Finding happiness

If I were not inadequate, I would be happy. I don’t believe that, not really, but the thought is tempting.

I am an outsider. Regretting my surgery, and advising against it, I don’t know of any possible better way- not transitioning? Transitioning without bodily alteration? None is acceptable. I am an outsider, and no choice will make me fit in. Trying to is death. So living with the discomfort of being myself is the best way. And, oh God, it is uncomfortable.

None will make me fit.
-Fit what? For who?
Well. Exactly.

Audre Lorde: Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human difference between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.

“He who blames others has a long way to go on his journey. He who blames himself is half way there. He who blames no one has arrived.” Yeah. It’s facebook wisdom. There is something in it. Yet my self blame is reflexive, for everything, for being no use at all, so my self-blame does me no good.

So it felt like progress when I felt shame at having no money and wearing horrible old clothes. I want to present myself better. I got a Monsoon dress in a charity shop, so I will wear that- except it seems too dressy for the office. That’s lack of self-confidence, I can carry it off. I can do something about that shame, it’s not just wanting to be someone else.

Cathy, years ago. The birth mark on her cheek kept getting darker. She wore her hair long over her face but did not succeed in concealing it. Removal was possible, and she wanted it done, but never got round to it. It seemed to me that her birthmark was the symbol for her of her mediocrity and all the unsatisfactoriness of her life, and if she had it treated she would have to admit her life was still unsatisfying.

I wake at eight and reach for my phone. The Guardian opinion articles are on Brexit and white nationalist mass-shootings. People worked up about the thought that Muslims, Jews, Latinx, were replacing white people seem to be punching down, channelling their anger in a safe direction both for the oligarchs and for themselves. It is not a real threat. They face no risk for getting angry about it. They will not achieve beneficial change. They don’t fit their society either.

So I read what depresses and enervates me, and feel numb. “Numb” means there’s a feeling underneath which I cannot admit or recognise. I think it’s confusion. I should be able to sort all my problems myself. That I can’t is confusing. Unknowing is painful.

I go to meditate and feel delight in the moment, in the strength of that bush. Like it, I am alive! I am a living creature. I love the butterflies on the blossom. Meditating I am happy in the moment in the beauty where I am. I am not sorting my life out, instantly, certainly and painlessly but perhaps I am sorting it as best I can.

For whom would I want to fit in, to cease being an outsider? For me. If I want to fit in it is in order to feel safe. Then, what is the threat I fear? My mother? Her fears of the world? Mine? If I articulate the fears they seem silly but that does not take away their power, not am I certain I can articulate them. I am afraid of not understanding immediately what is going on. I am afraid of ridicule and contempt, and some are contemptuous of trans folk.

Someone calls me “he” but seems reasonably friendly, and I like her. And often in the past things have gone catastrophically wrong, in childhood and after.

Life is unbearable! I have no idea!

If I embrace how hard it is to bear, stop wishing it otherwise, might I learn to bear it?

Angels and demons

Angels and demons are the same.

I fear meditation, as I meet my demons there. Yet my demons are there all the time, shoved below consciousness yet affecting me in different ways; and meditation is like a pentacle, where the demons cannot harm me.

Perhaps the demons can never harm me, not really. What harm can they do? They could pop out at inopportune moments, scare others and make them hate me. Perhaps that’s what the demons did, when everyone was taller than me and could pick me up, or ignore me. They threaten my extinction: as a parent can cease to communicate love, which the child experiences as an imminent threat to survival, so I still fear my demons will kill me.

-What’s the worst that can happen?
-I shall die.

But that cannot kill me, any more.

The demons cannot harm me, but they can stop me from certain things. They scare me into suppressing feeling, so I am not aware what my feelings are. I can no longer do that. Perhaps the oestrogen makes them stronger, or my resistance less. I still reflexively suppress, and my feeling bursts out. I realised over a year ago that it was like a toddler, pulling on Mummy’s hand, that will not be ignored, so the toddler eventually shouts for all to hear. Mummy really would be better to pause a moment and listen. The toddler will feel respected. Her perception has been received and honoured, and she can let Mummy decide what to do with it.

Of course in this analogy I am the toddler and the parent. The toddler can be perceptive, even wise, saying things Mummy needs to hear. I thought I was doing teenage, but in part I am relearning lessons ideally learned as a toddler such as how to sit with feelings and contain them, and act informed by them but not forced by them- “respond not react” my wisdom-addict friend would say. Life long lessons.

Demons become angels, I say, poetically, allusively, elliptically, even cryptically and when I painfully translate that to prose it becomes the feeling that terrified me so that I gave all my energy to holding it down becomes the motivation that lets me fly. And then qualifications come in, for we act with other people, and make mistakes, and see things differently, and encounter opposition, and misunderstand…

Still, the feeling was terrifying.
Still, the feeling is perceptive.
Still, it took energy to suppress and is better acknowledged.

Suppressing it makes me stuck, slow in response. Ceasing to suppress is the start of a whole new learning process, but a necessary step.

Demons guard doors. I slammed the door on something, long ago, too difficult to deal with, and all the fear of that difficulty stops me going there again, though now I might have the resources to deal with it.

Demons drive, and angels energise. When I work on something I give it my all, and my fear and rage drive me on.

Learn to trust what you fear. Love drives out fear.

Positive thinking: appreciating openings in the brick wall, light in the darkness, possibility in [oh go on I can’t be poetic all the time]. Hope in despair, found not by denying the despair or belittling it, but working through it so that my eyes adjust.

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.

Reading, writing, understanding

“It was Heidegger who rendered phenomenology hermeneutical.” Are you still here, Jim? Jim wrote here, once, “I adore Heidegger”. I just about understand that sentence, have some understanding of what phenomenology is, or hermeneutics, though I am unclear about how one could be the other. And then a shaft of light: Heidegger describes understanding as the human’s fundamental way of being-in-the-world… the basis of human knowing in general.

Afraid to go out, afraid to go in- I have not been meditating, because I fear it, and then yesterday felt moved to, so did. And this morning I felt moved to so did and found my pain and sadness, at the heart of me, it just hurts. Being with it, being conscious of it, was what I had feared and why I had avoided meditation, and why I may avoid meditation in the future. And yet just sitting with this pain the emotional accretions to it cease to matter. There is the pain and sadness, and there is the terror and sense of incomprehension and powerlessness which they evoke in me, but if I sit with the pain the terror disappears. Perhaps I am still powerless, I don’t know. Perhaps, I am not. Perhaps, I will meditate.

Become blind during contemplative prayer and cut yourself off from needing to know things. Knowledge hinders, not helps you in contemplation. Be content feeling moved in a delightful, loving way by something mysterious and unknown, leaving you focused entirely on God, with no other thought than of [God] alone. Let your naked desire rest there. . . .

I have been reading. I love the idea of the Oxford “Very Short Introductions”, books about 120 pages long on all sorts of topics. The one on Existentialism has required my concentration, reading slowly, re-reading paragraphs and chapters, and that concentration seems a worthwhile practice to me as I sit at home. Maybe I should take notes. It seems a less frittery way of spending time than others open to me. I wish they were slightly easier, but there are concepts new to me which may be as lucid as possible. It fits this section, on how an inkling may grow to an understanding, how it might be aided by others, shaped by words. I have experienced such learning before.

She may be there this weekend. I hope so, hope not. I have spoken at her twice, both times imbecilically. (If you’re reading this, I don’t mean you.) She is utterly alien to me, beyond my comprehension, of fabulous intellect which I intuit may create loneliness in crowds like there will be. If she is there it will be her gift to us. If I dare approach her, not for absolution for my past idiocies but to say


as a gift not a request or a pawing attempt at robbery- an attempt at I-thou-

could it possibly result in communication I could bear? Though my communications so far, impertinent though they were, have elicited reactions so that I have seen her slightly better. What is the best that I want?

That intellect should win respect from all, but merely being female exposed her to insult and contempt, over and over again, probably still does.

Another person will be there, also alien to me but with whom I have communed, in Tate Modern, making the art we contemplated together dance and sing and give up mysteries. (If you’re reading this, you know who you are.) I so desperately want to commune.

Faced with the possibilities of Bad Faith or Authenticity, explained by Sartre as mediated by Thomas R. Flynn, I will occasionally make progress, slower than I would like, wanting instant communication and finding attempts failing over and over again. But then in meditation this morning, fleetingly, I managed to communicate with myself.

The voice of the Survivor

John Lavery, Hazel in Black and GoldThe female self who always controlled me though I denied her speaks. I feel sexy and flirtatious, capable of good and harm. The culture tells us it is not OK to be natural, even if you are cis and het. Humans can be with our feelings in the moment.

I said, we suppress them so we can live in cities. Just imagine the Tube!
-When an antelope escapes the lion, it shakes for an hour before rejoining the herd. Imagine someone screaming on the Tube, and others say, “Yeah, man, I feel you.”

In meditation, breathe a smile into your chakras, or into any part feeling pain or numbness. Or, breathe sexual energy. Check over your body, for any part which feels blocked, strong, numb or different, and allow that to dissolve. At any time notice you are breathing: it creates presence and awareness.

We whine our suffering to manipulate attention rather than state our needs honestly and ask for care. Jamie suggests ways, which I do not recognise: perhaps I do them without awareness. I realised I refused compliments, and practised accepting them. When I minimise and make a joke of suffering- oh, it wasn’t that bad- I am doing it to feel better myself, rather than seeking assistance. I did like “feeling let down by others’ lack of telepathy”.

Interview the Survivor, who writes with her right hand.

I have always been here. I am love and vivacity, my best self, happy.

What support do you need to express your superpowers as a healing force? Do not fear or resist. Welcome me and I will do the rest. Relax into authenticity, presence and awareness, where I am, always. Love and appreciate me. Accept and feel Joy and all feelings.

How shall I call upon you? Be aware of breath. Touch something to be aware of its texture.

How and where can I give these gifts to myself and others? Meeting Heather-bee; YM, writing, at the bus stop, in whatever comes.

How do you want to? On stage or film, in writing and meditation.

What superpowers? Integrity, love, presence, sensitivity, generosity, appreciation of beauty, delight, joy, creativity, acceptance, connectedness, wonder, lusciousness, sweetness, resilience, femininity, beauty, Sexiness, truthfulness, respect, energy, softness.

What excites you when you stop fearing and running? What energises you? But the time is over. I must get back to this.

Meeting these four characters this weekend- the inner critic, the shamed self, the innocent victim and the wounded superhero- I am inspired to write from that perspective. Now, Tuesday, I have written five blog posts from it.

John Lavery, Hazel as Pavlova


Why don’t I meditate? That moment in the evening when I repetitively check blog statistics and facebook rather than kneeling. I know if I stop it, and kneel, I will sleep far better, and carry on scrolling-

I have been kneeling in my ritual space, on and off, for years, but rarely regularly. Whatever it is- opening my chakras, counting breaths, reciting my affirmation- it is all good, and I know that. Why don’t I do it?

Because kneeling, I touch reality. Humankind cannot bear very much reality. I leave the facebook fug, where something pleases or irritates me but not much, not affecting me, and face my feelings about my own life and day. Real feelings frighten me.

And those real feelings work for my good. However difficult.

It may be beneficial to turn to meditation earlier, when I have the mental strength to overcome my initial resistance, or turn my attention to the blessing as well as the work of it.


Why do I not practise the piano?

On Saturday, I went through the music on H’s piano, and played those pieces I knew- not well, because I have not played them for ages, but sort-of. Possibly, it is because it is a real piano rather than a digital one: my digital piano has weighted keys, authentic sound, three pedals, but has a dinky little loudspeaker rather than a huge iron frame which vibrates in sympathy when I cough at a certain pitch, or to which I vibrate in sympathy as I play. That Romance sans Paroles by Fauré: I will always remember picking through it, before I learned it, and how the chord progression at the end moved me to tears. I was so far from tears and my femininity then, in my teens.

The wrong notes creep in, and they irk me. It is too much work to maintain a piece playably. I do not want to just bash through it. Yet on someone else’s piano, I bash away, affecting not to care.


My friend visited, and told a story, a memory of which he is proud and happy, which he had told me twice before. I told him I had heard it, and he just stopped. It took telling him I had heard it to realise that I should not have. The feeling it evokes in him is delightful to him. I can allow that feeling and enjoy sharing it.

Margaret Macdonald, Queen of Clubs

God is Relationship

double bass and tents (2)God is not a hypothesis. God is Relationship; Contemplation; Practice.

Actually, “God did it” is a good enough hypothesis for my day to day use: I am fascinated to hear of inflation, or Planck energy, or that the size ratio of an atom to a superstring is the same as the Universe to a ten-storey building; but I get the feeling that the scientists are bending over backwards to explain, and know that theories change over time, and are more complex than I can know with school physics. It happened. I am glad people try to work out why, but do not want to spend the effort necessary to understand the theories. My religion is so much more than an explanation of the World competing with the natural sciences.

God is relationship. Sometimes it seems that I understand what is going on, but most of the time I do not, not really. God is my sense that everything is going to be alright. God is what is, surrounding and supporting me. God is in me, responding, for so often consciously I have no idea what that response might be. God is the moments when I can’t go on, yet somehow do. God is a punch-bag- “Why have you forsaken me?” God is a friend whom I can talk to, a friend who, like human beings, surprises me as I learn new aspects of their character.

God is contemplation. God is my silence when the world changes because I notice it. I kneel in my ritual space, and hear what is around me. I sit in the silence of the Quaker meeting, with the other worshippers. God is the world made new, heaven in a wild flower, when I find a leaf and am entirely absorbed in its beauty and complexity. God is the moment Now divorced from fear and regret, anticipation and recrimination. God is in my devotion to what I do right now- washing up, cleaning my teeth, washing my hands- so washing my hands can become a ritual which brings me to awareness of the moment and all my experience in it- water, movement, the complexity of a hand. This delights me.

God is practice. God is in daily meditation, and changes I notice in that. Not that I get better at it, necessarily, because monitoring my “progress” takes me out of the practice and into evaluation of it, ambition, looking back to past experience not experiencing now. It is not about a state of mind which is purer or better than others, but about accepting each state of mind, each way of being and doing.

God is these things, as a unity, as One to love and fear. Do not ask me what I believe, or classify me- agnostic, theist, whatever.

Obeying the rules

???????????????Let me share one of my myths. It is a memory with part in sharp focus, from which I have theorised about who I am and why.

I went to the christening of my younger niece. I was in my mid-twenties. Her sister was around 24 months. At some point, I think after the ceremony, Siobhan wanted to toddle in one direction, and I wanted to move on- to the party after, probably. I told Siobhan off, firmly. No, come this way. My sister’s friends whom I did not know told her she could go where she wanted, which irritated me; I don’t think I replied.

Primo Levi says somewhere about people in the camps who tried to obey the rules, and thereby survive, and were doomed because the rules were designed to kill slowly. I have it on codex, so the search function is limited to riffling through the pages to see if anything reminds me of it, but I would like to find it, because I may have distorted my memory of it to fit this idea as well-

that my seeking to obey rules is the mark of the low-status primate in the pecking order, and that I naturally enforced it on Siobhan as I had had it enforced on myself, perpetuating the pattern. That is, my upbringing unconsciously fitted me for low status, deferring to others. This produced anger in me which I could never express because expressing anger was impossibly Bad.

In the medical centre, there was a little boy whose parents were teaching him to talk back. When we get home, we’ll bake cookies.
-You’ll bake cookies, Daddy.
-I’ll bake cookies to eat them all myself says Daddy, joke-triumphantly.
-Say “Whatever, Daddy” instructs Mummy. I caught a whiff of power games between the adults, which would only improve the child’s learning of this dynamic.
-Whatever, Daddy, said the child, exaggeratedly, mockingly, giggling.

Deference, submissiveness, whatever. I grope towards understanding, go off on odd directions, have a model which is not internally consistent, try to untangle the mixture of my trauma and anger. My mother did not want me as a baby, and now I feel tolerated rather than accepted as a woman. “God will not test me beyond what I can bear”? I don’t believe that, actually. I am an evolved being: we will not each overcome the world. All that is necessary is that enough of us can breed to sustain the population over time.

I knew I ought to meditate, and I did not: perhaps because I expected to feel all Spiritual and lovely while meditating and feel good afterwards, and was always disappointed. Now I kneel in my ritual space, and feel my anger or my fear, and get up confused. One gloss I could put on this is that I feel my anger, and its energy, or my fear, and its vulnerability and increased perception, so that if I can sit with it rather than blocking it out, it will benefit me. But that is to predict where this process might end, which is futile. Better to just go with it, which is my old way- head down, obey the rules.

This is my 900th post.


Pieter Bruegel Babel detailI kneel in the ritual space, and breathe. I count breaths for ten minutes, then observe them for five. I am breathing quite regularly and deeply, and immediately I judge and question that. Is it “natural”? Is it some imposed or habitual thing? Previously my breathing has varied. Such a strong feeling in me:

This is new

and therefore to be resisted.

So strong. Perhaps not ideal, to be that conservative: if everything new is a threat, I am stuck with what has not worked before. Oops, positive: if I am wary of everything new, I may stay with what has worked in the past, I will not run after silly fads (it is hard to be positive both about conservatism and New-seeking).

Conservatism. Something I have to change in myself, something not in my interests, something indicating I have bad habits. Yet another thing to fear. Or- one voice in a multitude of voices, within me, all worthy of attention.

So much of culture is designed to affect how we see things, how we judge or perceive them whether by thinking or feeling: this is the right or normal way to see that particular thing. That is what a “spin-doctor” is for, to manipulate perceptions, and those who work against equal marriage are distressed that not everyone is as disgusted by gays as they are. On the bus, a man moaned that he had not had his heating allowance (jargon: winter fuel allowance) yet. “They begrudge paying it, that is what it is.” Either he would moan about anything, or a short delay has made the government look worse than it need to.

There is not only no right way to feel about something- someone dies, so you should be grief-stricken, and anger is just weird and horrible and no way should you feel that- but no one way to feel about something. I meditate, and pay attention to my breathing, and as well as the suspicion there are other feelings, which my conscious mind may give attention or not: they are all me.

I used a thing until it was beyond worn out, and its replacement has just cost me £6. Here is abundance-world. I bought a printer, with two ink cartridges included, for £10 more than two ink cartridges, and it has a scanner/ photocopier function. So my scanner is not unnecessary. If I can’t give it away I will throw it out, and that feels wrong, wasteful, yet is a reasonable response to the circumstances.

Counting breaths

File:KamakuraDaibutsuSlide.jpgHow could you get breathing wrong? Well, you could hyperventilate.

I kneel in my ritual space to count my breaths, and notice how I second-guess even my breathing. It is supposed to be natural, unconscious, autonomic, but when I observe it, it becomes self-conscious. It fits what I have been taught to think about breathing, what I have learned about it. A deep breath calms, relaxes and centres a person.

Though at the poetry slam, before starting to recite, I took my deep relaxing breath too close to the microphone, and it echoed round the room HOCHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

But here, I should be simply observing. Is that first deep breath then learned behaviour, or is it what my body does, assuming this position? How could I know?

My anxiety to get things right:

Ah. Positive self-management. How to think of this, to feel the right thing? My anxiety has spurred me to learn many things, but it has also been too much for me. I have given up, rather than fulfil my own demands. If I practice observing, before jumping to conclusions (oops, that is judgmental) If I practice observing, I will see everything is alright really. Deep breaths…

Jack has the theory that people breathe more File:Man sitting under beach umbrella.JPGshallowly as a method of social control. We are taught this in childhood, and it keeps us quiet- then and now. If we breathe more deeply, we can be raucous, or boisterous, or Stand in our Own Power.


I have no mind’s eye, but I can think in pictures. It seems that some people, with their eyes closed, can visualise things, which seems to be similar to actually seeing them. So I read of an NLP technique: imagine a bad memory as a small monochrome photograph, and a good memory in as much detail and colour as you can.

Some people cannot: a trick to develop the skill is to imagine a sandy beach, sea, blue sky, three elements, two straight lines, the photo on the right is too complex. I have tried that.

How to explain my experience?

I have actually thought in pictures. I thought, I could drive home by [] or by [], and this was a total shock to me: I am thinking in pictures– and the shock of realisation remains in my memory, ten years later. If I close my eyes, what I see is blackness, or light through my eyelids, and if I imagine something, like that yellow parasol-

sometimes I can know what it’s like. As if there were a black veil, but I somehow perceived what was behind it. This may be worth practising.

Elgar’s mind’s ear was so good he could hear an orchestra in his head from looking at a score. I can hear an orchestra in my mind, remembering a piece of music. The fidelity gets better if I concentrate.  I can hear the sound of a violin playing a tune I have not heard it play: that too needs concentration.