emerge, in 1998, and in 2015, and still mostly I lived as the adapted child. It was just normal. I think of that way of being as “me”, generally. There is something deeper, truer, more alive underneath and still, mostly, I am the adapted child. So, I do not consider what life might be like more than about a month or two ahead. I was often unconscious of what I was feeling.

We become conscious of the inner critic when it begins to fail. I only need to hear it say “You can’t say that!” when it crosses my mind I might say what it objects to. There were the words I could not say, then there was the statement about my childhood which I so feared, I thought everyone would judge me for it, so it took all my courage to say it to someone else. And then this year there were things I said to M who welcomed me saying them, and gave me the strength to say them more and more easily, so that I can speak from that heart space far more easily now. Now, “You can’t say that!” may just be a faint echo; and yet still there may be aspects where the inner critic remains unconscious and in control.

I went to the supermarket on Friday 14th wanting to be my Real Self, my Inner Child. I stood at the end of an aisle, centring. And I was: I felt joy, I was in touch with my feelings, my senses felt more alive. It is an effort to be like that, and it is the only way to be. I had a problem there with staff, which may be because I look trans, or because I look poor, and from the real self it is almost not a bother to me, well, I am where I am. I know that had I met it from the adapted child it would have rankled with me for days. I am doing all this work, to be acceptable! All this work and it does me no good at all! (That’s all or nothing thinking.)

The adapted child wants to preserve equanimity, and the true self/inner child preserves it far more easily. The adapted child is unaware of feeling until it bursts out, and the true self can feel it and let it pass. And I cannot go to the Lovely Gathering at the moment because my frustrated, powerless anger at Jamie is unbearable.

The adapted child is a child’s way of meeting the problems of adulthood, or a way of being stuck in childishness. Hence maladaptive characteristics like, not really caring about the future. So we call ourselves “adult children”. The inner child is the way to the integrated self. The adapted child was simply normal, so did not need a name: as I name it, I problematize it, and shed it more and more.

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.

---

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.