Pride, shame, honour, desire

Everyone must understand trans pride- queer pride- for themselves.

Shame relates to who you are, guilt to what you do. I feel guilt about particular actions, shame about what they reveal about me. And queer people are systematically shamed, made to believe who we are is shameful. You look inside yourself and find effeminacy when you should be masculine, when you can only be valued if you are properly masculine, and you feel shame. And I thought, my shame is overwhelming, like an over-exposed photograph, all white. If I am ashamed of everything, I cannot see what to change. I am simply shameful, entirely.

Shame is a tool. It has been used against me, and I can still use it to my own advantage, by claiming it as mine, by seeing what is another’s choice of what I should be ashamed of, and substituting pride.

I am who I am. Who I am is a good thing to be.

I keep going round in circles. I wrote, more than ten years ago,

It hurt so much, and it’s stopped.
Who I am is who I ought to be.
I can be me.
I can be free.

But that was in a poem, and I find things through poetry before I find them through prose.

Shame then becomes a tool, for my use and not for others to impose upon me. If I value myself and have a sense of my own worth, my own dignity, shame becomes a feeling I feel occasionally, for something indicating a departure from what I value, some course correction needed. So, where I was shamed for not being sufficiently masculine, now I feel shame where I attempt to put on a masculine persona, rather than being myself unmasked.

I tried to make a man of myself, in the past. I am not ashamed of that. It was the best I could do at the time.

Pride is called a deadly sin. We know it has value, an appropriate self-regard protecting us from shameful acts, and the word “Pride”, claiming what is a sin, shocks those who ought to be shocked, rubs in their faces that they cannot shame us with false shame any more. But generally I prefer honour. Pride is a sin in that it holds me above others, devalues them. So, honour, as a noun and a verb: I have honour, and I honour others. I will accord myself, and others, their proper value, according to my own honour. “I-it” relationships devalue me as well as the other.

Honour and shame become tools for achieving what I desire, actualising my humanity. I came to this conscious realisation through meditation, but it has been sitting inside me for a long time. I knelt in my ritual space, and it came to me. Shame and desire are my tools not my oppressors’: I must want things for myself, not just to fit to the rules of others. I need to find better treats than checking blog stats on my laptop. What I have wanted is just to withdraw. Unrequited desire continues to hurt. So far, this is all about seeing myself, being myself: being this in relationship with other humans is much more complex.

I may be the most screwed-up person you will meet, outside a prison or mental hospital. I am the human curled in a ball, traumatised, and the human reaching out a sympathetic hand- and I am also the whip, the human seeking to drive myself onwards for things I did not desire and were not proper to me as I truly am. The internalised parent, perhaps. I am the hurt, the carer, the drive; the traumatised being, the angel, the whip; these three parts dance around each other, coalesce and divide, at some times are two, others three. All are in me. I will value and integrate them. I will bring myself to birth.

Integrity

“Why would you be invited to the Queen’s funeral?”

Given that the Treason Act 1351 as currently in force makes “compassing the death of the Sovereign” and that the Late Middle English meaning of “compass” was to consider or ponder, I see a legal argument that we committed treason; but we were talking about events after the death not the death itself, and anyway a prosecution would not be in the public interest. I regret the question, because I wronged her and incurred a disadvantage to myself: it implies a doubt of her estimation that she would be, and a demand to assess her reasons, which is discourteous; and it thereby made me appear boorish, and created a distance between us which was not necessary. But the real reason I am beating myself up is that I see it is a silly thing to say, and that frightens me.

I make mistakes.
I cannot trust myself.
So I am not safe.

How could I say such a thing? Saying it does not really matter, I do not suffer particularly by it, I may never see her again, she will have forgotten it does not reduce my inwardly directed anger or my fear. Of course I must reduce that anger and fear as they are unreasonable. So I find myself again at war in myself, the feeling and the fear of the feeling.

Better to reassure myself. I am safe enough. It was a mistake, but usually I get things sufficiently right. And all sorts of things will frighten me, or anger me, and the fear and anger are tolerable if I permit them and do not fight or repress them. Even if I were perfect I might not be perfectly safe.

This is how I am. Meeting someone else:

-How are you?
-A bit anxious at meeting a person new to me.

And she was lovely, and we hit it off. I had been anxious, not just “A bit”- don’t minimise the feeling, it is real and it matters.

And the day before, I felt integrated. I am myself. I am here. I had coffee with S who confirmed that was her impression of me too, which reassured and comforted me. It’s not just a reaction to that loss, going into denial. I am not in conflict with myself.

If I desire perfection I will always be disappointed. It could make me always strive for greater achievement, but instead it has made me give up as nothing is good enough. To motivate myself I need to know there are possibilities, and that I can make things better by my own actions.

S told me of factory work. She got it because she speaks Polish. You need no references, the agency send you, you turn up. You sell your physical strength. The place is horrible, and the health and safety appalling. You could work on the end of the line, making up boxes, putting things into the boxes, putting the boxes on pallets, or on the middle of the line doing something to the passing objects. She could not do the precise thing with her thumb to affix stickers which some women did, and did not have the strength for particular operations. You learn what you are best at and tend to get put on that. The Polish workers did not know she spoke Polish and understood what they were saying about her. You’re just anyone, they don’t know you, but you could have a bit of a laugh, learn who has a car and could give you a lift there for say ¬£1 a time, and at the end of the week you have ¬£300. She did it for extra money for a few weeks. I don’t fancy it for seventeen years.

In conversation, I was horrible about various people, observed this, and wondered. Would I be better to rein that in, in order to be charming? If ones self control ceased to be terror-driven and automatic, one might make it more conscious and intentional. I feel I am learning lessons I should have learned in teenage.

That question on the funeral. It was a microaggression, the kind of thing one would say to shave someone down a bit, knock the tall poppy. Don’t get above yourself, it says. Something in me wanted to say that to her, who I hope is secure in her achievements by now. Odd. It’s not what I would say I would want. I want to make connections with people, I would say, to encourage each other. I am also irritated with myself because I blocked that connection.

To engage with all that I am

Goodness is a bad thing. Goodness is weak.

Why would you want to be “good”? To curry favour, perhaps, to be safe by fitting the rules. For goodness is an external standard, goodness according to someone else. It does not fit reality, your situation or what is the ethical or truthful in that situation. Goodness is slavery.

When I was a solicitor, we acted for a debt collection agency with Scots and English clients. 90% of the debts were recovered without court action, and 90% of the court actions were undefended. I, a second year trainee then a newly qualified solicitor, dealt with the defended actions.

I have some sympathy with the clients. They felt they had fulfilled an order and were entitled to be paid, and I wrote to them saying I needed several senior staff in Inverness or Perth on a particular day to prove it, or I asked them about a defence they thought spurious. I put the defence to them, and some complained to the debt collection agency. The English office wrote to me and said I should not write to their clients direct, but to them, and they would write to their client. They rewrote my questions in their own words, sometimes misunderstanding the point of the question. Getting the letter dictated and typed took days. Then they did the same with the client’s response. I would wait weeks and get a response that was little more use than “They tell us the debtors owe them the money”.

There are risks in this. You might be able to settle the day before a hearing, but you might not. The creditor might not accept half the debt in full and final settlement. The debtor might sense weakness and not make an offer- one defender’s solicitor refused to negotiate, saying I had attempted to bully him. I am a careful soul, I like to dot all the ts and cross all the is, and found this stressful. The partner could have backed me up, but he was a chancer. Later he was sent to prison.

I joked to him Responsibility without power- the plight of the cuckold through the ages. But I did not analyse it clearly enough: we should have warned the agency, our client, of the risks of their policy. I don’t know whether we did. Instead, I tried to make it work, pursuing a claim without enough information. In the end I got sacked over some other error, but I am sure the stress of this contributed to that error. And now I notice the hindsight: I was not good enough to make that work. I should have done something else. Or Alistair should have. It is my bad qualities, such as lack of resilience, and even my agreeableness, not wanting to confront, was weakness in that situation.

At this point a sign comes up on the screen that there is an internet connection problem and Skype will try to restore the connection- but I can still see her movements, and we can hear each other, so that appears untrue. We carry on talking, hoping we will continue to be able to. Eventually the sign goes away.

Is agreeableness a bad thing? I should have more self-respect, more care for my own rights and well-being. Whether the problem is my neither making that system work, nor changing it, the problem is my failure and my inability to see, my bad qualities. Hindsight is a curse unless mixed with forgiveness.

I have told of that man before. He was a pitiable creature, but I felt disgust first. Before I saw him Andy told me he was a paedophile, and when I met him he put on the table a key ring with two or three keys and about five fobs, each with a picture of a child in it. I could not take my eyes off the keyring. I had to ask him to put it away, it revolted me so much. He said it was his grandchildren. What had he been in prison for? “USI”, he said, as if that were an abbreviation everyone would understand- underage sexual intercourse.

Later he phoned me and complained about various things, but I could not find what had gone on. Security guards had ejected him from the hospital, and he wanted to complain, but I could not find out what had happened. After twenty minutes, I asked him what he thought I could do for him, and he said,

“I want you to make it so I don’t have to fear any more.”

My heart went out to him. I wanted that too. Others would see him as a paedophile, and the important thing to prevent him from being a threat to vulnerable children. I saw him as a vulnerable human, lonely and frightened. For the avoidance of doubt, I would want to protect children from him- but not by destroying him.

Soft-heartedness is a bad thing? It is Love. Love is not a bad thing. Love is me, and I am Love. I would not be other than I am. But caring can make life difficult.

Soft-heartedness can be a bad thing, but when people lost their benefits they wanted someone to sympathise, and did not want to answer my questions until I showed I did. And they wanted to tell me the problem the way they saw it. I had strict time limits imposed by the Legal Services Commission, but my attempts at robotic time-limiting, insisting on my own questions, did not actually save time. Sympathy oiled the wheels.

I might slough off “goodness” for integrity. I was inadequate to the challenges.

-Being a person of great intellect and deep emotion is a bugger, she says.

As usual at this time in the session, my intellect seems to be bringing it all together, just one piece missing or one piece too many, and I change it slightly then desperately and my incipient Great Understanding all falls to pieces again. How could I either bring together that Intellect and Feeling, or separate them?

-I see you as a person of honour, integrity, intellect, deep feelings and distress, she says. What steps can you take, so that you can engage with all that you are?

Confidence, acceptance, belief? Trust?

I know

I know I am a person of integrity.

This came to me this morning. With a minute or two before I want to leave for the Quaker meeting, I felt moved to go into the living room, then to affirm myself before the mirror. I like myself. Then, I know myself.

Then

I – know
I know

I know
I know.
I know.
I know.
I am a person of integrity.

This is lovely. I can tell the truth. I can know things in two ways, it seems, in words, for I have a great gift in the precise use of words, and by feeling- by knowledge of the heart in silence. This unites the two: what I know in my heart, I put into words; and that is Ministry.

I have a lovely ride there, with light following winds and occasional hazy sunshine, and I am a person of integrity running in my mind. I get to meeting early, chat for a bit, then settle into worship. This is a good place, and I am nervous, and self-protecting, and that is alright; and it is in my mind there, too- I am a person of integrity.

We are still discussing Quaker Faith and Practice, chapter 22 this week. What difference do we make in the world? Did you have a dream of doing some great healing work? My healing work is simply and entirely on myself, right now, I say.

(Oh, shall I say it? Saying it is frightening. I close my eyes so I cannot see them, and unprompted my voice goes softer and very high-

I am a person of integrity.

Someone I don’t think I met before looks at me- appreciatively? Evaluatingly?- and says, “How wonderful, to know that and be able to say it!” I hold her gaze for a moment, then say, laughing, “How cool is that?” And I am in self-protection mode, again, not realising others will accept what I say, trying to find a way to chivvy them along- and it does not work on her, I feel, and she still finds my statement wonderful. I note that others, who may have accomplished more than I, express uncertainty or even perhaps dissatisfaction with the good they have accomplished, it is only a little, and I am glad to be proud of my own achievement here. It is a real achievement.

I am a person of integrity.

What is integrity?

Pieter Bruegel- the Massacre of the Innocents, in partWhat is integrity? asked Sabina. Silence. We don’t know.

I don’t know what integrity would look like, but I imagine parts of it. One is integrating near and far thinking. Far thinking: when an issue is merely theoretical, and I can tell my opinion without any cost, I could think anything of it. Abortion fits this: people discuss abortion who would never need one, and their opinion marks “People like us” from “People like them”. We can say it and feel cosy familiarity and togetherness. One makes these decisions according to abstract principle- at least in ones own mind. But near thinking- what do you do when the issue touches you personally, or those whom you love? To have what you say match what you do is integrity.

Universalisability, the moral axiom, is part of it. If something is right for A, the same thing in the same circumstances must be right for B.

Honour is part of it, though honour is more difficult to define. Honour is both “Touch not me but a glove”- watch your step around me- and respect for all things, for everything that is, is holy.

As we have discussed truth and integrity, my lie has been at the front of my mind. I have thought of a defence for it: I told a lie to break a lie, I told a lie to defeat a greater lie. They sought to oppress me with a lie, and they do not deserve straight answers. I thought I could explain this to these douce Quakers, as I explain things to you: being understood, I would be validated. Then I thought, no, I can accept my own argument, I can forgive myself, I do not need absolution from others. This self-containment may be part of integrity.

Plebgate rumbles on. “Gate” is the suffix indicating a scandal- why not “Gategate” for the scandal of the Cabinet minister confronting the police- on his bicycle, what a common touch- at the gate of Downing Street. Then the scandal surrounding what people said about Gategate could be Gategategate. Onywye. No, Andrew Mitchell did not use the word “pleb”, but he treated the police with patrician disdain, and when, poorer witnesses than they should be, they said “he called us plebs” (truly) it was taken literally, and they felt the need to prove the use of that actual word. Now one policeman is in prison, and three sacked.

A planning official told of how architects draw plans with inaccuracies, so that eg. sight-lines and light appeared to fit the rules better, or build subtly differently from the plans in the permission. Getting them to tell the unvarnished truth is so wearing! Esther Rantzen created the word Jobsworth for an official sticking literally to petty rules, but whether they are petty or not depends on where you stand.

Integrity is so much more difficult if you cannot trust rules or authorities.

Quaker faith and Practice: Integrity is a condition in which a person’s response to a total situation can be trusted… Right ethical choices… we cannot take advantage of others by any form of dishonesty…

The right no II

NO.

I am rebelling against this. The examples which come to mind are Alastair Hall and Jacques Mesrine, at least as he appeared in the films. I can label it weak and stupid, and at best as groping in the dark.

It is a No to returning to the CAB. At least for now. It may be a No to other things, but I am not sure.

And it feels like Me speaking. Me, my wants, my feelings, my integrity. All of me but for my inner critic, in fact.

———–

I could make a case for it. I am trained as a lawyer, and good with words. And- I could pick a hole in any case I made.It is an emotional No, and needs no rational justification.

Mesrine is the hero of those films. Yes, he is a monster, a murderer, a thief, who produced nothing of value apart, perhaps, from his book, and bad things happened to those who approached him or befriended him-
and he has a certain tenacity, his spirit was not broken by a gaol designed to break hard men
and he refused that safe job. He came back from Algeria, which the French sought to hold, and where he first killed, and he refused to fit in to Society, with the Normal people, doing Normal things. He took what he wanted. He knew the level of respect he was entitled to- “MEY-rine”, he shouted at the judge.

That is not all, it does not work by itself, but it is part of what-

Alastair Hall had great charm when I worked for him, and a roar which terrified me. When I went to give evidence against him at the Scottish Solicitor’s Discipline Tribunal- the hearing did not proceed, as his representative successfully argued that he was unduly prejudiced by the delay in bringing the complaint- I wanted him to succeed. I did not then know he was a thief.

My choice of role-models shows how uncomfortable I am about this.

———

They had something I want. I am not sure what else I want, or what this might mean, or what to do with it, or what comes next, or anything, and my What will people think! still terrifies and paralyses me-

and I have my

NO.

An integrated self

My ritual space is a semicircular mat in the centre of my living room. I hallow it by meditating there. I have also been performing a new ritual there, a dialogue of my male and female selves,¬†about how each has sought in fear to suppress the other and how each may now accept and support the other and gain from the other’s strengths. I worked this out with a friend of a friend, Joanna Procter, who lives “within the M25” “South of the River”.

I think it is working, because this has been percolating in me for so long. Before I decided to transition I had a dialogue of my female and male selves with my inner rationalist and my inner toddler which is my I Want. I concluded that my female self was more real, and must be allowed out to express herself. After I transitioned I once performed, led by a friend, a ritual of my female self hearing and accepting my male self into her. And I still feared and suppressed and fought within myself, semi-consciously.

I claim victim status as a transsexual woman: accepting myself under the tyranny of Normality, which some call Kyriarchy, has been hard and painful and I bear scars. And I am transcending that hurt, to find blessing in my own uniqueness, gift where I once saw curse.

In my ritual, I speak from different parts of my self, in different places in the space, then stand in the centre arms out to envelop then enfold all parts of me, saying, “I am One”. Some of those parts may be different parts of my brain, evolved coping strategies, habitual ways of being. Some I have perceived as separate voices in myself, such as my inner critic. My aim is to have these parts trust each other, so that they/I may work together, and to discern their different voices, so that each may have its appropriate weight.

As I do my process, the struggle seems so much less important, the joy feels so much more.

The fourth tempter

I intend to cease judging my actions with words. I have judged a choice: is it courageous or cowardly, selfish or generous, moral or wrong? The trouble is that these are not judgments I can make. So instead, I choose to judge my choices according to whether it make me happy? Will it advance my goals?

I feel safe in doing this, because I am a good person. I have met a sociopath, and have a great deal of evidence that I am not like him. As part of my transition, I have a diagnosis from a psychiatrist that I am “not psychotic”, which is a¬†relief. Made in the image of God, I am loving, creative and powerful, and basically I trust my own motivations to¬†be morally good enough. So. Will it make me happy? Will it advance my goals? And, if later I see that the action has not made me happy, how can I improve it?

This matter of judging can get people into a terrible fankle. Jonathan Dale, a major contributor to the book¬†“Faith in Action- Quaker Social Testimony”,¬†is an inspiring¬†man whose actions are saintly but who judges himself as to his motivations, very harshly. But for any act I can undertake, I can imagine saintly and devilish motivations for it. And how might I judge which are mine?

The “fourth tempter” in “Murder in the Cathedral” tells Thomas a Becket to do the right thing, and he will go to Heaven.To which Becket responds, he will do what he will do because it is right, not because it will profit him.

the highest treason-
to do the right thing for the wrong reason

But I think to achieve my goals or to make myself happy are good reasons for acting. And I will see if an action really is mean, or beneath my dignity and integrity.