Fight or flight

Of course, fight or flight are not the only responses people have to immediate threat. I find myself freezing. Yet the common phrase for primitive responses to physical danger is “fight or flight”, and this moulds our understanding of those responses. If that is the phrase I know, my different way of responding merely confuses me. I don’t have the words to describe it, so I don’t understand it.

Fight or flight might seem more useful responses. What possible good could come of freezing? Possibly a predator would not notice you; possibly fleeing you would be caught, fighting you would inspire retaliation, so freezing is least bad; yet the others still seem more active to me, and therefore more admirable.

Carl Shubs, PhD, wrote in June 2014 that Popular culture has long recognized three typical patterns of response to experienced or perceived threat: fight, flight, and freeze. Whatever the stories in popular entertainment, the basic phrase was “fight or flight”, as far as I was aware. I had to work out that I was freezing for myself, though I had heard phrases like a rabbit caught in headlights. I knew “fight or flight” are the primitive responses; I came out with a wrong response, and get more confused and ashamed.

If you google “Fight or flight”, you find articles like this pdf from the University of Nottingham. It is aimed at students using the university counselling service, and explains in simple language why you might feel sick in such a situation, and what long term anxiety can do; but it is titled “What is the fight or flight response?” That is, even though psychologists knew people froze, they still wrote about fight or flight, and if you knew no better and searched for that phrase you would not necessarily learn better. That article says The Fight or Flight response evolved to enable us to react with appropriate actions: to run away, to fight, or sometimes freeze to be a less visible target, but otherwise does not mention freezing. Autocompletes in my search box suggest hormone, stress, freeze, hormone, gland, definition.

If you search “fight, flight, freeze” the next suggestion is “fawn”. I posted in facebook, “Fight or flight” is a false understanding. Many people do neither. Instead, we freeze, imagining I was telling people something they didn’t know, or at least putting into words something people had an inkling of but could not express, Luke wrote, Fight, flight, freeze and fawn are the four characteristic responses we recognise in psychosexual somatics therapy. “Fawn”. I had not thought of that at all, but seeing it makes complete sense. Sometimes people use “appease”, going for rhyme rather than alliteration. Most of the threats that frighten us come from other people, though I might try to calm an angry dog.

This post, also from 2014, reassured me. Most of us are already familiar with the concept of the ‘fight or flight’ response to perceived danger… However, there are two other responses to threat which are less well known – the ‘freeze’ response and the ‘fawn’ response. I was behind the curve, but not quite so bad. Some traumatised people have these responses on a hair trigger, and go into them in inappropriate situations.

The fawn type will often go out of their way to help others, perhaps by performing some kind of community service, but without building up emotionally close, or intimate, relationships, due to a fear… of making him/herself vulnerable to painful rejection which would reawaken intense feelings of distress experienced as a result of the original, highly traumatic childhood rejection.

What I see as my good, innate, qualities might be a response to trauma. But- someone’s got to be like that, or society would fall apart.

On popular culture, TV Tropes told me “Fight or Flight” was an episode title in Star Trek: Enterprise, Supergirl, and Burn Notice, and a chapter title in It lives in the woods. Searching for “freeze” was inconclusive, but I learned “damsels”, that is, girlies who exist mainly to be tortured by baddies and rescued by heroes, are particularly bad at fight or flight. Wikipedia has an article “Fight or flight response” which mentions freezing, but only under the heading “Other animals”. Its article on “Freezing behavior” refers to prey animals and animal studies, rather than human responses. “Fight, flight, freeze or fawn” redirects to “Fight or flight”, with no further mention of “fawn”.

Someone else on facebook gave a fifth alternative, “flop”: Freeze is more of an adrenalinised response – the body is tense and ready for action, whereas in flop the whole body is floppy – literally like playing dead and the brain is also shut down. The more words we have to understand threat responses, the more choice we have.

(c) Larne Borough Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Trans women: symbol and problem

Why do people care so much about trans folk? There are so few of us, we should be an anomaly, barely worthy of mention. We are harmless, so we should not be actively persecuted. People care, because we symbolise for them far more important concerns.

Ideally we symbolise the move towards a progressive, tolerant society. People enthusiastically say “Trans women are women!” because that shows they are liberal, against oppression, in favour of diversity and equality and people being welcomed for our gifts not judged for our idiosyncrasies. That can sometimes start a culture war. Mr Trump does not want trans people in the military, against military advice, because he wants to cast the “Liberal elite” as the enemies of his conservative base. To the just about managing, he says, They do not care about you! They care about those weirdos more than decent people like you! I care about you! The military wastes so much money that a few gender reassignment surgeries would be a drop in the ocean, and the issue should not really matter as a question of social policy, but instead it is a symbol: virtue-signalling of the Right as well as the Left. The Right claim virtue in policing what people do with our genitals. It is also a symbol that winds up liberals.

The A Woman’s Place and We Need to Talk tours use us as a symbol of the Patriarchy and the oppression of women. I have very little power to oppress anyone. I buy my clothes in charity shops so am not even, directly, part of the oppression of sweat-shop workers. Pigs live in appalling conditions because of me; but I do not harm a woman who sees me in a woman’s loo. I am only objectionable there if I am a symbol of sex inequality, of women having to put others’ feelings before their own, of a snub on them imposed by uncaring society.

I would like us to be seen as a symbol of how wide the range of gendered behaviour is, and how ridiculous gender restrictions are. We are then helping to break down gendered expectations. That we symbolise the breaking of taboos is good and bad for us. Things may be spoken about, because we exist. Shame drains away. And, we are the visible symbol of a reservoir of fear in society, and people’s hearts.

A friend said on facebook, women see men as a threat, some men see women as objects to be possessed. That means I may be seen as  threatening even if I am not.

I want us to be a harmless anomaly, too few people to worry about, which would be a rational view. If we are not, what is the problem, exactly? How you express the problem of trans people affects what you do. I think the problem is people paying us too much attention, and the solution is for the press to stop printing stories of a man being invited for a cervical smear test, because he adopted the title “Mx”, or a trans woman being sent to take smears. The NHS does millions of smear tests, and probably makes thousands of mistakes. The problem is trans people being nervous and frightened, or being attacked, and the solution is to protect us.

If you see the problem as “men in women’s toilets” we are in conflict. There is no solution to please all. But if it is, The Patriarchy, most solutions- campaigning for equal pay and equal representation, against sexual harassment- ignore us completely. Go and work on those. If the problem is, how can a wider range of gendered behaviour be made acceptable in both sexes, we can have a dialogue. I feel most people see trans folk as gender outlaws, rather than conformists.

I would phrase it, how can people with such similar problems, gender non-conforming, non-binary and trans, work together for the liberation of all? You are part of the same minority, not competing groups. How can we see below our surface differences to our real shared interests?

My right to exist

I am a trans woman. I have a right to exist as a trans woman.

The empathetic person wants other people to be happy, and unfortunately that can leave no room for me. I had great joy at work when people opened up to me, and it seemed to me they felt better for being heard. I saw myself as worthless, only of value for what I can achieve. How must I be? I asked. What must I do? It was never enough. So I burned out.

First I saw an idea(l) of manhood which I pursued, and then I decided to transition, and both times I was crushing myself into a box which did not fit me. So I am crushed. This is a failure, and it is not wholly mine, but a failure of society, which puts everyone in boxes and specifies what we are supposed to like and dislike. My first box did not fit at all, and my second box never fitted either. I realised at the time I did not fit a box marked “transsexual”, only a box marked Clare, and I proceeded to have a conventional transition.

Ah. The fear was there. I knew I did not fit, but tried anyway. I did not have the ability to forge my own way even if I knew it was the only way I could prosper.

The curse of intelligence is treating life like a problem to be solved. Not all intelligent people do this but it is our temptation. Having failed twice to fit in by conforming, I tried again. How should I stretch, squash or contort myself? And I can’t. You can’t please more than one person.

Having tried to fit in, I am trying to be myself, and finding it difficult. I paused to meditate, and then watch Star Trek: Voyager. B’elanna Torres visits the Barge of the Dead, and finds her honour. What do you want me to be? she asks the Voyager crew, desperately. Only yourself. Well, that’s a coincidence.

In meditation, the words Love and Charisma came up. I have to love the world. It is the only way. Conforming or contorting come from fear. And- I have Charisma, though I have no idea how to use it.

Start from where I am. We know God by participation in God, not by trying to please God from afar. God loves the real me, not some idealised or perfect me. Ah. Of course I have been before. I do not step through a door and find everything easy. Created half to rise and half to fall, I return to my vomit. And then come round in the circle again.

I am a trans woman. However I got here, I got myself here myself. That means I start from here. I have these ways of being and I will not apologise for them.

What do I want?
How may I get it?

I move my locus of evaluation into myself.

Being and doing

There is no “real you”. You are what you do. You may like to imagine what you would do in a particular situation, acting courageously, morally or with a particular ruthless self-interest, and just as you think of the clever retort too late to make it, you do not live up to your fantasies. The fantasy is a reassuring falsehood, not an underlying Reality which shows you have value. Your value is in your reality, not that falsehood. If you value the falsehood you will never match up to it, and never value yourself.

And- you have potential you deny and devalue. You need to accept it in order to discover it. Fortunately, you are what you do: shadow motivation, the strength of the parts you deny, will bring it to your attention, and the conflict you experience with that will end. The lies you were told and the suppression you suffered will melt away.

I can use any statement of fact or morality to beat myself up, and you are what you do is no exception: what do I do? Right now, nothing, so I am the coward equivocator who hides away and tells myself false stories in an attempt to console myself as I fritter away my life. Coward. Failure. Fool.

The answer is to see the truth in another way. You are what you do. All that courage and creativity. I fought till I broke, and I am still fighting though in a different way. I am still fighting in two ways:

the slave driver, for whom nothing is ever good enough, who will never accept me stopping to rest unless I fall over exhausted.

the creative explorer, seeking to understand.

And the thing which makes all their energy barely achieve my survival is my fear. My fear means that routine actions like going shopping can be terrifying.

 ♥♥♥

My existential terror consumed me.

I made a mistake!
I cannot rely on myself!

I know I cannot rely on the world.

Therefore I shall die!

I have inside myself a terrified child. Argument is useless for consolation: I explain it is a small mistake, and a small loss, but even if she recognises that it does not lessen her fear. How to get her to see that? Don’t be so completely stupid! It is completely unimportant! Shut up and stop whining!

This does not make her feel better. However, even when I attempt to explain kindly, she discerns my intent. It is clear to me this is unimportant, and necessary that she accept that.

She says, You are seeking to manage and control me! Don’t try to manage and control me! I don’t trust you!

Trying to manage her will not make her trust. I can’t make her do anything, by force, reason, or trickery.

Only Love might help. There is the fear. The fear is a faithful reaction. I allow the fear. It passes through me, and the sharp insistence it needed to be heard against my “reasonableness” lessens. After, there is tiredness. Ruefulness. I need to understand, and my “reasonableness” is not sufficient for that. The fear is hypervigilant because it was not heard, and I was hurt. My reasonableness, never accepting my fear, was wrong.

I seek balance.

 ♥♥♥

I tried taking Norethisterone, and it made my feelings more intense. I had a great high on Tuesday, and a horrific downer on Thursday after coming off it, and my terror on Saturday arose from it. Yet the fear is there, controlling me, all the time, and I must alleviate it, or live with it. “Feel the fear and do it anyway”- or something like that.

Fear and bravery

I am allowed not to make sense, but do not always realise that.

Recent experiences have been pleasant. I was out leafleting for Labour last night. We met in the car park, and chatted for a bit, then I got my road group and cycled there. A man in his garage took my leaflet, and said he had voted Labour already. A woman in her front garden encouraged her toddler to take my leaflet from me. I had put the lock on my bike but not locked it to anything, and worried that someone would pinch it or hide it. That would require particular malice and nastiness, and there are few people walking round that corner, even on such a lovely midsummer evening. I cycled home and met two other leafleters- we chatted pleasantly for a few minutes. The whole experience was Nice. I remain afraid of the world.

I was too hot in the sunshine when I got to Swanston, and walked to the tea-shop with my wig off. So, sometimes I show fear, and sometimes a lack of circumspection.

It seems to me that if I show any vulnerability Enemies will pounce.

I leave my house, walk to the bus stop, and have to go back to check I have locked my front door, because I cannot remember and therefore imagine I have been an idiot, not locking it. I am capable of such idiocy: when I went to Portugal I left my electric blanket on, and though that was more likely to fuse it than to start a fire, I feared my flat would be burned out.

It is liberating giving this fear a voice, even though it is not sensible. Telling it to shut up and not to be so stupid has not worked, is not loving and shows no self-respect. So, give it a voice. I have been seeing my fear as a problem, but it is a part of me, needing loved and integrated. Love “drives out” fear, and soothes the fearful. I have wanted to show my fear it is wrong, but that shows no self-respect either.

I had thought work would be safe if I stuck to the rules, except it wasn’t. I feel my fear is my parents’ fear too.

I have very little knowledge of my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandfather, Mr Butt- only his surname, and only 90% certainty of its spelling. He drove a hackney carriage. At one time he owned three and had an arrangement for others to drive two on his behalf; but he lost the other two, through drinking. And, he would wander home drunk taking stuff from shops; the shopkeepers would let him, knowing he would be back to pay for it when sober. Stuff he did not need and could not afford, perhaps. I have the feeling my relatives felt as I feel about this, half disapproving, half admiring.

There are all these bits of myself I cannot admit because I can’t accept them. You haven’t said much today.

-I’ve been contemplating you contemplating your humanity. You can’t integrate without acceptance. Your need to find order in this.

Possibly I need to find order too much. I objected to a Labour volunteer calling the candidate a “young girl”. Women object to this. I wondered if it might make her seem more approachable, more “One of us” so more likely to get votes; or diminish respect for her, less likely to get votes. Probably the effect either way is too marginal to bother with. I do want order though. It seems safer if I can understand.

-You can’t show bravery without fear. Foolhardiness, perhaps.

I treasure this comment from over a year ago: I think you are extremely brave.

-I noticed you equate forgetfulness with idiocy.

Well, it was silly to leave the electric blanket on. “Idiocy” might be a bit strong. I need to be sensible and clever. I am clever, just not sensible.

-Perhaps that is a mercy not a curse, she says.

Narratives

Truth [is] what we cannot change; metaphorically, it is the ground on which we stand and the sky that stretches above us.

And yet, the totality of facts and events is unascertainable. Who says what is always tells a story, and in this story the particular facts lose their contingency and acquire some humanly comprehensible meaningSorrow, joy and bliss become bearable and meaningful for men only when they can talk about them and tell them as a story.

I tell stories about my life. So do you. Possibly, with Krishnamurti I should just forget them. Why am I happy now? Because of X. Ah. That gives me an understanding, I can file it away. I know what is going on. I can remember that happiness later: it was caused by X. And if X also caused that misery, possibly the learning was worthwhile, possibly it is time to cease pursuing X.

Decisions are emotional not rational. It is like jars filling up with cumulative water droplets, and eventually one overflows and I must do X. Then I can tell a story about it. X was obviously the only thing I could ever have done, for these reasons. The story helps me accept what I have chosen, pacifies and calms my remaining resistance.

It is an end to thinking of the matter. I have thought enough. Or it is an attempt to end thinking; unconsciously, my resentment grows.

What we cannot change- so, what ought to be is meaningless and impossible and worthless. Ought is a damaging fantasy, because though you cannot make is from ought, it can make you disbelieve or resent what is. But what is includes what might be, what is possible, all the changes I can make.

I have read Truth and Politics by Hannah Arendt, and consider her thought that feelings become bearable when part of a narrative relates only to the conscious mind, thinking in language. The feeling of terror feels overwhelming until I accept and welcome it. What is overwhelming is its demand to be recognised, not the feeling itself. It fits Now. And then, it does not fit Now, so it goes away, unless I cling on to it, perhaps by questioning it or saying I ought not to have been terrified. Or I tell stories about it.

I can gain an understanding of feelings, at the price of them always being with me. Telling stories about my past might pacify my feelings- it’s alright, my honey, love, it’s alright, my poppet- but distances me from them; and they lurk, underneath, always liable to burst out, which is the constant failure. No game is enough to control my feelings.

Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.

And- X may happen again! I will be terrified, again!

Words are so useful. Speech impels us… to urge the mind to aftersight and foresight. I think of what might be though probably won’t, because it will never be that bad again. I imagine the fear I would feel. Then I am afraid of fear, afraid of feeling fear and being powerless.

Yet normally I am not powerless; and powerlessness has to be bearable.

olga-boznanska-self-portrait

New year’s irresolution

I have my life just about perfect, just about how I would want it. How can I make it better in 2017?

Ways which I have imagined would improve it may not. An example: yesterday I went to Mind, the mental health charity. There we were doing a positive psychology craft task, with little difficulty and maximum gentle affirmation, and one of we service users said how sad she was at the change in meaning of the word “gay”. It used to mean joyous or colourful. It has been twisted.

I am quite clear that such a remark should be challenged. It is homophobic. An exact analogy is a racist remark, like, “I hate to walk down that street. It’s as if I am in a foreign country, I’m the only white person there and they’re all speaking foreign.” I understand the distress; yet that is saying to people- you should not be here. To the gay person- You should pretend to be straight. You should act normal. You should not be you.

I deflected. “Yes,” I said. “‘Gay’ now means mediocre or third rate, which is a horrible meaning.” I am pretty sure she meant she disliked ‘gay’ meaning ‘homosexual’. And- they did not challenge her, even though I was there, obviously queer, and the manager is gay, and he was there. The third sector should promote diversity and challenge homophobia, because I should not have to pretend to be someone else so that other people can be comfortable.

Perhaps they did not want to drive away a service user. Stats means Funding, which really matters. So, either she is more important to them than I am, or they think I can cope with homophobia better than she can cope with challenge. The manager was sitting beside me and his underlings fawned on him a bit and none of them said anything. He’s Gay! What were they thinking?

What bothers me in this incident is not that the woman’s homophobia frightens or hurts me, but that

That’s not supposed to happen!

I know the rules! I know how these mental health workers are supposed to respond in these situations, and they just didn’t! Everything’s going along just fine, and then out of the blue- something unexpected happens. And therefore unwelcome.

I might say, how can I improve my life? A little more variety, more human contact, is what I am supposed to want. So says the culture; most people would agree; it makes sense to me; yet when I go somewhere which should be supportive and non-threatening, where I know what to expect, something I did not expect happens!

 ♥♥♥

My life is just as I want it. I have control. A little more money would be nice. I would have the heating on more. But I am not cold, I wrap up in a sleeping bag. Pride, shame and amour propre might have a role here. I am a pig satisfied, and the alternative is not Socrates dissatisfied, but someone houseproud and concerned with appearances dissatisfied. I want to understand, and I continue using my analytical mind to consider whether homophobia should be challenged or what makes my life good.

I am houseproud only vestigially. Sometimes I act, because it seems possible I could make things better. I take pleasure, yesterday, in having bought a sink plunger and unblocked my bathroom basin, clogged with soap and used toothpaste, with it. The basin now drains quickly. It might stay clean longer after I clean it, so I may muster the motivation to clean it. I have been thinking about this for ages, resenting how it was blocked, and messing about with boiling water. Will a plunger not just shift a blockage further down the pipes, causing worse problems later?

I like analysis. I have spent a happy hour pacing the floor, agonising over all this, before starting to write. I am happy now, writing. I knew sink plungers unblock sinks, yet analysed and cogitated for weeks.

So I might say,

Taking action is the solution!

But what if something went wrong, or what I expected did not happen?

Or,

Letting go of control is the solution!

But why, if that can make me so unhappy?

 ♥♥♥

I have seen worse, in home visits, or in student flats- one had half full coffee cups, which after a week developed a mouldy scum- but those are the kind of home visits we use for stories. There were fish and chip wrappers left on the floor!

Ew!

My house is not that bad, but-

I have control! I feel some boredom and frustration, but little anger or fear. I have limited human contact, little motivation. If I tidy my house it will only get untidy again.

I am dissatisfied because I am thinking about it, and in that sense I am closer to Socrates than the pig- and Socrates had Diotima and slaves to do the housework.

Never mind how or why that homophobic incident upsets me, it does. It is an example of so much human interaction, from the rare to the quotidian, from my oral hearing before the Social Security Commissioner to those who-shall-give-way dances as we walk along the street. So- retreat! Avoid those interactions, and you avoid distress!

I will not go out because the culture tells me, or I imagine, that I ought to want to. You see! I did what I was supposed to want to do, and it was Awful! I met a homophobe! And yet, I am frustrated and bored. Something better may be possible.

Two more thoughts on pleasure and desire. I ate a plum just now. I gave it my attention, and it was beautiful; yet I do not want to be eating all the time. And, I had a vaginoplasty because it was what I wanted, more than anything else in the world. Now I regret it, thinking a penis might have its uses. Desire is not a reliable guide to satisfaction.

My life is as I have made it, and it is good, right now. It pleases me. And my mind is at work: could it please me better?

breslau-la-toilette

Cheerfulness

Be of good cheer. Let cheerfulness become a climate that surrounds you, day in, day out … a constant undercurrent. On the surface you may be doing anything, but deep down there should be a singing heart. Unless you can remain cheerful, life is bound to become heavier everyday … the only thing that can keep you flowing is cheerfulness. So don’t miss an opportunity; whenever you can, laugh, smile, dance, sing … Then a miracle happens one day: you become so full of light that you can go into darkness and the darkness disappears. You become so cheerful that you can go into sadness and the sadness starts laughing.
– Osho

On Sunday 21st I was in a state of misery and terror. I felt not grounded: not knowing anything, not able to know anything, my not knowing a threat to my well-being so that I could not care for myself. I thought, these feelings will pass, and answered myself- only because I blot them out! They are the rational response to the situation!

What brought it on? I knew my friend was just not that interested in me. We would have gone for a drink but she had no time. Then I phoned G for a chat and found they had been together. Possibly something around not-knowing:

there are these feminist arguments for or against innate differences between the sexes, and I would like to argue for differences- but feel unable. I would face too much hostility. I argued against. It seemed clear to me. Then I read evidence for- and am just confused. So much on the web is people so certain, and I can’t be. Cis people are arguing about me, and trans folk butting in face such hostility! I should ignore it, but it is on places I go. So the ungroundedness.

I was read as lower class. I was in the coffee shop, dressed for cycling, and picked up The Guardian. “Would you like this?” said a man, offering me The Express. No, I like papers with a higher reading-comprehension level. “No thanks, I’m left wing,” I said. I phoned the Samaritans, and he said “You’re clearly highly educated and intelligent” early in the call, just after

-Is there a name I can call you?
-Clare
and I felt his surprise, and conscious readjustment

Or, it’s small child again. The monster will get me. Imminent death.

I wasn’t in the terror when I phoned. The worst had passed, and I felt tired and fragile. Seeing it like weather helps some people- don’t go out when it’s raining too hard. It isn’t always raining. I felt I would always have to battle through the rain.

I am so lonely. Contact on the net is no substitute. I want to feel useful- but then, in work I did not always either, I was following procedures rather than doing anything worthwhile. Walking in the park, I feel moments of delight in beauty- but am unsure I like the experience of the whole walk. Or, sometimes, biting into a peach-

I am aware of the mindfulness theory, that such moments are available continuously. I want them to be. Is it my judgment, accepting or resisting in the moment, rather than the thing itself?

Monet Poplars Epte in Autumn

I hate myself

Googling “I hate myself”, with quotes, produces 902,000 responses. Images are dark with text like “I lie I cut I’m a terrible person I’m lonely” and “Everyone is better prettier skinnier funnier than me”. I am unsure what to make of “I hate myself but that’s OK”.

We kill ourselves because we hate ourselves. I wonder how common it is? Trigger warning, below, for sexual violence- the actual text is minimised and there is a further warning.

I loathe the first entry on Google. Figure out what you CAN change and do it!

If you don’t like something about yourself that you can actually change, start to do that today. Maybe you don’t like your weight you can start eating properly, and getting exercise TODAY! Has he any idea how difficult people find dieting, and what comfort people get from eating? Possibly they could find better comfort in exercise, the runner’s high, but they need to know the mechanism. It is not so simple. The next suggestion, find out what friends and family value about you, is better.

How common is self-loathing? According to Psychology for Everyday Life, most of us. It tells us to challenge our Inner Critic.

Liz Jones hated herself and found herself inadequate despite being a successful writer who went to receptions at the House of Commons. “My male side has retreated, meaning people don’t respect me.” Useful information for trans women. When she had just started primary school, some older boys

trigger warning for sexual violence: highlight to reveal text

pushed her into the boy’s loos, stripped her and repeatedly kicked her.

Would that-

I feel that hating myself performs a useful function. It holds me in restraint. This could be useful for any number of people- first my parents, then bosses, anyone but me.

I felt decades ago that I was at war with myself, that I pulled in different directions.

I wonder if saying “I hate myself” is a superficial, emotional reaction for some people. You get upset, you feel you have made a mistake, you hate yourself. Then there is the deep, settled, constant loathing.

Hello.

It sits under consciousness, manifesting as anxiety and depression, sometimes surfacing as the inner critic- manifesting that control for the behoof of others-

I want to see it and recognise it.

I hate myself. I hate my reactions, my responses, my weakness, my hiding and running away, my failures.

Perhaps it comes from not being loved as a baby.

Hello, back.

Yes. It has been so difficult, terrifying, enraging. All that feeling which is so hard to admit, which is shit me.

I want to pay that respect. It has served a function. It has been so strong. All that pent up rage. I wonder if I can loosen it: talk to it, calmly and reasonably: make friends with it, because it is part of me.

Blake the mission of virgil- inferno

After the Gender clinic

This is a serious Trans post, which will give all my other fans warm fuzzies about Self-Acceptance and Personal Growth, even though the title is yet again click-bait for t-central. After counselling, I went to the Tate.

I loved Sculpture Victorious, and after eating my packed lunch in the sunshine went for a tour. The Tate is deserted for the Chelsea Flower Show, and I talk back to the guide: she asked if I was an art student, I don’t think sarcastically. We end with the base of a crucifixion:

Triptych base of a crucifixion

-You know about Francis Bacon?
-Didn’t he write “No man is an island entire unto himself”? I am on a roll today.

She gives her interpretation, then I give mine. “I want to give an LGBT interpretation.” There he was, Out when it was really dangerous, a Sodomite or Invert because “Gay” had not been coined, a “promiscuous homoSEKKKKS-ual” inspiring disgust in right-thinking people, who would fail to see his courage, and deny his humanity. These are self-portraits. They are he, they are I, blind, screaming, yet Not cowering away. They stand there and face outwards. I will not hide, or run.

Bacon said he wanted to paint mouths like Monet painted sunsets, she says, and if you look at the layering of the paint you will see he did just that. His father was an army officer, who threw him out of the house, so he went to Paris and lived with a sugar-daddy, she tells us.

She sends us off to see more Bacon. I am not sure this was the one she had in mind:

Bacon Triptych August 1972

25 years later, these may also be self-portraits. To me, they are all in the moment of orgasm. Pools of ejaculate cover the floor! Again, he says, I AM HERE but in a more joyous manner, though still with something which a day ago I would have seen as twisted monstrousness. No longer.

She had said that in 1947 people hated the triptych, and I understand. Looking at a work of art or reading a novel I like to sympathise with the subject. Knowing that it will be impossible for normal people to sympathise, he flings this ugliness in their faces. I Love him, and I love these creatures.

Arted-out, I walk to the Tube. I told Serra that I want to fear less, but no: I want to fear more! I want to rejoice, exult, luxuriate in my fear, let it effervesce in me, for it is my vulnerable Power. Part of this is because of Mrs Mounter, whom the guide showed us. I see in her fear and confusion, yet she looks out at us or the artist, resigned. There is self-respect and even authority there.

On the train I chat to Izzie, who is 25 and teaches PE at a fee-paying school. She tells me how facilities in state schools are really poor, and how her class sizes are 15 tops. She has had a job interview which lasted from 9-5 the previous day. She got fed up telling different people the same things, but is not fatigued because she resides in the pupils’ living quarters, so is always on duty. Her best sport is netball, her worst tennis. She is not bad at Badminton, because like netball it requires a loose wrist.

At the bus stop four women and I pet a pretty, friendly staffordshire bull terrier cross, and chat to her owner. So much connection!