Ceasing to pretend

Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between these two banks the river of my life flows.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

Helen wants me to fix goals, ideally to get a job. My goal is to stay on benefits, because it is a lifestyle I can cope with, I am in control, and there is only just enough money. I tried to make a difference once, and it was too hard.

I tell Tina of Mark, the playwright. Helen’s powerpoint slide said she got divorced, but actually she only split up from someone she was cohabiting with. She changed it to “divorced” in case a religious person judged her. “Hallelujah,” said Mark, bitterly, imagining himself humorous. I challenged it, saying that I am very religious, and do not judge others. Mark says all religions are like a cult, brainwashing people. Harlan tells of his cousin, who was “a bit slow”

-do you mean he had learning difficulties? challenges Helen-

who converted to Islam and ended up in a mental asylum. We do not stick to the subject. Today Harlan, instead of referring coyly to “relaxants”, named his crime as if daring anyone to make something of it. He smokes weed. He used to smoke £100 a week, now since having his kids it’s £30, and as far as he is concerned that’s money in his pocket.

We go off the subject easily. It is diverting enough.

Do you want to change yourself? asks Tina. You said Mark, just like you, is “walled up behind a mask or persona, disappointed and resentful”. That’s heavy shit.

I want to stay on benefits because the uncertain generosity of whoever is filling Ian Duncan-Smith’s tiny shoes- David Gauke, Google tells me- is pleasanter and more reliable than any chance of earning money. Helen challenged us on Monday to think of what we would like to do, at the end of her course, and I wrote to be myself without the mask. And now I think I am lots of different acts, but always acts.

On Sunday, with her, what happened? Possibilities:
-she used me as waste disposal, and I liked it.
-It was nothing under the surface beyond what happened.
-we were playing a game together which both enjoyed. I hope that. It would be intimate. She holds me at arms length.

-What parts of you are there, meeting her?

It might be easier to say what parts are not. My resentment is under the surface, always balanced with fascination. My care, appreciation and playfulness are there. I am articulate, except when she asks why I thought we might be embarrassed to meet, and I could not answer her. Because she could always withhold her acceptance of my answer, and question each answer in recursion.

-What’s that feel like?
-Sad and powerless.

For which part are you sad? The lawyer or the romantic? The older or younger self?
-Possibly all of me.
And at that my inner critic explodes in triumph and derision. But I am just a set of different acts, I said. I am proved inconsistent and incomprehending.

There is sadness in me, and there are other feelings. I am sad about her, wanting union, partnership. Fascinated, resentful, I love to see her. What I get is wonderful, and I am held at arms’ length.

-What do you get? Unrequited love?
-Her presence, charisma, sparkle. I will keep coming back for that.

-Have you ever been loved?

Yes. A woman loves me, and I did not know, and now we cannot be together. My father let me down. My mother was too scared. H called me “Cariad”, and now I think of her with pity, despair, irritation. She always responded the wrong way to everything, I burst out. We betrayed each other repeatedly is an old line I am not sure is true.

-And what about yourself?
I like myself and I wish myself well. I despise myself. I am very beautiful.

Those voices, you despise yourself; you are beautiful. How opposite are they?
-I am opposites.
-We all are. I see them both, but they don’t talk to each other. The different parts of you pull you apart sometimes. We’ve got to get those parts talking to one another.

So we arrange to skype again.

unable to speak

Would you rather be right, or happy? Oh, Right, every time, vindicated in my own mind. Actually, only both will do.

I don’t want to look her in the eye. I don’t want to say anything: I don’t see the point. What I think, and how I see things, does not matter, and even I can’t believe it. Is any common understanding necessary, or possible? What is talking for?

-What were you writing, just then?
-I watch the emotions run across her face, in silence.

Dr Graeme McGrath wrote to my GP that ironic detachment is a powerful defence mechanism for me. I pull myself together. My feelings are below the surface, and I can talk. There is bitterness in what I say.

It seems my pain is a weapon to be held against me. It felt to me that the rules around our meeting, rather than building trust, were a game to make me safe for them, to keep me controlled. The offer was a listening game, where one person would talk for five minutes, one would listen, and one would observe, then we would discuss the experience. I wanted to get straight down to the problems. So I did. I started by saying “I don’t trust you”.

They admitted some difficulties. We do not really know each other. There are tensions in the group. It seemed to me they see me as a threat. They are doing all they can to restore relationships, and therefore any difficulty with that is my fault.

I need to approach them in a state of perfect ego-less Love, and perhaps that would be misconstrued. The most important thing in my life is how I relate to these people. Possibly the relationship will break down completely, and I will be excluded. That might be the fabled “Rock bottom” where I finally begin acting in my own interests without illusion, or a further slide into withdrawal and isolation.

What do I want?

To be myself. Not to be suppressing myself, being careful, pretending, acting, holding myself back in order to fit in. I do this out of fear. It has become unbearable.

And to fit in. To build relationships, take a constructive part, serve so that I do some good and have my service appreciated.

So I wonder. What do I tell myself? I am Charismatic, enthusiastic, passionate. I am forceful and strong-willed. These are all beautiful things, and when my passion or ardour comes out when I speak, people feel overwhelmed, and feel resentful. Or they see my passion directed at another, and they rush in to defend the other against me.

I am Good. I am seen as Bad. So what I tell myself is not improving relationships. It is simply a narrative. I struggle for a better understanding. I am uncomfortable with myself, sometimes self-suppressing, sometimes with passion bursting out, and so others are uncomfortable with me. I do not see others properly, their concerns or fragility.

I hear that other people are uncomfortable with me, and whether or not I hear about particular instances I do not understand how. So it seems all I could do is suppress myself.

Then there is the siren song of the non-dual mystic God-In-Us brigade. They say you must be present in the moment. Sometimes it seems I am that, but when I feel that way I can still create even greater distance from others. Possibly it is just that I have expectations and demands for them, which they will not meet. Can I shed all my expectations?

So I am forced back into stories. I must respond in a state of perfect ego-less Love. I have no idea how that would be. See “Present in the moment” above.

Being completely powerless, I might respond as someone completely powerless. I would be watchful. Who is this person, what do they want, and how can I avoid antagonising them?

By the end of the session, I am able to look her in the eye, and say what it seems I want to say. I am calmer. This may just be because I am ceasing to address the concern. I was caught up in my inner turmoil, conflict and incomprehension, and now I just stop.

Confidence, Groundedness, Presence, Effectiveness

I accelerate downhill. Idiot busdriver overtakes, then slows down for the roundabout at the bottom of the dip, slowing me down too. So I have to work harder going up the other side. At the top, the bus is stopped at lights, so I go onto the footpath briefly to pass him on the left and jump the lights. Everyone does it, this is a trivial, minor infraction. It feels good to overtake the bus.

I went for a weekend with Quakers, felt unsure, felt internal conflict, worried that I would neither contribute nor receive the full value of the weekend, and felt not present. Then I said “I want to be here” and felt, well, I thought it was presence at the time.

Groundedness is good. I feel together. I am not in conflict within. Presence: I am aware of my sensations and reactions in the moment, in balance: the amazing feeling of being present in sensations seems a “spiritual experience”, but it needs balanced. Confidence feels good, and may be false confidence- so resilience is better, accepting something has gone wrong and things are still good enough.

Effectiveness is the aim. If all I achieve is managing my feelings-
then what? It may be all I can achieve. Or a first step. I hold myself together. Maybe later I can do things, but for now all I can do is that, and if I judge, doubt and reject that then I don’t even manage my feelings. Or, sometimes I fail to manage my feelings, and sometimes I manage my feelings and do something more.

I wanted not to feel anger and fear, and now I want to bear anger and fear. I want to feel what I feel, know what I feel, and bear it. Admit it, accept it, let it be- not chase it along, bear it with the intent that it feels heard so GOES AWAY but just- bear it. That is all that is possible. Steadfast love for myself and all of myself is necessary.

I perform this analysis now, and it did not feel like that at the time. I felt integrated, stronger, better able to fool others if the need arose. I said “I want to be here” and felt I was. Then I was with S, and felt the same; and expressed strong dislike for someone in a way she, more guarded than I, might dislike without telling me. Now I think she might withdraw from me without saying so, certainly without telling me why. Circumspect or open. I felt confident, grounded, present, but may not have been. I was not effective.

If everything merely distresses me-

I believed I could cycle to the trans group. And then for some reason I did not. I now identify that as anxiety or apprehension. Léne offered me a lift, and I did not want to be beholden, or looked after, or dependent, but when I accepted a lift it enabled me to go. I do not know myself but get an idea, sometimes. “I place myself in a position of dependence,” I said. I like it, and dislike it.

It felt good to overtake the bus, and to badmouth that arrogant fool.
-Do Quakers know this mischievous side?
-They know I am mischievous.

I will never convince H that treating trans women as women is a good thing, or that any aspect of the TERF case is wrong. I feel Julie Bindel’s deception is clear, and she denies it. I shall give up. I still want to be with her.

What of work? I may have to work in a factory. I don’t want to. That would be a bitter pill.

Condolences

From the receiving end, condolences can be a right pain. Often it is not that people are trying to cheer me up, but trying to get me to appear cheerful, because appearances are important. If only we could express feelings as we felt them, we would not bottle them up. Someone crying on the bus is doing everyone a favour, by modelling authenticity. Would that everyone could be so brave.

They might be trying to console themselves. It’s not so bad really, they say. You will get through it. Well, your vicarious pain at my suffering is not my concern. It will hurt me far more than it hurts you, because I am the one involved, however wonderfully empathetic you are. I will attempt the way you propose that I get through it, but I am aware of possibly insurmountable difficulties with that course which you are not.

Some might be enforcing the “right” way to feel and respond. Cliché feelings. My feelings are far more complex than that. No, don’t tell me what I am feeling. That must be very painful for you. Well, no, actually right now the adrenaline’s kicking in, and it feels good.

Some tell you that they faced a similar situation but they overcame it. A nose or a chin is such a tempting target. I am terrified, and my inner critic is having a field day. I have failed, failed utterly, in part because I have always tried to fit in and keep to the rules rather than following my heart’s desire, and now I am being punished for it. The World sees me as worthless, just as I do.

I am not sensible. I wonder if the Quaker concept of the Inner Light, or Richard Rohr’s God within, applies to me. There’s that bit inside each person which is their Guide, which will show them the true path if only they act in accord with it. Well, Licia Kuenning was certain of her Inner Guide, and look how that ended. My most powerful inner voices are the sensible bit, which tells me what I should do, and unfortunately has no power to motivate me whatsoever however hard it chides, and the inner teenager. Don’ wannoo, she says. Actually, there are things she wants, which are not sensible at all, and I wonder at them.

What I desire makes no sense to me, except that I desire it. It only makes me happy for odd moments. Oh well, I make that choice. I make it. It is my choice. I choose that.

And I was staring at the thing which I must do, thinking, Oh God, that’s dreadful- and the idea popped into my head how to rewrite it. So I did. It’s not dreadful in quite the same way, now. It may be the best I can do, at least in this mood.

Trans identity

Some people are trans. How much of that is innate, and how much cultural? I say effeminate men might find transition attractive. Others say that people with the sexual orientation of autogynephilia transition- in that case I am bisexual between an autogynephilic orientation and a gynephile orientation, as I am attracted to women other than myself. The real world is more complex than theories can portray.

Others say the phenomenon is Trans, where female souls/brains/psyches in male bodies are only happy once transitioned, and children as young as three can experience bodily dysphoria, loathing their penises. This is the “trans ideology” so hated by the TERFs. If I am really a woman, of course I should be allowed in women’s space. I say I am sort-of culturally a woman, an anomaly, so should be tolerated in women’s space, because the majority of women so tolerate me, and because I am harmless and we are mostly harmless.

Or I could say that I am Different, so for the comfort of the Normal people I have to be shoved into a box, and when I could not tolerate the Man box the Transwoman box was the other one available. The goal of Diversity is that no-one should be shoved into a box.

Possibly what you want to do governs what you think about it. I wanted to transition, so I thought I was transsexual. And what your identity is affects what you do. I thought true transsexuals had sex reassignment surgery, so I had sex reassignment surgery. So there are different names for it, validating it- gender confirmation surgery is the latest I heard. Neovagina, says the surgeon, making it sound good. “Fxxk hole”, says the radical feminist, communicating her contempt.

This post about identity is written by someone who opposes transition. People approach medical services saying they are trans, and seeking medical reassignment. Their identity is that of a trans person. They believe they are a trans person, and that that means hormones and surgery. Lisa Marchiano wishes to treat gender dysphoria as a symptom, and explore with her patient what that symptom means. Gender dysphoria causes distress. The identity model says the person is trans, and the way to alleviate the distress is medical transition. Marchiano is against transition: it is a “drastic, permanent medical intervention”, leading to “permanent, life-long sterility 100% of the time”. One never reads in such articles that transition makes some people happier and higher-functioning, but it does. I would be happier if the writers admitted the value of transition for the patient in some cases.

She values self-identity. We tell ourselves stories about ourselves. I identify as Quaker, Scots, English, cultured. These things matter to me. The therapist accepting them empowers me. The therapist only challenges them if they lead to maladaptive behaviour. Yet how can I know myself? I identified the Real Me as female, but now identify it as feminine. I am a pansy. My self-identification often is changed by the words I use. I seek more accurate words. She says gender dysphoria does not mean necessarily that I am trans, but that the therapist needs to explore the meaning of the symptom and be open to what emerges. That she questions self-identity as trans does not mean she treats the symptom as unimportant or illusory.

She breaks down gender dysphoria into separate symptoms, including alienation from ones body. I hated the slimness of my arms, because it seemed weak and unmanly. Now I love my arms and hands, which I find beautiful. Finding a way to accept me as me, rather than accept aspects of my body because they fit “woman” and I identify as “trans woman”- accepting what is, and finding the good in it- would have been better than transitioning, if only I could have pulled it off. Teenage girls are alienated from their bodies by porn culture, and she says they decide transition is the answer due to a social contagion: it is the answer they find, and they latch onto it, then seek out evidence to confirm it, which they find in many sites providing mutual reassurance. (As do the radical feminists who decide we are monstrous then seek evidence and reassurance to confirm that.) I was homophobic and femmephobic- a man should not be feminine, I thought. It was not internalised transphobia, but femmephobia. How much better to relieve my self-loathing than to force me into the trans-woman box which I thought fitted my feminine self!

She says there are often other mental health conditions. One doctor said I had narcissistic personality traits, another denied it, and those traits might cause or be caused by the dysphoria, but finding a way of alleviating them might make the dysphoria less serious.

I see no evidence that she accepts transition as an appropriate course for anyone. She attacks “transgender ideology” as incoherent. She says there is no basis for a “gender identity” (her scare-quotes) that supersedes “objective biological sex”. This makes her assessment of research on outcomes suspect, though I doubt you would find an objective meta-analysis, untainted by any desire to affirm or deny transition as a treatment. Her reference to “a late-transitioning MtT autogynephile” links to Anne Lawrence. That is hostile. Here she writes that trans people exist, and should be protected; but she would rather manage gender dysphoria without transition. I feel her position has hardened further since. But I agree that we should explore the anima and animus, male and female, within ourselves.

I love her desire to explore deeply the sources of distress and seek varied possible solutions. That is not the NHS model, which favours quick fixes, even bodges. We would see the person in front of us in all of their miraculous complexity, and not just as a “gender identity,” she says. If only!

 

Ego states

I know what I must do. I know why. All this knowledge is eminently reasonable. It makes sense. And I don’t do it. It seems there are two ego states in me (and probably others)- the one which knows, and instructs what to do, and the one which refuses.

Ann, from the rational self, would cajole or command the feeling self. “Action,” she would say, then she would get up and go to do what she had to do.

There was that 15 year old who had to have his medication delivered overnight, by an electric motor driving a screw so that a syringe was precisely and evenly emptied into his arm through a tube. If he did not get it, he would become sick. His father had to get up twice in the night (repeated supervision, middle rate care DLA) to check that the tube was in, because if the son noticed the tube had dislodged he would not replace it. Why will you not? asked the tribunal, and the son responded with teenagerish inarticulate stubbornness. “I don’t know why he won’t”, I said, “but I do believe that he won’t”. The tribunal granted the benefit.

I do know why he wouldn’t, though. His father was completely controlling, and this was the only chance at rebellion he had.

This “feeling self” is of course rational.  I am not seeing it clearly, but trying to find conceptions which fit, and which possibly only fit it performing one kind of act; and possibly there is not one “feeling self”. And it does not precisely fit one of Eric Berne’s ego states, parent, child and adult, though I got the term “ego state” from him.

So I should get a cheaper flat. My position would be less precarious, and there are cheaper flats available. I know this, have known it for years, but I don’t do it. “This is why you should,” explains the rational self, and the feeling self is inarticulate and stubborn. It might be worth speaking from the place of the feeling self: why do you not want to? I am so sorry I have not listened to you before.

I love this place. I love its quiet and beauty. It is a huge part of my life.

There are depressive feelings too. I did not want to go to yearly meeting gathering (which was wonderful). I anticipated being cold and wet camping, not knowing what was going on. I could also anticipate joy, but that required thought. I don’t think I would like a cheaper flat. Finding it and moving there would be difficult.

I imagine bad stuff happening. That is a depressive, negative response. It stops me trying things.

For that job I need to do some preparatory work. Some part of me- the rational self, possibly- can articulate why I could do it well, and feels some pride in those assertions- so yes it’s rational but only because feelings are rational. Naming these ego-states can get in the way of understanding them. With encouragement, the feeling state can articulate reasons for apprehension or immobility. Some part of me is still not doing that preparatory work, and is not getting on with an application. I have been burned before. I would rather not try, if I might get an interview but no job. That has been just to painful.

I will be rejected. I am always rejected. I have pride, you know (though I might not see it)- even dignity, though it manifests as fear and withdrawal. You will not reject me. I will not give you the opportunity to reject or judge me. That could be a child experience manifesting in the grown organism now, the best pride- or defiance- I could manage at the time.

I don’t get Eric Berne. His “Adult” was the part of the human which learned and judged from its own experiences, but the “Parent” was recordings, memories, of things taught by parents and people in loco parentis. The “Child” was the child’s feelings at its experiences; but both Parent and Child were laid down before the age of about five. Berne thought these were real components of the personality, laid down in the brain: not concepts, but phenomenological realities. I am agnostic on that one. Possibly the ego states I describe are aspects of Berne’s adult, possibly they are aspects of different parts of his states, perhaps I- or even he!- misunderstand.

Showing respect to my inner No might have value. Why not? I will listen to you. You might agree one argument is depressive, but still insist on another. You might be persuaded, but I could make myself a neutral arbiter. All parts of myself must be persuaded, and agree.

I learned of Behavioural Activation years ago, and now see grime on doors as well as work surfaces. BA: I note what I do, and take pride in it. So I do more, feel more pride, in a virtuous spiral. So rather than berating myself for having a dirty house, each brief action of cleaning, each dirty square foot, is a chance to feel good about myself! At the time I learned of it, it seemed a way of getting me to do stuff. If I picture it instead as a way of feeling better about myself, it is more attractive.

Ranting and Rebellion

How could you ever know yourself? “I am not the kind of person who” becomes “So far I have generally not”. I looked at those texts, and saw what they meant. I had not realised when I was texting. Self-conscious, I would not have done it nearly so well. Morality changes as I tell different stories: “I want to be a good person” becomes “I always wanted to find the rules and follow them, so that I would be safe”.

I have not so far ever seen myself as a rebel. Rebellion is as powerless as conformity, I would have said. You are not making free choices. It is mature to seek goals. That remains true, and now I am in rebellion. It is part of teenage, and I have to complete teenage eventually, I owe that to myself.

What do you do? she asked. I challenge authority and convention, I declared. Ha! I am rebelling! I am doing that teenage thing! In that moment I crafted a new story about myself. Well, the story seems to fit, and is good enough for the moment. I don’t like shadow motivation, not really, it is scary when I do things and don’t know why, or maybe work it out later. I do what I do to achieve my desires, even if I am not conscious of it. Often I don’t do something because I am scared of it and because I can’t imagine it working. I don’t want to do a job application as it will probably lead to interview, but no further.

On Tuesday it seemed to me that I had made a connection, that had helped me accept the world, myself and my history, better, that healed some of my resentment and frustration, or at least to see these things are possible and necessary. The Maintenance of Order in society, which enables us to develop beyond hunter-gathering, also restricts me, produces a Masculine Way of being which I could not approach and which broke me. What supports me, feeds and clothes me, is the same thing that poisoned and mutilated me. That poisoning was the best humanity could do at the time, the best I could see.

Lucy said she cannot put her experience into her performance while she is still angry. That makes sense to me. I don’t see the truth, because I rail against it. It should be otherwise. If I make that connection, perhaps I can accept my hurt and move on.

I transitioned to try to fit in and welcomed the poison and mutilation, which were a necessary part of transition. It was the best I could do at the time. So now I challenge authority and convention, I say portentously: or, I am in rebellion, in my delayed teenage.

I am threatened with expulsion from the Quaker meeting for expressing my distress in a theatrical way. If we are to know each other in the things which are eternal, it is not enough to discuss Cole Porter musicals. We must delve more deeply into ourselves, lift the covers off our feelings and expose our insecurities. My friend, though he needs the support of community, while he is bravely resisting the Arms fair and getting arrested for it, does not go to his Quaker meeting because, while they are nice enough people, they do not give him what he needs.

I do what I want to do whether I realise it or not, because of shadow motivation, the desires I cannot admit to myself, and because of my past trauma, all that pain and hurt. It controls me whether I admit it or not. The adult part of me, which has been civilised into conformity with rules and common sense, would do a better job of ensuring my behaviour was civilised if it could see that shadow which moves me.

I want to bring my whole self to the Quaker meeting, the theatrical expression of distress and disagreement, all my joy and incomprehension, all my creativity, so that I can get to know myself and that shadow. I brought all of me to the Yearly Meeting Gathering. There I made a powerful and beautiful declaration of Love to someone, which I almost wish I hadn’t, now, actually, though I don’t think it has done lasting harm. And I disrupted a session and took two hours of someone’s time while I expressed my distress, but the session proceeded and I think she is happy enough to have given me that service. It did me good. It freed me for the rest of the week.

YMG was utterly vibrant. Em came to see her friend one evening, and was bowled over by the electric atmosphere of Quakers being ourselves with ourselves.

-Are you going to form Noisy Quakers?
-It’s been done. The Ranters saw God in their inmost motivation, though as antinomians that led to disorder. They could feel moved by God to fornication or adultery. Though perhaps this was a Conservative myth, and no-one was as unrestrained a Ranter as all that; and my Poly friend has learned polyamory. She lives with her husband, and had several flings with women before starting a long term relationship with a woman. So they explored and tested boundaries and emotions in a mature, ethical and responsible way. There is the conventional rule, that we are celibate until marriage then chaste and faithful, and there are ethical ways to be outside that rule.

It’s not rebellion, it is not a breach of the way of our Civilisation, it is living in an alternative way and showing those who might see new possibilities and paths.

And I am in rebellion. Talking after Meeting is like a cocktail party. On the train home from Hull, I started talking to two archaeologists returning from an academic conference. I told them Sam had been arrested for blocking the road to DSEI, and they said how wonderful. We can be the Guardian, Greenbelt, left-liberal side of civilisation, but not anarchist or radical. The tension will get resolved one way or another. Maybe I will wind my horns in. I don’t want to just yet.

So I feel powerless to avoid being expelled from the Quaker meeting. Possibly I will cross the line again, and after mature discernment elders will sadly expel me for the good of the Meeting, because there are other people there besides me and their needs matter. If my inner adult decides I must only say what normal people would say at a cocktail party, to someone they knew only distantly, at the start of the party before their first tentative sips of wine, then my passionate inner self will rebel and take over.

I would like to speak to those who object to me, and reassure them as much as I can. I will not be physically violent. I do not want anyone to relieve my distress.

I want Quakers to hold all of me. Perhaps if I matured better from teenage I would have other communities which could meet different needs, but I have not at the moment. Perhaps I would not need this if I knew myself already, what I feel and desire, and could bear that.

Perhaps Quakers cannot cope with that. Perhaps the butterfly needs to be broken on the wheel.

Femme jealousy

Alicia’s jealousy was pure paranoia. Yes, I am quite sure of that. Of course I have interests in common with Liz, which Alicia does not seem to share, and in our first conversation round the fire toasting marshmallows we shared about them while Alicia was silent. I noted how Liz’s girlfriend was much younger, and very attractive, as a positive for Liz. I found her thought inspiring.

Next morning, I watched Alicia painstakingly groom her highlights.
-Are you laughing at me?
-How could someone as ridiculous as I am laugh at anyone? I asked. Sometimes my humility comes across as sarcasm. She did not know how to respond to that one.
-How long did you stay after we left? asked Liz.
-I had just said “I love you” to a man I had just met. I scarpered immediately!

He had apologised for his poor English, and I said, to reassure him, that I know no Persian. Say “دوستت دارم“, he said. I repeated it as best I could, then asked what it meant.

That night, round the fire again, Alicia talked with an American man about American cities they had both lived in, a subject giving me no entrée. I did not say I have not been West of Reykjavik. My last sight of them was them walking hand in hand down the quiet, peaceful path from the festival site. Liz smiled broadly and greeted me. Alicia didn’t- even though they will go back to New York at the weekend together.

I noted with interest that they live in different boroughs. Continue reading

Norethisterone V

It seems my choices are to take Oestradiol only, and completely lack energy so that if I do my washing in the morning I just want to slump in the afternoon, or to take synthetic progesterone, and have febrile energy manifesting in highs I don’t fully trust- I seem rational, but its my Norethisterone brain doing the judging- and crushing lows.

I phoned the Samaritans, wanting to explore this low, quite how bad everything is. I would go into the darkness, and start by saying “I am not suicidal” to reassure Helen (or me). Thinking of how to express that I realised, “I want to die”. I don’t trust myself to look after myself.

The low is deep but I know it will end. That is an improvement. The high on Tuesday was really good. Even low, I feel more energy and purpose. Georgia O’Keeffe wrote, I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. Well, I have mostly suppressed my terror below consciousness, and it has stopped me doing things, or even knowing what I want to do. Her way is better. I don’t trust my rationality, but having more energy may be worth that cost. Feelings pass.

As a benefits adviser I dealt with a man who cared for his mentally ill sister. She would do things like wander off at 2am without shoes on, and he would try to keep her safe, that is, well-managed. She was getting DLA high care low mobility, the most she could get, but he wrote to the benefits office asking if she could get more. Rather than telling him “No” they sent him a review form, and decided she should get less. He was distressed by this. She was calm, well enough fed, irked by his control as walking off in the night is fairly harmless, really. He was constantly stressed.

We did the tribunal, he was stressed, picking up various bags and papers, shaking, and she whispered to me, “Help him, Mr Maxwell”. So I helped him with his bags, and she was quietly caring for him.

It feels I have a carer, looking after the Inner Child, because I do not trust that spontaneous being. I trust the carer to understand the world, but the carer understands no better, is as insane as it imagines the Child is, and does no better than the Child would. The Carer’s first ambition is to avoid the Child having painful feelings, rather than to keep me safe, and it does not manage that, just anticipating painful feelings and worrying about them, and avoiding action. It falsely imagines that is “keeping me safe”. The Catholic Meditations are on getting rid of the Carer, an emptying of all the contents of the ego-consciousness to become a void in which the light of God or the glory of God, the full radiation of the infinite reality of His Being and Love [or, perhaps, the Child] are manifested. It quotes Matthew 10.39, He who loses his life shall find it.

Before today’s low, I discussed all this with Tina. I could lose my income, yet then was sanguine. All I could do was monitor the situation: no point in worrying. Life is bearable, with the occasional pleasing sensation. It is only not bearable if I imagine that I cannot stand this, there is too much unpleasant emotion. I might think that my current existence, at home most of the time, is not enough. I can get more pleasing sensation by noticing more: if I go into that state of awareness of my surroundings, particularly outside, there is a great deal of beauty and the state itself feels lively and energised.

I don’t know if I want more experience. I judge that I ought to. I find what I want when I see what I do. I do what I do. I feel dissatisfaction. I do not want to put plans into practice, as the Carer anticipates defeat.

I see a need for Advance into Greater Spiritual Maturity, and I am working on that. I am coming to appreciate my own good qualities.

I don’t trust the benefits system. It claims to pay a very low income to people unfit for work, but does not keep that promise. If some people in a wheelchair might not qualify for ESA, its criteria are far too strict. And I think I have identified the Gotcha moment, the moment where I could not have known but she seems, now, to have decided I did not score particular points. I am frightened.

Tina asks, are there any human systems which don’t make promises and fail to live up to them? Well, in 1948 the benefits system was more honest. Now there are deliberate cuts, and intended holes in the safety net. And we never manage perfection, just imagine it- each person differently. What we achieve is good enough.

-What do you hope for?
No idea.
-You might get it then.
That is a good question, and I shall go away and consider it.

I have now been blogging for six years.

The wisdom to know the difference

I have the bloody-mindedness to keep fighting the things I cannot change
The weakness to run from the things I just might change
And the blindness not to see the nature of either.

When to fight, or work, and when to back off. That is important, difficult wisdom. Now, I begin to think that the difficulty is not being able to back off, rather than not being able to stick at it: I stick at things really hard, because I am passionate, but do not value or protect myself, so that when I am forced to stop I have been hurt, so find it difficult to force myself back, or wheedle myself back, or trust to go back freely. I can never trust myself not to hurt myself. I am not safe, because of myself.

In counselling I find it hard to speak, but I can type a note for myself, then read out the note.

I am seeking to escape the restrictions transition places on me. Then I rethought this:
I place on me.

No, restrictions I sort of accept, not challenging, but might challenge.
Might find out how to challenge
Am challenging as best I know
Self-expression as best I know, now, may improve. Transition, the “feminine role”, does restrict me; that I have not overcome all the restrictions yet does not mean I am not trying my best to, and getting better at it.

I think of Her. She is worth my time, my attention and my work. I am not going to stop yet. I would like everything stated clearly between us, but then I might play games with it, or use it in bargaining;

I feel I am guessing what you want and if I guess right and give it I will have it too.
Except it must feel right for you or you will withdraw.
Or if any pathway goes wrong you will not go there again- we tried that and it didn’t work.
Treat you as a puzzle- well, I am thinking, now, after. At the time I respond, and so often apparently wrongly.

That led to the insight. As well as retreating from the world, just staying in my living room, watching telly

I do difficult things.
Difficulty is not a deterrent.
If I see a way forward I take it.

And yet in so many cases

I don’t do things I have found not profitable. “We tried that once and it didn’t work.”

In some of my battles I have been badly hurt and not gone back. Yet in others I have kept fighting despite being hurt.
Have been frustrated and seen no way forward and not gone back, the effort of understanding and seeing becomes too painful.
Some problems I just run from.
WHAT do I run from, but should not? Or stick with, for no useful purpose?
Go back? Others do not find hard and I still find it hard to admit that looking for those jobs is too much for me, it ought not to be, well maybe it would not be if I could take care of myself better
Give up, find something else to do-

So I came to

The bloody-mindedness to keep fighting the things I cannot change
The weakness to run from the things I just might change
And the blindness not to see the nature of either.

That got seven likes on facebook, more for the elegance of expression than the thought perhaps.

-I see you celebrate your passion in lots of ways, says Tina. That reassured me. I do. I had a wonderful time at Yearly Meeting Gathering, and I bestowed my Light on many people.

And- I feel I do not know which problems to stick at, which to accept, because I am using my rational, ought-mind, the common cultural judgment. I know what I need to work on, and if I trust myself I might even know that consciously.