To Charing Cross Hospital, to see my psychotherapist. Serra is a psychologist, who starts by taking a history: how do I feel? How have I felt?
Right now, wonderful. I met Ian on the train, and he told me a lovely story about increasing confidence in his daughter, who is 22. He is married to a Quaker, meditates with her, and proposed that we meditate together. With my eyes closed I was aware of the young grandmother’s banter with the toddler, and my passing thoughts, so varied, so unimportant. The train was over half full, and I asked someone to move to a vacant seat so we could sit together: I would not have had the courage to do that, at one time, but the man moved readily. I asked Ian what his mantra was, but he could not tell me, as that is part of the Rules and Ritual which give it meaning. He got it from the London School of Meditation, who will give him a new one when it wears out. As we walked through St Pancras, its bricks appeared brighter.
The waiting room contrasts with Serra’s. The whining air conditioning irritates. I eye up the bonny young trans men. The receptionists are disdainful: after, one asks me to wait for an appointment letter for next time, but finishes other work before printing it for me. I think of that Trans Privilege conversation: a week ago I saw it from H’s point of view, and now do not. I am twenty minutes early, and she is ten minutes late starting.
Serra is about forty. Her left eyelid droops: her right eye is on me all the time, but when her left eye looks up at me it has all the force of sudden eye-contact. She is friendly in a brisk, professional way. At the gender clinic, I can say “I have come to terms with autogynephilia. I don’t believe it, but I don’t need it to be untrue,” and “I have come to terms with how feminine I am, and how femme-phobic I have been,” and have that just accepted. She agrees with me about my trans privilege conversation that this is not privilege, and notes (with approval?) my comment “I did not see her and she did not see me”. I tell her of my Blessing. This will continue. She clarifies- I am unsure of the distinction between “will” and “shall”, but I am predicting, not stating a grim intention to cling on.
My main problem is that I am work-shy, or phobic. I had a series of difficult experiences (I said that to other-H, and she said “Doesn’t everyone?” I wanted more sympathy)
-Do I have to give the details?
-Tell me how you felt.
-I have to give the details. So I do. I felt angry, frustrated, out of control, frightened. Her face shows sympathy, twisting in pain at one point. This is a contrast to psychotherapy in 1998, when I found it difficult to recognise feelings and the man refused to treat further, saying the risk to my defences was too great. And I can be confrontational.
Do I want to come again? Yes. Eventually, I am tearful, but not too much. She asks me to set goals, which is a lot easier than last time:
- To be less frightened
- To support myself
- To make a contribution
We will set more goals, she says.
I go to the Tate.