Joy and the inner light

How might I move on?

I am more isolated now than I was eleven years ago. Am I merely ruminating about the past? I wrote in my diary, “It is time to rebel against my parents”. I was over thirty at the time. I may have had an enmeshed relationship with my mother. But, why should I be dwelling on that now?

How do I feel about my situation now? “Miserable” is not a feeling, it is an accumulation of feelings, all mixed together, hard to identify and differentiate. There is anger, frustration, resentment, fear (the feelings I identified in 1999) and perhaps others. There is great sadness.

And, still, I am unconscious of feeling. Objectively, my lifestyle, rarely going out, is a product of overwhelming anxiety, and I am rarely conscious of anxiety. It manifests as just doing nothing when I know I should take a particular action. Hours pass. I am burned out.

I was acting in anger towards another and not conscious of it. Now the anger has done its job: not by changing her, but by changing me. I cease to care about her. I see her actions as hurting me, wronging me, and let go my former illusion of her. I let in these additional perceptions, see her more clearly, and let go.

I am between the Id and the Inner Light. The Id, a roiling, terrifying storm of feeling, which makes us lash out, comes from feeling being suppressed. The Inner Light may be the human in touch with feeling and therefore empathetic. David Brooks, in The Second Mountain- the quest for a moral life, writes,

Every once in a while, I meet a person who radiates joy. These are people who seem to glow with an inner light. They are kind, tranquil, delighted by small pleasures, and grateful for the large ones. These people are not perfect. They get exhausted and stressed. They make errors in judgment. But they live for others, and not for themselves. They’ve made unshakable commitments to family, a cause, a community, or a faith. They know why they were put on this earth and derive a deep satisfaction from doing what they have been called to do. Life isn’t easy for these people. They’ve taken on the burdens of others. But they have a serenity about them, a settled resolve. They are interested in you, make you feel cherished and known, and take delight in your good.

I too have met people like that. Brooks does not claim to be there yet. My route involves bringing the unconscious to consciousness.

The “Heart” I seek to speak from is more complex than I can know. It is like the Id in some ways, because of the powerful forces still repressing my feelings. I bring myself to consciousness but am not there yet. My desire to be good comes from a desire to be safe. I want to follow the rules so no-one will be nasty to me, even though that does not work. Or, I want to be good so I might deserve not to suffer. I want to avoid pain. I need to feel the pain, uncertainty, sadness.

Possibly, behind that heart there is something that might be called an “inner light”- aware of the community, seeking its good, wanting connection. Possibly that is how the heart matures as the Id, accepted, lashes out less. I fear being a doormat.

I was irritated with Brooks claiming “Self-created identities are also fragile. We need to have our identities constantly affirmed by others if we are to feel secure.” His cis male conservative successful writer identity is always going to be affirmed. I know of trans people who view other trans people’s different journeys as not the right way to be trans, and therefore a challenge to their own trans identity. But if people feel sufficiently affirmed in our diversity we can accept each other’s difference.

Brooks is too dismissive of others’ travails. No-one leaves a marriage “based on some momentary vision of their own needs”. It is so difficult to divide a shared life that a conviction that it is necessary may grow over months before it crystallises.

I don’t know what that permanent joy would be like, but I felt delight today being affirmed: someone I respect said my published pieces were well-written and to the point. It is a gift.

Brooks and I both see that an “inner light” and living from joy is possible. He names the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Paul Farmer, but also believes ordinary people can become like that, like Dorothea Ladislaw: “But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

If I were ever to get there, it would be through loving my Id into consciousness. Brooks writes that “Some shrivel in the face of suffering. They seem to get more afraid and more resentful. They shrink away from their inner depths in fear. Their lives become smaller and lonelier.” Well, some wounds are too great to heal. I hope I don’t end up like that.

In worship someone quoted Living our beliefs, the introduction to Quakers by and for adolescents: “feel your whole self, celebrate it, be happy and proud”. I bought the book immediately, but could not find the quote. The working theory is that the Id will only get in the way of the Light if it is unconscious. I move on by bringing it to light.

The value of sadness

Anger and fear give energy to fight or flee. Sadness softens you. That softening felt like a threat to me, and my inner scourge berated me in fear and anger. I suppressed my sadness below consciousness.

On Monday 16th, I eldered the Woodbrooke zoom worship. It involves holding space, which is a particular kind of loving attention and care: you don’t need to speak to show it. I could see someone’s microphone icon was off, and her lips were moving, but I could not hear her, so I messaged her. She wanted to find “The poem by Rumi”.

I was worried that I was spending too much time facilitating rather than holding, but guessed she meant The Guest House, and copied it to her. She asked me to read it to the meeting. It enjoins us to value every awareness, even sorrow.

I broke down crying at “Welcome and entertain them all,” for my inner scourge rejects my sadness and so rejects myself. I had to start crying to realise how much this means to me. Consciously softening let me finish reading.

My resistance to my own feeling is a major source of the inner conflicts which bind me and drain me of energy. I could suppress feeling out of consciousness, but the effort to do so increased until I came to my current inactivity. I cannot be harder than I am, however desperately I wish, so I look for the value of sadness, so I might accept it.

Sadness is information. Something hurts. Grief at loss expresses the human need for love and connection. We are made to live in couples and communities.

If sadness softens us, it can bring people together. We are vulnerable, feeling beings. We see our need to support each other, and reach out for help.

Softening also helps us see each other more clearly. Once I am past the overwhelm of my own sadness, I can see it in others too, and feel with them. Feeling the feels, we come together authentically.

There are times when you have to keep working, and softening inhibits you. Trying to ignore or suppress any feeling does not work. Better to bracket it: acknowledge it, but pay it no attention for now. If you bracket feeling, you have to deal with it later.

Softening from sadness can feel like a threat to the community, which needs each individual to pull their weight. So we mock children- “Big boys don’t cry”. “Put on your big girl pants”. When adults console each other, “Don’t cry” can be a wheedling demand to stop raising things which the other cannot cope with. It can mean, “Pull yourself together,” but unless we soften we break our community apart.

I found I could make people feel better simply by listening to them without judgment. I did not take their sorrows upon myself, I earthed them. I let them pass through me and drain away. This gave me joy, because I am soft.

I tried to harden, to make a man of myself, and it almost killed me. Transition, becoming the woman I am, is the way to save my life, and I am still working on it.

Protecting my femininity

“I really trust in myself and my own Blackness,” says Quinta Brunson. How liberating! Something condemned, or seen as other and inferior, feared oppressed and resisted, being Claimed. “This is who I am, and it is Good.” Beautiful. I screwed up my courage, and typed: I really trust in myself, and my own

femininity.

I have wrestled with the concept here for ten years. It feels weak, vulnerable and frightening. It seems an oppressive, Patriarchal concept: women are not always feminine, and should not be expected to be. Sometimes it appears incoherent. And I feel unworthy of it. My internalised transphobia claims I am not really feminine.

I keep coming back to the fact of my femininity. I am still resisting, but it becomes more undeniable. I fear it, and that sets up internal conflicts which paralyse me. I denounced it as weak, sick, perverted, disgusting, ridiculous and illusory. Only as I accept that I am as I am, can I become free.

I desired someone. She was dominant, and I would submit. I wanted to nurture and care for her. The term in a Domination/submission (D/s) dynamic would be “serve”, but I don’t like that word. It is not just false self-image which makes me resist: I have value and agency which the word “serve” does not properly acknowledge.

It appears that some women, like me, want to be “taken”, or “overpowered”, by a sexual partner. Not all women, of course, and sex without consent is a violation. Some would deny it, and some would whisper about it. Some would fear it. Some would see it in themselves, and take precautions: being overpowered could be damaging, unless there is love between a couple.

Most people discover sex in their teens. A lesbian blogger said she was twenty before she found her community, and sexual love. I was so damaged by my culture, society and upbringing, so bound up in the need to make a man of myself, that I could not possibly have recognised my desires then. I want to be overwhelmed, and that would have been too great a threat to my sense of self.

Others saw in me what I denied in myself. At a dance in 1994, I took Jan in a ballroom hold, and she started to lead. I got embarrassed and upset, and she said, “I thought that was what you wanted”. It was, just, not what I could admit to myself. So I was stuck in impossible internal conflicts, denial and suppression, and starved for connection.

I want to be overwhelmed, and wonder if it is pathological: if my mother made me that way. When a trait is disrespected and denied, we search for a cause. The cause is, natural human diversity.

If it is hard for women to accept that desire, how much harder for men! Even when you accept it, the danger of it, the possibility of exploitation, continues. I am not a man, I am more or less clear on that twenty years after transitioning. The desire to make a man of myself recedes, though it was so powerful in me that there are still echoes. And perhaps in others: if men have an inkling that they do not fit the gender stereotypes of Manliness, they might have powerful feelings which they need to deny and suppress out of consciousness just as I did. It would feel humiliating, where if there were Love and acceptance it could be fulfilling.

I have little experience of sex, and almost none satisfactory. Well, we did not evolve to be happy, we evolved to reproduce. Two years ago, I coined this phrase: I want to open up like a flower. I have done, once, with a big, gentle man. My only response to him was to open from a foetal position, curled up protecting my breasts, belly and genitals, to lying on my back with my legs apart. This took more than an hour. And there was no “relationship” beyond friendship. Possibly his care was large enough to fill the word “Love”. Possibly the friendship and trust I felt for him was sufficient.

A scenario: you, the sub, are bound, gagged, helpless, at the Mistress’ feet (apologies to anyone who finds this overly vanilla).

I feel the sub’s attraction. There is the sense of being helpless, overwhelmed, controlled. But the fantasy is humiliating, echoing the humiliation the sub feels at his desires. He realises this is not manly. If he maintains a manly façade elsewhere, it might make him more ashamed and less likely to form a loving sexual bond.

At best, the humiliation might break him open, so he can admit his desire and be his whole self. Or he can explore it, experiencing what it is like to be this part of himself with another human being. At worst, he has an occasional outlet, walled round with shame and denial. I had an occasional outlet in cross-dressing. I could only integrate a huge part of myself through transition, and am still working on it now.

What I can’t see, in the D/s scenario, is anything valuing the sub. I have value. I am not just a plaything. The conventional ways people are valued- family, job, status- do not apply to me. I was systematically devalued, so I devalued myself. The vulnerable sexual being, overwhelmed, needs to be valued. I love Cranmer’s words: “Love, protect and cherish”. Cherished, I might flourish. Devalued and humiliated, I hide away.

Humans respond to being valued. We bring forth our valued parts. We hide those parts that are devalued. I have this capacity for surrender, which I fear in myself, and have judged and seen as weak. I need to value it.

A sex worker can get people to pay for that humiliation. And if she enjoys it, and he asks for it, why wouldn’t she?

Possibly, it’s just me, and everyone else has come to terms with all this…

I had initially called this “Fearful femininity” in the sense of “fearful symmetry”. I am in the embrace of unyielding reality, holding me as I struggle. If I reject my femininity I cannot protect those vulnerabilities in myself. I must value and protect my femininity.

My sexuality

I do not know my own desires, but I have been finding out some things.

Deeply repressed in my twenties, so ashamed of cross-dressing that I had aversion therapy, not knowing my own feelings, I wanted a girlfriend like a repressed gay man might- to make me normal, to make me appear normal. I believe a woman fell in love with me at University, saw the gentle soul below the layers of terror and arrogance, and took years to recover. I did not see it.

I thought of calling this “Towards a theory of my sexuality,” though I feel, as well as analysing. The working theory until this week was that my sexuality was like my father’s. He liked strong, controlling women, first my mother, then M. We had one honest conversation about this. I get the impression that some people think this is just kink, possibly kink in denial. (People I have talked to recently have referred to “kink” rather than “BDSM”.) I think it is different. My mother never even wore a high heeled boot. I like to be controlled, and being controlled has hurt me. And I want to open up like a flower.

U would have controlled me for her own purposes, just because she could. I did not see it, and F did: she told me of a man who had been gloriously dominant, and she had just accommodated to him. Now she had a man who appreciated her nature and helped her be herself.

I craved seeing D. I asked for a video call, and when I saw her, all my oxytocin went off. In that moment I felt my deep emotional need for connection. I had not realised its strength.

I talked about this with my friend who does twelve-steps. We agreed that humans kid ourselves all the time. The alcoholic will take just one drink, he thinks. She does not want me hurt, and said I should sever all contact. I picked another friend to talk to because they have poly relationships, not knowing they are into kink. I thought poly would teach them to be conscious about feelings, needs and illusions. They said, “You know I’m not going to judge you, right?” Of course, that’s why I picked you. I still could not speak clearly, just sat silent or said disconnected words, until they loved me back to coherence.

I still surprised them. “I think of mine as male sexuality,” I said. “Oh! OK,” they said. Well, like my father’s. I want to understand, so no concept is off limits- imagining that I am a man, a woman, or nonbinary helps me understand different things about myself. Though I don’t like it when others pigeon hole me. More than one has said, “Oh, I don’t think of you as man or woman, I think of you as Clare”. I resist “nonbinary”, because of my starkly binary transition.

I need an emotional connection, I said. “The word for that is ‘demisexual’,” they said, and I felt resistance. I feel it, it is real now, and I will not shut myself off from future experience by classifying My Precise Orientation too early.

Then Michelle Goldberg in the NYT hits me between the eyes. “Women are still embarrassed by their desires, particularly when they are emotional.” Women might put their partner’s needs above their own. One felt embarrassed wanting to stop her partner choking her during sex, even though she did not like it.

This brought me to tears. “I want to be a man,” I wept. It would make life so much easier! But I am not. I am a woman. I want to be hurt! Not in a masochistic sense, but because I want to open up to all experience, and it is only through being open to being hurt that I might find what I desire.

A desire

“they all adore you (rightly)” he said. I treasure such comments, I need to, as I hold myself in contempt. She suggested I speak from the part that is contemptuous, so I did. I want to lessen the contempt. I do not deserve it.

I played Romance sans paroles, Fauré, to them, and told the story. It is one of my myths. Aged about 16, I got this piece for my grade 7 exam, and went through it, playing parts hands separately, noting which bars were tricky, until I came to the end. I sketched out that chord progression, and it moved me to tears. I was an unpopular boy, withdrawn yet arrogant, immature for my age, sure boys did not cry and insecure about my masculinity (well, yeah). And they said the piece is beautiful and it seems well played, but the sound quality kept fading in and out.

I thought it was something about zoom’s mic settings, but zooming with Louise I changed the settings and she still said the sound was coming in and out. I pulled the piano away from the wall, to put the laptop mic close to the speakers, and it still did not work.

T suggested getting a microphone. But the headphone jack is just that, it won’t take a mic. Well, she said, they plug into USB ports. She started looking them up on Amazon. They can be as cheap as £3, but she got one for £17. I don’t want another cheap microphone, and I don’t want to spend £20 on playing the piano once to the LG.

This morning I realised I do. That Beethoven adagio is gorgeous. Getting it in performance level even informally for LG would be difficult. My muscles are rusty, my brain pathways overgrown. Trying my various bits of equipment- an ethernet cable, an amp, even headphones I could place directly over the microphone on the laptop- and various zoom settings to see what produced the best results, which involves getting a friend to listen, is complex.

And- this is something I really want to do, that seems difficult yet achievable. Now, I do what I want: I want to hide away, so I hide away; I want to blog, so my presence is visible around the world through my words- 202 countries and territories so far. I wanted new pyjamas, as my last pair had holes along the seams, so I got them. I want to do wordles and scroll facebook, and so I do, and all these desires fuel my self-contempt. Beside these, playing the adagio to the LG is something I do not find contemptible.

I am so conscious of this desire. I will work at it. (The inner gaslighter tells me I won’t, and if I do I won’t succeed, but I don’t entirely believe that.) It would not be a great thing, but it would be something. It is a thing I want to do that is clearly not contemptible. Realising that, I wept, suddenly conscious of my unbearable agony.

Numbing out

I am becoming aware of how much vulnerability scares me. I can’t avoid it, but I go to great lengths to avoid feeling vulnerable. My life is so quiet. Much of the time I watch television, or just go through the same websites, over and over again, in case there is anything new.

It is hard to be positive about this, and my blog started with a pledge to be positive, and an overoptimistic first sentence. So I will sing in praise of numbing out: it keeps me safe from my vulnerability, and gives me the space to explore that vulnerability as far as I can bear.

Numbing out passes the time in my days after I have done whatever I can do with them- a little housework, a blog post, some reading, and occasionally a glancing encounter with reality. It keeps me amused. Almost every day I have a time when I can share, deeply, with wise spiritual people over Zoom. I like my life. It gives me all the challenge and experience I want. Perhaps I may want more later, and perhaps not.

I think I am clearer, now. Before, I would have said I watch television, and what a waste of time that is. Now, I would say I am numbing out, and that is self-protecting. I am nurturing myself as best I can. Numbing out, though easy to deride or despise, especially for me, is good for me.

In 2012 I did a ritual, and found I was firmly in Winter. Winter is the place where it seems the world sleeps, but seeds are germinating under the soil. Soon new shoots may grow. It is a place to be, if I can have faith the seeds really are germinating.

On Saturday night (theirs) and Sunday morning (mine, 12.30am) I read three poems about Love to American Quakers, and someone wrote in the chat, “my heart has never been touched in that way. beautiful”. I have told people this. I said I was boasting, and one said, no, you are sharing your joy.

I have no idea how good those poems are, and how I read them had some part of it. And, I know I am beautiful, and worth looking after. I have not always known that.

On Monday 21st I worshipped with Pendle Hill, and had a glimpse of the depth of my anxiety, confusion and sadness. It felt like a revelation. This is as much as I can bear, and I can bear more than before. After, sharing joys and sorrows, I shared that I have a joy I cannot articulate. Later, I thought that I am growing and healing.

On Monday evening we agreed how hard it is to warm oneself with one’s own love.

My hope, now, is that it is Spring, and to symbolise that I am wearing my daffodil earrings. It may be as illusory as the idea of pupating. But I know life develops, in the tuber under the soil. I have taken one more brick from the towering edifice of my self-hatred and contempt, and carried it towards the fragile construction of my self-respect.

Ironic detachment

Anti-trans activist and Today Programme presenter Justin Webb interviewed Nancy Kelley today on Today (starts at 1.48.50 in). Kelley did a lot better than she has in the past, she’s obviously been practising.

Webb’s tactic, after his endless confected anger against “biological men”, was to pretend no-one objected to real trans women. No! Perish the thought! They only objected to Men, pretending to be trans women to get into women’s services. This disingenuousness got under my skin, until I was lying down, wailing inarticulately. I surprised myself with the depth of my distress. After, I felt exhausted.

Tina said I appear serene, and the depth of my distress perplexes and frightens people. Graeme McGrath said I use an attitude of ironic detachment as a powerful defence against acknowledging the strength of my feelings. A man I knew had nerve damage, such that he did not know when he needed to go to the toilet. My state feels just as embarrassing: I do not know what I am feeling until I weep like a child abandoned.

I phoned the Samaritans. Talking it over with Dave, I surprised myself again by the strength of my feeling. We were talking about suicide at the time, but even so.

Imagining that was over, I texted M. I don’t know what I was thinking but think I believed I wanted a little playful contact. However when she texted “How are you?” I told her how I had felt wildly upset this morning. “Tell me about this upset, without analyzing or justifying,” she commanded. Well, it’s a good question. I do not need to justify. My reactions are justified.

Ironic detachment is my defence mechanism. Earlier in my journey of spiritual growth and self-understanding, I would have said, ironic detachment is my mask, it is my oppression, I must descend into my softness which is my true self, and liberate myself. Then, I might have thought knowing what I must do was sufficient, and discount the need to make a habit of it.

And now- ironic detachment is my defence mechanism. It stops me acknowledging the depth of my feelings, or even knowing that I am feeling something, but protects me from some pain. And, it can make me appear serene when with other people, at the cost of needing to be alone most of the time.

I don’t want to get rid of it, just not to use it reflexively or constantly. I want it working for me, not against me. I want to know when I am doing that, and be able to go underneath it, to find what I am feeling. This is a lot of work. And, I can find my softness, more and more easily, and there I seem to be more emotionally aware. I want to keep surprising myself with my true self, until it is no longer a surprise.

I may stick in another complaint about Webb, but I don’t need to worry about that now.

Loving my vulnerability

I loved how you used the word “observatory” as an adjective. Standard English would be “observational”, but you added root and suffix together in a way I instantly understood. I admire it like my nephew, as a toddler, using “goed” for “went”. Your command of the language is excellent, but the word you use would be called an error: I would celebrate your skill, but fear others might mock your usage. I love your drive.

He is right to say, spiritual growth should not be a great fight. We work hard at it, because we value it, but that hard work does not always produce the growth. I do not traumatise myself in the name of growth. Rather, old traumas came to me.

I sat in Meeting on Wednesday and Steve ministered on our silent waiting in Love for the word of God. But I was in the depths of my trauma, thinking of how my inner gaslighter had bullied me as worthless, except for what I could achieve, and useless, unable to match its impossible standards. Those implacable, impossible demands broke me into my current inactivity, which is the best evidence I have of my worthlessness and uselessness. Now Steve’s ministry, heard as “This is what proper Quakers should be doing” made me more miserable. It was more grist for the inner judge. It was so hard to bring the judge into consciousness: when unconscious, its judgments had seemed simply reality. So it made me suicidal.

So I spoke that I was wrestling with my trauma. After, one prayed for me, my Friend who is psychotic and my Friend who is sectioned, and I thought, I am in good company. Another admired my ability to be open and vulnerable. One reminded me of God’s love for me.

When I was in work, I was trapped by that inner judge. This was unbearable and traumatic for me. So I fled it and numb the pain, and facing the pain, admitting the pain of it, is part of my healing. My path to healing is through the old trauma, admitting how it still affects me.

Then I shared about this on Saturday. I thought of my share for an hour before. I thought I would project the judge’s judgment onto the group; and thinking this, realised they might have a multitude of reactions, but not the complete contempt of the judge. I thought of what I might say. I was heard and acknowledged: not by everyone, perhaps, but by enough.

Then in Meeting on Sunday I sat with a blissful sense of being loved and accepted- by my own inner light, and perhaps by other people too. Friends ministered their sources of joy. One read a poem about joy. Neil, of Jewish heritage, ministered on the light of the Menorah in the temple being produced by crushing olives for oil: through trauma comes light.

I see how the drive for perfection can make people achieve great things. Mine broke me because it was set too high, but I love it in others. I wanted to be perfect because I wanted to be invulnerable, but now my vulnerability, which I feel in cool chakras on my wrists, delights me. Through vulnerability I open and receive. And I can see and delight in another’s penetrating drive.

Imprisonment and liberation

In 1998, Dr Graeme McGrath, who had helped my trans friends, decided I was not trans. It is hard to know what to feel about that, twenty years after transition. He said I talked about strong feelings then adopted a mask of ironic detachment as a defence of my fragile sense of self. Even if he could provide the depth of psychotherapy I needed it might just threaten my defences. I was too messed up for psychotherapy to work.

I’ve been feeling “a bit” sad. And, I hate that “a bit”: it is minimising. Like I have “a little” poem I would like to read: little, slight, not really worth noticing, I crave your indulgence. Don’t do yourself down, I think, though Steve said, Spanish uses diminutives, eg “Conchita”, as terms of endearment.

-How are you?
-OK I suppose.

OK. Being below par is a bit frightening- no, terrifying. Less than OK is unbearable. So there is a depressing burden of alrightness, where unacknowledged pain builds up.

-Share your heart, if you feel safe to do so. (I do, with you.)

I don’t know. A feeling I am missing something, stuck in old patterns. If I am feeling hurt, I want to explain and articulate that, rather than simply being “hurt”. That distances me from the feeling. This feeling of being only just OK might be ameliorated by a sense of being loved, but I need constant reassurance of being loved and loveable. This makes me terribly vulnerable.

I hurt, feeling unloved. I don’t want to say that to other people, because I am an adult and do not want to appear vulnerable. In some way that causes me to be unable to admit it to myself. The imprisonment is that I cannot admit my misery to myself. The causal link locks me away.

My retreat to my living room is an attempt at emotional regulation. It calms my fears to bearable levels for me, and means that I don’t show unacceptable emotion- misery, fear, despair- to others. Out in the world, my feelings burst out, undammable, and so I feel too vulnerable, but even retreated I am still tortured by stress. My retreat is a waste of my gifts, but not the cause of my isolation. If I must conceal my feelings and never be open with anyone, then I am isolated from people even when I am among them.

Then, another’s love is threatening: it could make me emotionally incontinent, admit that I am not OK. I am not receptive to Love because I cannot show that part of myself.

I could not feel that delight fully without feeling my sadness. Delight alone would have been inauthentic and incomplete- it was delight and sadness commingled. My back tenses as I realise this, then releases as I write it down.

I want to let feelings flow naturally, I say, but I don’t want to pause to feel them. I want to hold them in myself and not show them. I can’t admit this is difficult. I am emotionally constipated, and fear incontinence, but if I feared my feelings less-

Could I learn to feel? I could cower, cry, or rage (or just gurn) as a way of processing the feelings through my body. I wish I had learned that as a toddler, in my family, before going to school.

I know that if I feel the feelings I will show them to others and that is Death. Possibly, you could help. You would tell me it was safe to feel and even express emotion. Or, the ghosts that I keep in my head, and use to talk things through, could tell me that. (I am in control of the ghosts in my head.) I want to be mothered. I come to you with my emotional problem, you help me find a way to deal with it.

First this made emotional sense to me, but having written it out it makes rational sense, and that is far more comfortable. I could never have explained it to my mother. She just would not understand. So it all became unconscious. I could not see the prison bars, or love, the file to cut them.

Imprisonment is feeling unsafe to feel fear, sadness or anger. I am convinced that if I feel them I will express them and then I will be judged, and suffer. Liberation is to let the feelings flow, feel them fully, accept them as part of me that needs my Love.