Trust issues

The idea of a film about my transition experience, with me as “creative director”, might seem ridiculous had it not been suggested by a TV producer. We discussed a programme he had made, which I remembered from some years ago. We met for a preliminary discussion and I produced one scene and some possible outlines.

It is not completely ridiculous. The personal growth stuff, in four born-again experiences, a story of self-acceptance, could interest more than just trans folk. It is a universal story: human beings suppress parts of ourselves for the sake of others and society.

To get two weeks later an answer phone message from a mutual acquaintance saying the idea was off was a blow. I have thought of checking out what other contacts I had- a friend knows an independent producer in Swanston, for example- but I have been unable to summon up the enthusiasm to do anything further on the project.

Why did I not want to write this post?

Oh, it is understandable. I too was on a wild emotional rollercoaster after the Essence process. He has other things to think about.

And- that woman. Is she just messing with me? At best, my old co-dependent ways will not work, and I will have to get new ones find saner ways of being. Though I dwell on this too much, because I have little else to do. Today I cycled into Swanston for tea with Richard. It was lovely. Tomorrow, I shall have coffee with Liz.

No, I really did not want to write this post. I consider other blows, such as my father giving away all his capital, a six figure sum, to con-men, or my work history, and still find this hard to bear. The point of this blog is hope- self-acceptance, greater understanding, greater ability to face the world, and I despair. I feel a fool. I wonder if I was merely foolish to believe in that film project when we were actually discussing it- of course it could go nowhere. I feel my foolishness is exposed and mocked, though I see that is a wrong way of perceiving it: other priorities, a change of mind. My trust in the world is low. My confidence, or trust in myself, is low. It paralyses me.

I think, I should accept that mobile phone contract. It will give a better service for less money. And I do not, because something will go wrong.

????????

Acceptance XLVI

I cannot accept the world unless I accept myself.

Having retreated from the world, little affects me. That was why I did it. I was befuddled and frustrated by work, so I gave up. Liz volunteers in a place with paid workers. She hears them complain about changes to their working patterns, and wishes they could just accept those changes. They might even embrace and enjoy those particular changes as Liz would- they involve working with children.

A change to my experience of WordPress angered and frightened me. Does that seem an extreme reaction? Well, I feel my anger was proportionate, of short duration. I started fearful thought of how it could presage further, even worse changes, and then started thinking of how I could cope with those changes.

As I felt my anger and fear, in the moment after the first stimulus of them, I judged myself. Anger and fear is a totally disproportionate reaction, I told myself sternly. (No wonder you can’t go out sometimes.) Whereas I can cope with changes to routine, if I gently explain them to myself. Part of my (over) reaction is bad experiences of change in the past.

First, I must accept my own reaction. It too will pass.

 ♥♥♥

My childhood way of Acceptance gets in the way. It was to suppress anger and fear and Get On With It. Mother Unhappy! Danger! Work out what she wants immediately and do it. However I felt about that in the moment would get in the way, then. My anger and fear made her unhappy and stopped me thinking through the right response. So I feared my anger and fear, which made my experience of them more painful.

In childhood that did the job. Now I have suppressed feeling too long and cannot suppress any more; and my feelings are a useful tool for perception. I know the current state is not eternal: these feelings and state of unknowing will pass. (I just have to realise that, in the moment.)

Chronic stress happens when stressors come along too quickly to deal with one before feeling the next. That was my experience most of the time I was working.

I feel there is a lesson here, and I want to be able to articulate it. Part of it is in my first sentence. If I accept how I react emotionally and trust the process, remembering such lessons as “This too shall pass”, I will be happier and better able to deal with the stressor.

Evelyn de Morgan, Cassandra

I-

Thursday. The counsellor and the client sit in silence. The counsellor pays attention to the client, wanting the client’s good. She can sit like this for days, if necessary. The client does not look at her, but is curled up in her large soft winged chair, looking at her hands folded in her lap, comfortable enough, silent.

I have no idea what the surroundings are like, the two are what matter.

I-

That again.

I-

I-

I-I-I-I-I-
eye, Aye
I-

I- want

I- want

I try to prompt, but can only think of prompts which are wrong. Fame? To hide? A job? Company?

I want-

I want Love-

I want to surrender

When my friend phones later, wondering why I have not gone to his house as arranged, I am dumbstruck. I can apologise but not explain. I have five, or seven, words, and nothing more. I have only just got up, at 2.15pm.

I should, I suppose, have gone into my ritual space, to meditate, to meet the silence where truth is, but- did not. Something in me stopped me. Yet I want to hear this deep unconscious. It might not be good for me: Licia’s was the most accomplished confidence trickster, wasting her life chasing illusion-

As I wanted, I am in that soft sweater and long soft skirt. I have Use of Weapons on my e-reader, something entertaining enough but unimportant. I have five words, and no plan of action, nothing further, only where I am now in the process, no light for the next step until I take it.

evelyn de Morgan, Earthbound

Feminism and choice

How might I understand the choices people make?

Sometimes people make choices because they are oppressed. Possibly, a Muslim woman in a hijab- head-scarf- or niqab, face covering, is oppressed, by societal or family pressure, and possibly she has decided to wear it as a positive affirmation that she is Muslim, and as a defence against the sexualisation of women in Western culture. Arguably the Koran does not require women to cover so completely, merely requiring their dress to be “modest”, and arguably the predominantly non-Muslim culture cannot do anything to relieve the oppression.

Do what you can to relieve oppression.

I want to turn heads. I want to attract attention and interest. While carriage and mien help, fashion is a good tool. That is difficult: I do not go where I may observe fashionable people, and most of my clothes purchases are in charity shops. Is it “oppressive” that something fashionable two years ago is now past it, that I must buy a new wardrobe twice a year?

Considering the examples of the celibate gay Christian and the housewife, there are many choices which could involve internalised or external oppression but few which do so of necessity.

Why do women stay with violent partners? Because their self-confidence is destroyed by that partner, and they do not see an alternative. People do things which they do not choose to do. I asked a woman if her husband hit her, and she said “Only occasionally”. Some of us have deep-seated psychological scars, and the violence fulfils some sort of strange need.

Why do women become sex workers? Some are trafficked and brutalised, some are privileged and sex-positive.

Choices affect others. Does the prevalence of pornography affect the culture in a harmful way?

Choices can appear irrational. I do not understand my choice to transition. If I say “I am a woman” I might not be explaining it, but explaining it away. There was a desire in me which I could not resist, however hard I tried- I would call the resistance “Internalised transphobia”- which was the most important thing in my life, which eventually I actualised.

I tend to feel that a person’s choice to harm herself is an attempt to make her life better: we drink to avoid consciousness of pain.

I am in favour of the freedom of every human being 
to pursue their own good in their own way, 
so long as they do not harm others.

But the political position that requires me to adopt on any particular issue is not always clear.

Evelyn de Morgan, Angel piping to the souls in Hell

I don’t want to be moved

File:Evelyn de Morgan - The Little Sea Maid, 1880-1888.jpgOr I do.

Alison has been twelve days off the booze, and has got a place in rehab. I am delighted for her: booze can overcome many strong people, if it gets them at a vulnerable moment, and the ordinary courage of overcoming it-

if I could finish that sentence without piling platitude on platitude, I would be a writer, though it is wonderful that the great wisdom I have attained is quotidian.

A Quaker issue. Quaker tradition! says a weighty Friend. No harm comes from Joy says another. I know what I want: not disorder and chaos, but new life arising from Godly anarchy: people allowed to be themselves create, and do not destroy. The rules which bind and chafe us make us destructive.

Here’s the Bigot, again, with a story of which I do not believe all the details. The bigot implies that all who call homophobes “haters” are hypocrites: I marveled at how dangerous those who proclaim to be “tolerant” can become when they believe their hatred is justified.

Bigot, you show flashes of intelligence so I can’t believe you do not understand this. You are a hater, because you want others File:Evelyn de Morgan - Boreas and Oreithyia, 1896.jpgto conform to your beliefs. The tolerant people want equality for all. We tolerate your belief, expressed privately between consenting adults. We cannot be expected to tolerate your wish to use your belief to maltreat others. We would not condone, though we might understand, the violent act you describe.

That irritation. It is not being moved, any more than watching TV is, even David Hare’s brilliance.

NHS grinds on. I saw the psychiatrist in November, have reduced my hormone intake, and had a second blood-test, and will see the psychiatrist again in May. I remain labile, and to any who might use this as a dire warning against M-F transition, I say it is still worth the risks. After D’s breakup with U, I will see him again at the weekend, and cannot decide whether to be friendly or express all my anger. Until I learn the lessons of teenage I am condemned to repeat them. My anger is weak. I started to express other anger to Z, and she batted it away- “Oh, you’re not still on about that, are you?”

The Bigot’s, and Francis Philip‘s, answer is that I should become exactly like them. I see that as not good enough- hamartia, in Bible Greek, missing the target- yet finding my own way in God is difficult. Right now I do not want to be moved, for good reasons: so I must allow myself to be moved.

All the love here

Cadmus Harmonia Evelyn de MorganI never expected the letter. I thought it would say the opposite. With four pages of tedious verbiage, starting with skirting round the issue, I had to go over it a few times before I realised. Then I paced the floor and babbled for a bit, looking back and forward. Then in the evening, meditating, I had to check the letter again- it could not say that, could it?

But- an extra £28 a week does not mean that I get an extra £28 a week. Down comes the once-so-familiar Welfare Benefits Handbook. Mmm. On last year’s rules, my housing benefit personal allowance would rise by the same amount. So I would keep it. But then, on last year’s rules, I would have got housing benefit for my whole rent for nine months before it reduced to the “Local Housing Allowance,” rather than three months as this year. That is, the benefit changes this year reduced my benefits by £500. Might they also have taken away that £28 a week?

At meeting, Liz ministered about missing Terry, and how here in the Meeting house there is so much love and care. It seemed to me that there is so much love, and that, as if I had a chlorophyll deficiency, I am unable to feel it properly. I am like a cur expecting a kick: I get good news, and I think of ways in which it is not good. I get to keep ESA. I told ATOS about the psychiatrist, and the endocrinologist, and what they are doing, and I got to keep ESA. I hope that means I have more money. I will check. Rather than thinking of the possibilities this opens for me, I think of ways in which it could be not good news really.

I need to be more open to the even breaks. Liz was one of two women who taught me that: I need a lot of practice.

When my housing benefit went down, I really should have moved into Swanston. Services would be in more easy reach, and I could get a flat closer to the amount housing benefit would pay. My flat would not be as lovely, nor in such a lovely location, but the course of action is clear and obvious. Snakes 2Rather than doing the sensible thing, I hunkered down, trying to live on £50 a week, rarely putting the heating on, and mostly not thinking about when I would be obviously found fit for work and have to sign on and get benefit sanctioned and not get any money and

you get the idea.

This is really good, though I will still check that I do get to keep the £28.

Obeying the rules

???????????????Let me share one of my myths. It is a memory with part in sharp focus, from which I have theorised about who I am and why.

I went to the christening of my younger niece. I was in my mid-twenties. Her sister was around 24 months. At some point, I think after the ceremony, Siobhan wanted to toddle in one direction, and I wanted to move on- to the party after, probably. I told Siobhan off, firmly. No, come this way. My sister’s friends whom I did not know told her she could go where she wanted, which irritated me; I don’t think I replied.

Primo Levi says somewhere about people in the camps who tried to obey the rules, and thereby survive, and were doomed because the rules were designed to kill slowly. I have it on codex, so the search function is limited to riffling through the pages to see if anything reminds me of it, but I would like to find it, because I may have distorted my memory of it to fit this idea as well-

that my seeking to obey rules is the mark of the low-status primate in the pecking order, and that I naturally enforced it on Siobhan as I had had it enforced on myself, perpetuating the pattern. That is, my upbringing unconsciously fitted me for low status, deferring to others. This produced anger in me which I could never express because expressing anger was impossibly Bad.

In the medical centre, there was a little boy whose parents were teaching him to talk back. When we get home, we’ll bake cookies.
-You’ll bake cookies, Daddy.
-I’ll bake cookies to eat them all myself says Daddy, joke-triumphantly.
-Say “Whatever, Daddy” instructs Mummy. I caught a whiff of power games between the adults, which would only improve the child’s learning of this dynamic.
-Whatever, Daddy, said the child, exaggeratedly, mockingly, giggling.

Deference, submissiveness, whatever. I grope towards understanding, go off on odd directions, have a model which is not internally consistent, try to untangle the mixture of my trauma and anger. My mother did not want me as a baby, and now I feel tolerated rather than accepted as a woman. “God will not test me beyond what I can bear”? I don’t believe that, actually. I am an evolved being: we will not each overcome the world. All that is necessary is that enough of us can breed to sustain the population over time.

I knew I ought to meditate, and I did not: perhaps because I expected to feel all Spiritual and lovely while meditating and feel good afterwards, and was always disappointed. Now I kneel in my ritual space, and feel my anger or my fear, and get up confused. One gloss I could put on this is that I feel my anger, and its energy, or my fear, and its vulnerability and increased perception, so that if I can sit with it rather than blocking it out, it will benefit me. But that is to predict where this process might end, which is futile. Better to just go with it, which is my old way- head down, obey the rules.

This is my 900th post.

Day out

ClytieHow much more sophisticated than Marsby is London? Let me count the ways… “London has buses on a Sunday,” said the twelve-year-old, at the bus stop. Indeed- and after six in the evening! He was only going down the town centre. The old woman told me when the houses round Eagle’s Nest were built. Those were built in the thirties for the workers in the laundry, and those were built in the fifties. She used to goo to the open air pool in J–, but there isn’t one, now. People aren’t as gritty as they used to be. “Goo” is an indicator I have noticed of the old local accent, as opposed to those who were decanted from London in the 1970s.

Round the corner, two obese young mothers got on. One changed the sim in her mobile, with great difficulty because of her elaborate nails. Why would anyone need two sims? Her son cried, and could not tell her why: perhaps it was the sun in his eyes through the window. They mock the young lad about his bad behaviour- putting bricks through windows. “Not me,” he grins.

The toddler stood by himself on the bus, just for a moment. The bus juddered, he staggered, and kept his footing. He was not loud, then, but clearly triumphant. The problem was that he could not believe a judder could be worse, so refused to sit in his pushchair or even to hold the hand rail. He dropped his dummy several times, on the floor: at least once his mummy gave it back to him unwiped. One way of improving his immune system- though wiping does little good. The old local woman is now telling someone about her operations.

I get to Thamton bus station, a glass walled corridor of stances in a black cavern under a building, brightly lit. My fellow social class E, and some of my betters. It is a drab, noisy place where people are particularly courteous to each other. I cannot understand the bus driver, which is a first for me: I thought bus driving not a usual job for EU immigrants.

On to the “medical” centre. I wait half an hour in a small crowded waiting room. The politics of the moment is that no-one should be on the sick, though previously people have been left there to reduce the headline Unemployment statistic. So someone who Cannot learn anything beyond a moderately complex task, such as the steps involved in operating a washing machine to clean clothes and Frequently cannot, due to impaired mental function, reliably initiate or complete at least 2 personal actions because of their mental health problem but did not score other points would not because of that be found entitled to benefit. However, I give it a go.

Then I go into battle. The nurse is trying to catch me out. I read, I say, and she has a win: that means I can concentrate, so could do a job. Well. If you read, you will have got to the end of a page and realised that you have not taken it in- everyone does that occasionally. I say I do that. It is true, and it depends on how much of the time. I will be found fit, so I will have to sign on and be vulnerable to JSA sanctions. But I gave it a go, not making eye-contact, whining, saying someone takes me to the supermarket, sometimes I do not get up all day.

Spiral

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/Cassandra1.jpegYou don’t need to have the knife gun or pill-bottle in your hands to phone the Samaritans. Though you can phone for a listening ear, I did not; because I did not know whether to give a male or female name.

Having believed in autogynephilia– the idea that I could have been an ordinary husband and father if I had had a little more self-control, but because I wanked to fantasies of myself as I woman I decided to become one- I saw my sexuality as diseased, and I suppressed it. Now, emerging from my denial that I was a sexual being at all, I find quite how passive I am, and how ashamed I am of that.

I had a disappointment, and it overwhelmed me. First I felt upset, then I went into a vicious spiral. I want this ridiculous, ludicrous thing, because of the way my sexuality is, which I cannot have, that makes me miserable, and my misery prevents me functioning. Frightened of my own misery, my fear magnified it; it became proof of my uselessness and unchanging impossible weakness. For some time before weeping I was numb.

Even now, there is an ideal relationship in our culture- https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Morgan%2C_Evelyn_de_-_Flora_-_1894.jpgheterosexual, of course. The man should earn more money. The woman should look after the house, though this is no longer a full time job. There are other ways of being, or we would not have words for them- a woman might “wear the trousers” in a relationship. Rod Liddle called Simon Schama a “male lesbian”, relating to women but not in a properly hetero way. Among gays and lesbians there are the terms butch and femme, top and bottom.

I want a woman who “wears the trousers”. After my long period of denial, I realise how utterly ashamed I am of this. I found myself wondering whether this was why I imagined I was transsexual: it was less shameful to be passive if one was female. That is deluded. Do I want to go back to male clothes or a male name? No. Horrible idea. And pretending to be female for ten years would be unbearable, except that I am female.

I have been wiped out and weeping today (Thursday)- and I have worked this out. The shame is the problem. I am so fearful of my desire and my misery that it overwhelms me. And- I was disappointed. It is natural to have the emotional reaction of unhappiness at a disappointment. And that unhappiness passes. I need not fear it, the fear makes it a far greater problem than it would be.

I am glad not to be so deep in denial. This is progress. My shame lessens. My sexuality is within the normal bounds of human diversity, and diversity is a good thing: we have a cliché for that as well. It is “all part of life’s rich tapestry”.

If I despise and hate myself and fear my own reactions, then every reaction I have brings me to a juddering halt. If I can come to accept myself the outside world does not become any easier, but it does get less overwhelming.

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.

————————————————————————————————————–

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