A World of Women

I want a simpler world, where I might be given a task, see that it was worthwhile and that I could carry it out, and carry it out successfully achieving the desired goal, so that I would not feel so completely and entirely worthless.

Ah. “Worthless”, except for what I can achieve. This thought brings me to tears. It is an old understanding of myself- proof that merely understanding how my psyche works is not enough to heal it. A simpler world, for it is not possible in this one.

It is my feeling that this sense comes from maternal rejection in my first weeks of life, but I have no desire to debate that with anyone. I am satisfied enough of it. The inner critic does not like the idea, but it is rarely entirely right.

The NYT says one should not try not to think negative thoughts. Attempting to control them makes them more insistent. Instead, first notice that you are thinking negatively, and then challenge the thought, arguing with it. “I am worthless”- think of examples disproving this. I have achieved things. I have worthwhile qualities- I am intelligent, and kind. If a friend was so negative about herself, I would reassure her, and so should imagine the arguments I would use to another. That article recommends CBT, where it seems I am a conscious Grand Vizier with a particularly irrational, psychotic and power-crazed caliph, whom I must persuade and nudge into sane action.

I will not. Rather, I will Love myself around. The only thing I have to do, while my benefits continue, is ensure I don’t run out of food- or even, buy more before I starve. No matter of routine is essential. Managing myself into doing what external authorities or the culture or my rational self believes I ought to do will not affect that feeling of worthlessness; instead it will reinforce it.

Tina explains self-worth is not the same as self-esteem. Self-worth is unconditional acceptance: I have this weakness, and that is OK. I am not a real man. I am not capable of work. I am unreliable on Quaker obligations. All this is OK. I am testing my own self-acceptance, and will not advance those Quaker desires, unless I want to. I, the beautiful, loveable core of me, which is not worthless, not the psychotic caliph.

I recall much of childhood as not feeling good enough, being frightened and confused and feeling excluded. How did I feel when my father died? Relief. A running sore was over. There was the thing about not being able to talk to him, and him giving away all his capital, down to the last thousand pounds, to investment scammers- had he lived, they would have come back every few months and harvested any pension he had accumulated-

and that moment in the hospital, when he awoke, delighted to be helpless, managed cared for and controlled by women, the nurses. “I awoke in a world of women”, he said to me, in a delighted conspiratorial way. That is my own feeling. I understood completely. I confessed this to Tina and in that moment wanted

not to exist

I wanted a completely different person with completely different characteristics occupying my space

I felt revulsion and-


confessing this. It could just be that my kernel, seen as the caliph but in reality myself is the part that is delighted.


Calm and in control

I hold myself in contempt because I let myself down. I did not keep myself safe. Though that was not my job, in the cradle. “I am the one whom I hold in contempt”- this is reassuring because I am conscious of being that person, and not ashamed of it, so no longer in denial.

This does not make everything easy, but it is moving forward.

I had the feeling of being sad, and later of being content, and these feelings did not seem bad, terrifying or desirable- they just were. They seemed to fit. Then I read this, in André’s book: We put our head down and keep going, one step at a time. We can act and go forward even when we can’t be sure there is any point. Even when nothing is certain, we can still disobey the orders to be powerless that come at us in waves. We can feel those old reflexes rising up from the past and trying to control us. And still we keep going.

His picture is Christina’s World:


Reading that out to Tina I feel such guilt. I do: I make myself powerless, I retreat, I stop moving. I am stuck. I hated it, when I read it last night.

Am I merely shut away, not moving? I could rationalise a case either way- yet the Prosecution and Defence would be missing the point. I felt intense pain reading that. I acknowledged and did not suppress it. Whether I am guilty or not does not matter, does not affect where I am or my circumstances, changes nothing.

Do you want to change? Am I “shut away”?

I am in that moment aware and accepting of my Being. What do I want to do next? I want to go where I have feared to go, into my feelings desires and judgments, bringing them to consciousness. I want further to integrate myself.

The tears communicate to me how strong my feelings are.

Do you see these as equivalent:

Calm = in control
Emotional = impulsive

Mmm. Not sure. What do I fear? Sabotaging myself. Being impulsive, I will foul things up.

-A risk?
-No, a certainty.

When the lid’s off, I will be hurt. Yet now what hurts me are my own internal controls. “I would like to appear calm, my feelings not apparent,” I say, and instantly see it is not true: I can see that both calm and impulsive can have advantages in particular situations (intellectually, rationalising now) and that holding my feelings down for a semblance of calm- or restraint, which is powerless if arising from fear- is self harming. Sometimes calm, sometimes expressiveness, is appropriate, and people get it wrong all the time- it does not matter as much as I fear it does. It feels like a matter of life and death.

Christina really would have been better using crutches, or a wheelchair, or even a trolley like Porgy.

I am pulling myself forward. I strive to live authentically. Unlike hers, my legs may get stronger.

A man wants to make yet another short film about Quakers, and I fancy taking part. What is my work? Excavating, empowering, expressing this authentic feeling. I strive to live authentically.

What could I say on film to show my work has value?
-By valuing it yourself.

I do not submit to his judgment of me, but I would like to be part of this.

Childhood trauma

What is trauma? When the being fears dissolution, because it loses trust in its ability to save itself, or faces an unbearable threat from outside.

I start with Tina by talking of things which please me. I was proud of that AM. Without my contribution over three years it would not have been as beautiful as it was. And then I was-

I know the word. It is in my mind, and I started the sentence knowing that was what I would say, but I cannot say it. My inner critic shuts me down. I pull together the ability, and eventually say it-


Now I have to say what was “brave”. That exposes me to Tina’s judgment, and the inner critic projects on her that it will be unfavourable. And the inner critic has to have its cake and eat it: that I imagine the situation might be difficult shows that I am worthless, but even though I am so worthless as to find it difficult, facing it shows no bravery.

“It was an awkward situation,” she says. Yes. Certainly awkward, so I could face it or hide from it. If “brave” is too strong, the word “awkward” will do.

Much of my anger and fear comes from old stuff, and I have been pleased recently by moments that emotion seemed to flow healthily, a reasonable response to current circumstances. That past emotion does me no good now.

-It is judged- by the inner critic?

By me, actually. It does not serve me. It blocks my actions. It stops me meditating.

Do I need to name the trauma? No, she says, but I need to resolve it for my younger self. The younger self is still judged, and that prevents my integration- for I am that child as well as this adult.

And then it strikes me. I judged those feelings at their origin- I was not enabled to accept my anger and fear, because they were wrong. This is toddler or pre-toddler response. Then I suppressed my anger. It curdled, and it still sits in me. That small child remains angry and fearful. And I still judge the anger and fear, because it is relates to old stuff and it gets in my way- that is true, but unhelpful. If I could cease to judge it-

The memories might be so distant that you could not resolve the trauma or say why it is traumatic. A man she worked with brought it into awareness through lucid dreaming, not to relive it but to be with his younger self. He found he had not had a wholesome childhood, played unselfconsciously, or been happy- so he made one. He took the younger self on outings where it was not judged.

Trauma is about self-worth. (I am not worthless, but do not entirely believe that.) All parents give you all the faults they had. They say “Don’t be silly” and you believe that reaction silly, ever after.

After our last meeting, I felt I was not so much going in circles as turning on the spot. This feels much better. Much to do, but some chance of progress. It is not so that I can go back to work, or so that I can make a contribution, but-

so that I might be more effectual in achieving things I find worthwhile.

Oh, and that. I am pleased with that decision. I can frame it in words which judge it. I should not go back on my word. Well, no, I should not. And, I do not run away from things but face problems squarely– again, a virtue of the person of integrity- but these words don’t seem to fit the real situation. Seeing I can accomplish nothing I find of value, I withdraw. That seems to fit much better.


Niagara and Vesuvius

I wait for R at the bus stop. A woman at the end of the shelter says, loudly, “No heating or hot water! How are we going to live without heating and hot water?”

I thought, I can tell you this, and got out pen and paper to take notes. The man near her seems to be phoning quietly to sort the matter, but she, despairing and angry, cries out in response to his quiet tone, inaudible to me. Then she takes the phone and harangues the other, possibly her mother.

It’s because I am racist. It’s because I am fucking English. We cannot judge the depth of wickedness of her racism, but clearly she does not know words to mitigate or conceal it, and possibly does not understand the charge. She listens a moment. I told them all that! I can’t have the baby there. She [social worker? Landlord’s rep? Housing officer?] says they want us out. I don’t know why they’re doing this. They wrote down all I said and I signed it. I don’t know what I signed. They reported us to the landlord before. They said we didn’t share the fridge. They make up bullshit and report us for nothing. They smoke in the room! £480 a month for that one room! No heating and hot water as well. They have come in to Swanston in an attempt to sort things out but apparently it has not worked. He takes her by the hand and pulls her away, along Church St. She does not seem to be resisting, only dilly-dallying.

I have lunch with R, then go to get the bus home. I am to talk to Tina at 4, but the bus does not come at 3, nor at 3.30, and though it should go the other way from the same stop, it does not. So I go for a taxi, which costs £11.50 plus 50p tip. I am pleased with this. My increasing frustration with a little anger moves me to solve my problem. I can afford the occasional taxi. I treated myself to the bus because when I cycled yesterday I was really cold, and this morning it was drizzling. I get the only taxi at the rank; another comes just after, and is taken almost immediately.

The frustration moved me to sort my problem out, making a clear judgment of the situation- no bus will come in time- but anger is pointless. At whom? It is not the driver’s fault. There is nowhere to express it and no fight or flight to use it on.

And then I talk to Tina and it seems pointless. I cannot see a way of bettering my situation. The standard ways- get a job, get voluntary work to give me something worthwhile to do, repulse me. I like writing for my blog, with minimal editing, minimal judgment. I cannot see a way of bettering my situation. I do not want to write for publication elsewhere. At the bus stop frustration drove me to action but my frustration now makes me miserable without action. I beat myself up- I should be able to find something better- but forgive myself as well. I am miserable and inactive. Is it a “sense of entitlement”?

I had a moment of joy, seeing trees through the taxi window.

I quote Modern Love XXXIV by George Meredith.

Madam would speak with me. So, now it comes:
The Deluge or else Fire! She’s well, she thanks
My husbandship. Our chain on silence clanks.
Time leers between, above his twiddling thumbs.
Am I quite well? Most excellent in health!
The journals, too, I diligently peruse.
Vesuvius is expected to give news:
Niagara is no noisier. By stealth
Our eyes dart scrutinizing snakes. She’s glad
I’m happy, says her quivering under-lip.
“And are not you?” “How can I be?” “Take ship!
For happiness is somewhere to be had.”
“Nowhere for me!” Her voice is barely heard.
I am not melted, and make no pretence.
With commonplace I freeze her, tongue and sense.
Niagara or Vesuvius is deferred.

I am both these characters, locked together in my misery. Rage and flooding tears are alike useless.

-Can you remember when you first felt these things?

I can remember first being conscious of them, but not of first feeling them, presumably in childhood. So I say, No.

-Can we just stop and fix another time?

-Then, tell me more about the dark side. “Contradictory chaos” sounds human. Not managing feeling but allowing it. I know you strive for gentleness.

So, what? Gentleness is not who I am? Not all I am, or not me at all (so being trans, “feminine”, is illusion)? I hear, strive for gentleness and think of ways in which that could be a bad thing.


I do not want to be judged
because I cannot imagine myself not being found wanting
Even though others say things like, you have been a breath of fresh air and I realise the difficulties that you have faced and overcome.thomas-lawrence-mary-anne-bloxam

Desire and achievement

Our problems are intractable because they are solutions.

I had a good morning. I enjoyed taking those geese photos. I have produced something more than a mere snap, which takes effort, thought, and spending £200 on a proper camera rather than just using a phone. I have experienced the birds flocking, and created something beautiful. I found C strong, resilient, intelligent, outward looking and spiritual. I want her in my Quaker meeting. You know how when you see a characteristic in another, it means it is in you- that does apply to good stuff as well, doesn’t it? Tina laughs, and confirms, saying,

Our heroes tell us who we can be.

My paranoid fear meeting her was that she was from the DWP, sent to assess that I am fit for work. This is ridiculous, but I could not get it off my mind. Saying “I am not fit for work” is frightening. I’m just resting. Honest. I take a moment to sense my misery, pain, fear, sadness, loneliness. One can have too little self-pity.

I have to tolerate imperfection. It is all good.
-In whose eyes?
– God’s

…or mine…

which comes to the Same Thing-

That gets a laugh from her. I am enjoying this.

-Seeking attention can be a disorder. (That disturbs me).
-All disorders are aspects of personality, and a matter of culture. Disorders stop the organism. It strives to be healthy. The disorder derails it from society and community and forces it to focus on itself, impairing its functioning. It causes harm- so we see bestiality as a disorder, because animals are not seen as capable of consent. Though a bestialist said, if you think you don’t need a horse’s consent you don’t know horses.

My funders for this counselling imagine that it will get me out of the house, engaged and working. I doubt it will.
-And that bothers you, because you are ethical.
I am not sure, actually. I want to be higher functioning, to desire something and do it, but not necessarily to be useful. It has to be my desire.

That brings me back to “problems are intractable because they are solutions”. I am dissatisfied. Yet I have time and freedom to go to the park and take those geese photos.

I am going to be in a magazine in November. Not paid for it, but in print. Yet now I am not writing for publication at all, possibly because I cannot imagine being published even after experiencing it. It is a matter of belief, perhaps. I like taking photographs or writing for my blog- it gets a few likes.

-Would you write if you could imagine publication?

I am avoiding disappointment. Or anticipating it, even creating it.

I want to manage my own feelings. This is my first goal. I want them to be bearable. We will discuss this next week.


The stare

A transgenderist and two transsexuals took a canal boat holiday. No, that’s not how we describe people now, but it was how they would have described themselves, then. They were on a lock, water flowing sedately through, boat rising slowly, unhurriably, and people on the tow-path were staring at them. The TSs were getting more and more uncomfortable. So eventually Janett just stared back, and turned her wig around.

Passing through the speed of light-
I said, “I met this hurting woman. I so want to absolve her!”

Well, they would stare. Women on a boat like that would not be wearing skirts, probably not make-up.
-certainly not matching shoes and bags.

I found when in the supermarket in a ball gown I wasn’t stared at, generally.
-Perhaps they were frightened!

You said you were a feminine man. What do you want?
(Oh buggrit, let’s not talk of reverting.) I kindof think my current compromise is OK. I am readably trans.

People stare, people don’t stare. The stare can be a threat, of mockery or violence. Mockery is a threat if it raises echoes inside me, if I think I am laughable, ridiculous or disgusting. It could just be curiosity. We are curious creatures.

I want to be stared at, as actress-provocateur. I could not make sense of this…

I am never enough, I never see in time

What do you want? Where do you want to be in five years’ time? What do you want to have or be or do?

If I don’t feel safe, it is reasonable to want safety. You see I am absolving myself. I have always done my best. If I feel a failure, if it has always seemed been too difficult for me-

You said, Readably trans. How does that work for you?
Well, it’s where I feel capable of being myself. I don’t shock and provoke. My presentation and people’s first impressions of me do the work I want them to do.
Does that not depend on their level of understanding?
Well, the authoritarian won’t like me as a feminine man, a trans woman, anything. As best he can he perceives who I am. The Liberal will accept, but not be surprised.

I was read in Bewiched as lower class. I was looking at the Guardian, and someone offered me the Express. I said, “I’m left-wing”.

The curious stare bothers us because we fear the other will see what we don’t want them to see because we don’t want to be like that.

This is who I am…
Stop fighting it…


So. Absolution. Stop fighting it. This is who I am, I have always done my best, if I am where I am it is because it has not been as easy as I hoped. “Passing through the speed of light” means stopping fighting it, deciding what I must do now to escape and forcing myself to do it against all my lack of motivation and even revulsion and just accepting. This is where I am. I might then find something I wanted to do, and do it, and I might not. I can’t want it from this side of absolution.

Or something.

I read this morning in the NYT about procrastination, exactly as I had seen it- the procrastinator is smitten by the perfect picture of that which is yet to be born; he falls under the spell of all that purity and splendor [but]… is fully aware that all that has to go… [He must] be the one who defaces the ideal and brings into the world a precarious copy. Non-inclusive language. Possibly I should not link to something that writes like that, but the writer expresses it as I had. So my attitude changed: No, if I do it, it will just be wrong. Everyone will judge it and find it wanting. However simple it ought to be.

I judge myself harshly.

So stop wanting to do anything. Hello. This is me. Where I am.

The Kiss

Compulsive sceptic

How my father lost his job: the education authority had the idea of teaching primary school children to care about others, and see they could do good, by getting them all to donate a bag of rice to poor people in a famine struck area. Rice would be imported, unloaded, bagged up into 1lb or 250g bags, distributed to wee Argyllshire food shops, bought by doting mothers, taken to school, put in boxes or crates and somehow delivered to the fashionable famine area. My father, as head teacher of at-CHOO primary school, said this was silly. You should collect money, and buy food for them locally. One thing led to another, and as this was not the first time he had failed to co-operate with the idiocy of his bosses, he was made to accept early retirement.

It is a pain refusing to comply with the delusions of ones bosses, especially when one can see the arguments for those delusions. That’s why I stopped volunteering, but also why my friend can’t carry on as a teacher.

Thinking about these matters, I distilled how I wanted to start my counselling session to:

I don’t want to work because I can’t believe in my ability in a job to accomplish anything worthwhile.

This felt like an insight. I could think the words, but not say them to Tina. So I wrote them down, and then could say them. What do I want?

To preserve a view of myself as-
so far as possible, to be
cultured, educated, compassionate, articulate
in my own mind.

That would be something I could value. The problem is not being it, or being it but not seeing that.

What do I do all day? I watch a lot of TV, which makes me feel intense feelings. There’s the hide-and-seek suspense- why do people wander into dark multi-storey carparks, anyway- with the music telling me this is exciting, or there’s the moment where our heroine, having imagined that a colleague is on her side, finds evidence to show he may be one of the ones out to kill her. Here am I despising the false emotion lazily imagined and forced onto me, and the moments I choose to tell Tina about are genuinely affecting. I despise myself for wasting my time like that, but the moments I tell of are worthwhile.

Or I blog. I blog a lot, practically every day. I missed a day or two in August. I want to value myself, understand and make things bearable.
-What is unbearable?

She lets me have the silence, where I luxuriate in my Sadness. It is lovely.

I look at the Quaker Studies Handbook, dozens of essays at an undergraduate level about a subject that interests me- and would be of value to me, as Quakers is my main social group, and I think it would be good to read it, and I can’t be bothered so I don’t even buy it and not read it…

I despise myself. This perplexity! I am amused by it, and as she observes profoundly distressed by it. I want to analyse and explain. I manage to get her laughing.

I dump the jigsaw on the floor. One piece or two:

We will all die!

-we might as well confront the whole thing-

It’s after the hour’s end, and we carry one skyping. I say what I feel about this to show my analysis. I should stop it, because this is the end of the hour- that’s the boundary, that’s the rules, following the rules makes me feel safe, I should not go over, or this is me exerting control (bad) or caring for her boundary (good) but I could let her give the gift to me and care for me- self-valuing and accepting, good- Appearance v Reality, and Really being the Goodperson is Heaven and trying to appear it is the blackest pit of hell-

You judge yourself dreadfully, she says. Yes.

We can’t hug over skype but I can imagine a hug. SO what would be good to discuss? Not “What do you want, however impossible you imagine it to be” but “What do you see as the problem?” perhaps. Ooh. Lots of stuff.


The following day I have a feeling I find hard to describe. You know that feeling when you break a tooth, and your tongue explores the unfamiliar hole. Imagine a similar sense of wonder, but at sudden wholeness rather than sudden loss. I don’t want to seem. I had always wanted to seem to be that good person; but actually I want to be the empathetic, compassionate, gentle being. I want to feel what I feel. I want to run towards something, rather than (as it always seemed) away from it.

Whole me

-Why would you want a job anyway? Why would it be better than this?
-I am dissatisfied, perplexed. I ought to want more because I am wasted.
-Who calls it a waste? I do.

It would be a challenge. It might be fulfilling. And, I like this, not working. I don’t feel responsibility. I analyse myself, and I write about it. I need to slow-think everything out, because my fast thinking is crap.

It’s not a sense of entitlement. I was unprepared for what I have had to deal with. I have had a lot to deal with.

Counselling with Tina Livingstone. It’s been good in the past. I told her of my last jobs, of leaving, and some stuff which I don’t remember and I took odd note words which I don’t understand seven hours later.


I told her I decided to be positive. At 3.30 the hour is over and I wonder if she will stop or I should stop but go on leaving the boundary to her- I am “caring for her” perhaps or seeking control, something, both could be good or bad; allowing it to go on I am relinquishing control and being cared for- there is the paid boundary, then the bit beyond. At 3.45 she asks, what part of you is grieving?

A part that just feels. There are rational bits which aren’t, don’t see it is justified. Now I say it is me. Whole me is grieving. We get more to small talk. Why should I want a job anyway, even the most fulfilling one, stretching me, making demands I could not be certain I could always fulfil to perfection, stopping me being in control? I like being in control.

Anyway. Small talk. I went for a walk in the park this morning, in the sun (one walk, three posts, amazing how you get material). On the river there were a load of blokes in two person kayaks, shouting at each other in a ribald, bloky way blokes seem to enjoy, with a football. I could not work out the rules.

-Ah! You hit it with a paddle! Ten points off!
-You didn’t tell us that! You can’t just introduce a rule like that!

One kayak prow is in the bank, and a man on the other bank shouts at him. “George! Paddle backwards! Paddle on the other side!” There is a long pause, then George complies. He digs into the water angrily, powerfully, forcing the canoe backwards. “Now George, paddle forwards. Paddle forwards, or you’ll hit the other bank!” (They’re all talking in exclamations). I stand enjoying the late blackberries, watching. That one, nice and soft, should be alright. That one’s past it. The boat drifts backwards, and George gets his motivation, at last, to paddle on the other side. He must have been completely exhausted.


Anyway, talking to Tina makes me feel better about myself, and that can’t be bad.

Psychotherapy and Psychology

We discuss therapy, and she feels I would be better working with my subconscious. Psychology works with conscious thoughts, psychodynamic psychotherapy with the unconscious. I would prefer that too.

-Can you think of good and bad experiences with therapists?

The bad experience was spending about forty minutes almost silent, psyching myself up to share something which I was ashamed of. Near the end, I did; and she would not see me again.

M. agrees that is a bad experience.

I knelt on his floor, and smoothed out the wrinkles in his rug. It was what I wanted to do. I did not like the wrinkles. I also thought my desire eccentric, so doing it was liberating. I could do what I wanted. So much of this unconscious work is in symbols!

The best thing that counsellor said to me was “Of Course you are transsexual!” And I did not see him again for six months.

Behavioural activation did nothing for me in practice, but that article makes sense: when people become depressed, many of their activities function as avoidance and escape from aversive thoughts, feelings or external situations. Depression therefore occurs when a person develops a narrow repertoire of passive behaviour and efficiently avoids aversive stimuli. As a consequence, someone with depression engages less frequently in pleasant or satisfying activities and obtains less positive reinforcement than someone without depression. The problem is identifying them. In theory walking in the sun should make me happier. I don’t want to. What might make me happy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy concepts like Situation Thought Emotion Behaviour and black and white thinking made sense to me and gave me answers to the inner voices, saying I am useless.

Thirteen parcels of books are being delivered from Friends House and stored in the meeting house. I could have had these delivered to my house, but that would mean needing a friend with a car to deliver them to the meeting house. So I spent Saturday at the meeting house so I could take delivery there, and not need a friend. How can I trust, or rely on someone? It is a common job interview question, how are you at team work- I can give, but do not want to take.

I also told my history. That rejection, that knock-back. Her manner is lovely, sympathetic: this in itself may be therapeutic; at least it makes me feel better in the moment.

Liz drove me over to see this Quaker psychologist, and Quakers will probably pay for therapy. That made me feel cared for, loved and valued. It is a precious feeling. Hold on to it.

Bosch, the ascent to Heaven

The angry monologue

I was working in Oldham, which rather than improving the technology of its cotton mills had continued with 19th century machinery and recruited cheap workers from Sylhet and poorer parts of Pakistan. I worked with a lot of clients of Asian heritage, and did a lot of good for them. Well, increasing income is good for most people, and I increased the weekly income of many people by £20 or £50-odd, sometimes much more. Yes, benefit claimants might be better off in the dignity, independence and responsibility of Work, but that was not my job.

I was walking home and I saw two BME children, playing in the street, and the thought went through my mind, “Fucking parasites”.

I was abashed at this. I was ashamed. It was a shame I could not name. I went to a counsellor, and spent forty minutes silent, psyching myself up to tell of my shame; in the end I did, and she refused to see me again. This made me feel even more unforgivable, and I imagine people now, refusing to read me again.

I thought I am so Angry! That level of anger- yet I did not, generally, express it. I was gentle with people. I suppressed my anger, and it was like a toddler, who when ignored by Mummy gets louder and louder in order to get Mummy’s attention.

More recently, the thought went across my mind, “That was completely fucking stupid and useless because you are completely fucking stupid and useless”. So I thought, Oh, I am quite upset about that. The feeling is there. The feeling is OK. I am OK too.

A month after seeing Dr Lenihan, this is how I understand it. I was compartmentalising: I suppressed those emotions I saw as negative or uncomfortable, sadness, anger, frustration, resentment and fear, because I feared acting upon them. I feared feeling them so loathed and despised myself in them, and suppressed them. My self respect series shows me grappling with this, and I am better able to permit the feeling and hear it. So the result is that it has far less power. I can choose not to act upon it, but not by suppressing it. I have been learning this for fifteen years, but I understand better. I may not have perfected it quite yet but I do it better now.

My friend imagines herself to be a bad person, because of her angry internal monologue. All the things she thinks about other people! She made us a cake. It was a pleasant sponge, and she was deprecating it as soon as she brought it out. She was sure we would not like it.

I told that story, of thinking “fucking parasites”, and my vision went black. I could not look at the others when I told it, and had no idea how they reacted, though one has told me I was generous. I wanted to help our friend, and she recognised that: I wanted her to recognise that anger, itself, is not wrong, only violent acts- and I know that they are more likely when anger is suppressed than when it is acknowledged. It was stressful and tiring to say it.

So I tell you this story, to confirm to myself that my feelings do not make me bad. What I do may be good or bad, and as a whole I am good enough. Stated like that, it is obvious.

El Greco, Annunciation