Delight unspoiled by disgust?

I crave dopamine. I dislike the fb highs even as I chase them, and the lows when the highs recede. They give me a sense of human contact and affirmation, and disappointment when I click and do not receive. I share something I know will get likes, and then try to restrict myself, not clicking less than half an hour after the last click.

My 500 words were published on Thursday 4th. By Monday, my painful anticipation was growing. I craved the dopamine hit, and feared I would not get it. So I created my affirmation with the intent of being less dependent moment to moment on clicks.

I am a person whose speech, writing, and way of holding space are valued.

Of course I shared that, and clicked every half hour or more to see the likes mount up. Twelve likes, eleven loves, two cares, four comments agreeing, so far. It is true. I love to write, hold space, and be heard, and I know my service has value. The day after sharing it, and the 500 words, I am in a state of craving.

My affirmation is true. It does not assuage my craving. Perhaps it mitigates it.

Perhaps I would be better off if I had more actual human contact. I need family! A like is a sugar rush of candy, a hug is like a ripe peach, whose sugar is absorbed more slowly. And, family can be a place of pain, exploitation and misery. My isolation at least protects me from the worst of it.

I discussed red/amber/green behaviour with K, and agreed going there was absolutely in the centre of the red zone. Being tantalised, illusion, desperation, misery is all that can come of that. Next day, I went there, and was rewarded. She mentioned me! In the most unflattering way, and yet my delight lasted two days. Now she likes my affirmation. It is hard to untangle the complex emotion, but perhaps- I hate myself for feeling delight. Or, I fear my delight, because it will end in pain.

Well, all things come to an end. But how can I enjoy this delight when it is so fleeting, so much less than what I crave?

Augustine sought “delight unspoiled by disgust”, which he could find only in God. I do not believe in God the Father Almighty, but there is something in each human being which is so wonderful that calling it “that of God” is not hyperbole. I believe I can hear God in others if I have ears to hear. I believe I can speak and act from that of God in me all the time, and that that is the meaning of “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing”.

There is nothing supernatural about The Light. It just is. Why do we shield ourselves from it? For me, breaking through to it was an amazing unsought blessing, then a struggle with all sorts of fear and misery, and now-

It is meeting my true self. And it means acknowledging all the stuff buried in me, painful as well as glorious. I have so much fear and sorrow.

As a Doctor Who fan, it reminds me of the Ood, who had a second brain, outside their bodies, which they held in their hands. Humans enslaved them, and removed the second brain, replacing it with a device through which they could communicate in English. In their original state, they were telepathic. That seemed ridiculous and far-fetched at the time. I identified with the humans, not seeing the wrong of oppression immediately, then human normality broke down.

It is clear why I would suppress my Light- to escape awareness of that congealed sadness. From the ego state, I can imagine reasons to enter the Light, but they are impure, for what the ego can get out of it. If I go into Light in order to achieve an ego-aim, my state will be unstable, retreating into ego as the aim appears uncertain of success. Then the ego will fail in its aim.

Perhaps there is no red/amber/green behaviour but only the ego pursuing its aims by desperate and ridiculous or socially acceptable ways, or the Light, being.

Others find joy in being in the moment. It is a spiritual state. I find sadness mixed with joy. Now I wonder if the Light holds my Need, as well. Is ego a way of attempting to meet the need, or manage it, in failed, unsatisfying ways? Ego is the familiar, Light is the painful acceptance that all things are made new. So I become as a little child to enter Heaven- curious, trusting, accepting and seeing the unfamiliar, dancing with it. And at the same time I become an adult and put away childish things- old, failed ways of trying to meet my needs.

Human kind Cannot bear very much reality. Illusions are comforting, but they have led me to this unbearable place. “We only live… consumed by either fire or fire” still seems melodramatic, but perhaps Eliot was on to something.

The Deep Sharing group query is, “Does your faith help you deal with regrets?” I don’t have regrets. I tend to think I have always done my best. At worst, this is blaming other people or the World for my situation. Possibly it is not being able to imagine how anything better might have been possible. Possibly, if I took more responsibility for my life, I would feel regrets. Possibly I feel regret which is too much to bear consciously. If I lived my belief, and entered the Light, regret, need, sadness, fear would confront me. “For God all things are possible”?

My ego hopes the Light would see possibilities, and flees the Light, because they are not the possibilities the ego craves. Among my unanswered questions are whether I have any addictions or damaging myelination affecting my Light.

When I went to the deep sharing group, and spoke of my step four desire to cure my inner conflict. I hate myself. I hate all sorts of aspects of myself. So, I will name the things I hate about myself, and find how I may love them. Regret seems like a useless emotion, and I am not generally conscious of it- so, I invite regret into my life.

About to leave, I have the sense of moving from heart-authenticity in speaking and listening to ego, and a revelation. I experienced ego as dull normality, all there is; then as oppressive and constraining, and now, I experience it as protective, perhaps for the first time. This produces amazed joy and delight, and also pain: when I believe suffering will be interminable I minimise it, and when it is relieved I truly feel the weight of the burden I have shed.

It hurt so much, and- It’s Stopped!

I said that, and Ruth said, “Love you, Abigail.”
Well, people do. It is one of my great blessings.
It is time for me to love myself.

ego hurts

The tribunal action of Allison Bailey is an insane act of hatred and vandalism. She is a lesbian who wants to tell the world that trans people and transition are a danger to women, especially lesbians, and children. This is false. So she raised and spent half a million pounds in order to win £22,000 from her barristers’ chambers, but failed to get an award against Stonewall, the main lesbian-run charity for lesbian rights. The Guardian reports this as a win for freedom of thought and expression.

Bailey will have succeeded in disincentivising companies from using Stonewall’s services, and so has achieved a great blow against lesbian rights- whether she wanted to or not, whether she realises it or not.

I might have blogged about the case, but the Employment Tribunal judgment is 117 pages long. It may yet reach the Employment Appeal Tribunal. David Mackereth, is a physician who wanted to enforce his right to refer to trans women as men, because he is a Christian, and thereby discommode his employers who thought the trans women involved would hate and fear them even more if he did. His case in the EAT produced a judgment of 61 pages. I could plough through it telling his story- I think him a cowardly fool, devoid of Christian love and a silly poor Christian in other ways. I would mock him, share my blog on trans facebook groups, and get perhaps a hundred views.

Instead I considered giving up reading the news. Anywhere I might read that Liz Truss will be a continuing disaster for the British people, let alone anywhere I might read she is the Thatcherite saviour the country needs, is likely to have articles saying Trans is Bad.

I see Bailey looking triumphant cuddling JK Rowling in the Guardian, and feel misery, rage, terror. Then I go to the pharmacy expecting to have to argue and cajole, and come back next week, or at least wait for ages, and have an efficient service getting my prescription instantly. My tiny world is quite bearable. A charming salesman aged about twenty called, and persuaded me to take four successive meal kit boxes, of three meals for two each. I have cooked two, and heated up the unused half the following day. So I have unwrapped tiny packages of tarragon or coriander leaves, chopped them up, and delighted in the aroma flooding my kitchen. After four boxes the price will go up £10 a week, and I may stop then, or not.

The delivery man had a good delivery. The person was in, answered the door before he got to it because I had seen his van outside, and let him take a photo of the box in the open doorway so he could prove to his employers it was delivered. He gave me a namaste gesture, perhaps in relief.

I want to read of the Bailey judgment and not be paralysed by fear. The true self, the inner light, cannot be hurt. The fear feels paralysing, but does not particularly relate to my life. I can go out tomorrow, perhaps to the organ concert in St Mary’s, and escape my intellectualising for a moment into pure delight in beauty.

I wonder if the fear’s intensity is from the ego, which imagines that transition might in some way let me fit in to British society and is angry and resentful when it does not. The ego asks “What will people think?” The soul replies, “Let them think what they like”.

I want to live from the light, and escape the ego. Its fears do not relate to the real world, just to my sense of entitlement, of my illusions of what ought to be or what I need, rather than what is and what I really need. The Light can be aware of the ego, raging and crying in its despair, without sharing such feelings. What is, now?

The governance of Britain will be even worse under Truss than Johnson, the war in Ukraine may yet lead to a nuclear exchange, fuel and food costs spiral, and there is unlimited funding for the promotion of hate and fear against trans people. However, I hear that accepting the things one cannot change is a good idea, and even that the inner light can grant serenity!

Higher Power: Step two

The third step is to make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him. As an atheist Quaker I understand God as my inner light- God within- and the inner light of every other human being. Not everything everyone says comes from God, and, if I listen to others with openness I may hear God in what they say.

I have an inner light whence I can speak, such that it is as if God speaks. Humans are powerful. This light loves me, knows my qualities, values me, works as best it can for my good. The trouble is distinguishing it. I also have an ego, which is less, and living out of the ego will be less than living out of the Light. But what is Light, and what is Ego?

I am an animal with sensory perception and a nervous system to process the information, limbs to move me where I want to go, a gut to digest food and the usual tetrapod systems. I am a human, a social animal with human needs. I am one living creature, and my insanity or sickness is that I have mental conflicts. I am afraid of feelings so I suppress them out of consciousness.

Sometimes it seems I act from the heart. In February 2015 I saw a woman across a room, was strongly impressed, and went over to speak to her. I acted on the attraction before I was fully conscious of it, and from that incident had the realisation, I find what I want when I see what I do. Later that month God Within manifested while I was showering, and because of my conditioning and inner conflicts could only roar and weep, not even “NO!” but a panicked “Na-na-na-na-na…”. I know this was God Within, I knew then it was important, but what it could be bamboozled me.

And now, sometimes I speak from the heart, or soul, and sometimes I get to that place through weeping and pain, and sometimes don’t say what the heart prompts because the inner critic just stops it. The inner critic is only a brake- it always says, “You can’t say that!”- and I overcome it, or I don’t.

An alcoholic said something very like “I find what I want when I see what I do”- in her case, have a drink. She knows she ought not to, and she does. Could the Heart, Power, Soul whatever as I understand it lead me into self-destructive behaviour? Well, I think it does. The teeth-cleaning example:

I am depressed. If I think, I ought to clean my teeth, because that is what one does to get ready for the day, I feel no motivation to do it and notice half an hour later I am still lying in bed. I have said before, if I want to clean my teeth because my mouth will feel better, and I am worth this care and attention, I will feel motivated. And now I feel that is not quite it. Possibly, if the dead weight of ought subsides, something in me will spontaneously want to pamper myself by cleaning my teeth. I am in a sulk against myself.

Or, it is an inner conflict. In 1990, between June and December I bought women’s clothes four times, and threw them out shortly afterwards. I thought, it is OK to think, I have a stressful job, why should I not relax in this way? Or to think, I am a man, this is unmanly, I should stop. What I could not bear was switching between the two views. I had aversion therapy in July 1991, and transitioned in April 2002. At least sixteen times I purged my women’s clothes, which is like an alcoholic pouring their booze down the sink.

It seems to me now, I am moving towards finding my true self, and an essential part of that was transition, but I don’t know if anyone ever purges, marries, and Finds Himself in being a man with a woman, never cross-dressing ever again. In trans groups I only met people who had failed to do that, at least for the time being. I don’t know how a researcher could find a neutral sample, especially as there is such angry moral condemnation on the one hand for transition- medicalising and sterilising people, and Erasing Women- and on the other hand for opposing trans rights, because trans is how we really are.

It could just be an inner conflict. One side wins, and is thereafter the Heart, the Soul, the Real Me. This is not a crude existentialist view that one makes a choice how to be. When I did, I passionately wanted to dress female. When I did, I passionately wanted to make a man of myself.

There is an inner conflict. I cannot make a clear understanding of the distinction between Ego and Soul. Both have access to my rationality, creativity and expressiveness. Emotions appear to arise from each.

I can’t rely on deductions. I said, “I am loving, creative, powerful and beautiful”, making deductions from being created in the image of the Christian God in whom I then believed. Later, “graceful” seemed to fit so much better than “powerful”. Or, I could say the ego comes from the enmeshed relationship with my mother, and therefore anything my mother would have wanted is bad. It does not enable me to predict what this Light would do in some imagined situation. Would I fight, if I were Ukrainian? Absolutely no idea. Or, perhaps it does- but knowing character separate from an actual choice in the moment, or predicting the future, is tainted by the desires and self-image of ego, so harder to discern.

And yet- I love it when I speak with this higher voice. It can seem vulnerable, ridiculous, shameful, weird, but speaking from anything else seems less- hamartia, in Christian Bible Greek, missing the target, often translated sin. And even when it could only say “Na na na na na!” it seemed powerful.

I cannot predict it, and I do not really trust it, but in the present moment I can act and speak from it, and anything else feels less. Yet sometimes a judgment condemning myself seems right, rational, sane, whatever.

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.
The spirit of Life in Christ will set me free.

I wrote this, and it’s a bit angsty. I was anxious. In the afternoon I spoke from the heart and achieved what I wanted, then called a wise friend and celebrated my delight without stating what the delight was about, beyond speaking from the heart. I feel more confident in my ability to speak from my inner light each time I have done so.

Joy and the inner light

How might I move on?

I am more isolated now than I was eleven years ago. Am I merely ruminating about the past? I wrote in my diary, “It is time to rebel against my parents”. I was over thirty at the time. I may have had an enmeshed relationship with my mother. But, why should I be dwelling on that now?

How do I feel about my situation now? “Miserable” is not a feeling, it is an accumulation of feelings, all mixed together, hard to identify and differentiate. There is anger, frustration, resentment, fear (the feelings I identified in 1999) and perhaps others. There is great sadness.

And, still, I am unconscious of feeling. Objectively, my lifestyle, rarely going out, is a product of overwhelming anxiety, and I am rarely conscious of anxiety. It manifests as just doing nothing when I know I should take a particular action. Hours pass. I am burned out.

I was acting in anger towards another and not conscious of it. Now the anger has done its job: not by changing her, but by changing me. I cease to care about her. I see her actions as hurting me, wronging me, and let go my former illusion of her. I let in these additional perceptions, see her more clearly, and let go.

I am between the Id and the Inner Light. The Id, a roiling, terrifying storm of feeling, which makes us lash out, comes from feeling being suppressed. The Inner Light may be the human in touch with feeling and therefore empathetic. David Brooks, in The Second Mountain- the quest for a moral life, writes,

Every once in a while, I meet a person who radiates joy. These are people who seem to glow with an inner light. They are kind, tranquil, delighted by small pleasures, and grateful for the large ones. These people are not perfect. They get exhausted and stressed. They make errors in judgment. But they live for others, and not for themselves. They’ve made unshakable commitments to family, a cause, a community, or a faith. They know why they were put on this earth and derive a deep satisfaction from doing what they have been called to do. Life isn’t easy for these people. They’ve taken on the burdens of others. But they have a serenity about them, a settled resolve. They are interested in you, make you feel cherished and known, and take delight in your good.

I too have met people like that. Brooks does not claim to be there yet. My route involves bringing the unconscious to consciousness.

The “Heart” I seek to speak from is more complex than I can know. It is like the Id in some ways, because of the powerful forces still repressing my feelings. I bring myself to consciousness but am not there yet. My desire to be good comes from a desire to be safe. I want to follow the rules so no-one will be nasty to me, even though that does not work. Or, I want to be good so I might deserve not to suffer. I want to avoid pain. I need to feel the pain, uncertainty, sadness.

Possibly, behind that heart there is something that might be called an “inner light”- aware of the community, seeking its good, wanting connection. Possibly that is how the heart matures as the Id, accepted, lashes out less. I fear being a doormat.

I was irritated with Brooks claiming “Self-created identities are also fragile. We need to have our identities constantly affirmed by others if we are to feel secure.” His cis male conservative successful writer identity is always going to be affirmed. I know of trans people who view other trans people’s different journeys as not the right way to be trans, and therefore a challenge to their own trans identity. But if people feel sufficiently affirmed in our diversity we can accept each other’s difference.

Brooks is too dismissive of others’ travails. No-one leaves a marriage “based on some momentary vision of their own needs”. It is so difficult to divide a shared life that a conviction that it is necessary may grow over months before it crystallises.

I don’t know what that permanent joy would be like, but I felt delight today being affirmed: someone I respect said my published pieces were well-written and to the point. It is a gift.

Brooks and I both see that an “inner light” and living from joy is possible. He names the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Paul Farmer, but also believes ordinary people can become like that, like Dorothea Ladislaw: “But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

If I were ever to get there, it would be through loving my Id into consciousness. Brooks writes that “Some shrivel in the face of suffering. They seem to get more afraid and more resentful. They shrink away from their inner depths in fear. Their lives become smaller and lonelier.” Well, some wounds are too great to heal. I hope I don’t end up like that.

In worship someone quoted Living our beliefs, the introduction to Quakers by and for adolescents: “feel your whole self, celebrate it, be happy and proud”. I bought the book immediately, but could not find the quote. The working theory is that the Id will only get in the way of the Light if it is unconscious. I move on by bringing it to light.

The heart’s desire

I want to know The Truth of myself. Will I find it in James Baldwin? In Notes of a Native Son, he fights to realise himself, recognising that there is a choice: dive into the void that is the unknown self, or accept what society makes of you. He was a friend of existentialists. A human being is “something resolutely indefinable, unpredictable. In overlooking, denying, evading his complexity- which is nothing more than the disquieting complexity of ourselves- we are diminished and we perish; only within this web of ambiguity, paradox, this hunger, danger, darkness, can we find at once ourselves and the power that will free us from ourselves.”

Aged 60, he wrote that society limits him, but “my birthright was vast, connecting me to all that lives, and to everyone, forever”. Wow. Everything that is possible for a human being is possible for me. To believe that would be a great responsibility.

Or would I find it among Quakers? There is an inner light, which is so strange and wonderful we call it that of God. But it might just be a seed thrown among weeds which choke it. I thought I had found it. I was speaking from the Heart, and the proof was my voice being a higher pitch. Well, it made sense at the time.

Then that part of me said, “Do to me as you wish”. That is a brave prayer to make to God, but utterly foolhardy to a human being. I imagined myself saying it to someone, then thought, how can that be speaking from the inner light, if it is so slutty? It could be the heart’s desire. It is hard to piece together what I want, but I want that. Then I said, also from the “heart”, “I need to protect myself”.

Then I started judging the “heart” because of that particular desire. Sometimes something seems to work in a person like the Inner Light, but it deludes them. Like her. And him. Is there an “inner light” below this heart? I need a sane ego, which will protect me, rather than the ego I produced, which was the shell, imprisoning me because I was so hurt and afraid. I would need it to be my counsellor, not my prison guard; a male self to protect my feminine self. All my gifts are in both selves.

Or, perhaps, if I speak from the Inner Light, it is a lot more playful, creative and joyful, not sensible as the world sees it. I said to another my Light is more playful than I had thought, and she loved that idea. I could get authority for it from St Paul: “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength”. Or, “Whenever I am weak, then I am strong”. I have a vague idea that Paul said “In my weakness is my strength”, and so did Katharine Oliver and others, but I cannot find it in any particular translation.

Why should I seek authority? Make it my own. “The wisdom of God is foolishness to man,” and live by that.

Someone quoted Rumi, The Guest House. Yes, it is a metaphor, but I cannot differentiate the house, the feelings- joy or momentary awareness, depression, meanness, a violent crowd of sorrows, a dark thought, shame or malice- and the “me” that invites them in. I am one human being, the feeling and the I which would resist it. Do not resist pain or confusion. Welcome them, says the poet, and it is my experience at least that resistance does no good.

In The Good Ally, I read of people taking action to manage their own feelings or how they appear to others, rather than to achieve a result in the world. At a Quaker peace zoom, we discuss people taking action to feel better about themselves rather than as led. It is so good to know it is not just me.

Michael Leunig imagined people with their opinions, concerns, memories, anxieties, secrets, ambitions, causes, grievances, regrets, theories, reputation, style, lies, pains, charms, tricks, vendettas, powers and obsessions, and a man who lets go of all that. “He’s had enough and just wants to connect.”

A child of dysfunctional parents on a twelve step programme for such people talked of “emotional sobriety”. It means being comfortable with the full panoply of feelings, but not hijacked by them; having healthy boundaries for self and others; not being subsumed in others, or engulfed. One might get joy from another person because there is no dependency. Just appreciate them. One ceases to be addicted to drama.

Worth a try, perhaps.

Nontheist words for God within

I am a Quaker, at least a liberal, unprogrammed Quaker. I know that sitting in silence has value. I know that a business meeting seeking “God’s loving purposes,” and together agreeing a minute, has value.

I believe I am an evolved animal in a material universe. My cosmology has no room for a creator spirit outside time, in some way inspiring Ministry. Consciousness and inspiration are manifestations of brain tissue.

I believe in common humanity. Just as cats have an instinct to hunt, so we have instincts which mould the way we form communities, which are innate though affected by culture. If a lion could speak we could not understand it, but we can learn to understand any human being.

I know the experience of being moved to speak, of words coming from my unconscious, and see why they seem divine. I see others having similar experiences, and value what they say. I accept Carl Rogers’ concepts of the organismic self, a life form fulfilling its needs as a social being, and a self-concept, an understanding of self which is less than the whole.

What speaks when I minister? I muddle along with Quaker words from when people believed in the Creator- the inner light, God within. I am influenced by the idea of critical realism. We have senses and brains attuned to meet our needs, not to know objective truth about the real world. So there is a real world, but it is unknowable. We only guess about it. I cannot know the truth about the world or myself, but with application I can approach it more closely.

I am a human being with conscious, conventional ideas about who I am, what I ought to like, what I ought to be, and underneath an unconscious which needs society to survive and is strongly communitarian. Sitting in the silence, the unconscious becomes conscious.

Spiritual Quaker concepts of “inner light” mould my understanding. I believe the conventional, conscious self-concept is an untrustworthy guide, and that beneath, in my unconscious, is a loving, beautiful- something. If I let the Something guide me, I will live better. I desire eudaimonia.

I am trans, and so have a particular experience of “god within”. Like many trans women, I fought hard to make a man of myself, always feeling myself inadequate. When I first perceived God within, she was feminine, and so terrifying, tearing down my fake manliness. She did not fit my self-concept at all. So I have more contempt for the conventional, conscious self-understanding than someone whose self-concept fits their real self better. But self-concepts rarely entirely fit the whole human. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said: “When you undress without being ashamed and take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample on them, then you will see the son of the Living One, and you will not be afraid.” The self-concept is filthy rags which do not cover our nakedness, a cracked cistern which holds no water, an idol.

Behind the rightness or wrongness of things, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

My sexuality also seems relevant. I have a need to surrender, to open up like a flower to the right, complementary person. It seems to me that a God within a human who is fulfilled by surrender would be different to a God within a human blessed with complementary qualities.

Rhiannon Grant says the term “inner light” is problematic in a society dominated by white privilege, and calls on nontheist “poets and prophets” to create new language to express our perspectives. Here are the words I have used to myself, in attempting to understand that which is within.

The Something

There is “Something inside so strong”, but my conscious mind, with its conventional ideas, cannot know it. And I do not fully trust it. 1 John 4:1 tells us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”, and Quakers test our concerns in meeting. I need the help of my Friends to know my leading is right, though sometimes I will go with my leading though no Friend supports me. It is- Something. I do not always want to bind it by referring to its attributes, which I do not fully understand. A more precise word might mislead me. This fits apophatic theology, approaching a God too great for me to know.

The Vulnerable bit

That was what I called it when I first perceived it. “I”- here, the word means my conscious self. That conscious self thought it was the whole of me, the whole of this physical being or process, and then it perceived something more, something apparently vulnerable, hurting, crushed, which nevertheless had the strength to come to light, like seedlings, apparently so small, soft and weak, “take hold on the loam, acquire the air”. The “seed” is Isaac Penington’s metaphor.

Vulnerable, feminine, despised by my self-concept of manhood. It is a trans experience; but the idea of the “self-concept” differing from the organismic self shows that none of us completely match our Seed, and have crushed it below consciousness. Yet it makes itself heard.

The Real me.

Behind convention and introjected ideas of who I ought to be, there is a Real me. Again, trans ideas influence this: I am really female despite my male appearance. Psychologists find humans malleable, able to fit their circumstances and able to rationalise fitting, so as to be comfortable with it.

I know I can speak from my integrity, which is hard-won. I have written of my recent experience of revealing God within.

Given that we are organic evolved beings, the world is unknowable, unpredictable and weird. So why not personify it? I am toying with the idea of using the word God for the consequences of human actions. We warm the planet. Lytton in British Columbia reaches the hottest temperature recorded in Canada, and the next day is incinerated by God’s wrath. The oceans absorb CO2 from the air, by God’s mercy. We are God’s hands.

Words which speak truth to people will be adopted.

Honesty

I introduced myself in a 12 step programme way. My name is Clare, and I am-

The purpose is to strip back the ego. It may affect what others think of me, but for me, what I think of me is far more important. Of course, that’s just weird and wrong to me, like everything else about me is, but this is the sense of it. Keeping my expressed emotion on an even keel is important to me because that stops others noticing me. I don’t want to be seen. This is an inherited trait.

I don’t want people to think of me at all. If they do, that’s a fail. So, suppressing my feeling is success. So, what I think and feel about myself is far more important to me than what others do.

And, I am angry about this. Anger is my underlying, everlasting emotion. And, taking oestrogen and especially progesterone made my emotions more volatile. It all makes keeping emotions level difficult, and I am paralysed with the effort.

At the Pendle Hill worship sharing on nonviolence on Wednesday 2d, I said my difficulty is my sense of my own worthlessness. Ruth, a spiritual director, had not realised that self-rejection, violence to self, is a root of violence directed at others. Self-love is the foundation of nonviolence. She proposed this mantra:

I love myself unconditionally
I forgive myself unconditionally
I feel myself loving myself unconditionally
I feel myself forgiving myself unconditionally

My self-improvement side thought I should practise listening. Attempting that, I wrote,

The more I see of each of us, the richer my experience is.
The more of each that can be present, the more powerful we are.

Then there was the Friday group where A invited me, then said everyone should introduce themselves. He is A, who has a life which seems in that moment to me to be so much better than my own. So I went all twelve-step. I have chosen this life. My voice barely shook as I said it. That was the end of the introductions.

This is for my good. The working theory is that it suppresses the ego and puts me more in direct contact with reality.

Ministry at Pendle Hill seemed important. I wrote,

Is it possible to be a self- undefined and unaffected by others? No.
Could there be a boundary I could make, around those parts which will maim me to be redefined?

People said,

Trouble means that you are alive
To live with hope is to live on the divine bank account
Living with winter and summer, sickness and health- the meaning is in accepting it all

I could barely hear a woman, and heard her as saying, in a baleful way,

… You think that you folks in the north with all of your wealth are somehow protected from human pain?

But others had difficulty hearing, and someone explained that as people in poor countries thinking we in the North are protected.

Then there was this Atlantic article, on measuring α by adding a single photon, with a laser, to caesium or rubidium atoms to put them in a state of quantum superposition, and measuring their velocity. This involves calculating gravity at the precise point where the experiment takes place, to eleven or more significant figures, and may confirm or refute the Standard Model of elementary particles. I find this amazing and beautiful, but the comment of Saïda Guellati-Khélifa, leader of the team in Paris doing the work, struck me most: “You have to be rigorous, passionate, and honest with yourself”.

On Sunday 6th I cycled to Aldi. As the shadow moved, putting the grass in sunlight, the frost on it began to turn, but was pure white in the shade. I have been thinking of that Anna Akhmatova poem. Why then do we not despair? Because I have not been paying enough attention? I read the Observer editorial on Keira Bell, a harsh anti-trans polemic, which hurt and frightened me.

With these stimuli, I looked at my Friends’ zoom-faces. The intense concentration on some, cogitating, putting the pieces together. The beautiful loving smile of another. I feel my pain, give thanks for the beauty of my Friends, and of the world- and feel intense joy. I would like the joy to leak out and infect others. I would like to minister on this, but it seems for me alone at the moment.

That joy and darkness- to contain it all at once! I want my dishonesty to make me feel better about myself and fool others, but it doesn’t, not really. Through me the gale of life blows high, so- let it fill my sails!

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On Tuesday 8th, I had a fight with my inner persecutor, which denies anything good about me. Imagine me, if you will, curled into the foetal position, weeping, shaking, and fighting to gasp out a few words.

The words were, “I am passionate about injustice, and I fight it to the end when I see how I can”.

The persecutor does not like me saying anything good about myself, and demands evidence. I have evidence. I come away having won the ability to say that for myself. I was sort-of aware of it before, but not really able to say it, bewitched by the persecutor’s doubts. This is a win. I came out delighted, in an emotionally labile state, again wanting my joy to burst out of me and infect everyone and fearful they might object to my vehemence or even [gasp!] not understand. It did, a bit, in M’s zoom group. Some caught it, and liked it.

Here are some more good words and true: “I love at least some of my enemies.”

I was also wrestling with what it would mean to find the light within. It is, to be a whole and integrated human being, and the bits missing will be different in each case. I am aware of the inner driver, that part of me that wants me to work hard at self-improvement, and the inner protector, that protects me from the worst of the driver’s goads. I am not really aware of what I want, other than wanting desperately to be safe, and feeling so unsafe that this manifests in wanting not to be seen, not to be noticed by other people (in the most attention-seeking way. I’m confused too.)

Knowing “What one wants” is clearly not the problem for, say, Donald Trump. The part of ourselves we do not know will be different in each case. For many people, it will be multiple suppressed parts of their personality. The Light, union with Christ in God, God in us, is the part we do not know.

The inner gaslighter

I have an inner gaslighter, rather than an inner critic. It refuses to accept my feelings, saying they are a pretence or an act, or to admit that my motives are ever worthwhile, saying they are cowardice and the most ridiculous short-term self-serving.

Quakers asked me how well I conform to the testimonies, and I could not say. I made a joke of it. I said when I did not. This morning I asserted to an audience of fifty wise souls, and now to you, my utter commitment to peace, equality, simplicity and truth and the absolute authenticity of my feelings. Before that, I suffered a painful- transition, I will call it: a stage when my inner gaslighter berated me, and I asserted my truth against it, feeling all the pain of its denial and my own lack of belief. There I am, talking aloud to my empty room, inarticulately- “I- I- I- I Am Truthful, I Am Truthful, I am Truthful…” both with a need to convince myself and terror and also delight in asserting it.

I said it to those wise souls and they affirmed me. Hurrah for chat:

your words resonate with me.  Thanks for being so open and honest
Missed you so so much xxx much love xxx
I think  you have most beautiful kind generous wise energy

Separately, someone wrote,

More and more I realize that being free from that instance/ need of pleasing everyone and being validated by others is the real deal…the freedom…the liberation…we think that “enlightenment” is exclusive, something that is far away and available only to few …while instead is much closer than we think…if only…we could embrace totally ourselves and look at reality from those healthy lens…..

Then there was the Pendle Hill worship, where I sat, feeling I was in my holiness, my inner light fully conscious and in control, and Friends ministered on giving gifts freely, and paying them forward. In my Friend’s time of greatest vulnerability and need he was supported.

Perhaps the inner critic or gaslighter will return. Those paths through the dendrites are too well-trodden to disappear in a day; and every time I assert my truth, it gets easier. I feel I broke through the barrier that held me back earlier this month.

I need to be affirmed- I am in great vulnerability- and I am affirmed. When I did not see myself my Friend saw me, writing of me, “she is absolutely committed to Truth and spoke … with honesty and courage”. In another meeting this week I moved a Friend to tears, and he wrote, “I think this writing is absolutely beautiful”. I write this here because these are the things I need to take into my heart, these are the things I have locked out for too long, I need to know that they are true. I feel affirmed.

I am Abigail, and I am Love, radiantly open to myself, my world and to all people, giving and receiving Life.