Balance and freedom

I am not who I thought I was. I am not what I was taught to respect.

Yesterday I was in my house, reading things which made me feel under threat, and today I went to London. I cycled to the station in sunshine, with the wind behind me.

A week ago K told me a ritual around letting go past decisions which no longer serve. In my cot, I decided to do whatever it took to please my mother, whatever the cost. It was a matter of survival.

I have shared on this, with ACA. I said I do not need to prove this to you. I believe it. I breathe that in. I do not need to justify myself or second-guess myself. I need to see.

The ritual asks if I can value the decision and see its worth for me, whether it now serves me, whether I can let it go.

I am grateful for the decision, which kept me alive. I am grateful for that part of me which enforced it on me. And then it became just normal. I could not even see it. Here is part of how I came to see it. I am so glad I came to see it.

I sat on the crowded train beside a woman, and felt the fear and anguish of my inner critic or controlling parent. I am letting the decision go in my own time. I hugged myself, caressed the bare skin of my arms, and cried quietly. There are times when I can contain the upset part of me, let her cry and scream somewhere safe within, and times when showing her proper respect means giving her access to express feeling through my body in the world. It is healing.

The woman got off the train. I sit beside the roof support, but there are six inches of window. I look through it at fields, trees and houses, hungrily: I need this beauty. I spent too long yesterday with the flat, single-colour planes of internal walls and the glowing screen feeding fear and anger.

At St Pancras I play the prelude. Cecilia is delighted: she is waiting for a train to the airport after doing Europe in 14 days with three other tourists and a guide. It’s been a hoot. She is from Texas. She suggests I visit the US. Two weeks might let me do one or two cities.

I walk along Euston road. It is busy and loud. I move my arms and shoulders to release emotion.

In meeting ministry is on the peace testimony. The peace I am called to make, if I may, is with any women’s rights campaigners who need me out, without abasing myself or denying my needs. Ukraine is not my concern.

I had the idea I need balance. I remain inspired by my teenage niece’s declaring something “yucky”. Such clarity. My habit is to rationalise, explain, justify, make a case. I would rather take others with me, and do not want to adopt a common opinion to hide away and be safe any more. It is not safe. There is perhaps a balance between the clarity and the argument. Or perhaps I only need know what I feel, as long as I can be clear about my perceptions.

In meeting I rock and convulse with the fear of my infant self and the sense-impressions of the day. It is relief, the anguish I feel at laying down a burden.

Then with J to the Tate, to the Isaac Julien exhibition. Here are beautiful films about slavery, and death by AIDS, homophobic assault or drowning. They are intense. The world is intense. I might hide from it less. It is my home.

I like being this person that I am. I am glad to be able to appreciate and express who I am. It is freedom.

Facing the Monster

My life is governed by fear, such that most days I do not go out. I fear myself, and that fear comes from my enmeshed relationship. It is fear of how my mother might react if I show my true character in any spontaneous act. It is fear the monster will get me. Or, I fear the world, and that comes from my mother’s fear of the world. Some of my fear is stoked by media transphobia: people feel justified speaking such hostility to trans women and our rights. And a little of my fear comes from my actual experiences, just enough to keep the rest simmering.

These are my goals for recovery:

I mourn and process my past.
I lose my fear of displeasing my dead mother.
I feel my feelings fully, and value them as my perception of the world and my needs.
I see others as they are, and relate to them well.
I know my own goals and desires, and pursue them.
I express my gifts in the world, as a blessing on myself and others.

My fears of my mother, and hers of the world, do not relate to me now, and I want to be free of them. Such fear could only come from terror of death. I imagine her rejection when I was a baby, and I had to self-abnegate, to be the child she wanted, in order to survive.

I see more how my craziness works. On Sunday 26 February I made a remark to a woman in Tate Modern which upset my protective self and I had to go home. On Tuesday I heard the bin lorry just as I finished drying myself after the shower, so threw on coat and sandals to take my bin out. I stood, bare legged, feeling humiliated. Then I noticed that rather than process the feelings, I was trying to suppress them, in order to appear calm, though I was alone. Then I went to an ACA meeting and was needlessly unpleasant. And, when there is a feeling I find uncomfortable I take refuge in puzzles or social media. The answer in each case is to feel and accept the feelings.

Here am I, aged 56, governed by fear of displeasing my mother by showing a feeling unacceptable to her. I have been rewatching BoJack Horseman on Netflix, which shows both people maturing and getting on with their lives, and one character stuck in his monstrous childhood with an implacable inner critic, miserable, lonely, impulsive, chaotic and harmful. It shows that no experience, however extreme, has to be a person’s bottom: they can carry on as ridiculous and harmful as they ever were, and stopping drinking is not recovery. I find it wise, humane and beautiful, with a darkness at the centre, and it helps me understand myself. The second last episode is a near death experience. After, I noodled on the socials for a bit, then went late to Pendle Hill zoom worship.

I felt my infant terror of death. I was there, completely dependent, and terrified of not being cared for as I needed. I felt as afraid as I have ever been conscious of feeling. I was shaking and weeping. I started saying to my mother/the monster,

Do it.

Do it. Do it. Do it. Do as you wish. Do it. I will not placate you.

I thought of writing this for The Friend, and the Doubt inside me is saying nobody will believe me and I don’t want people to know and I would not be able to write about it and either persuade, inform or entertain. So I am writing about it here. It seems Big, and meaningful, and time will tell.

A choice

The week before my mother died at home, she lay in bed, on disposable absorbent pads. She was saying less and less, but one day she said to me, “What am I having?” I fed her segments of mandarin oranges, one at a time, but she could not swallow. A doctor told us, she is clinging on. You need to tell her she can let go. But Mum told Dad, “I still have work to do”.

One day that week, I was sent down the street to buy a flannel, so my sister could wipe her as needed. The pharmacy had a choice of two: one was an ordinary flannel, and the other was a beautifully soft child’s flannel, with a picture of Postman Pat on it. I chose the adult one, and have beaten myself up about it since, thinking of it several times a year. I should have got the softer one, gentle on her skin.

Last week, I have been thinking on this further, and discussing it with trusted friends. Before then, my processing had got as far as, I made the wrong decision and I am bad. Only last week I realised, I could have bought them both. That had not occurred to me before, and was an obviously bad thing to do: it would have been a waste of money.

The choice I faced was impossible. It was between a child’s flannel with a picture of Postman Pat on it, obviously wrong, you don’t buy an adult a child’s flannel, and an adult flannel which was also obviously wrong because it was less soft. But also, it was a simple choice, not worthy of any time or thought at all: all I had to do was make the choice my mother would have made. So getting it wrong was more proof of my stupidity and inadequacy.

That memory of my wrongness has lived with me alongside my memory of holding her briefly with love, trust and acceptance flowing both ways. The beautiful memory which I treasure is poisoned by my memory of my wrong decision.

I was a 29 year old child, still under my mother’s thumb. I had to make the right decision, that is, the one my mother would want. She wanted us private and isolated from the world as much as possible, she wanted us to appear normal, she discouraged the expression of any emotion, and this was all simply the unspoken, unquestionable right way to be.

Nearly three years later, in February 1999 when I was 32, I wrote in my diary “It is time to rebel against my parents”: to begin an exploration which over time leads me to find and assert my own values, desires and feelings, and make my own choices. It was the start of being aware of being on a spiritual journey.

For weeks, I had a vague idea of when I wrote that, and a vague thought that I could look through my diary to find the page. I remembered “It is time to rebel against my parents” was all I had written on one page. On Saturday I found it, and danced round my living room in delight.

I have also judged myself for obsessing over such a trivial thing. But it has great symbolic value for me, and understanding it as I do now is another step in my liberation. And, in early childhood doing what my mother wanted was so much a matter of survival that it still felt that way in adulthood. I am not wholly free of that fear now.

My life is unmanageable. Only by being willing to feel uncomfortable emotions- vulnerability, unknowing, fear, hurt- can I become free.

All this damage- has it any value? Can I transfigure it by writing about it, extract some wisdom? What I have to do is fix it.

Valuing the protective self

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of [anyone] hearty and clean…

Yesterday was the county council by-election, and while Labour was getting out the vote I was watching Netflix. I binged Travelers. It is very Canadian: though there is lots of existential threat and death, the central characters are a strong team together, with a deep communal ethic, horrified by doing harm. It is reassuring: really nice people win through.

Also, I could have done my washing. You see the deep ambivalence I have to this way of spending time. I hosted my Loving Parent Guidebook meeting in the morning, and my Emotions Anonymous meeting in the evening, and in between I vegged out.

If I did my washing, I would be in my True Self, and that frightened me. I do not want to be alone with myself. I do not want to feel my feelings. It hurts.

I fear myself.

So I treated myself with great gentleness. I would not judge or force that fearing part of myself, because the part fearing is me, and it is my fear.

Yesterday I called that fearing part my “False self”. I thought it merely propitiated the Controlling Parent which was fully in control of it. I am ambivalent about it, as well: it holds me back. And it is distrustful of what I have called my Real Self or True Self since 1999. This is my inner conflict: different parts of myself, at war with each other.

This morning, I found myself repeating mantras, in delight. I cannot remember them now. They changed as I made incremental realisations. I looked at my reflection in the bathroom mirror and expressed delighted love for myself and commitment to my own Good.

I am one human being. And I am divided in myself, in conflict. I want reconciliation and unity in myself. I do not want conquest or suppression: seeking that has been part of the problem. I want the love of the Loving Parent to suffuse all of me, true self and false self/controlling parent.

I will not call it the “False Self” any more. It is the Protective Self.

These are the parts of me, welcome, hearty and clean. When they are in balance, I will thrive. Out of balance, they have fought each other to a standstill.

The Expressive Self is a better name than real or true self, because it is not the whole of me. Here much of my enthusiasm and creativity reside. It is outgoing. It wants to perform and be seen. Its phrase is “Come, Dance with me,” like Daniel Ladinsky’s Hafiz’s God.

The Protective Self is concerned that all this expressiveness might get me into trouble. It is an aversion to pain: pain from the barracking of my Critical Parent, or from rejection by other people, or facing my own failure and loss which hurts me.

The Critical Parent asks valuable questions. Is this safe? Are my motives pure? Am I doing all I can?

The Loving Parent approaches me with the sympathy I would have for another human being who is hurting. It cares. It validates me: yes, these feelings are reasonable. Yes, I can do that if I want.

The loving parent has been quiet. It is not the way I approach myself. I have not learned to see from its point of view. The other three have been set against each other, isolated, hurting, fearful, distrusting. They do not know each other. The expressive self is far better able to bear its sadness than the protective self knows.

If I can value and love all these parts, they will be able to come to agreement about what I should do. They may become more clearly aspects of one integrated self. I need to learn, to practise, and to let go of the conflict. My habit and reflex is for each part to fear the others, and resist them. So, I do not express as successfully as I wish, because either I have no critical faculties or I suppress myself completely. The result is that I am too frightened to go out, much of the time.

Cursing my uselessness in terror does me no good. Each part must learn to trust the good will, and even the understanding, of the others.

It is hard for more than one to be in consciousness at one time, so whichever is in charge at the time is resistant to, resentful of and surprised by the others. I was so delighted when I brought them into dialogue two years ago!

This is my work: to love, value and integrate each of these parts, to understand them and rename them as they manifest, to allow them to flow and be, rather than to seek to control them in fear. It is tiring work, so I must pace myself, and watching Netflix is OK. It is a process of learning. So I will continue with life as it is: shopping, cooking, cleaning, looking after myself as well as I do; exploring the outside world carefully, not overstretching the protective self; taking time to rest, understand, care for, value, and integrate myself.

It will be what it will be, and take as long as it does. As the experience unfolds, there will be fear, anger, delight, perplexity, realisation, the whole magic of being human. Dare I hope for Love?

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.
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.