Anger

Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over him- a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful anger. The energy of anger, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing fully to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms and legs till he felt that they were pillars of burning blood… This filled Ransom not with horror but with a kind of joy. The joy came from finding at last what anger was made for… He rejoiced in the perfect congruity between his emotion and its object.

-CS Lewis, Perelandra. When I looked it up, I found he had said “hatred” rather than anger, but I feel it still works.

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil…Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice. Ephesians 4:26-27,31.

I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:22

Jesus looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Mark 3:22

In that context, Lewis’s interpretation of if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also works: “In so far as you are simply an angry man who has been hurt, mortify your anger and do not hit back- [but] in so far as you are a magistrate struck by a private person, a parent struck by a child, a teacher by a scholar, a sane man by a lunatic, or a soldier by the public enemy, your duties may be very different, different because they may be then other motives than egoistic retaliation for hitting back.”

Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. James 1:19-20

Those who worship the beast and its image… will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger. Revelation 14:9-10.

I bear a great burden of anger. It seemed I was taken back to my cot under a tree before I could walk, and I felt the child’s anger. I was not conscious of my feelings, then I became aware of them and they were anger, frustration, resentment and fear; then it seemed they were rage and terror. Sometimes now I cannot admit my own anger to consciousness.

I controlled it by suppression. I held it down. I was not conscious of it. I was an obedient child, following my mother’s desires. Then I was an adult, in the world of adults, not really feeling adult, nor understanding other apparent adults. I decided my suppression was the problem, that the tension in me comes from “nursing unacted desires”, and that I would be better to be conscious of the anger and sublimate it.

Yesterday, the woman in the supermarket queue had three problems, each of which caused delay. One such problem is rare. I treated it as an exercise of patience. Sensing my anger, I could acknowledge it, accept it, see there was nothing I could do to hurry her, and let it go. Suppressing it would make it a hurt for the rest of the day.

I am in pain, and I want to reduce it. I am in tension, and it is too much effort for me. I have an idea that single-minded integrity with all my emotions, drives and desires working together is possible (though long-term and short-term goals may need reconciliation) and that my need to manage feelings out of consciousness prevents that. An immediate feeling of threat may need managed, and the threat faced, but if I cannot admit to myself the sense of threat, and my inner parent screams at me “Get on with it! What are you fussing about!” then I just give up. As I have done.

The suppressed feeling has ways of coming into consciousness. I can think of a time when I felt that way in the past, and it is as if I am still dealing with that past event- then I rebuke myself, because I should have got over it by now. But no- it is a way of showing that I feel like that now, from something happening now. Or I tense up, or shake, as if in pain, and I rebuke myself, because I should not show signs of my feeling (it would upset my mother, who is dead, whose house I left 35 years ago).

I imagine a state of calm aware acceptance, of all the feelings, of all the surroundings; of anger at actual injustices and wrongs, rather than the mere inconvenience of the supermarket queue where no-one wronged me, and instead find a sensory overwhelm, painful and terrifying, so I flee it to the place where my emotions can be managed, either by minimising my interactions with the outside world or by scrolling social media for a brain-fog of vicarious momentary emotions, dulling my sense of what is real. I avoid kneeling in meditation because it will be painful, even though it will get me in touch with my inner guide.

Of course I want to deny reality! Reality’s horrible!

Yet it will get even more horrible as I turn my face from it.

Of course I am not dangerous. I am gentle and caring- I know this from my experience of how I act and respond. Suppressing my anger inhibits me, yet I do not want to bring it to consciousness so that I lash out, but so that I can respond better.

Partial inclusion

When I am not accepted, often I am tolerated. When I am not wholly valued or cherished, I may be partially included: I pretend to be a normal person, and am allowed to be that normal person in the group. So naming the way in which my difference is rejected may be a threat to me: it draws attention to my difference, so maybe my pretence at normality has been seen through, and I will be rejected. No, no, it’s no trouble, I say. Please don’t worry about it.

Though I am depressive, and need a lot of acceptance before it gets through to me; and I am hypervigilant for any sign of rejection. And, that could be seen more positively: particular aspects of me are appropriate for this group accomplishing this task, and others can come out at another time.

Our liberation is bound up together. If I can take off my masks, I can accept others without theirs, and even help them to remove them. We shall stand together naked and unashamed, but conscious and aware. Jesus says: “When you strip yourselves without being ashamed, when you take off your clothes and lay them at your feet like little children and trample on them! Then [you will become] children of Him who is living, and you will have no more fear.

This is a spiritual process, among Quakers. My Friend asked, What would it take to enable us to live in consciousness of peace, love and joy so that such issues as these and many others are resolved spontaneously? I think we need practice. I don’t know we will ever manage it spontaneously. I replied, For me, that is a continual process of emptying myself of my requirements of others and my false perceptions, and appreciating what is around me and within me. It is not instantaneous- noticing something and welcoming or emptying it, as it also involves things I desire or need to explore. There is love in me. I have blind spots where I do not notice- logs as well as specks in my eye- and it is a matter of seeing. I am pleased that I said there is love in me. I can acknowledge my goodness. Not everyone can.

Trans people are bound up in the concept of a real self, a kernel which is unchanging, which is the sex not assigned at birth. That might be a chimera. I can imagine a person’s self-concept being exhaustively defined, all the things they think they are and ought to be, but not the organismic self because it is an organism. I am an organism that reacts to circumstances, taking in ideas, responding to stimuli, so I cannot know how I will react until I am provoked. As the world I am in changes, I change.

How comfortable are you? There is a Quaker booklet, Owning power and privilege, which considers how some of us are advantaged, and the first voice in the text is a “white, middle class, educated, affluent” person who calls himself a “typical Quaker”. My voice comes later: For many of us, understanding power and privilege will be a matter of seeing both sides- how we are simultaneously disempowered and empowered by social structures and deep, embedded cultures. I am white, middle class by origin at least, educated, and I have refused policemen peremptorily demanding to come in to my house, unlike that typical Quaker who acknowledges “police attention bypasses me”. I know he is a man, from the pronouns he uses of himself. I think he’s straight. He does not mention being a straight man in that list of privileges. Fair enough, it’s a toolkit for recognising privilege in onesself, but the most privileged person is heard first.

Though the toolkit’s epigraph is by an “Aboriginal” activist, Lilla Watson: If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time… but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. She could be educated, too.

How comfortable are you? Bud Tillinghast has started a blog on the Roman Empire as a way of understanding the Bible. He quotes an English publication: August is named after Augustus Caesar…[who] brought peace and prosperity to the Roman Empire… The extensive network of Roman roads made travel much easier and thus [helped] the spread of Christianity. He points out that “peace” was in the interests of the Roman elite, at the expense of the rest, and that those roads helped soldiers march easily to places the Pax Romana was threatened. Tacitus said, They make a desolation and call it peace. If we think of that “peace” as a good thing, it is because we think of our own imperial adventures as beneficent, spreading order, rather than rapacious.

The way to equality is owning our power and privilege. It might help us get people of colour in if we recognised our privilege, as part of the emotions, attitudes and prejudices in [ourselves] which lie at the root of destructive conflict, the things we can’t see because they are so normal and expected. This is just how things are. This is not how things should be.

I am seeking my own liberation here, not just as a trans woman oppressed by the Patriarchy but as an educated white person oppressed by my education, which blinds me to other perspectives. When the least of us is free we are all entirely free.

Becoming a woman

When should a trans woman be considered a woman or girl? It depends for what purposes. Never, if being a “woman” means not being guilty of rape; from the moment of uttering the thought to another human being, for the purposes of being nurtured, understood, and assisted to thrive. Am I a woman? Should I be treated as a woman? That depends on what “being treated as a woman” means.

I was a trans woman when I was still presenting male at work. I had decided I would transition and was working towards it. For most purposes then it does not matter if I am a man or a woman, but I had two credit cards and two bank cards, one in each name, to avoid embarrassment. Had I used the female one when dressed male I might have been challenged, because people should not use someone else’s credit cards, and anyone might assume one in my female name was not mine; a friend did that, and got sectioned. They would not be “treating me as a man” so much as considering misleading evidence.

When dressed male I would not have dreamed of using women’s loos, but I did when dressed female. I had to spend more and more time “living as a woman” before I gave up my male identity completely. But when I was arrested for drunk driving, I was searched by a man, and gave my male name. (I was below the limit.) I feel that is reasonable. People hate being searched by whatever sex.

“Are you a man or a woman?” Well, why does it matter? I am me, my name is Clare, I like people to use female pronouns when referring to me. At the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, there was a concert where every woman in the audience was handed a rose. I took one, pleased, yet wondered if that was fraud- if I would not have received one if I were perceived as male. Possibly I was read, perhaps the man giving the roses out was in too much of a hurry to really notice, possibly I was “treated as a woman” though perceived as a trans woman.

I would not enter a woman’s refuge as a woman before transition. There are some services for women which are not appropriate. I am glad not to have needed to, and unsure that all trans women would agree. I feel I would be entitled to use their services now I am transitioned, though, if I were escaping domestic violence. They help women. I am treated as a woman, as a matter of international human rights law and long-standing practice in Britain.

The Labour Party has all-women shortlists for parliamentary candidacies, women’s forums, additional woman delegates to conferences in certain circumstances and women’s conferences. There are women’s officers on constituency party committees. When should trans women be admitted? To some, the syllogism is clear:

Lily is a trans woman- even though she is presenting male under some circumstances
Trans women are women
Lily should have access to women’s privileges.

To me, though, it is a matter of what will the straights accept? They might go along with me at women’s conferences, now I have transitioned, but perhaps not before.

But what should I say to younger trans women who are clear they are women even though they are presenting male some of the time? “Don’t rock the boat! Go full time first!” It is another way of saying I am more trans than they are, they should not spoil it for the real trans people. I am not going to say that to anyone. Transition is a baptism of fire- perhaps it would be better if we could be accepted as women while still presenting androgynously, and able to present male if necessary.

Other people might think transition proves you are really a trans woman, rather than a fantasist. I am willing to take someone’s word for it, on the grounds that this is a scary and disadvantageous thing to be. No-one claims it falsely. I would not positively campaign for trans women pre-transition to be treated as women, but if they are accepted I would quietly cheer.

If it is an advantage to be seen as a woman- different terms for insurance or pensions, say- I am more wary. They should not be different, as a matter of Equalities rights.

Wherever I am, I am dependent on the tolerance of others. I cannot always know what might increase or decrease that tolerance.

Trans reverting shame

Imagine that is a thing- rapid onset gender dysphoria is a social contagion, as a teenager you take T and have chest masculinisation, and then only three or four years later you regret it. You are a woman. Except now you have thick facial and body hair, your voice is breaking, you may develop male pattern baldness and you have no breasts. You have mutilated yourself in pursuit of a poisonous fantasy.

Someone who reverted might believe that. It is a lie, a terrible trap for vulnerable teenage girls. Given time, you could have come to glory in being a woman, the power and freedom that being a woman brings, but you were trapped by your fears and fantasies into trying to escape. You rejected truth and beauty for something less. Your punishment is to have what you wanted.

And you are still stuck, between desire and reality, manhood and womanhood, fantasy, belief, all whirls around you ungraspable, incomprehensible, unreachable. The reverting trans person regrets the body they could have had and the damage they have done to it, and still you are not what you ought to be.

It is as it always was: desire to be what you are not, shame at not being what you ought to be. At some time you have to stop running, fleeing or pursuing. There is only acceptance of what you are now, with your history, the substances you have taken and the relationships you have broken, the bad choices, the fear and the failures will always be yours. You don’t understand metanoia, true repentance and amendment of life, until you achieve it, and that is acceptance.

You are yourself, your own powers and affections, and only yourself.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves
unless restored by that refining fire.

And,

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

That is all there is. I will not revert. It would get me nothing I do not have now, just delay appreciating it.

City of Culture 

We walked away from the city centre, through an underpass, and over waste ground to the River. This is still industrial rather than touristy, but there is a fenced-off path by the water. We go by Port Authority land, where huge stacks of pipes sit. Perhaps the docked ships are nothing special, but they are imposing. We can just see land the other side of the Humber. Up river, we see the Humber bridge. It is windy, sunny, bracing, beautiful.

I love the vigorous signs of my civilisation, working together. I am kept warm and well fed by it. I love the beauty of this industrial landscape, even the rust on the metal, showing it is rugged and well used.

There is a bridge over the canal, which is open to ships. We thought of walking back, but a man leant out of the office to say it would be passable in half an hour. So we sat and waited, and I worked out my idea of gender.

The binary only matters for reproduction. Some people have testicles, some people have wombs, but all gendered behaviour is natural for and should be permissible to both groups, and all who fit neither. I am poisoned and mutilated because I went along with the attempt to make me normal and explicable.  I should not have to bear the cost of being different. My gifts are valuable and I, following the desires of others, have wasted them in a pointless attempt to fit in.

So there.

We go past the marina to the old town. This is touristified former industrial. Here is the House of Kings and Queens exhibition, photos of gay people surviving persecution: we are at home!  From there we go to the Minster. The nave is closed off for extensive works. The sanctuary and choir are worth wandering through, and the stained glass on the South of the transept is worth paying attention to. Here we meet the artist Annabel McCourt.

After some halfwitted hate-preacher said he wanted to put all the queers behind an electric fence so we would die out, she has built one, and here it is. It is eight feet high and in a square about three yards across. It curves in at the top. She is making a film about it, and as I enthuse she offers to record me. I am delighted. I am on fire.

I say how I love this civilisation, its power and organisation, and I recognise order and deferred gratification is necessary; and I love the beauty of this church which preserves that order; yet the Church and her Fence are part of the same thing, and I am on the outside. I want to tear the fence down, I say angrily.

She’s smiling and nodding. I carry on repeating I want to tear the fence down,  decisively, matter-of-factly, plaintively, sexily.

Would I mind being filmed? I would be delighted. I curl into the foetal position in the centre of the Fence, trembling, then am pictured caressing the wire with my beautiful hands.

1.58 for the best bit of this video; tear the fence down at 2.30.

Lucy and I go off for lunch in a market hall. It’s cheap, £1 for a cup of tea, but beautiful. These people own their own businesses and care for the place. The we sit in the sun by the flowers and the fountains eating fruit.

In the evening I explain myself to Sam. Society seeking necessary order has mutilated and poisoned me, and I have seen the necessity of loving and forgiving it. At the time he protests society is wrong about so much and I exclaim, “I have forgiven the bastards!” Of course as with any spiritual lesson I have just seen the possibility, not taken it into my heart and made it real; but I will.

Sam says he exemplifies for anyone who can see it a better way. Even that might be possible.

I am amazed to think of the coincidences which have brought me this rich experience and life-changing lesson. Annabel is only filming for one day, and it was odd to meet Sam who offered to put me up in Hull. I would not have come otherwise. A day later, I feel that I have made a connection between the Order which enables our civilisation, and the Order which excludes queers. You can have one without the other, but people find that difficult sometimes. I am letting go of shoulds, and resentment. It is as it is.

Post-materialist

I have been a post-materialist since about 2000, but learned I was one yesterday. Before, I had understood it as a matter of spiritual maturity: people move from a position of condemning non-conformists and out-groups to seeing that every human being is doing their best, under difficult circumstances, to agreeing with Blake’s line, “Everything that is, is holy”.

I welcome diversity, which is part of the flourishing of each person, for the good of humanity. This is part of my identity, how I see myself as a good person.

Then the NYT explains me, quoting Ronald Inglehart: when people grow up taking survival for granted it makes them more open to new ideas and more tolerant of outgroups…bringing greater emphasis on freedom of expression, environmental protection, gender equality, and tolerance of gays, handicapped people and foreigners. It is no merit in me, but an accident of birth. This was shocking, even if in retrospect obvious.

As a post-materialist, it means I should seek understanding of my out-group, which previously I thought of as less mature: if you feel under threat, you circle the wagons. Less mature in me does not mean less mature in others. What is possible, for a person?

It might be that if you can make people feel safer, they will be less angry with the outsider, foreigner or non-conformist. Mr Trump and Mrs May go the other way, encouraging the anger. If you feel looked down on by “liberal elites” who tell you not to feel that anger, you may be tempted by moneyed elites who tell you the anger is right. Trump, never worried about survival, bends others’ anger for his own ends. Encouraging the anger, making people feel OK in themselves and rejecting liberal scorn, pleases them so that he does not need to give them anything worthwhile. How do you benefit, really, from excluding refugees? What gain is there, from making Muslims feel as excluded, powerless and angry as you feel?

Are Trump’s patsies capable of empathy, or of recognising their own feelings? Unable to admit how angry and frightened he feels, a man clings more tightly to his world-view, we are right and everyone else is wrong, and those people over there are a threat. This is simply the truth for him, separate from any anxiety he feels about being able to pay his rent.

Is Trump going to permit discrimination against LGBT on “religious grounds”? The NYT said a draft executive order has circulated, but administration officials denied it would be adopted. They take the pulse of the nation. Will this energise their support, or the resistance? What are people saying about the proposed order? The order would increase hatred, and disempower non-conformity.

I am post-materialist because I am in one of the first hate-groups to be victimised. Thank God for the Windrush, I say, bringing Afro-Caribbean workers to Britain, beginning our long march to tolerance from which I benefit.

marie-bracquemond-three-women

I-Thou

Of course transphobia exists. There are people I revolt, simply by existing. So if you doubt it-

What did you do to provoke him?

I came within his line of vision. That was it.

I want to be believed. That I might not be is difficult for me. I spoke to him. That was enough. He went off on one. Further questions perplex me. There is nothing more I can say. I can give examples of transphobia, from my own experience; I can make analogies to racism, homophobia or other prejudice; but either you believe someone you do not know might be revolted by my Clareness, my refusal to pretend to be a Real Man™, or you don’t.

You understand revulsion, right? A pile of vomit on a pavement outside a pub? A paedophile? (Yes, yes, I know, Quakers try to see the humanity of everyone, but that should be a sign of exceptional empathy and imagination, not their absence.) Some people appear perfectly normal until one day there’s a spider in the room and you see how they react. And you sympathise, because you understand arachnophobia, and they are ashamed, and you are delighted to dispose of the spider for them, and reassure them. The difference here is I am not a spider but a human being, and he is not ashamed but self-righteous about it. He does not accept there is anything wrong with him- it’s not him, it’s me.

Might I not be afraid of you?

If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. You will simply be aware that honest people carrying out honest procedures will produce the right result. If you are afraid, that is evidence of guilt, for the only possible fear is fear of discovery.

I could front it out. Nothing to see here- well, what do you think happened? Surely you cannot believe that I did anything remotely objectionable? But you continue, just sitting there, looking at me, and I start to sweat, and I can’t meet your gaze, and I break down sobbing All right I admit it! I transitioned! Of course I provoked him, I revolt him, I don’t deserve to be in the same room as him because I transitioned! I tried so hard not to! Please! You will see I bear guilt, for that is the guilt I bear.

This self-loathing is so hard, and has driven me into failed attempts to avoid it. If I can be a Real Man I will be alright. That does not work. Then, if I transition I will be alright- except that made me hunt Womanliness, and I am not “a woman”, I am Clare. Eventually, when there was nowhere I could hide from myself, I sought to find myself so I could come to accept myself.

Acceptance by others was a powerful way towards this. I became a member of the Religious Society of Friends in February 2002, and their acceptance and my sense of it gave me the courage to transition two months later. And more recently, perhaps in the past year, I have thought that this gives me an unhealthy attitude to my Quaker meeting. On the plus side, it gave me a serious commitment and desire to serve; and it gave me unrealistic expectations, demands that could not be met. It left me in a state of dependence. The Society was my source of acceptance, and I have to accept myself without that external source.

I get closer and closer to that. And now I recognise that if rejected I won’t die. It is such an odd saying- you see someone, distraught, and say “It’s not the end of the world”- well, it never is, the world goes on, and losses can feel that bad. “It’s not the end of the world” but we don’t always see that and we need it pointed out to us.

In meeting this morning I was thinking of Martin Buber, his “I-thou” or “I-it” relationships, his crying out against treating another person as an object to be used, an it, and requiring “I-thou”, the relationship of human beings. That requires an “I”, a being with a sense of self, because otherwise I cannot have a proper sense of the selfhood of others. I can have an “I-thou” relationship if I can say “I”. I am I. There was ministry about being damaged human beings and accepting others are damaged too. I can accept you are damaged only if I can accept I am damaged; if I am in terrified denial of that, I cannot accept that anyone else might be less than ideal.

I get closer to seeing myself, to self-acceptance. I might be able to see other human beings as other human beings, and that would be a good thing. “I-thou”, a relationship, with people, not quite so alone in the cold unfriendly darkness. Those training to be US Marines are not allowed the word “I”. Instead they say “This recruit” when they refer to themselves. They lose their identity and get it deliberately replaced with an identity as part of the Marine Corps, so that they can risk death, and kill others, because they are told to. “I” is precious. If I am I, I am human, and you can be human too.

olga-boznanska-portrait-of-panna-dygat

Nervousness

The worst thing to say to a chronic worrier is “Stop worrying”. It only makes me worry more quietly. I must permit myself to be nervous. In social situations, I withdraw and protect.

Round and round the circle. “I must be authentic,” I wrote yesterday. Well, much of what prevents authenticity is nervousness. I noted this in 2012: The image of life as an apple tree came to me. I have been so afraid, of the other people around the tree, and of the tree itself, that I have rushed at it, collided with it and bruised myself on it, snatched at it so that I carry away nothing, or a dry twig, or some dead leaves. Whereas I may walk to it…and find the apple which feels to me most beautiful… if I touch it in the right way it will come off in my hand. That only says, it is good not to be nervous, and often there is no reason to be nervous. It is no more than the inner critic would say-

“There’s nothing to worry about. You’re useless, worrying.” So worry and nervousness become another indicator of my uselessness, and I suppress them out of consciousness. I probably am more nervous than I need be, but fearing and denying nervousness makes things worse.

My self-image is more important to me than events in the real world.

Oh wow! I suppose I knew that, but I have not put it into words before. Putting it into words makes me see it more clearly. That is why sitting wrapped up and still pretty cold, not going out or seeing anyone most days, is life just about as good as I could wish for. My self-image is a lie- clearly I am afraid, angry or nervous however much I deny it, probably I suppress other things as well. These feelings continue affecting me and my behaviour, more so because I must deny them. OK, I am nervous. If I am among other people I will get nervous, and if I beat myself up for being inauthentic when nervous, it will only get worse.

So: permit, acknowledge and welcome the nervousness. It is uncomfortable, but better than suppression. Suppression only works for a limited time, like holding your breath: you need to hold your breath under water, but after two minutes you become unconscious.

If I hear the nervousness, and recognise it, I might behave authentically.

That evening, I managed to make myself the focus of the group, and they were all irritated with me. They expressed that, and I answered without attacking but holding my ground. And after, chatting in a friendly manner with one of them,

It felt as if I was the REAL ME!

It felt completely wonderful. It has been one of my myths. I identified that real me as female, and hated the poem I wrote about it because I had to deny that. What if, it was just that at that moment I was no longer nervous and self-suppressing, because the confrontation had happened and I had come through unscathed? It might have made me seek out confrontation, for that feeling, but I am glad it did not.

I do not know much about CBT, but all the techniques I know are for thinking about present and future. And I spend a great deal of time analysing the past. Mmm. There was a better response which would have achieved more in that moment.  I am useless! I am not going to stop this, but might ameliorate it by appreciating all the good in my responses, and forgiving anything I might regret.

And finally, Donald Trump. He tweeted, Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love! And news organisations, and clickbait sites, round the world, breathlessly reported it. It is unpresidential- well, of course, we knew that. It pleases his supporters, and enrages his opponents. The answer is, not to be enraged, it’s only Donald being his ghastly self, but note it down: the evidence against him mounts.

Contempt

I thought “I am this person whom I hold in contempt”, and it felt like such a relief. It gave me delight. I am- this person. There is self-acceptance, being with who I am. The contempt lessens.

Then this morning it flipped. “I am the one I hold in contempt” I thought and it made me desperate and miserable. All that denial and self-loathing and lying to myself and not realising who I am, so my actions and motivations were opaque to me, so I had no idea what I wanted, so I wanted Appearance more than Reality, so my life has been this bad- and what can I do about it?

Yesterday I went into Swanston to meet R, first time cycling there after a two week viral infection, and when I got there realised I had left my wig at home. I sat in the cafe in a shapeless nylon jacket looking androgynous, conscious of my mary-janes and feeling embarrassed. I had to go round the supermarket anyway, feeling humiliated. I felt in a brain fog, after not sleeping well. Caring about your appearance matters, particularly with people you know who might not be friends. This would reduce my status. It is less bad if everyone I know who sees me is my friend.

“I am the one I hold in contempt.” It felt like an earthquake, an opening on desperate misery, finding my pain. That is an awful situation to be in, though not necessarily an unusual one, there is the Shadow, do any of us measure up to our own expectations? I phoned the Samaritans hoping to gain some understanding, but (in trying to explain) told the woman stories of my past and escaped the desperation into exhaustion. No greater understanding.

I anticipated aftershocks, but have not felt them. I feel OK- it seems I am solider, more self-accepting. I am the person whom I held in contempt. I like myself now, even if I find myself infuriating sometimes. I am- this person. This is as it is. It is actually bearable. It is even pleasant.

ambrogio-lorenzetti-allegory-of-good-government-2

Acceptance LIX

I have the stubbornness to bash my head against the things I can’t change, the lassitude to tolerate the things I possibly could, and the idiocy not to see the difference.

I am pleased with that line. I said it in sardonic bitterness, but then thought, that’s close to what the twelve-steppers pray for. I even have the wisdom to tell the difference, just not as quickly as I might like.

I am sad. I am hurting. And this fills me with fear, in case I do something embarrassing because of it, like burst into tears, or behave like creepy stalker guy, which would be unbearable; contempt, because I should have recovered by now; and anger with myself for feeling this way, preventing me from useful action. I had two hours with the Samaritans bloke, which has enabled me to articulate that, and also to feel the depths of my sadness. I had a good cry. I would have denied it because the feeling was too unbearable, but no longer do that.

I showed courage. I went somewhere, facing my distress, fearing that I would do something embarrassing. I am rewarded: I see that I did not. Perhaps I could trust myself more. Perhaps I could trust others, not to hurt me, not to want to hurt me. Of course just because my suspicion is greater than it need be does not mean it is never appropriate; but too much self-protection just restricts me, as I protect myself by withdrawing, and that is tedious, dull and uncreative.

He did his thing. No, I am not suicidal. I don’t want to discuss options or goals. Society gives us so many conventional ways of having fun or advancing to useful goals, and sometimes we might even fool ourselves we are enjoying ourselves or being fulfilled; but I am utterly sick of that. I have these intense emotions which I find nearly unbearable- the sadness as well as the fear and anger; and I want to come to accept them. I am in a sulk, I have been for years, and growing acceptance and trust might make me more effectual, and happy; but even if it doesn’t, acceptance is what I am working on now.

What will you do now? he asked. I will cook. I have bacon, egg, spaghetti, onion, and will do a Carbonara. Then I will blog about this: two thousand people a month visit my blog. That at least is a useful question. And the session has been useful, it has moved me from overwhelm towards equanimity. I have these overwhelm moments; acceptance is a tool I can develop to make them less paralysing. My sadness is about much of my life, and one situation; symbols and reality, many things which do not really contradict each other, and all are important. It is about not accepting reality, even while acceptance is the way through it.

Some of the equanimity is about words: I move from AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH to “I feel sad”. The sadness wells up craving conscious attention, and naming it makes it bearable; and acknowledging it with him as my witness helps me accept it. And, I said that about lassitude and stubbornness through tears- I keep minimising my feelings.

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In other news: I cycled to K– meeting this morning. The clear blue sky, with a kite, flocks of birds, trees changing colour, open fields and majestic wind-turbines, it was all too beautiful not to. We are amazed at the horror of Trump’s election. I said I must take pleasure in the beauty- people here are beautiful- and in what I can do; that was my exercise in meeting. H wants collective action- but she was with the Women’s Equality Party yesterday, and that must be enough for the moment. We will not have a mass movement in an “if there is hope, it lies in the Proles” kind of way; exhilarating certainty that you are part of a great people, all working together for Right, is only for the Dark side- “Build that Wall!”

Yesterday was my last AM as clerk. We disagreed, and we took the time to express the disagreement, and consider all sides; and we found a minute we could unite behind. It is beautiful. We do this without a leader to defer to. It is work. It is worthwhile.  Then we watched the one-woman show about the life of Ada Salter, working in Bermondsey between 1909 and 1921 with young women who were rag pickers or collectors of dog mess for leather tanning. She emphasised the horror- sheets from death beds, bandages from wounds, all kinds of human excretion and infection, and possibly broken glass inmixed, painstakingly collected for a few coppers from the paper factory. Yet that was hopeful, too: people do what people must.