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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Honest I do

It is as it is.
I am who I am.

I have such anger and contempt for myself! And it gets in the way, feeding on itself, blocking my actions then raging at my inaction. Where do I go from here, how can I pull myself up from this? How have I got here? I should not be like this!

Acceptance might be good.

It is as it is.
I am who I am.

Or, could I turn the anger outward? Step 9 of the twelve steps is, Made direct amends to [all people we had harmed] wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Could I turn that around, and confront people who had harmed me? I thought on a blog post open letter- Dear Z[—] G[—]…

Would that help acceptance?

Emma quoted Randy Newman’s song. I had not heard it before:

things don’t always, things don’t always go the way we plan
But there’s one thing, one thing we all have in common
And it’s something everyone can understand
All over the world sing along

I just want you to hurt like I do
I just want you to hurt like I do
I just want you to hurt like I do
Honest I do, honest I do, honest I do

I think of Numbers 14:18, God in his gaslighting, controlling bastard mood: The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. That’s what he thinks is longsuffering mercy? The standard apologetics is, this is descriptive not prescriptive, how the world works not what God chooses. Ha!

Or, it encompasses the confusion of the world by ascribing to God contradictory inexplicable actions- “forgiving iniquity” and “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children”. Not the same people, obviously. The good end happily, the bad unhappily, only reliably in fiction.

Miles Davis said, If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.

My immediate response to the song was, Yuck. I commented, I am not the most effectual person in the world, but I know I want people not to hurt. I am very badly hurt, and I want people to feel better, to feel valued, to feel worthwhile. It feels as if the sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the tenth generation, and I am expiating them. Yes some do, want revenge on the world, and some of us know that would only make things worse, for ourselves as well as everyone else. Emma says, These words he wants us to sing along would never pass my mouth. Yet his point is that we (not all, so not everybody, but most) do this damage to others as it was done to us, and we do it unthinkingly and “honestly” — without reflection and with plenty of “reasons” justifying such behavior. And if we were to put words to those motives, they would indeed sound like this song.

What if? There was that passive-aggressive act which I remain proud of, and there may be others which my need to see myself as a good person stops me seeing clearly. I might still deserve my own love if I were really flawed and human rather than Good. I am still trying to see behind my blind spots. I deny bits of myself because I cannot face them. We are all too complex and strange for anyone to understand.

Or, I am projecting: I want you to suffer, I think, and that is what I want for myself, I want to acknowledge and feel my own suffering…

It is as it is.
I am who I am.

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Trying to see me as a woman

A one-time friend, who is not obviously wicked, looks at a trans man. He writes,

I don’t have any issue with this person cross dressing, or going further if they want.
Nor that they want to call themselves a man, use a man’s name…. want to identify themselves as a man, (i.e. if they look in a mirror and say… “that’s a man”)… and want to play being a man. I don’t see any issue.

Unfortuntely this person also wants me to experience them and identify them as a man.

I would dearly love to, as it means much to them, and it (i can see) would make them happy.

Sadly… I just don’t.

It’s not that I can’t experience them as a man (it’s not about ability),

nor that I won’t experience them as a man (it’s not about will)

It’s just that I… don’t.

M shows minimal levels of tolerance. “I don’t have any issue”- you’d better not. Objecting to the trans man using a man’s name, etc, is like objecting to a woman wearing a mini skirt, or flats: imposing his own standard of morality on how the trans man expresses himself. Some trans people like neutral pronouns, but if the man wants to be called “he”, using “them” is below the standard of courtesy I would expect.

However M uses “they”. Why? Both to honour their preference to no longer identify as their birth gender, but also and at the same time honour and validate my own experience (when I don’t experience someone as a gender other than their birth gender). Oh, God. He claims the right to define the other.

I am not sure I understand M’s lines about ability or will. If I look at a black man and see him as different to ordinary people and then feel intensely uncomfortable around my own racism, and seek to treat him reasonably and suppress my seeing him as different- the conscious effort to accept, while better than intolerance, is still racism. I can control how I respond, to an extent. I can avoid voicing objections.

M would accept a black man, I assume. I don’t accuse him of racism, even the smallest internal vestige of it- but he is forced to say this is different. The trans man is not a man, so we should treat him differently from men. Or M suffers some loss: “This has changed the safety of the [men’s] space for” him. Aha. So now we have a conflict of rights, rather than a failure to accept another human being as he is. See the winsome way he expresses that: I’m not threatened by the person. I do feel that the person’s presence in that space has broken the nature of what I had previously gone to that space to find.

You don’t have to like everyone but disapproving of their way of dressing, or not recognising their change of name, is claiming a right to define them in a way they reject. If you want to define another person you had better have good arguments why that is appropriate. I include refusing to accept their choice of pronouns in that right they have to self-define.

Do you want other people to see them in the same way? On Friday night I discussed a man over the phone. I had not met him, but my friend warned he behaved in a disconcerting way around older women, and I take her suspicions seriously and feel she has a right to tell me. If I meet him I will make my own judgment. But again, if you warn others against a person or want them to feel the same way about that person, you should have a good reason for that.

There are times when I DO experience someone as other than their birth gender (usually through error but sometimes because they are more successfully presenting as their transgender’d self than some do and haven’t yet outed their own previous “status”). i.e. I’m convinced and have bought into their presentation. This is passing privilege. We can be accepted as we are as long as we give no clue of our history- so we can never talk of it, never use a male voice for emphasis or provocation, we are constrained into the cliché way of being a woman. Once outed, we trans women are known as men. Then you judge us on the way we look, and feel deceived if you find us out.

M says he wants to see the trans man as a man, but just does not.

This trans man wants to go to a men’s group. What does a men’s group have in common, exactly? If M is happy to have me there, it has to be something which I share: perhaps a Y chromosome, or some experience, or lack of it. Women’s experience of patriarchy might bring them together: what brings men that includes me? And- why do men attend a man’s group? For practice recognising man’s emotions, or expressing in a man’s way- for stretching that expression? Learning how to be a man now, or unlearning old lessons?

Maybe I should try a men’s group. I don’t see, though, how the trans man can alter the group’s nature in a way that I can’t- in the things people say or do, in the arguments or feelings- except that his going changes the definition of “man” from one not recognising the reality or value of trans, to one that does. It changes M’s definition of “man” to a broader one M has not consented to.

I said I would blog about this. We had been messaging back and forth. This surprises him. Well, like everyone else I am trying to navigate the impossibility of “being myself” and “fitting in”. I can’t be certain it is more difficult for me than for anyone else, but I know from experience my own desperation to fit a particular kind of Manliness- it certainly felt taboo to permit myself, as a man, the feelings I felt- then the feeling that my way of being was grudgingly accepted when I call myself by a woman’s name. I got a passport saying “F” when a doctor certified I would probably present female for the rest of my life: if I fitted the State-defined idea of “trans woman” I would be acceptable. But M does not accept that. I feel erased. It feels like we are discussing his right to erase me. It does not make it any better, from my perspective, that he wants to make the trans man happy. I am trying to be reasonable and respectful, but I feel intensely uncomfortable.

It’s all about him- his perceptions, his feelings, his loss. I find it hard to see that he has a loss beyond a slight discomfort at the man’s presence in his man’s group. He has made much of it, but really could just say, “Oh, OK then” and think of something else. Any man in the men’s group may change its dynamic in ways he dislikes. We are never in control, and that might make him more eager to exclude the trans man- just in this moment, when he can make some sort of rational-sounding argument, he can exclude the trans man, exercise some sort of control, and feel better, however bad he makes others feel.

To an extent, I don’t care for myself. I am a man- a woman- both- neither- whatever- Clare. I don’t need you to see me in a particular way to feel good about myself. But others of us do. It can really hurt. And he could behave courteously to trans people. That he does not feel the need enough to actually do it is unpleasant.

The whole world

Self-acceptance is world-acceptance. What I cannot bear in myself, I cannot bear in the World.

I am a human being who could not see how I really am- like so many; who wanted to be other than I am; who saw how I really am as weakness and wrong. My route to self-acceptance was through transition. It needed all the work I did: hundreds of hours of electrolysis, all that seeking out treatment, including the operation. I now read of Mark, who is “trans non-binary, feminine with a beard”. I can’t say their way has been easier, nor that it is over.

It was my way, where I was. It was the way I took, worked out from who I am and where I had been. It was as it was. It is as it is. I am as I am. I know how much I wanted transition, including the operation. I wanted it more than anything else in the world. So I took it.

It was the way I knew that I could be myself. I don’t know in a world without prescribed gender roles whether it would ever have occurred to me. I can’t say it couldn’t have, and I want it to be open to people if they choose it. And I want people able to transition without needing to risk sterilisation.

Someone who “walks their talk” is not learning or growing, because first we see how we should be, including talking that, which perhaps this is, and then we practise it, and it grows in us, and it is fixed and real and we walk it. Or we walk it but do not know it, and feel fightings and fears within, without. And still walk it. I have been loving and generous. I am glad of it.

As when I became conscious of Spiritual Growth, I still want- not to feel uncomfortable emotions, to have certainty, to have control. I cannot have these things, though I just might fight myself less.

Oh, can I say this?

It is as it is.

I so want to say that. It seems right and behovely. It is hard for you to kick against the goads! Human unhappiness comes from resisting what is; which is not to refuse to change it, but to work with what is, rather than rejecting it, for what is not. To keep trying. To see things as they are, not as they are not.

I think of two poems:

And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

And,

What is, is not. You must love
And let loose of the World.

Joy and pain

Joy and pain are constant intertwined…

I phoned up the Samaritans, and said I am depressed. “People say that’s not important, but it is important, it matters very much indeed” prosed the woman. We’ve got a right one ere, I thought. I told her I had been playing Beethoven. The Adagio from the sonata op.2 no.3 is gorgeous, like a Bach prelude filtered through a nightmare, or LSD. Played professionally, it sings in perfect darkness while the tension tightens from unbearable to excruciating.

Beethoven! she said. Oh, how lovely! That’ll make you feel better! Oh, he was wonderful! So much lovely music! How wonderful that you can play the piano and make yourself feel happier!

I agreed Beethoven was one of the great human beings. I told her she sounded a lovely person, and it had cheered me up to speak to her, and wonder whether she would be told to shut up, listen, and not tell people what to think.

I did not meet Richard this morning as he called to cancel as he is depressed. I am, too. It is sunny. I must go for a walk in the sunshine. That will make me feel better.

D stood at AM on Sunday to share his cunning plan, twice. The question was whether the Cornwall interest in decriminalisation of drug possession is a religiously based concern, and if so whether BYM or our AM should do anything about it. Instead, people want to discuss drugs policy. D had his brilliant idea from the University chaplaincy: with a small child who is upset he would lead it away and interest it in some other pastime, and similarly with addicts we should produce something to engage their interest. Alright as far as it goes, which is not far.

I felt depressed, and it seemed to me that my resistance made it worse. I am ashamed of it. I am wrong. I must end it. Instead, I thought, go with it. It just is. My thoughts of what I ought to do to make it better miss the mark: instead, what do I want to do? I wait for inspiration to rise from unconsciousness.

I kneel in my ritual space, and weep. I have not been silent there for months. Then I consulted again, and decided to play the piano. I want to analyse this, to come to an understanding and explain it to a Samaritan, but find she wants to do the talking, and I am clear enough anyway. Acceptance is the key.  It is nearly midday. I decided to shower. Then, though it is a little early, I decide to have lunch.

What I want to do then is that job application. The closing date is tomorrow. It is strange. I want to do it. If I told myself I should do it, it would feel quite different. I have the energy I need to do the thing I decide to do, if only I decide unconsciously rather than by ratiocination. I complete it, then I lose it.

I had saved the attachments to a zip file, and so when I save the completed form it goes in a temp file. It appears to have disappeared: I look through lists of files, I search for it, I check recent open files- nothing. Miserable, cursing and weeping I google for ways to find it and start writing it again, not as well.

I found it, eventually, after trying various things. And now, I feel good. I want to understand. I can’t understand. Anything. At all. Yet it’s OK, just for now.

Bosch, Ecce Homo

Where is God?

It is as it is.

She is one of those people who is entirely unafraid of judgment and just embraced life as it happened to her, the good and the bad. Oh, not me- I don’t know the woman- it seems like a good way to be.

I got my theodicy first from The Problem of Pain, where CS Lewis wondered why God does not save the child killed by a speeding car. God could slow the car, or pull the child out of the way, or make the child see the car and escape. We learn to avoid cars, we are not born knowing how. It is for the driver to avoid the child, and if I were unable to take a risk and take the consequences life would be less. If no harm could come to us we could never triumph- never even succeed; if we need not work together how could we come together?

In the book of Habakkuk, the rich oppress the poor, the powerful nearby empires threaten the people, and the prophet fears; yet he knows that God has a vast eternal plan for our good. It’s just taking longer than we might hope. Voltaire mocked the idea that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, but perhaps it is.

I have not wronged the trans-excluder, but she has been hurt, even wronged, and simply by existing I become the symbol of it for her, the focus of her rage. Same with “Truscum”, who have adopted the slur as a badge of honour: they know that they are really transsexual, and everyone else is just a pervert who should get some self control. Even though I had the operation that is not enough for them: I transitioned in my thirties, and am gynaephile, so they reject me. They could be accepted by Everyone- but for the perverts who spoil it for the true transsexual people.

(Or, that’s one way of seeing it. Later: Ah, there’s one.)

I cannot hate anyone. Some hate the immigrants, taking our jobs- there is no room for them! They must be prevented from claiming our state benefits, though they contribute in tax more than they take. It would be a poor trick, to pretend to be better than an immigrant. I know there is no nourishment in hate.

I have been overwhelmed by what has happened to me. Why would I want to transition? Why should I have suffered for it? I am not a bad person! I don’t come out fighting, because that is not who or what I am, and I hide away, because that is my family’s habit and my upbringing, yet the enormity of my experience has crushed me, so I do not want to go out. Caring about appearances makes life almost impossible. I resent it. Others have their burdens, I have my blessings, yet my struggle seems uniquely hard to me and counting blessings is no consolation. Or-

Elie Wiesel saw a child hanged in a death camp. Too light to pull the knot taut, he took half an hour to die. “Where is God?” “In that child”. God suffering with us, Christ crucified.

“It is as it is” is where I need to be. Nothing else is bearable.

El Greco, the feast in the house of Simon