Healing II

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Jacopo_Pontormo_058.jpgI am surrounded by beauty.

That man, his face is so expressive. The frown of concentration, staring at his netbook, then the joyful grin as he gets it. I love his big, powerful hands and his broad shoulders. We said nothing, he pulled his legs in as I got up to leave the train, and there was still an encounter. Oh, and there was a wind turbine. I always love the curve of the blades.

This morning (5 January) I was thinking how I cannot do healing. There is nothing more to it than placebo. Whether reiki or one of those physical techniques, G’s thing or U’s thing, all that time learning woo to bamboozle people. Even if you do pick up some cold reading techniques, I could not feel or express belief like she did. That was a moment of complete non-communication, her certainty and my incredulity. And- it is an important part of the treatment that is placebo, the expression of the healer’s belief.

H is scared about her cataract operation next week. I am anxious and frightened and angry. Why? I toy with various possible reasons. That would fit, but it is not that. It could be that. I need to know what I am going to do. Then, after about half an hour, I think, Oh, OK. I am anxious and frightened and angry. I just am. Suddenly the feeling is there, but the emotional identification with it, the investment and the importance of it, drain away. Interesting. That could be a useful technique.

I change trains and find a far more friendly fellow passenger. Poppy touches my knee, I caress her neck. Then she rolls over and I tickle her tummy. Maria, her owner, is pleased with the attention. Poppy, whose ears might be a foot from the floor if she holds her head high, is fifteen months old so has not much more to grow. Maria’s last dog she got from the police, who kept it three weeks for the owner to pick it up, then if no-one adopted it within another three weeks would have it put to sleep. She took it to get it microchipped, and the vet said it had been microchipped already. The vet offered to change the microchip details to hers. So microchipping is not much use. It occurs to me now that the police had called the owner, who had not wanted the dog back. Poppy’s collar has a tag with Maria’s phone number.

Poppy keeps getting down and jumping up at passing passengers. Maria wants her still. I think of giving reiki to Spot, who loved being on my lap. Ah. I have not even channelled Qi to myself for weeks, it is good to be reminded. There is something there. She likes you, said Maria.
-Well, I am a lovely person.
-They are very good judges of character.

The sky was beautiful, and now it is dark the occasional light passing is beautiful. Even the concrete of New St Station is- stimulating, involving, not depressing, filled with life, practical and effective.

The train gets in. I take the steps two at a time, walk as fast as I can with my heavy case, and get to the stop just in time for the last bus. Everything is OK.

Heartbeat II

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Colorful_blur.JPGHalf of us are one end of the room, the other half at the other end. One comes forward to dance our anger, then her half come forward to do the same move, to back her up. I lead, once: in sumo stance, I am doing head-level punches, eight forward, four to each side. It is Wonderful, haka-ing at each other like this: there is no sense of threat for me, just the huge energy.

Later, we are in a circle. Again, one comes in to dance her anger or fear, and I do, twice. My fear is a relaxed move, quiet, lithe, eyes turned upwards, with some desperation, some resignation and expectation of nothing, some misery. -This flavour of fear: join in if you feel with it. Watch out for becoming disconnected from your feelings. Oh, Sue, you have understood so beautifully.

File:Zoom blur.jpgAt the start we are in a circle, and we show how we are in movement. My mind is-; my body is-; my heart is-. It can be difficult to differentiate promptings of the body from those of the heart, the physical response always seems to be an emotional response, to the intellect- and there are non-rational, simply physical responses.

You can plan, before, if you want to. You can even do as you plan, that is alright, it is not always perfect: or, you can move in the moment. I moved in the moment, spontaneously without thought or planning, and surprised myself. Others apologised for standing up rather than doing a motion kneeling or sitting, and I moved around the whole circle. Yes, there is a difference: my mind is inquisitive, eager to experience and to see, playful; my body is relaxed, stretches, loosens; my heart is open and responsive. The conscious I sees that, from my own spontaneous movements: and the memory of the movement is more precise than the words used to classify it.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e5/Munich_-_Two_dancers_captured_in_blurred_movement_-_7800.jpgLater. In the circle. I go into the centre to dance my anger. Sumo stance again, karate moves are dance-like and can be brought into dancing. In sumo stance, I am tense. My fists are up, defensively, and I turn, to face each person. “Give her a moment to find the movement.” I feel more and more threatened, then I am on the floor, either Salaaming or banging my head on it, then curled up, then writhing. Rage and hurt become conscious, real, present for me in the moment, in the movement: I am they.

In the end, we move in a performance, which is quite unplanned. We may emerge from the audience to the four instruments at the end of the room, or two seats at the side where one may speak, or the floor space. Here I speak without thought, spontaneously: I evoke titters from the audience, always a pleasing response. I love to perform to an audience, I need to find spaces where I may develop and use such talents. I participate in all four spaces: chairs, audience, instruments and floor, and on the floor dance alone or with others, in harmony.

All this evokes the judgment of another: “Beautiful soul”. Mmm. I mentioned that before, didn’t I? I breathe it in.

Narcissist?

I got a scanner so I could share these photos with you, on my pages Gorgeous and A Photoshoot. How do I feel about them now?

I had that photoshoot done in 1996, just after first going to the Northern Concord. That is my first wig, and a Gina Bacconi dress I loved- necklines go up and down, but if they were down at the time I had not noticed- and some bridesmaid’s dresses from charity shops, because I liked bridesmaid’s dresses. I followed instructions, but did not fully relax: the messing about with net curtain felt silly. My eyes look watchful to me, now. I wanted to feel I could look like a woman, and I succeeded: I surprised Don just now. This was better than the group photo from the Sibyls. It was 6″x4″, the faces were millimetres across, and I took it into the office and asked various people which they thought were the “real women”. They all said, immediately, correctly, “That one, that one and that one”- a priest and two wives.

I had my photo taken professionally several times until 1999, when I went out twice with the photographer, and she said after I drove her home, “I wanted to make you feel vulnerable like men have made me feel vulnerable”. She had succeeded. Again, I love the look.

The third new page, Photo Fun, is some photos taken mostly from 1996-2002. They meant a lot to me at the time. They are snaps, and I still look feminine enough. I love the one at the end, with the gorgeous bird on my arm, and two in the middle with a wonderful woman. I wanted to show them to you, and I am particularly desperate for comments today as I want to feel and know I am heard and seen.

I was looking at photos of myself, a lot. Many of us did: B had a three film a week habit- go somewhere, take several photos, with little variety in them. I wanted to imagine I could look female, and I imagined that, but needed new photos constantly. Until recently I had four large albums of the best of each shot, and four albums of seconds- that Sunshine photo took a dozen or more attempts- and then this year I threw out most of them, keeping the best.

Doing this, I felt great shame, and I kept doing it. I was conflicted: I wanted to transition, and was terrified to. Now, I look back on those photos and feel

Resentment.

I look at my complexion and see the lines in it, the lines in the forehead, the grey in the hair. Not quite most of my hair yet, and it is an advantage of wearing wigs that it need not show. The shame I felt in my thirties, and the difficulty I have now in trying to know myself and be myself- not unique, I know, yet it feels so much work and I want so much to have done it. The resentment of how I have hidden away and run away and been so frightened. And- then, I could look like that.

Oh, construct something. That is- me. That is who I am, even now. I am beautiful, the whole of me is beautiful, my physical appearance is-

enough.

Not to be compared with anything to make me feel bad.

-or Something.

The very beautiful -now- Nicole Cody, with her own particular difficulties, has been wrestling productively with the issue of Looks– and physical abilities, a frightening matter. And Cathy Ulrich is celebrating her Crone-hood.

Beautiful woman

 

Cerrie Burnell is beautiful. She looks younger than her 32 years, which is a good thing for a presenter of telly for 4-6 year olds. She was born with her right arm ending just below the vestigial elbow. When she started presenting CBeebies, there were complaints that a disabled woman should not be doing this job. How do you explain to children that someone has no arm? Disabled people should not be seen or heard.

Standard issue lesson: celebrate people for who they are, what they can do, rather than judging them for what they cannot. What they cannot do is not useful information. But have a look at this Sky article. While it rightly gives the answers from disability charities, the BBC and Ms Burnell herself, the main picture it prints is head and shoulders, so that its more delicate readers will not see the Arm. It prints the above picture, lower down the page, and much smaller.

I suppose it helps that she is very pretty. These presenters tend to be pretty. More than one difficulty to overcome in getting this job might have been too much. We are only making the progress we are making. So- is it not wonderful that she is so visible? Even if that is not her intent, she widens public acceptance of difference.

That is what I want. Simply to be, without that self-consciousness, the internal nagging voice saying “What will people think?” which always misjudges what they actually think.

Naturally feminine

“You look beautiful and quite naturally feminine”. I shared the party photos, and this was in an email response: so it is in the context of my idiosyncrasy, my peculiarity, my thing. I feel uncomfortable with the compliment. I feel tempted to say, “Patronising cow”, though it is a compliment: it is meant well. It is not meant to be patronising.

Why the discomfort? Well, perhaps it should not matter what others think. If I am pleased by “naturally feminine” I open myself to be distressed by the judgment “peculiarly masculine”. It still feels like a judgment on whether I am right to have transitioned. But- hey, it is supportive! It is Nice! I know I am right to have transitioned, and it is pleasant to have that confirmed and¬†be called Beautiful.

My discomfort with the compliment comes from my residual fear and distress at being transsexual. No, presenting male was not, in the long term, an option for me, I had to express myself female though that was completely terrifying. Anne’s compliment, ten years on, still raises echoes of that for me: No, being Normal is not an option, however terrified I am I¬†have to do this.

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At the party, M introduced me to the concept of locus of control. Do you believe in fate, or that you make your own destiny? For me, it is more complex. I really wanted to be a husband and father. I wanted to be normal. I did not achieve that, I could not go against my Nature. (I would not have wanted to go against my nature apart from Kyriarchy, but in my situation that is what I desired.) I believe I do create my own destiny, but often it is different from my most passionate conscious desires. I feel dragged, kicking and screaming, to the best place I may be.

 

The Beauty Myth

No-one is ever beautiful enough. Everyone has flaws, which they must conceal, with flattering clothing, foundation, powder, concealer, particular hair styles. The flattering clothing is made more difficult because fashion moves so quickly- you are always a year behind the trend, and the trend demands you wear something which really does not flatter. Oh the misery of Everywoman as she realises,

Yes. My bum really does look big in this. Someone is always younger, prettier, more stylish, richer, brighter than me. More gifted, with a better background, better life choices. With more joy, social contact, more interesting friends.

Turn it inside out. Everyone is beautiful. Baby’s skin, old woman’s grey hair, wrinkles, bald patches, receding chins (Oh, I prefer full face to profile photos, and-) jelly bellies. See the beauty, focus on that. Then enhance and adorn it- out of delight. Not, it’s never good enough, not out of shame or fear, but for the fun of it. See others, not judging them and comparing them, but delighting in them.

It’s not easy, but it is simple. Moving from operating on fear to operating on Love.

Spread it into other aspects of life. I cannot be perfect, whatever perfect might mean, but I can patiently improve, and it is better to do something imperfect than to do nothing, in fear. Or,¬†is it that¬†it is perfect, if I could only see that…?

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I am still trying to psyche myself up, still in fear, doing nothing.

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No, that is not quite true. I am not doing all I might wish- the stimulating career, the glittering social life, is a debilitating fantasy in my head. I achieve something, occasionally.

-debilitating fantasy?

What could be good, in that fantasy? Well, it shows me what I Want, what I might work towards. Having so precipitately moved from conscious negative to positive last June, I am still working out the implications.

It is all good. It is all beautiful. There is no darkness. There is nothing to fear. All is for the best, in the best of all possible worlds.

-do you believe that?

It seems to me that I could believe it falsely, or truthfully. The false way is to assert that against contrary evidence, just ignoring or blocking out that evidence. The truthful way is to burrow down into the unpleasing bits, seeing them clearly, seeing the blessing, the seeds of hope, in the darkest places.

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Well, my last post (my 250th) was a Goodbye, or perhaps just a desire for change, and here I am posting again so soon. This post is what is in my heart and mind at the moment, the work I know is so essential, which I am trying to do-

-cursing my slowness at it
-trying to discern the forward steps, the history of it, the difficulty, the healing, seeing how proud I may be of how far I have come, however much I want to be further on, however much I-

It is good enough.

More words, more inarticulacy, in my journal, working towards this. This is as personal as I can get here.

Acceptance!

Once more round the spiral….

Once more with the scouring pad, scour, scour away the dirt and detritus. Sandpaper for the blackened wrong and encrusted dirt. A chisel for the hardest bits. Or-
perhaps-
the emollient cream, for dried out, painful, scorched and blackened skin. Soften it, gently, bring it into the sunlight. It was made to be beautiful. That joint has been twisted in that position for a long time. Gently. Yes, it is painful. That is blood flowing down unaccustomed arteries.

Ten- Years!- after I forced my courage as hard as it would go, and gave up the unbearable male persona.

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Enough self-acceptance to get by. I still do not pass. I do not get insulted in the street, but if someone spends five minutes with me they probably read me. The voice, the height, mannerisms, hip to shoulder ratio, some things I can do something about, some things that I can’t. It matters, just as the beauty myth matters: no, every woman need not aspire to a perfectly toned, expertly fed and exercised¬†body with perfect bone structure and carriage, dressed in the latest fashions to show it to its best advantage, perfectly made up and then photoshopped- and¬†beauty is worth tens of thousands, over a lifetime.

Do I want to pass? I¬†could wear makeup more, do something about my voice, stop taking my wig off for effect. I might not “be me”, but then I am happy with different personae in the office, in the Meeting¬†house, in the pub-
depending on how I judge the social class of the person I am with- no this is not simple-

scour, scour, scour-

Actually I would like for my feelings not to be read on my face all the time, to be so sharp and overwhelming. A month after I went back on the highest dose of hormones, that I was taking before August, I am still “hormonal”. Should I wait a bit to see how it beds down? Should I reduce the dose again?

I get upset. I am still not over that. So I weep and it is not comfortable, and yet as my friend said it is like weather, it passes.

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So, there is no magical Moment of Self-Acceptance, after which everything is perfect. There are hacks:

I am the meat-eating vegan. No, really. Yes, I know that a vegan eats no meat or dairy produce, and I like vegan food. So labels are possibilities and opportunities rather than limitations.

And there is the continuing experiment. Who is this human being, with whom I am, now? Who am I? What, now I have decided that it is OK for me to want something, do I want?

Aurora Triumphans

Everything is beautiful

Not working, and not looking for work, is not sensible. I am clear on that. Why am I like that? Well, because I can be, just for the moment. There are advantages. My nails are stronger than they have ever been, this time of year, because I am actually going outside in daylight.

Subconscious motivations are possible. A¬†woman I knew, who when pretending to be male had shown physical courage, got a job in a shop. People¬†regularly¬†went into that shop for¬†a game of “Mock the Tranny”. She gave up the job, and drank herself silly every evening, in a gay bar ten miles from her home. So am I creating the crisis which will force me to act? Much more slowly than she did. I may be.

I could really be just whistling in the dark when I say to myself, things are percolating within me. And yet. Everything is alright.

Here is an example. I park behind the office where I volunteer, and walk a hundred yards to the back door. This is what I see beside the office:

It seems I have a choice here. I can see it as ugly, and see it; or ignore it and concentrate on something beautiful, like the tree; or I may see it as beautiful.

I faced that question twenty years ago, when I walked regularly along the Union Canal. I was distressed by the litter by it; then thought I can concentrate on that, or consider the beauty of the countryside, that glorious aqueduct, the birds, the trees. So I blocked out the litter.

Then I saw photographs, starting with an exhibition at the Lowry centre, where the photographer had seen something beautiful in what might be thought ugly: an angle, a texture, an unusual perspective, a reflection, a juxtaposition,¬†light, and so had created a beautiful image of an “ugly” thing. That is not what I am doing in the above photograph:¬†I sought to represent the building, though I made the conscious choice to include a bit of sky above it in the picture.

These pictures began to liberate me from classification: these things are ugly, those beautiful. What I seek to do now is see beauty in everything. That building is beautiful. See the universe in a patch of rust, and heaven in concrete.

This is part of a readjustment I wish to make in myself. I have a grotesquely overdeveloped sense of threat. I find threat everywhere. Then I block my feelings out of consciousness. I seek to see things clearly as they really are, rather than blocking them out, and I seek to reduce my sense of threat. Rather than inhabiting the world, I camp out in it, fearing everything, when my fear restricts me and is the bigger problem.

Because there could be real threats, with the global financial crisis and my current jobless state. I need to be able to face any real threats.

So the adjustment is to see what is around me, to be aware of what I feel about it; and to know that everything is alright. Then to be aware of the alrightness in my world. Part of that is seeing things as life-enhancing and beautiful.

My bathroom is not well heated, and I was cold, uncomfortable and rushing. Then, by- an act of will?- I felt, I am OK, I am sufficiently comfortable. I relaxed tense muscles. I ceased to hurry. I am not sure how far this goes, but- can I Decide to be comfortable enough in a situation? Then respond to it creatively, rather than panicking? What is going on, here, now?

Relax. Everything is OK. What is it I need to do, now? Up pops Johanna the Inner Critic and says yeah, yeah, sounds wonderful, you are not really doing that in any context which really matters- and I say, maybe not, but I am playing at it, and may do it seriously sometime. Playing at it can only be good. Try it in easy places first. Be able to fail at it without imagining that it is impossible.

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We talk like we know what’s going on. But we don’t. We don’t know anything. We’re young and we’re gonna screw-up a lot. We’re gonna keep changing our minds and even sometimes our hearts. And through all that, the only thing we can truly offer each other is… forgiveness.

Take chances… a lot of them. Because honestly, no matter where you end up- and with who, it always ends up just the way it should be. Your mistakes make you who you are… you learn and grow with each choice you make. Everything is worth it. Say how you feel- always. Be you, and be okay with it. It doesn’t matter what any other person thinks.

Never regret anything that has happened in your life, it cannot be changed, undone or forgotten so take it as a lesson learned and move on.

If you spend your life regretting things in the past, before you know it… you will have wasted your life on regret.

I never regret anything that has happened to me in my life, whether it is making a bad choice, deciding to do something I shouldn’t have, saying the wrong thing or not doing something I should have done… because all of these things have given me the knowledge I have today and helped make me who I am today… and that is one thing I will never regret.

The best thing that you can do in life is follow your heart. Take risks. Don’t just take the safe and easy choices because you’re afraid of what might happen. Don’t have any regrets and know that everything happens for a reason.

There comes a point when you’re more important than your past.

I got that from this list of quotes. Desiderata has a lot to answer for, I think. Then it fills me with resentment. It is all right for you! It is so Difficult! Then I forgive myself, a little.

I have now been blogging, and posting daily, for six months.

Seeing the town

We took the motorcaravan deep into France, and returning North we could have gone to Loches, with its concentric defensive walls and Mediaeval citadel-¬†a kind of¬†Tourisme I love-¬†but we had been there on a previous trip, so went to St Aignan, nearby. It too has a ch√Ęteau on a hill in the centre, and a striking history. I tripped off for a souvenir. Something to adorn myself, ideally. I found the ceiling-paintings in the crypt beautiful, if faded, and the words deep carved into the East wall of the church brutal. “Republique Francaise”. I dislike the puissant church, and power corrupts in the Catholic church more deeply than anywhere else, but this put-down horrified me. Some of the carving on the capitols of the columns is lovely.¬†But no tourists, and no tat-shops. That half-timbered building- with a bit of sprucing-up I can easily imagine Les Anglais being persuaded it was beautiful- it sells car spares.

No-one would come to S—- as a tourist, and yet it is beautiful. Go down the side of Bewiched, the sandwich shop, onto the open space. To the East is the church, to north and west old stone buildings. In York this square would be full of tourists. How much lovelier to find it here with none, secluded under the trees.¬†A monstrous glass thing on the back of the sandwich shop, so crudely shattering the olde-worlde atmosphere- or is it a bold and beautiful design, creating a light and airy space for relaxation here at any time of year? And as for the college looming in the background- you may think it ugly, but I am glad it exists, for people, here.

Go South and you are in the market, fixed benches with tiny roofs, a concrete space surrounded by soulless concrete 1960s buildings. Such despicable vandalism, such senseless destruction of the mood! But wait. The first floor reading room of the Library, two storeys high, a large, gracious space. Such riches we have built for ourselves, free to anyone at any time.

I cannot remember where I found this line, there is so much wisdom evanescent on facebook and blogs, but- if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you need never see anything ugly, ever again.

This is LGBT History month.

Pope, Muir, Eliot

On 2 January, I quoted this poem, and now, as an exercise, I have written a pastiche of it:

Know first thyself, thy heart, thy soul, thy mind
Then look around, see clearly humankind.
By God created, with God’s light imbued,
Creative, loving, pow’rful, by God wooed,
In touch with beauty to enrich the heart,
in nature, other people, music, art.
Mature evolved society is mine
the knowledge of ten thousand years, is thine.
The human animal is Love alive:
Our wars diminish, and our wisdom thrives.
With balance of thought and feeling, all aligned
in safe Unknowing, soon we Knowing find.
Sole judge of truth, beholding Truth unfurled,
we bring forth yet more beauty in the world.

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I am not sure whether to share this one.

Resentment is not like anger.
Anger is hot, clean, now, gone.
Resentment is cold and unending,
In the darkness at the edge.
The world turns, and from the edge,
Through a glass darkly, I see possibilities:
Dancing, singing, laughter, acceptance.
I move inwards, shivering, showing my scars
Then denying them, smiling with my mouth.

There is a power in me, I know it.
It keeps me alive in a dark stone box.
The corridor narrows and darkens,
And the light through the doorways
                blinds me and terrifies me.
Through the door, into the garden.
Stay, stay, stay, says the bird-
Stay, where there is no path
And I do not know where I am going.

The opening line is a conscious echo of Edwin Muir, “The desolations are not the sorrows’ kin”,¬†which is not¬†on the internet but in the Collected Poems, available through Amazon. Do click to look inside: more than half the book is shared there,¬†though not pp271-2, where The Desolations is. I recommend Song at p.146, an instantly accessible love poem, metrical and sweet; The Road at p. 223, because life as a Way is an image he returned to again and again, and Annunciation, also p223, because it is an image close to my heart now. Other verse I would recommend appears not to be shared, so, well, buy the book.

My ending is an echo of the first movement of Burnt Norton. Eliot wrote,

Edwin Muir will remain among the poets who have added glory to the English language. He is also one of the poets of whom Scotland should always be proud.

Should I share my verse? If I show my scars and vulnerabilities, I increase my vulnerability; and if I do not, I die, slowly. Or, this is a process of coming to terms with my own scars and vulnerabilities: to be effectual, the acceptance has to come from me- and revealing them helps.