The joyful, playful child

“Forgive me,” said Anna, “but you seem confused”. Well, yes. I have had a striking week. I wrote my love poem, which enabled me to say the words “I love you” to someone. Wednesday 5th I would read it in public.

Unfortunately, before that I was discussing my psychotic friend. He comes to Quaker zooms to rave. One of his delusions is how the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is the perfect society. I wish he’d go to one of their concerts, proclaim his gospel, and get sectioned again. I wish he would realise he was ill and consent to the depot injections, but he believes he has unique spiritual truth to change the World, just like Licia did. He accepts he is hypomanic, and when he is less so he can have an initial appearance of profundity from all the Buddhist texts he quotes.

Then there was the BBC, explaining laboriously yet disingenuously that my complaints were without merit and Justin Webb did nothing wrong.

I read my poem in the Lovely Gathering. Jamie needled me a bit, and my barriers collapsed. I do not mind appearing ridiculous. That ship has sailed, I said- I have appeared ridiculous to some people since transition. But not like this. He asked if I wanted him as celebrant, and I asked if he could do the registration too. I would not want to have to go to the registry office as well. But, the barriers- I had not wanted to make claims about another, or potentially embarrass her. Jamie did not need a jemmy. He put an exploratory fingernail under my covers, and they exploded off. I felt exposed.

She wrote to me of my ethereal beauty, my blooming heart. I am grateful for the expressions of love from her deep integrity. And Thursday afternoon I spent some time wailing wordlessly and some time being listened to by my wise friend, who recommended howling.

I had given up hope that my sexuality might attract me to, leave alone unite me with, another human being and I am grateful that I now believe in the possibility. Friday afternoon I zoomed with a woman who has overcome huge challenges. She does herself down, and still I saw her humility is beautiful. She wrote to me of my generosity, receptivity, sensitivity, spirituality, thoughtfulness, beauty and desire to spread encouragement and love, and called me

a human daring to stand.

Tuesday at Morning Communion, which I experience at 1pm because of time differences, was striking. I was just feeling the feels. People would say something changing my view of what was being discussed, and my feelings changed with them. In order to hold these mercurial feelings, be present and conscious with them, I found my body flexing and stretching, tensing in different places. It was almost as much as I could bear. I thought I might look a bit weird but no-one said. I was pleased with this. I want to feel the feels and accept them, then I feel I will stop fighting myself and stand in my power.

I have been thinking of my honour, and one thing I want to do is keep any obligations into which I enter freely. So Friends asked me to do something, and I said yes, and I did not do it. I just did not respond when my fellow Friend involved contacted me. I did nothing for six months, and facing the prospect that the work was not done someone else was appointed. Then they asked me to do something else and I did not respond to the first email, or the phone message. I need to be able to say “No”, and I need my word to mean something. When directly asked I said “No”.

Another thing I want, passionately, is not to have my feelings just explode on show as they did on Wednesday evening. It makes me feel unbearably vulnerable and stupid. After, I hate myself for it. I need control.

I had an hour and 45 minutes with Anna the Samaritan on Friday morning. They did not seem particularly busy, and I had a long healing cry. Then I talked from my misery when I can only articulate words in a high wail. Then I talked from my Real Self, or whatever it is, when my voice goes higher than usual, I am fulfilling my needs telling my best understanding of truth and I feel frightened and vulnerable. I told of chasing Ulrika like a lost puppy, and how she used me to keep Luke on his toes, then chucked him away like a used tissue. I told of Jude’s girlfriend wanting him to make a man of himself, and how when they split up he was so much more relaxed. By the end I was more explaining to her than working things out for myself, so I stopped, and I have not felt the need to cry since.

F, to whom I said “I love you”, has been in touch and caring in a way making me feel cared for. I spoke at the Zoom Quaker meeting, when someone heard humility in my ministry and that felt true and fitting to me. Then there was the afternoon Quaker zoom where we addressed the question, “Who in your life enhances/encourages your connection with God, and how?”

I said I felt that God in me is when all of me is integrated and working together, and anything can either lead me towards that or drive me from it, and my attitude to it matters. So I welcome unravelling on Wednesday, making a fool of myself. I will learn from it.

I told the story of the grey corridor with doors to overwhelming light and colour. Jeannine had a new angle on it: the corridor more constrains me as I outgrow it. Ruth suggested I could open the door for a look, keeping in the corridor for safety.

So I began the lovely gathering with Emotion Detector.
Illusions are painfully shattered
Right where discovery starts
In the secret wells of emotion
Buried deep in our hearts.

What I wanted, more than anything, was to become that sane, well-boundaried person, who does not lose control like I did on Wednesday. And now, five hours later, I don’t.

The next Quaker question was, How do you hold people in the light? How do you believe that works? Well, it changes me. I think of another with love, and it enhances my capacity to love them.

Then I said words new to me, which felt true. I find loving important, and am good at it: the price is not knowing I am good at it, so striving to be better. Seeing Friends assent helps me believe this.

So now I know. The lesson I wish I had learned as a toddler, which my parents could not teach me, was that losing control was not the end of the world.

I would rather be in touch with my feelings and in control. And loss of control is not ideal, but OK. Outside the corridor becomes less terrifying.

Should I visit Edinburgh?

The sadness comes upon me, like a predator.
At its touch I stiffen and writhe.
I must collapse on my bed, weeping, wailing,
possibly screaming.
It will prove its mastery of me.
And then, a change.
The sadness is in me. It is me. It fills me,
chest, belly, fingertips
I know I am big enough to contain it.
That knowledge is relief and delight.
I hold the sadness, dance with it:
I am aware of its fulness,
and, satisfied, it flows through my heart.

Not permitted to show my sadness
I fought it, and it curdled into sorrow,
a weight I could not bear.
And now it flows like water.

But what of my love?
My breasts are full,
and I have no-one to suckle.

Yes I could go there. It would be lovely.
We would walk by the firth.
I love the way you live your life,
your courage and tenacity, meeting the challenges.
I would see him, and her, possibly her, and him,
whom I wish well.
I might call up she
who was cursed to see my full beauty,
and love me for thirty years.
When, too late, I saw it
Her love warmed and perplexed me.
She has got over me at last.
She might not come.
I might meet a wise woman.

We faced the traumas side by side
but walled apart.
We did not have each other then.
On two islands, we wish each other well
but to reach you, I must cross that sea,
the pain of the past,
the terror of death.
It is easier to wave at you and smile, then turn away.

You want to meet me too!
Would we be blown apart, or sink?
or would we hold the terror,
adults together,
at last, enabled to touch?
We would dance with it.
It is us.

If I can feel all the overwhelming sadness and terror,
might I feel joy as well?

I imagine you asking,
How is your life? What have you been doing with yourself?
I have wrestled my dragon
but not yet climbed on its back.
We watch each other warily.
We want to fly together, and feel land bound.
Nothing, I say. I have stayed in my room for ten years.

You have such presence! they told me. You’re just there!
They missed me when I did not come.
One sees “a lovely air of authority”.
My bafflement increases their enthusiasm.
At last, they make me smile uncertainly.
Could they be right?
What might I do, if they were?

Forgiveness

Love, anger, forgiveness and pain dance together.

Our first experience of forgiveness is one child told to say they are sorry, another child told to forgive, by a carer or school-teacher who needs to maintain control and hopes random humiliation will help. It is not a good model. Occasionally I have thought, what I did was wrong, and written an apology. A proper apology should be without excuse or reservation. I particularly hate the non-apology, “I’m sorry you feel that way”.

Other people’s anger works differently, but for me the feeling that I ought to forgive is paralysing. It stops me acknowledging my feelings or moving on. My mother damaged me, and the moment I accepted her complex humanity, saw her difficulties as well as my pain, was thirteen years after she died.

With my mother, the idea of “forgiving” as in being wronged, but being gracious, is irrelevant. She did her best for me, as herself, a human being in her circumstances with her gifts and experiences. I pause to think about that. The worst mother I can imagine, the mother who does not consider her child’s needs at all, only her own- well, it is true even of her. My mother could not see she was harming me.

But I had to reach this realisation myself. I was 44, feeling all the misery I felt aged seven or eight, telling a story of my mother and ending wailing “She didn’t understand!” I had the idea that this was ridiculous, that I should just move on, which meant that I had not processed my own feelings. I had to keep telling the story to others. They reflected my perplexity and stuckness back to me, or they held me in love and compassion, and I moved through my feelings with such help as they were able to give. I chose whom I told that story with as much care as I could.

Writing this, it is self-forgiveness too. This is who I am. That was the best I could do.

The child’s anger, frustration and fear at my mother was not held or accepted, so I had to contain it myself. I was too young to contain my feelings like that, so I turned them inwards on myself and suppressed them out of consciousness. Whenever I did not conform to impossible standards, I raged at myself. I was doing it a little, just now, judging the 44 year old me, wailing, and the 55 year old me, still processing this here. “I should not be like this. This should not trouble me.”

There is no perfect relationship, broken by a wrong, healed by forgiveness, as in the nursery school example. There are messy human relationships where we get along as best we can despite old hurts imperfectly healed. My rage turned inwards coexisted with my love of my mother.

Rage turned inwards paralysed me. My mother feared our family being seen as abnormal. We had to hide it. I thought I could rage at myself, trudge on carrying that burden, or rage at my dead parents, which I thought futile, or rage at the world which would reflect back my rage and hurt me. My rage had nowhere to go.

I know this is the spiritual lesson. My temptation with any spiritual lesson is to imagine that just because I see what I must do, I can do it, that I am changed and freed. Often, I put the lesson into words and understand it better, which feels like a great leap forward, but then afterwards see signs I knew it, really, in my life before, and am the same person.

I must hold my own rage and sadness, and digest it. From that comes compassion for others. From that comes the ability to accept the feelings I have now, relating to what is going on for me now, and respond to the world with my feelings as my guide, rather than a burden to fight. This is a skill. It is difficult, because my feelings are so deep and mercurial that I am often in heaven and hell at once. I develop the skill.

I could call that skill “forgiveness”, as well as acceptance. Rather than raging at the world because it is not as I think it ought to be, I see it with love, and act to make it better. Not nearly as much as I want, with far less energy and effectiveness than I want- so the process of forgiveness and acceptance, of myself and the world, continues.

One hears of prodigies of forgiveness, such as Marian Partington. She has spent her life coming to terms with a great wrong. She will not have a human relationship with the woman she forgives, who might not accept her forgiveness. Rather, she has healed a wound some might never heal. Humans have great capacity for healing.

---

“Some people are trans. Get over it,” Stonewall says. Some people can’t. And for me, “getting over” my pain and hurt is terribly important. After writing this on forgiveness, I sat feeling pain, of having that burden to bear, ten years ago. I was unable to get over the pain of my child self, symbolised by that one story. And I thought, this is like living through a stressful situation, and you cannot admit to how stressful it was; but when it is over then you can feel the stress fully. In September 2009, I just felt relief; and now, I was feeling pain.

It is a sign of healing, and I am in pain now.

I was volatile for the zoom discussion group, and when one said in Meeting we notice the stray thoughts, and turn our attention back to the Light I moaned in anguish. I don’t. I plunge into whatever my mind is doing, and sometimes it’s great. I bring shadow fully into consciousness, and integrate it. And I judge myself for it.

This pain:
I want to analyse it, so I can announce to my own satisfaction that I have dealt with it.
I want to feel it fully, so it will pass and I will have dealt with it.
I want to feel it fully, as it is my feeling, with no plan or purpose behind permitting my feeling.
I want not to be moaning in anguish during a zoom discussion group.

I shared on facebook, and someone asked, “Can you sit with it without necessarily having to heal it?” Yes. And, I realised, getting over “it”- “It,” in general, “It”, meaning everything, is very important to me. It is all part of the suppression of feeling.

That comes from my childhood too. Eventually I can’t get over it, all I can do is sit with it. My desperation to get over it makes that harder, and take longer.

Transphobia everywhere

Adam Phillips is a fascinating writer. Surely an editor should have red-lined this: “if we can’t let ourselves feel our frustration – and, surprisingly, this is a surprisingly difficult thing to do”. I have been thinking about this repetition, which however I analyse it I cannot make mean anything. Possibly the value is making the sentence memorable, about finding inconvenient emotions difficult to feel, so getting the lesson over. I know emotions I find threatening can remain unconscious, though still affecting me, and someone who did not know that might be brought to a halt by this apparent solecism, and so consider its message, and possibly admit it.

I am reading “On Wanting to Change”. As I want to change, I feel this erudite therapist might prompt me in useful directions. And then I find this sentence: “Converts are like transvestites: they disguise something the better to display it.” I could think of female impersonators, or drag queens, or even alleged fetishists who suffer no gender dysphoria at all- some category for the “transvestite”, so I could say, oh, he does not mean me- but I am not sure he would make the distinction. Would he think me an exhibitionist? I walk the streets with my real self on show, which most people have the modesty and discretion not to do.

Would he think me ridiculous or disgusting? As a therapist, he would see the full ridiculousness and surprisingness of people, and still find some motivation to spend time with them- the fees they pay, or dispassionate interest, or even perhaps a desire to make them better.

I have been paying attention, as I feel it might benefit me, and I am caught short by a reminder of my vulnerability and the contempt, distaste or political hostility some feel for people like me. This is a complete pain.

I had been thinking how I want to follow current affairs, in the hope that I might influence them, by protest, canvassing, blogging. But if I read the Guardian, or New Statesman, or listen to BBC news, I may at any time be brought up short by the Trans is Bad article, or a throwaway Trans is Bad comment. The New Statesman had no Trans is Bad article last week, which is a mercy, but I was reading Rachel Cunliffe’s views on Azeem Rafiq, nodding in agreement and seeing new angles through her eyes, when she rewrote history about JK Rowling to make that transphobic aggressor appear like a victim.

Does Cunliffe believe Rowling was a victim? Did she not read Rowling’s screed, in which she weaponised her experience of domestic violence to preach hatred of trans people? Has she just forgotten the screed itself, only remembering what haters claiming victimhood wrote about it?

Ideally I would want to read Cunliffe’s views of Azeem Rafiq, which help me understand, and might help me persuade others, without being reminded that I am a pariah simply because of being trans.

I read Rebecca Solnit, whom I admire, asking for donations to The Guardian, which I value, which has worthwhile journalism on pollution, the climate crisis, and tax havens, and thought, yeah, but it’s full of transphobia. Then I read Rebecca Solnit on Donald Trump, with a line about reading books being better. So I started reading Adam Phillips.

I could turn to facebook. There I might find encouragement and solidarity, and express it, but there I read that Richard Dawkins has tweeted that his followers should sign a transphobic hate screed. I knew Dawkins was a transphobe, and that real feminists might find him problematic, and still I find this a blow. Our enemies are so powerful, and always getting stronger!

At the recital on Saturday, the older woman sitting behind me started a conversation with me, and remarked on how weird it was that I stripped down to a short sleeved shirt in November, as if she had never heard of hot flushes.

Wherever I go, whatever I read, I will find reminders that people I admire and want to like find trans, and therefore me, repulsive, ridiculous, or threatening. I cannot escape. As far as I can tell, it is almost like being Black, in kind if not in degree. Perhaps the answer is acceptance and Love. I would become fully open to my feelings, however threatening, and admit the full horror, pain and fear I feel at the thoughtless or carefully constructed anti-trans idea. Then I would pass on. I would accept the thing I cannot change. It might be better than being tied in knots of resentment.

The World is not as it should be. How may we change it?

Approaching nonduality as a physical being

Nonduality is a spiritual goal, and I am a living creature, a being made of matter.

I am a creature that changes, that works out its nature, that is what it is, does what it will, because it can be and do no other. I want that: I want this living being to live and be, which means growing and integrating, action proceeding from nature, always developing, always fitting my circumstances in the moment.

We shall be with each other always, and cannot lose each other. Our lives intertwine as we are woven together, and I contain every one of you, as you all contain me.

That got a lot of likes on facebook. I approach nonduality, where the God Within, the natural human, is the source of thought speech and action. And consciously I worry about this. Conscious me says, how will I know?

Nonduality is Heaven, and it does not mean not being hurt, tired or confused, just not resisting or resenting these feelings. All is well, but not necessarily comfortable. I am a living being, so do not escape my situation and my problems, even if I might not now be facing them with so many internal blocks and conflicts.

I consider my desires. Some come from I Am, some from society. Of the ones from Society, some are clearly harmful to me and others: the desire to make a man of myself is the clearest. Transition was the necessary though not sufficient step towards self-actualisation. Arguably fatphobia is also clearly harmful, though if we name it self-discipline aimed at a healthy BMI that’s not so clear. And not everyone who watches their weight is anorexic.

I have various words which appear on the surface to make a clear distinction, between a healthy and unhealthy consciousness of weight, and when I burrow down into what that would mean for individuals it becomes unclear and shifting. Heather wanted to fatten me up, and found my refusal of a biscuit joyless- “’No thank you, I’ve had one’,” she would say, mockingly. Her apron objectively showed her relationship with food was unhealthy.

I trust myself to serve myself the food I need, and feel, directly perceive, my body’s needs for fat, salt and protein, more in winter or when doing more physical activity outside, less at other times, and the one thing I could not resist, where I would finish a kilogram tin, was salted peanuts. I don’t have a problem with addiction and self-soothing with food, and see some people do.

Another verbal distinction which appears clear but is shifting. Addiction is bad. Self-soothing is necessary or unavoidable, and asceticism is also harmful. Words might help the conscious self get a grip on the goals and pitfalls. I hope the “promptings of love and truth in my heart” will help me get it right, and am unsure.

Ooh, this is new. I am not walking a tightrope, where a loss of balance to right or left will cause me to fall to perdition. Rather the path is the golden thread of my best self, which exerts an attraction on me, so that I can drift away from it and it will pull me back. That thread is God in me, despite the controlling messages of society.

I want what a human wants- to be loved and admired, say. I have various models for this. Conscious me second-guesses God within, and its fear and judgment pulls me away from her balance. Possibly the best thing conscious me can do is get out of the way.

I consider that pulling things into consciousness and analysing them has value. What is going on? What do I feel? What do I need?

Oppositions come to mind. Immediate impulse v long term goal; my own impulse v ones imbibed from society; goals imposed by society which oppress me v getting on in society for my own good; good v evil. I will continue to write about these, and analyse them. Does nondual reality mean that these oppositions do not exist, or that they are spectra rather than separate things?

Sadness

Learning French, I had only two weaknesses- grammar and vocabulary. Now, I have only two things I feel sadness about- my relationship history, and my career. There was a third, and I seem to have talked myself out of it. I hope this is a positive post, finding a way to let go a burden. That needs facing and accepting the sadness.

The current theory is that if I deny sadness I do not deal with it, and it builds up in me. My parents did not let me acknowledge my own sadness, perhaps unable to acknowledge theirs, and so I made defences against it. Stop whining. It’s not been that bad. You have nothing to complain about, I told myself. I trudged grimly on.

It seems that the sadness accumulates because my defences say to me, there is no real problem, don’t worry about it. The sadness accumulates and I become less able to bear it. I trudge on until I stop, but am effectively still doing the same stuff that didn’t work before, even though that now means being frightened to go out.

The inner bullying made it hard for me to conceive of my life being any better than it is. It is not that I accept reality freely, but that I am forced to, and resent it, and rebel: and so am even less empowered to improve it.

I trudged grimly on, but now I have more or less come to a stop. I am like a fly on its back on the windowsill, buzzing but unable to turn itself over. (Pesticides kill most insects now, and the birds seem fewer, without insects to eat.)

I had conventional understandings of how to improve my life, but they did not really appeal to me. They did not “make me come alive”. That means that I am more likely to give up: “I tried that, and it didn’t work”. I don’t know what would make me come alive.

On Tuesday 6th I was thinking of my relationship history in the shower. There was that, and that, and that… and then I was wordlessly wailing.

I did not acknowledge until 2013 that Mum controlled and dominated Dad, and Dad liked that. Just before he died he acknowledged it in our only honest conversation about it. I was 47. Before then I had not seen what would fulfil me in a relationship, to take a supportive, “feminine” role. Instead I wanted a relationship like a gay man’s “beard”, so I could pretend to myself to be a normal man.

I want a relationship. I want to see and be seen, love and be loved. I fear not being attractive to anyone and not being able to connect sexually. I feel sad that I have missed so much, been hurt repeatedly, been confused and in denial.

I have been hurt by a lack of language for describing this kind of relationship, and a lack of positive role-models. I have no way of draining the shame I feel at being who I am.

I feel trapped in an inner conflict. My sadness is mostly unconscious, but the burden is my mostly unconscious struggle to deny it, minimise it and claim not to be bothered- to keep trudging. I want to use “It really was that bad” and “It really has been that bad” as keys to freedom from the burden. X was not something I should just shrug off but X was ghastly.

The thought that “All this sadness is unbearable” is a problem. It only means I shove it out of consciousness. It does not mean that I cease to have to bear it. I have the additional burden of the work to suppress it.

On Tuesday I wrote, I feel not joy exactly- but something of the joy I feel when in a state of aware presence. Or I am closer to that aware presence. I also feel tired after the struggles of this morning, the inner conflict surfacing. I felt I was re-aligning in my attitude to it, accepting the sadness of my emotional being -or, perhaps, my Inner Light- which might help me bear, or even process, digest it.

I came to the thought, My gifts are not wasted. I am beautiful and valuable, and if my gifts are used for nothing more than keeping me alive, they are well used. (This is a New Thought!) But I would like them used for more of the Good of the community. I think I expressed this better two days later:

If all I can accomplish is my own survival,
then my gifts are well used,
because I am valuable.
And I accomplish more than my own survival.

Valuing myself seems essential to building myself up and recovering.

“In Our Time” led me to consider hope. It could be a fantasy, “Something will turn up”, leading me not to act. Or it could be an antidote to the despair which would keep me from acting. Christians have hope in a loving God. To be open to opportunity, you need hope.

The twelve steps might help. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” I don’t have a problem with alcohol, but perhaps- all the sense of control I have ever had has been illusory.

Admitting I am powerless, or my ego/self is powerless to enforce its illusions on the world, may help. I had not before yesterday read the twelve promises of Alcoholics Anonymous- the twelfth is, “We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves”. The God I believe in is the Inner Light of the evolved human being, freed from the illusions of the Self. I believe in the Tao, flowing like water:

Help thou my unbelief!

Compromise

I burned out because I could not compromise. I kept on fighting the things I could not change. This is neither to be admired or condemned, but noticed.

I came out of the tribunal, burst into tears, and shortly after stopped doing tribunal cases. Tuesday 19th evening, I was weeping over the same incident with the same level of distress. I wrote in 2013 that my actions showed integrity, creativity and bravery, and I still assert that, but the problem was taking failure so badly.

Given the difficulty I had with earlier cases, it was something that had very little chance of success, possibly none. I could not persuade the people I needed to persuade. They were too invested in the integrity of the system to accept the evidence I could produce from someone in my position.

I am lying in bed the next day, typing, and considering the level of that distress. I still feel it. (Another failure comes to mind, which still distresses me.) I am not crying, now, but gazing with wonder at the depth of my misery. It is the pain of not being all-powerful. I should have been able to overcome all these difficulties. It is linked to the fear of death.

Divorced from reality? Contemptible? My inner critic is quite capable of berating me, scourging me, both for failing to get Dr Pyle sacked and for stupidly imagining that I could.

The other failure I am thinking of now is from about 2008/9, a killer argument in an employment tribunal case which I did not spot until I had settled it for the contemptuous sum of £200 from the employer. I should have spotted it earlier. It was obvious, I berate myself. I imagine spotting it the day before the assigned hearing and begging the tribunal to accept the documentary evidence late. Obvious in retrospect. Now I am berating myself for not seeing it before, still being upset now, and the intricacy of my fantasy of what I should have done.

This is to be noticed. The distress is there. “Have mercy on yourself,” said Menis. Ideally, perhaps, I would have dealt with it by now but I did not because-

that deserves further thought, perhaps, but now I think-

I was-

I was unable to admit to myself that I could not accomplish these things, see the obvious argument in time, put the evidence over convincingly. It was all linked to the fear of death. That I still feel the distress now, more than ten years later, shows it still is in some way. And yet I am still alive.

All that I could ever fear
has come to pass, and I’m still here.

Now I am thinking of that job interview in Bedford. I got all the questions on DLA and IB right, in the written test. Towards the end, the interviewer exclaimed, that’s the first time you’ve smiled. People tell me I have a beautiful smile, and I hate it. After, everything I said I smiled. I did not get the job, burst into tears, and could not bear to apply for benefits jobs again.

Now, sometimes, I am frightened to go to Aldi. Have mercy on yourself. I imagine trying something, fearfully, as if I reached tentatively out with broken fingers to see if I could grasp something, dreading the pain. “You’re covered in scars,” she said, more than twenty years ago.

Love, mercy and understanding heal me- my own love, healing me from my own introjected judgment.

My friend wondered if I judged her for smoking, then decided she was projecting on me. My eyes followed her cigarette, and she noticed across Zoom. There is endless judgment. The packets are full of judgment- “Smoking Kills!” “Smoking makes your kidneys fail!” “Smoking prevents you enjoying sex!” There is judgment, everywhere, of everything, perhaps the pitiless selfish gene demanding its continued existence and using our suffering to drive us on. When we disagreed about covid, I saw how my trust in my ability to select and absorb information about it, and to change my view as the information changed, is bound up in my sense of self, which again is a matter of terror of death, exacerbated in the case of Covid which really does kill people.

I have hazy ideas of what I might do. I could notice and praise every thing I did: any small act towards cleaning the house, perhaps. That is the idea of Behavioural Activation. Notice and delight in your doing stuff, and so build up your ability to do stuff. I am Loving Awareness. There is Love, and acceptance for the terrified, scarred, hurting being that I am.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I was berating myself for having so little to show for all my gifts and talents, and that does no good, for all the gifts are in the hurt self. Only love can work now.

24 May: I noticed  I had difficulty motivating myself to do something, because my way of doing it had to be precisely right. There were clearly wrong ways, but a variety of OK ways- one with one problem, one with the opposite problem, but satisfactory. The difficulty of choosing between ways, which on analysis I found satisfactory, stopped me starting the action.

Becoming the whole self

Trying to make a man of myself was a betrayal. How can I heal that trauma now?

Quakers will be considering trans rights in August, and I am optimistic and pessimistic at once. Possibly we will have a revelation, as we did with equal marriage in 2009. And Quakers can be conflict-avoidant and arrogant, imagining we know best and we can reconcile conflicts. So some well-meaning Quakers might try to find a reasonable middle line between trans people and the anti-trans campaigners. And some Quakers are anti-trans campaigners, imagining themselves good and righteous and wanting all trans women out of women’s spaces, and all treatment for trans children to cease.

I must convince them trans is real.
I fear nothing I can say will be enough.

I thought, if I can show trans people cannot be other, are not making a lifestyle choice but expressing our essence, then they might accept trans rights are at least of equal importance to others’ rights. If we could be other, I would be. I fought to make a man of myself. I paid privately for aversion therapy. I asked a priest to lay hands on me to heal me.

And I am weeping helplessly, wordlessly, convulsed in my pain and grief, screaming and moaning. I fought like that to make a man of myself because the fear of death was in me.

There is a me that just wants to survive
That, with hands round my throat holding me underwater
will do anything.
There is one goal.
What I preserve of myself there is mere life.
Everything else is stripped away.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is a metaphor. Being drowned is the only metaphor that captures the fear for me. It is the small child, dependent on parents, distraught when love is taken away. And, to forgive the betrayal of ceasing to express me, becoming the male-acting automaton, I need to fully acknowledge the threat I experienced. I was forced, and it was not my fault.

That was when I was broken, as a horse is broken.
After, I would do anything to avoid being underwater.
I worked it out, so I did not need telt.
I forgave my mother’s, and the world’s, betrayals:
there is nothing to forgive.
The betrayal I cannot forgive is my own.

I want to be Perfect-me,
that being that does everything I ought to do,
want to do,
would like to do
have to do to survive
effortlessly.
Without perfect me
all I have left is failure and betrayal.

There is no perfect-me. My betrayal of myself was under pressure I could not have borne.

I take a postmodern view of Wisdom-sayings. If it has some meaning or value for me, I accept that, and I don’t care if that is its “true” or “original” meaning. If it’s a proper wisdom-saying, I doubt it could have one true meaning. If it has no meaning for me, I can let it go. Sometimes, when I loathe a wisdom saying, it can be particularly fruitful. I can’t get my head round Jamie’s idea of the “walking permission slips”, being ourselves and allowing others to become themselves too.

I know I am myself
interpreting a statute
comforting a friend in tears
cycling uphill and downhill
confident and assured, or doubting and fearful.
Always there is the sense of threat.

And there’s something there, of being fully aware of the feelings, of being in the doubt and fear without regressing to the traumatised child, who felt fear and shut down. Fear must not be a switch, to turn me off, or to beat me. It must be integrated into my adult self. So there’s another bit to my verse which is true but difficult. I don’t want to say it and it is just cheap consolation.

Oh the beauty and wonder of it
It is too much for me to bear
and it is all glorious.

The glory comes if I can feel the feelings fully, and still function. The glory is in being fully myself, feeling all my feelings. It is not easy.

Then, to a Zoom group. How is S? I saw his email. He is detained in a mental hospital, and desperate to get out. I am pretty sure he needs the anti-psychotics, and he hates them because they mute his spiritual experiences. Right at this moment I sympathise. Feeling the full range of feelings seems insane: people will be shocked and disgusted. I feel disinhibited, tempted to behave inappropriately. I want to stop twitching.

A Black woman went to Kenya when she was twenty, in a gap year, and saw a picture of Jesus Mary and Joseph. She could see it was them, the haloes proved it- and they were Black. It was the first time she had seen such a thing, just in a souvenir shop, hunting at the last moment for tatty souvenirs. It touched her deeply, and she expresses that. And I am feeling all the sense of liberation I imagine could be in that moment. I am remaking myself, closer to the image and likeness of God.

All glorious? I want to insist on that. Everything that is. All of humanity. And one says the larger the church, the more evil can hide in it. Yeah, s’pose. Possibly the glory is me, the full feeling self. And I am not alone.

This is not for everyone. My colleague was born again, and felt liberated from a life of drunken sexual promiscuity. The rules felt protective. She wanted something formal, secure and comforting. And I want something more: the Glory of God, the full glory of my whole self. To be the whole human, and give permission for others to be whole too: answering that of God in every one.

Sunday 16th: before worship, I read various stuff on conversion therapy, including a transphobic lie. I am wound up. Then in worship Dugan quotes QFP 2.12. Suddenly

I am the light. I am the Fullness.

I am the light, noticing, accepting, loving. Rather than descending into that part of me which is wound up, and stewing in it during meeting, or attempting to suppress it, I am the Light, aware of it, noticing, accepting, loving it. Noticing, accepting, loving, all of me- body, thoughts and feelings- and being in the Love. It makes me think of George Fox’s instruction to dwell in the power of life and wisdom. Ministry moves on to the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. It is hard to hear this in love. Now, there is my reaction and the other person as well, to hold in awareness and to love. Finally there’s the sound of a music keyboard through someone’s zoom account. That’s against the rules. What is he thinking? Still there can be the other person, my reaction, and me in the Light, noticing, accepting, loving all. That would be a dwelling-place of tremendous power. It is something to practice. It is a religious experience this morning, an hour of fabulous wonder, and I want to take it out into all of my life, so it becomes my normal state. I ministered, explaining some of this.

Real and conventional feelings

How does it feel, to be real?

I am scrolling facebook, feeling the things one feels scrolling facebook. At a joke I feel happy. At something moving, I feel moved. At something political, I feel the feeling appropriate for my tribe- anger or hope, derision or inspiration. Other tribes feel the same feelings at different stimuli. These are simple feelings I share with many people. It is easy to know the right feeling, and to feel good at feeling it. So facebook is a warm comfort-blanket, insulating me from reality. I could be plugged into the Matrix.

There is something I promised to do. Scrolling, I am only dimly aware of it. I will do that later, and that makes me feel mostly OK about not doing it though later never comes. The conventional feelings get in the way.

I close my computer. How do I feel about what I promised to do? I do not want to do it. I feel fear. I sit with that and discern underneath that is a feeling of hopelessness: I find myself creating arguments why doing it is counter-productive, and though I promised I would be forgiven for not doing it. And also self-loathing, at perceived uselessness, which is exacerbated by scrolling facebook. I am writing this today because I did what I promised, just in time. Yesterday I did not, because I got into arguing with a transphobe on facebook.

Doing it, I have fantastic things going through my mind and realise they are symbols or indicators of anger. The anger, now, is at something particular, and energy for the task I am completing. It is so good when that happens. I take care to complete the task: this requires love. Doing it at another time, I gave myself encouraging pep-talks. Do you still feel the fear? Yes. It’s not enough to stop you doing it, though. There is the feeling being and something else giving the pep-talks.

This is human. When I find myself bullying myself, that is probably a bad thing, but an inner dialogue, from two different points of view, can be advantageous: just as a group of people will make a better decision than individuals, so an individual may make a better decision having worked through different ways of thinking about a problem.

The only motivation is desire. If the desire is merely to survive, it wears us out. I need desire in my life that is more inspiring.

A Tory party leaflet, before the local elections. Vote Conservative because of the vaccine, it says! Ha! We have vaccine success because of public enterprise, with only a tiny input from business required by Tory ideology, because that particular public enterprise has not been Toried yet. Bribe-taking, body-piling, trans-hating, racist, lying Tories!

Looking for the art-work for this post, I had an experience I have not had since the last time I went to the National Gallery, over a year ago. With this Vermeer on my screen, I was overwhelmed with delight at the beauty of the pure colours, and their relationship to each other- that blue of the table-cloth, and the yellow of the sleeve, as an abstract composition before I spend time on the skin, and then the facial expression. It is ravishing. I get that experience with real art in galleries, and rarely with copies on screens. If you don’t get that with this picture, I hope you have it, somewhere in your life.