The process of transition

What a job, eh? Dreaming up new ways to make babies cry, making lots of babies cry to prove it works, and then writing about it?

WisteriaThe mother interacts, and the baby learns. Then the mother stops interacting, just giving a blank stare. The baby tries everything to get the mother to respond, and within a minute is crying helplessly.

Well, I don’t know about all of you-
both of you?
-anyone?
but possibly that is what I am doing here. All those facebook likes and comments make me feel happy, and when page-views and comments  here go up then I feel happier: which is fine until they go down. I got the video from Monkeytraps, and while I can see that a husband withdrawing communication would upset a wife, it bothers me that I might feel the same way towards a screen. Before thinking this, I found the baby video extremely disturbing, even though I realised that this is a useful lesson about babies, and people generally.

I threw my wobbly on Saturday, then felt a bit fragile on Sunday. E drove me to —- for Area Meeting. How are you? I feel fragile, and I want to say why, then I want to go over diverse causes for my wobbly because I feel the need to justify to my inner critic just why I felt that bad. Um, no- focus on the positive. I am not sure about AM. I don’t trust the process, and I don’t trust the people, after it went so spectacularly wrong in September that here, where I let it all hang out, I haven’t written about it. So Ian’s reading for AM was what I needed: QFP 26:39. True faith is not assurance, but the readiness to go forward experimentally, without assurance. It is a sensitivity to things not yet known.

Ruth asked me, How are you? How’s the job search going? It’s been nearly three years, hasn’t it? Shouldn’t you be signing on at the jobcentre? When I say that I told them what my psychiatrist and endocrinologist were doing, and they let me not, she said, mockingly, “So you’re a full time clerk?” Later, she challenged me about writing parts of the minutes in bold type, and I am unsure what she sees wrong in what I am doing. Gillian told me how well I was clerking, and I said I know that, and- it is good to hear it from another. And- clerking a light meeting, 1½ hours, tired me.

Getting out of the car in —- (this post is not chronological, but all over the place) I noticed the fading and stained wood and plaster decoration at the tops of the terraced houses, and thought how beautiful it was; and then I was Present and sensitised, looking at the gloriously green moss on the porch tiles, damaging the house yet beautiful. It seemed that to be this sensitive is to be fully alive, and I could not be so without the downers, like the day before.

Oh, and I found this picture on facebook. It makes sense, actually.

The process of transition

Internalising

I internalised homophobia and transphobia, and became a bigot. I still have some traces of my internalised transphobia: transphobic remarks from others can make me need reassurance from others that it’s all right to be like this, though less and less, now.

The theory is that victim groups “internalise” the views about them which oppressor groups hold- trannies are disgusting, whatever- and so oppress ourselves. And a person who oppresses himself like this will also oppress others: so I was nasty to gay people. I have grown out of that.

I am provoked by Brute Reason. I know I internalised. I know that I am mostly cured, and that I am freer and better off. What of a woman who wants to stay at home and be a full time Mum? Perhaps her ultimate self-actualisation, the unity of her gifts and attributes means that she will be Fulfilled as a stay-at-home Mum. Possibly, also, she has internalised patriarchal beliefs and without them she would be a doctor, the type with no bedside manner or empathy whatsoever.

It might be more likely that a stay-at-home Mum had internalised patriarchal oppression in the 1950s, when there were so many more of them. A woman’s salary was treated differently from the man’s in assessing a couple’s mortgage. A seascape- shipping by moonlight- detail 2Women might leave work on marriage. So 1970s feminism “raised Consciousness” so that women now can choose other things. Now, that Mum is more likely to have chosen for herself, though it is still possible that she has internalised patriarchy.

I have a clear understanding that I internalised transphobia, and am liberated from it (as in “Women’s Liberation”). As a bigot, I would have denied it. I can only know I internalised in retrospect.

Being a full time Mum is a reasonable choice in a society where other options are available. I wondered whether being celibate, as a gay man, could ever be a choice free from internalised homophobia. Catholic priests- whether Anglo-Catholic or Roman- may believe that they are better pastors when celibate. I am unsure whether this is just part of the ridiculous traditionalist Catholic view of sex, or whether they are on to something- it originated when priests were told not to have sex the night before celebrating the Eucharist, then started celebrating daily, which is unconnected to whether a priest cannot love his congregation as much if he has his own family.

It is always possible that a person makes decisions because of internalised oppression, and that will be the case as long as there is oppression.

The world turned upside down

File:Claude Monet - Walk (Road of the Farm Saint-Siméon) - Google Art Project.jpg“You believe in right and wrong, but I believe in profit and loss.”

Villain of the week, a banker, had had someone murdered. He said it was his “duty” to prevent losses to his bank and shareholders.

What is the world like? TV dramas range between the reassuring ones where right wins over wrong, and the bracing ones where what matters is power and money- from Person of Interest to The Good Wife with Ripper Street somewhere in the middle. In 19th century Whitechapel, a slum, the decent police inspector is driven to only a little bad conduct, so that those who like good and bad neatly divided may retain sympathy with him- less this series than the first.

We so want the world to be one where good wins and bad suffers, where there are rules which are obeyed by good people, which all good people may understand, so that the bad people are excluded. Me too. So Ardie Bea‘s long, scholarly series on the Bible and homosexuality (he thinks it’s against) follows a tempting line. God sets out the rules. The rules are in the Bible. We can know what is Good.

Unfortunately, Jesus disagrees. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. In Matthew 10 he sends out his disciples, and warns them of the bear pit he sends them into- yet tells them not to take money or spare clothes. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus claims to “fulfil” the law.  Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Right conduct is impossible, for unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

What is right is contingent and provisional.

Crying for the money

Claude Monet- Yellow Irises detail 1If a man for money criesClaude Monet- Yellow Irises detail 2
cry not when his father dies
It is proof that he would rather
have the money than his father.

This has been bothering me. Even if the original is a mockery of Lopez de Vega rather than a serious point, I have cried far more passionately over my father’s loss of money than over his death.

£60,000, or £10,000, as soon as the executry was complete, would give me choices which I do not now have. That my father could be conned out of £50,000 last year was bad enough; that he could be conned out of another £50,000 by practically the same con, after he appeared to see that he had been conned before; that after he appeared to see that the second con was a fraud, he could scrape together £2000 to give to the same people this Summer; that his wife, and my sister who lives ten miles away could not protect him from this; that I could not, because I was so far away and because of how I was with his wife; that we and hundreds of others conned in the same way could tell the police of the particular con-men, and those con-men could continue to operate with impunity from the same addresses and telephone numbers-

makes me weep, passionately, abandonedly, repeatedly- for my failure to control my world, and my loss of the money. Whereas at his funeral my weeping was a happy grief, with delight at his beauty and vivacity-

Is this next bit brutal and dark? I don’t know.

At 88, his physical and mental powers were greatly reduced. He needed no carers, and took some part in the housework, but did not go out a lot. He had stopped going to the church, or the dancing. People visiting made his social life, and I am unclear about how much there was of that. He has ceased to be a source of worry for me. In part the worry was that he would be unhappy or weary or frightened or deluded, and I and others could not alleviate that.

In dying, he has ceased to be this vulnerable old man, and become- himself, the whole of him over his whole life. In that sense his life is Eternal, outside time. I have memories, of gifts and achievements, and his real regrets are outweighed by his consolations and mine.

The images are extracts from Yellow Irises by Claude Monet.

On the train

File:Vincent van Gogh - Bridges across the Seine at Asnieres.jpg File:'Clovis Dardentor' by Léon Benett 30.jpgI felt some apprehension sitting across the aisle from Kate, who is one, but she was smiling and babbling happily. Her mother chattered away to her, and we talked of tantrums. I had one recently, it was delightful and liberating. No-one can object to them, we have all been there. However she gets embarrassed: she does not want to be the person she hated travelling with two years ago.

As she promised, when Kate started to cry, the mother took her to the vestibule, and soothed her to sleep. Then she came back, and slept too. Despite the baby-stains on her jeans, she was elegant: it could be her self-assuredness. None of the stress of motherhood is apparent. Later, another mother with an 18-month old son got on, and sat beside her. The boy played happily with his Tombliboos.

I looked at the document on the lap of the woman beside me. It told how “traditional” shoppers could be given permission to buy packaged salads and stir-fries: It is quicker, and cheaper, there is more variety. I asked her what traditional shoppers were. They are the people who like fresh food displayed traditionally, as in the 50s and 60s. What, Septuagenarians? No, people learn their food habits from their parents. And we need permission: if you think that such packets are too expensive, you need persuaded to use them. If you have a lot of salad, you will always have a lettuce in the fridge, but not if you use them occasionally.

File:'The Begum's Fortune' by Léon Benett 30.jpgMmm. Supermarkets educate their customers to use what they provide. She does market research: the chains have all the sales data, but she talks to the customers. It’s a job, she supposes. She is working in Tesco Express shops, and she travels from London to York today to research.

Then an old woman gets on, with CND earrings, a CND pendant, a CND patch on her rucksack and a touch of BO. I get her chatting, from her Guardian- we agree acid attacks on women in India are horrifying, and she talks of her voluntary work there when she first retired. She is stressed by the world- violence as in the Yugoslav war, and global warming, and talked of horror, not hope.

J told me of teaching. When she heard on the news one of her former pupils had been stabbed in the neck in a phone box, she was not surprised: he was one of two pupils she would call evil. She taught him in an FE college: the lads had to have classes in basic English and maths, though they larked around. One, not in her class, came in and sat quietly with his computer: she asked him once or twice why he was there, but he asked nicely and was not disruptive. She found later he was downloading porn. The boy later murdered was very disruptive, and once she took him out of the classroom and was going to make him sit in the “study suite”- an empty room with desks- when the deputy head came past. He sent her back into her classroom, then sent the boy back after her. She could not exclude him. Her authority so completely undermined, she resigned.

File:Claude Monet - The Gare d'Argenteuil.jpg

Toxic Shame II

I have done my best.
It is not "all my fault".
 I am still here.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/1284_Wheatstack_%28Thaw%2C_Sunset%29%2C_1890-91%2C_66_x_93%2C_26_x_36_5-8_in._The_Art_Institute_of_Chicago.jpg

I am still here. That is success, of a sort, and has to be enough. I have not- done certain things, but if I judge myself by what I have not done, I will be entirely miserable. I have achieved certain things: I wrote a painstaking analysis of every single word in an activity and descriptor in the Incapacity Benefit test, to show that if the DWP’s less generous interpretation were correct there was a superfluous word, and since legislators must be presumed to draft elegantly without superfluous words, my more generous interpretation which gave that word meaning must be correct.

I love Law at its most creative, and at any level I could be employed, it is bureaucratic and repetitive.

Oh! Pain and regret! It is not my fault.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/1286_Wheatstack_%28Sun_in_the_Mist%29%2C_1891%2C_65_x_100_cm%3B_25_5-8_x_39_3-8_in.%2C_Minneapolis_Institute_of_Arts.jpg

It is not my fault- two years not being paid, and not now looking for work, and not, much, engaging with other people. I was looking for work, at the start, and I did my best. I always have done my best, and while the inner critic might say it was not good enough, she had no useful way of making it better.

Pain and regret mingle with shame. I cracked a tooth, and my tongue repeatedly explored the gap, and the new so-sharp edge. And, after a time I noticed- my tongue is not exploring that, much, now, and the edge is not as sharp as it was. So-

I am not working.

Breathe.

“I am not ashamed of that.”

File:Claude Monet, Haystack, Morning Snow Effect (Meule, Effet de Neige, le Matin), 1891, oil on canvas, 65 x 92 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.jpg

Test it. Is it true, or is it just that I would like it to be true so pretend it is? So much easier, to note that particular spiritual growth is possible, and pretend one has done it. I think there are moments when it is true, and they are moments of what I have called Presence, being “in the moment”. Shame is part of the miasma which binds me to past and future.

That miasma blunts my feeling! I do not feel the sharpness of fear or anger or delight when in it!

Shame is different from regret. Oh! That happened! I am hurt by it, I wish it had not, in that way, but of all that feeling Shame is the only one which takes a bite out of me. Shame blames me- I was not good enough, as if that information could be any use at all. There were other options I did not see, and I might see options better after that experience, and it had its positives.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Monet_-_Haystacks_in_the_late_summer.jpg

Shame. What on Earth is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Emotional Being: Shame is not you. It is like handcuffs, preventing you from dancing. Move your arms freely, and be beautiful.

Sensitivity

 Poppy field beforeI am sensitive,

and that is a gift.

It means I can see others, and resonate with them

know their feelings

understand a situation

and it means I am easily hurt.

This gift seemed not to fit my world.

It made me think wrong things.

It hurt me.

So I saw it as weakness and wrong

and I suppressed it.

But I could only suppress the gift, the seeing:

I could not suppress the being easily hurt.

So it seemed like only weakness and worthlessness.Poppy field after

As I learn to see and sense others

I am still easily hurt

I am still not in control

unable to see or do the Act which makes things Perfect

yet I learn to see others, and resonate with them

know their feelings

and understand a situation

In my weakness is my strength

I will know the place for the first time

I am sensitive

and that is a gift.

Shame II

onet_-_The_Road_to_V%C3%A9theuil_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/1255px-Claude_Monet_-_The_Road_to_V%C3%A9theuil_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

I announced that I had overcome my shame. I know my transsexuality and my sexuality, and I accept them. That is how and who I am. It is OK. Rejoice with me, for I have overcome my shame. I even believed it. When one sees a spiritual task, one may do it, or fib to onesself one has done it already.

Then the exercise was, we stated publicly what we were ashamed of, around sexuality, and I heard the pain of others. I was overwhelmed with horror and disgust, a thick sharp agony under my sternum. If our fucked up way of being hurts me as “not normal”- I am quite an outlier, though I am still part of the bell-curve- that is one thing, but these poor benighted heterosexuals:

all that hurt and pain and shame-

So now I sit with it. Not writing this post stopped me writing for seven days, for how can I write it? It is beyond my words. I have two answers. My shame is past, it will not affect me any more; or, my shame is a part of me, part of my own reactions. Hello darkness my old friend- it is something within which moves me, and my resentment and resistance to my own responses are the problem. Let all these unconscious processes be, and they will unknot themselves in time. Don’t overthink.

I fear. I need to be unknotted Now. And is that not an “unconscious process,” worthy of equal honour?

Words are not definitions and boxes and restrictions but suggestions and possibilities and spring-boards. Robert Bringhurst, Saraha:

No difference exists
between body and mind, language
and mind, language and body.
What is, is not. You must love
and let loose of the world.

I used to write poems,
and like yours, they were made
out of words, which is why
they said nothing.

and yet we use words, for what else have we? People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening

From Facebook: The Feminine is finally meeting her pain with a respectful namaste. Her pain is her oldest teacher. Also the one she’s avoided facing at all costs. Finally, she’s putting her attention to it. Feeling it fully without running away is scary, it’s especially hard to stay in it.

Her sankalpa to shift her consciousness is coming from a space that is much larger than her contractions. Her practice is to continue to breathe into her ‘not knowing’. Slowly, as she experiences her dark, agonising spaces without resistance, it begins to take her through the dark alleys of lifetime after lifetime of victim/aggressor existence. And at the end of the tunnel, she meets love. Intense, blinding, golden, shimmering love. She melts into it.

Kneel in the ritual space. There is this moment.

Hurt and shame

Yesterday I started crying in the morning, thinking of- something that happened a year ago. And the inner critic said why are you upset about that, it was ages ago, this wailing is stupid play-acting, don’t be so silly, etc. I heard that inner voice, and I did not accept what it said. I thought, I am still hurt, so I am crying. I will recover, but it is good to accept how hurt I am. I thought, I am upset and it is OK to be upset, or even, I am doing useful work on that particular incident by bringing my upset into consciousness. As I get better at this acceptance, it brings me more joy.

What is the emotion there? Upset is not an emotion, it is a symptom of an emotion, (Thanks Steve) and perhaps it would be good to identify the feeling, but at the moment it feels enough to be upset and not discount that or get angry with myself.

This morning I felt shame, again as great as I felt at the time of the incident, which happened in Summer 2009. I persuaded a client to settle his unfair dismissal case for £250, an insulting go-away settlement, because I did not see how to win his case. He had been sacked for failing to obey an instruction. He argued the instruction was unreasonable for one reason, which I did not think held. After the settlement was signed, I thought of another reason why the instruction was unreasonable. I still feel such shame that I did not see it before. I think I was taking more responsibility on myself than was appropriate. I was upset at the time not because the clients lost out but because I did not live up to my particular standards.

My weeping yesterday was sweet, my shame this morning painful. I have thought, before, that I did not see the argument earlier because I am not perfect, and hindsight is always better than foresight, and even I have nothing to be ashamed of, and I feel that shame which is possibly one reason why I am retreated from the world for over a year. I do not know what to do with it. When I think of the incident, the pain of the shame I feel is undimmed. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Claude_Monet_028.jpgI need certainty. I need to know other people’s character and motivations, and what will happen. What ought to happen, well, ought to happen. Because I fail at this- useless fuckwit that the inner critic tells me I am- I am hiding away. Or, something. Perhaps my pattern-forming aspect finds a solution where none is. Acceptance is the thing. What ought to happen gets in the way of perceiving and accepting what does. Self-acceptance leads to self-valuing.

I am healing.
I am sure I am healing.
I am really sure that I am healing.

——————————————-

Er, um. If you are desperate to call me a “man”, go ahead. That is quite all right by File:Claude Monet, Grainstacks in the Sunlight, Morning Effect, 1890, oil on canvas 65 x 100 cm.jpgme, as long as you do not make a scene when I go into the loos. If I fit your definition of “man”, well, OK. Just do not call me “unnatural” or “deluded” or “immoral” or “an inadequate/ lesser/ inferior man”. Just because I fit part of your definition of “man”- having a Y chromosome, perhaps- do not demand that I fit all of it, especially requirements about how a “man” should behave.

I am not unnatural, or deluded, or immoral, or inadequate, or inferior. I am Different. Difference and diversity is beautiful and enriching.

I should not have to tiptoe around anyone, fearing that they will judge me as Wrong for using a female name, etc. If they do, it is OK for me to feel anger and resentment, because they are Wrong to respond to me in that way.

I am still absorbing that, and putting it into words for myself. Then I get, er, “upset” is as close as I can get to it, often- and the emotion floods through me, and I weep, and then I can again make a declaration like this one, and pass through the cycle again. And this is where my needs to control and be perfect comes from, and as I self-accept they grow less.