Emotional thinking V

Emotional thinking is rational thinking.

Before University, I went for a taster weekend at St Andrews. We stayed in the halls, had a tour and saw the tiny town with its three parallel streets; and had a few sample lectures and a dance. How could anyone ‘live by logic’? asked a philosophy don about Star Trek. Who would do anything without desire? Logic can work things out, emotion motivates. But emotion also creates rational decisions, of what is in my interests or what I find bearable. Vulcan main characters in the Star Trek universe show loyalty and drive. Their subsuming emotion means doing their duty when they would feel fear or disgust, and judging others impartially. They have no sense of humour, but one of honour and right conduct. Minor characters also show a sense of their own importance and the respect due to them, sometimes overblown, and even competitiveness.

It is hard to see how emotion might be excluded from any opinion or decision. We cannot be “rational”, making appropriate decisions, if we do not use emotion. Vulcans would not be impulsive, they would defer gratification or eschew lower animal tastes, they would be imperturbable, but the emotion is underneath, influencing their actions.

I wonder about those impulsive decisions. Fear and desire war in me until desire overcomes, and I do the foolish, ridiculous thing- which is liberation for me, even authenticity. Decisions about what risks to take are emotional. Even “logical” tools like enumerating pros and cons of alternatives are a way of drawing out the emotional reaction- for which are more important? Illusion, asserting that something is not as it really is, is a way of suppressing true feeling.

Desiccated? But desiccated thinking uses old, diseased emotion, old resentments and hatreds, to find revenge where there is no delight left in it, and even completed revenge would leave the hatred unappeased.

Rational thinking is emotional thinking, using healthy emotion to find what will best help the actor flourish and be their true self. Logical thinking, finding what is clearly right, is emotional. Even rationalisation is emotional, believing what I need to believe so as best to nourish my relationships.

Only through emotion can I find who I truly am, and only through emotional decision making can I realise my true self, and flourish.

I love Theresa May’s necklace of huge chain links, like shiny carabiners.

It looks like a slave thing, she said. I am not sure. Possibly her disapproval was not diminished when I said I thought it more strong than submissive- to appeal to the virago rather than the submissive woman. That’s my sexuality you are discounting, I think. There is gay pride, I need an analogous but distinct pride. The patriarchal ideal of sexuality is flaunted all the time. It is a clear part of the Foreign Secretary’s public persona.

The pride stirs in my heart even as worry at disapproval and wanting agreement and reconciliation- both very me- arise too. With such feelings, how hard for me to attain authenticity! So many competing feelings to permit, to nurture to maturity, to reconcile! How beautiful I will be, when I do!

Embrace simplicity

I’ve embraced spiritualism. Rather than focusing on a particular way of life or religion; I prefer to embrace aspects that bring peace and harmony to my Being.

It is my hope that through my writing Readers will discover peace and harmony within their own Being, discover the now and what they value in the present moment.

I wonder what she means by embracing spiritualism: I thought it meant the religious practice of contacting the dead. Google says spiritualism is also a philosophical concept, that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality. Wikipedia confirms that: spiritualism is the notion, shared by a wide variety of systems of thought, that there is an immaterial reality that cannot be perceived by the senses. Then how do we perceive it? The perception is in my heart, an emotional response, or a sudden conviction- it feels like a communication.

Perhaps she means Spirituality, an openness to such communications. It is openness to reality. I was going to write what Spirituality is not, but then I am not sure it is opposed to anything. Opposed, perhaps, to addictive escapes, such as drugs, overeating, alcohol, cutting, ways of shutting off feelings which are not Peace or oblivion-

but no, those are tools, unless you vanish into them totally so that the escape is all you have. The human seeks respite from the hard work of processing reality, then plunges back into it. Or, in Cutting, relief comes from physically manifesting feelings too painful to access in any other way. (I am attempting to empathise, I have not done it myself, or felt any desire to.)

So I imagine a human being, suddenly becoming conscious, like being introduced to a warm swimming pool by loving hands, or chucked into a cold ocean to struggle even to breathe, and-

What would “harmony” mean? When I started on my Journey of Conscious Spiritual Growth, I wanted to avoid painful feelings like anger and fear. I still do, though not by denying or suppressing them. I want to want to not seek to avoid those painful feelings by avoiding situations which evoke them, though I am not there yet, I am still hiding away. I see intellectually that the feeling is not bad in itself, and that some situations evoking it are worth persisting in

though I was stressed. I was angry and afraid and stressed, and unable to process the stress anger fear before further stressors hit me. Of course I wanted to stop feeling anger and fear.

Perhaps I was projecting onto Natasha my- I was going to say wrong and immature desire. Of course you can’t avoid anger and fear, and the harmony would be dull without it, like harmonising only with triad chords not sevenths and ninths. I have no reason to suppose her concept of harmony lacks richness like that. Mine was not wrong, only incohate and perhaps immature. I want not to be overwhelmed by anger and fear. I want to be able to accept and process them.

Dear Natasha, I was irritated. Two “awards” in two days. These things are chain letters. So I set out to attack your understanding, and found it was only a pedantic attack on two letters at the end of a word. “It was unbearable! It will be unbearable again!”- Yes, the Now is a good way of counteracting that.

You asked, Who inspires you? Too many people to count or name, famous and unknown.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would they be? What meal would you serve them? What is one question would you ask that person? I would not be doing the cooking. People who might be fascinating, from the past or present, might object to being brought to eat with me, and might clam up or show only an uninterested and affronted public persona- so my answer is, anyone who would open up to me so that we could come to know each other; and then, anyone, famous or unknown, would do.

You asked, Do you have a party trick that is unique to you, and you alone? Yes.

She took this photograph, which I quite like:

Physical emotion

Perhaps every move we make is prompted by emotion. All non-verbal communication, such as eye contact, mirroring or a shake of the head; the walk, confident, cheery or broken down. I must use this joy, I thought, feeling it, putting it into my walk, wishing to look confident because I am worth it. The joy can be channelled into movement.

As can anger or fear in fight or flight. Thoughtful, contemplative, I am not analysing in a series of syllogisms but sensing my feeling. Turning outward or inward, hoping or fearing, seeing possibilities are emotional moves.

If you and I see a poppy, do we see the same thing? Or, if you and I see a poppy in the garden of the Meeting house where we both have worshipped for years, do we see the same thing? Does it matter that you are red/green colour blind? There is a reality that we both experience, and though the experience we bring to interpreting it differs there is some commonality in our shared experience of it.

The ways we function differ, even before damage or trauma is considered. To Myers-Briggs’ thinking/feeling, introvert/extravert, judging/perceiving, sensing/intuition, I would add internally/externally focused, irenic/polemic- how much you value Being Right or Getting Along; libertarian/authoritarian, controlling/easy-going, and how much you value free collaboration. That is, like most of my blog, off the top of my head, though I see introversion/extraversion has six “facets”, which are not always the same for all “introverts”. Underneath all this are emotional reactions.

Desires may be programmed in, or come from the heart. The programming works in me through fear. I fear for my own existence, and decide I want what I ought to want, to preserve my own existence. Then what I really want conflicts within.

I wonder if you can know all your feelings, especially about things you cannot control. I have not met the new neighbours, but there were grown men pounding on their front door and then running away, then kicking a football against the front door, and then I heard angry shouting though could not make out the words. The music from there has been particularly loud and horrible. I thought of going upstairs to the other neighbour, to- not sure, ask him to intervene, perhaps, or just reassure me, or ask if he had met them. I am perturbed, but the more chaotic neighbours tend to leave quickly. I was watchful. There was little I could do.

I phoned the benefits office. There was a long explanation that no enquiry may be made by phone for Universal Credit, you have to check on line, which is tough on people who cannot afford broadband or a computer, and a long explanation that if your phone company charged ridiculous amounts for the call you had only yourself to blame. At 3 mins 15 the hold music started, and at 15.30 someone finally answered.

I thought, surely they will behave reasonably, then realised what is “reasonable” depends on whether you think benefit claimants should be given a break because they are vulnerable, or screwed as hard as possible because they are cadgers who will always push it as hard as they can and need to be forced to behave well. After the phone conversation appeared to indicate everything was OK, at least for a week or so, and I rang off, I started shouting swear words at my empty living room. I was mostly calm with the woman, though I found her controlling, asking impertinent questions.

My underlying emotions appear to be perplexity rage and terror. These are great when they make me do what I need to do, dreadful when they make me freeze.

Toddler II

I was delighted to find this gender analyser, which says my blog is written by a feminine person- this post was 84% female. It was 94% negative, but I was stating the problem. You need to see the problem before you can solve it. Though even after the election, writing about fun, I am only 50% positive. That text was aged 31% over 65, 21% 51-65. I am not insulted by this: wisdom comes with age. It was leavened with 12% aged 18-25.

Do I care? Do I look like I care? I thought I was re-doing teenage, but a lot of what I do is toddler lessons. I find what joy, anger, fear, complex mixes of emotions not immediately nameable are like. They bubble up within. If I do not hear and acknowledge them- yes, something is Feeling, somewhere else in the brain is Acknowledging or Accepting- they manifest in delighted wriggling or a clenching of the back muscles, or other movements; highly affecting memories which I may have processed but which are symbols for feeling Now; or deadening, when I suppress them and therefore suffer loss of energy, inability to perceive Now clearly, and nameless disquiet.

You need the wisdom of age to write about these things.

I fear the deadening the most. It is my old tactic, what I learned when I failed at Toddlerhood, setting me up to fail at life. It locks me into prescribed responses and steadily increasing pressure until nothing is bearable any more. Or, it worked for a time, it kept me alive, scrabbling to survive, suicidal and self-hating but sometimes effectual. The first time I could prove a doctor was crooked I got him sacked. The second time I might have proved it I ran away screaming.

Historically, we have taught children at all costs to avoid the visible, physical manifestations. They are even a mental health symptom: in strong emotion, rocking can help some people process it, but rocking, or screaming at the floor, is deprecated. When you tolerate it in yourself you are clearly mentally ill. Suppression achieves that, motionlessness rather than stillness, at worst robotic learned responses to all situations. How am I supposed to respond? We knew “Children should be seen and not heard” was wrongful, because repressive, when I was a child, yet my family practiced a less severe form of it.

I find myself trusting myself, but only in part. I had vegetarian lunches with Quakers and in the evening craved a bacon butty. So, I thought, though factory farming is monstrously cruel, especially of pigs, I cannot be vegetarian because I crave meat. Then I find that if I use a lot of olive oil I do not need meat. I want fat. I want less sugar. Is my desire for chocolate an addictive (bad) or nutritional (good, but unlikely) craving? Or could wanting a mild stimulant be good? I am exploring my world, but slowly and too carefully, having lost trust. That is another thing you can teach a toddler, and it is more difficult to learn for yourself, later: I am trustworthy. I have experiences which might tend to indicate that, but others which do the opposite. Or, I have to trust because not trusting makes things worse. Could I-

My toddler lesson is that feeling the emotion fully, using its strength to respond, is the best, most mature adult skill; but wriggling, cringing or rocking can be an aid towards that. It embarrasses me; it is a hard lesson.

S.O.S.

Pansy

After the election, where I anticipated an increased Conservative majority, I am overjoyed. At the station, that woman asked how I was.

“I’m delighted,” I said.

“I can see that. It shines out of you. It’s beautiful” she said. I offered a hug, and she accepted.

I was already overjoyed, and my cup ran over. I spasmed with it. Feeling happy, walking along, I have sashayed; sometimes I turn my wrists outwards, as if the Qi in me needs to flow out; now muscles tense and flex expressing it. Joy ripples through me like aftershocks, on the train. I don’t tend to notice other adults doing this sort of thing. I am still doing teenage, but here going right back to being a toddler, a different kind of toddler-hood which teaches me to integrate rather than suppress feeling.

It seems to me that I could call what I am a “Pansy”. The word has little baggage, unlike “Sissy”, co-opted to describe non-penetrative sexual services offered by some discreet older women. I can make of it what I will, add my own baggage to it. I am a pansy. I like viragos.

We went to the Giacometti exhibition. Man and Woman, which he created in his late 20s, fits this idea.

You can’t see it from the photos, but that sharp point is not touching the female. She bends backwards, but does not retreat, and a flower opens to accept the point. It is vulnerable and proud. There is a meeting, and a balance, between the two.

Sexually, I identify with the flower not the point. Yet calling me transwoman, trans woman, woman, whatever, is only an approximation. That vulnerable flowering is overwhelmingly seen as Female, but rather it is feminine, and I am a feminine male. A pansy. I should not need physical adjustment to actualise myself, just to find how my body can work with my spirit.

This is not normal, but “normal” must be resisted. It is a cultural creation of powerful folk who cannot conceive that anyone could be other than they, or that what is best for them might not be best for everyone. I don’t fit the norms, or rules, so have to make my own rules. It might have helped if I had not been so indoctrinated so strongly into the value of normal. Discretion protects the abnormal, it can be good not to be noticed, and one can take that too far.

Yvonne points out that all the active sculptures in the Giacometti exhibition- pointing, walking, even falling- are men. Some of the busts look childish in execution. One of his wife reminds me of a sex doll, or at least the cliché I have seen on TV: wide eyes, mouth like an O, flat caricature face. Before marriage she had worked in an office at the Red Cross. From the 1930s, here is a narrow sculpture (The more I wanted to make them broader, the narrower they got, he said) about four feet tall, her head slightly raised to meet the eye of an adult observer about a yard away. It’s not assurance, exactly, nor apprehension: she does not know what that viewer will do. She will respond appropriately, to whatever requires a response. The mind of that figure contains no story about what thing feared or desired will happen next, or what ought to be happening now, so will see what is happening and respond to it. I see capability in that standing figure.

Across the room is another standing figure on a plinth which would be chest height on her, if she stood beside it. This relatively huge imposing plinth supports her slender figure, which is an inch tall. “She does not know she is tiny,” I exclaimed, and a woman says “I would never have thought of it that way”: here we are open, so that talking to a stranger seems natural. It is one of the most moving works of art I have ever seen, and she has the same naturalness, lack of constraint, and capability.

I do not need to be constrained by Manliness. I can be a Pansy. If I relax and lose my stories of how the world is or should be, I may even be able to be myself.

We ate on the South Bank at an outside table, and I loved the Sun gilding the edges of the clouds. When it was a bit cool to stay there, but still light, we walked across the bridge. “Love the T-shirt,” I said of a passer-by. It was blue with an EU circle of stars and the words “Member of the Liberal Elite, established 2016”. He stopped to enthuse about the election.

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

Getting by

Drink is a great anodyne- I had forgotten how boring people are. I’d forgotten how afraid people are. I’d forgotten how boring I am. Richard Burton shows how great self-hatred can be, when we temporarily let go of our safety-valves, or our escapes. Only drink is capable of killing the pain.

On facebook, I asked, Am I too nice? Rather than the journalist’s question “Why is this [person] lying to me?” I meet someone and think, “Seems like a reasonable sort”. And of course a friend came up with the answer: I think you are very nice. I also think it is possible to trust too much. Trust has to be built. Having to rely on untrustworthy primary carers tends to shut down the discernment in this area.

Not too nice, then. I am glad, I am pleased with being nice, and kind, even generous, and would not like to have to be less nice. Too trusting, though. It makes sense, actually. The helpless baby and the unmotivated mother, finding duty and convention not enough to drag her through all the effort, though practicality bridged a lot of the gap. My mother was in no way chaotic.

“Ask Machiavelli” said another. Possibly one can be too suspicious. If others connive as Niccolo advised, perhaps I am not suspicious enough. How could I know?

It seemed to me that I cried when I attempted to suppress awareness of my sadness, and another part of me needed to make my consciousness aware of it. If you break your leg the pain stops you trying to walk, and crying makes you deal with the matter now, or at least aware of it. That baby, not feeling my needs satisfied, tried not to be aware of need, and now sometimes I seem to be a monster of need and desperation.

I need human contact. I need sympathetic conversation, sharing feeling, and touch. I want hugged. Being kissed would be good too. And I have not been out three days of the last four, and on the one when I went out my encounter was only food shopping. It is a human need I bang on here about a great deal, and I get by with minimal contact, as the baby might, never satisfied but bearing the burden of her need, unable to do anything else, lying in the cot or pram.

So my need sits, under the level of consciousness, and I am more or less alright typing here or watching TV. Now, stressed by that ongoing confrontation, I am not doing the washing that I should do, but usually I do enough. Then my need erupts in a giddy feeling of groundlessness- I must talk through that with her, just to speak about it. I want to be told, there, there, it will be alright. I am all at sea, and my feeling of need overwhelms me, and then an hour later it is past. She cannot answer that question for me. Possibly, it will not be alright. The worst I might anticipate is X, the best hope for is Y, something not anticipated might happen. I would like the contact, and do without it. I can’t imagine explaining to anyone why I wanted it. I would sound too silly, too demanding, too much of a bother. I know this as the baby knew it. Yet I want time when my pain is not killed, time when I am conscious of it and not using the anodyne.

giulio-aristide-sartorio-la-gorgone-e-gli-eroi

I had always thought of the gorgon as hideous, and the winged sandals as Perseus’. These heroes do not appear turned to statuary.

What to feel?

Not knowing what to feel or if I understand

The young man imagines the death of the Lady- well, she said she was one about to reach her journey’s end- and wonders should I have the right to smile?

What to feel. There is a right feeling, which the decent person should feel. Grief, obviously, at a death, perhaps love or admiration, perhaps gratitude for friendship and appreciation of a human being. Or perhaps revulsion- I shall sit here, serving tea to friends- at a life wasted in odds and ends. And pleasure at a lucky escape.

I have just heard Portrait of a Lady, read by Jeremy Irons– recording available till the end of the month- and it moved me, when it had passed me by in my teens when I found Eliot. I don’t know- it was cruel and pointless in its portrait of her, I did not know what to make of that narrator, I tussled with four quartets and found the thought of being consumed by either fire or fire exciting rather than terrifying or despondency-inducing. “Only Live”- what a calling! The calling was not yet impossible.

Where was I? Oh yes, “What to feel”. I may come back to Meaning of Life stuff- would I write sensible, continuous prose, or odds and ends?- but first I wanted to say

feel what you feel. It is the Only Way.

Feeling denied or suppressed sets up intolerable unmanageable revolt within you. It will not be denied, but erupts, in violence against others or self, smashing things or tearing at your hair.

Ha. Only the slightest pause before I typed “intolerable”- the inner voice still says, you could have managed if you had minimal abilities and I give it the slightest credence, then reject it.

The sadness is not that intolerable shirt of flame, even if it feels like it when it is there. Am I bargaining again? I feel the pain of sadness with the purpose of not showing it, not needing to express it. I want not to express it, and having failed to suppress it, perhaps feeling it authentically deeply, draining the cup to the dregs will be a useful technique not to express it.

Should you seek sympathy, anyway? It is all so much work. I meet a friend and all our time is spent expressing feeling and sympathising, unless it is sadness where one should pull onesself together. I don’t know, by the way. I start typing a sentence and its meaning forces me into considering its opposite. Perhaps Chopin’s soul, resurrected among friends would mean we would not have to speak, only understand together.

Bring all the feeling to consciousness!

Aha! I have an answer, a guiding light, a solution, a rule, which may be more valuable in contemplating than in practising it.

I could feel all my feelings then move on, my actions rationally chosen and effectual, responding not reacting, doing the right thing. One more way to avoid mistakes.

Avoid mistakes! I can learn, I get better at this stuff was the phrase which entered my mind, by which I mean living but not as good as I desperately want to be.

The young man at the Lady’s death might not feel what he ought to feel, but a cacophony of conflicting feelings, many of them mean and unpleasing to him. He really is that mean person. I am my shadow. I am a human being. I am beautiful! was an answer to this- I must admire and delight in the shadow-parts, the bits I do not like, because they are real- yet should I also bear the roiling change of it, confusing me, always behind it? If I only had a chance to contemplate, accept, move on, but I never have time-

Is he really better than she is?

That’s all, that’s all, that’s all. that’s all,
Birth, and copulation, and death.

Good night sweet ladies
Shantih

breslau-friends

Nervousness

The worst thing to say to a chronic worrier is “Stop worrying”. It only makes me worry more quietly. I must permit myself to be nervous. In social situations, I withdraw and protect.

Round and round the circle. “I must be authentic,” I wrote yesterday. Well, much of what prevents authenticity is nervousness. I noted this in 2012: The image of life as an apple tree came to me. I have been so afraid, of the other people around the tree, and of the tree itself, that I have rushed at it, collided with it and bruised myself on it, snatched at it so that I carry away nothing, or a dry twig, or some dead leaves. Whereas I may walk to it…and find the apple which feels to me most beautiful… if I touch it in the right way it will come off in my hand. That only says, it is good not to be nervous, and often there is no reason to be nervous. It is no more than the inner critic would say-

“There’s nothing to worry about. You’re useless, worrying.” So worry and nervousness become another indicator of my uselessness, and I suppress them out of consciousness. I probably am more nervous than I need be, but fearing and denying nervousness makes things worse.

My self-image is more important to me than events in the real world.

Oh wow! I suppose I knew that, but I have not put it into words before. Putting it into words makes me see it more clearly. That is why sitting wrapped up and still pretty cold, not going out or seeing anyone most days, is life just about as good as I could wish for. My self-image is a lie- clearly I am afraid, angry or nervous however much I deny it, probably I suppress other things as well. These feelings continue affecting me and my behaviour, more so because I must deny them. OK, I am nervous. If I am among other people I will get nervous, and if I beat myself up for being inauthentic when nervous, it will only get worse.

So: permit, acknowledge and welcome the nervousness. It is uncomfortable, but better than suppression. Suppression only works for a limited time, like holding your breath: you need to hold your breath under water, but after two minutes you become unconscious.

If I hear the nervousness, and recognise it, I might behave authentically.

That evening, I managed to make myself the focus of the group, and they were all irritated with me. They expressed that, and I answered without attacking but holding my ground. And after, chatting in a friendly manner with one of them,

It felt as if I was the REAL ME!

It felt completely wonderful. It has been one of my myths. I identified that real me as female, and hated the poem I wrote about it because I had to deny that. What if, it was just that at that moment I was no longer nervous and self-suppressing, because the confrontation had happened and I had come through unscathed? It might have made me seek out confrontation, for that feeling, but I am glad it did not.

I do not know much about CBT, but all the techniques I know are for thinking about present and future. And I spend a great deal of time analysing the past. Mmm. There was a better response which would have achieved more in that moment.  I am useless! I am not going to stop this, but might ameliorate it by appreciating all the good in my responses, and forgiving anything I might regret.

And finally, Donald Trump. He tweeted, Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love! And news organisations, and clickbait sites, round the world, breathlessly reported it. It is unpresidential- well, of course, we knew that. It pleases his supporters, and enrages his opponents. The answer is, not to be enraged, it’s only Donald being his ghastly self, but note it down: the evidence against him mounts.

illusion

If you have to be someone else, you imagine that you are.

Oh, I struggle to overcome! And tomorrow I will try again, in the Quaker meeting, sometimes in reality, feeling what I really feel, and sometimes in a stifling myth- this is weekly worship which we ought to do, because it is the right thing to do, and because it is right we all enjoy and value it. Sometimes saying to another what I mean, and believe, and want to communicate, and sometimes saying what I ought to say, the small talk which is reassuring because predictable- acting as if what I need to be true really is.

The real is terrifying, like being naked, and the false is stultifying, like being strangled, or swaddled so only the wool is there, not the breeze on my skin, or wearing gloves so I can’t actually touch anything.

At any moment there is what I ought to feel, which is different from what I do feel, like CS Lewis’ houses in Hell which can be huge and grand but do not keep out the rain, like a world without people, only actors, as if I am not there but watching a screen showing something completely different, but somehow below consciousness I know I wear the Emperor’s clothes. Like being at a concert, but wearing headphones which play different music.

There is what I ought to feel, and because I have to I imagined, believed, that I do. And others saw the anger I could not admit to myself. How can you see what is in your blind spot? By realising what frightens you.

It is possible to suppress feeling in order to bear a situation, but it gets more difficult.

I knew that I feared my fear and anger, that feeling fear and anger was Death, the monster would get me and I would die. And I learn that feeling the fear and anger is bearable. Even the sadness. I feared it would make me do something embarrassing and everyone would be angry, as in an HM Bateman cartoon.

hm-bateman-the-croupiers-who-showed-signs-of-emotion

But it didn’t. Feeling the sadness, allowing myself to be conscious of its full strength, I did not show a sign of it. And if I had, there would have been some sympathy.

But- there is what I ought to feel, and that mask comes off slowly. Sometimes I realise I am being that conventional me, saying things which are my own idea of conventional, holding myself stiffly, small talk, and cannot stop, for the real feeling is too frightening and I don’t know what it is. I know this is a screen and headphones not real life, I know I am an actor not a human being, I know I am inauthentic and I don’t know what authentic would look like. More often, I recognise it after.

How unsparing of myself I am! Of course I am a human being, even when reacting this way, it is a human reaction which I do not like because I feel that responding with real feelings rather than this falsehood would get me what I want.

Excuse me a moment, I have got my mask on again. May I try to find what my face might look like, without it? This is not what one does during small talk- stay still, close eyes, look within, try to connect-

I can’t just see what I do wrong, and stop, or see what I would like to do, and do it. Changing habits, even noticing habits, is difficult. Being naked and authentic is risky. What I have absorbed to imagine Conventional, and do when not being authentic, is dust and ashes to me- I know I am doing it yet can’t be otherwise, can’t find the real feeling. Meditation sometimes lets me find it, but I find that frightening.