Guilt and shame

Guilt is “I am bad because of what I did”; shame is “I am bad because of who I am”. It seemed my shame was like an overexposed photograph. All white without distinction, I could not distinguish the truly shameful from the everyday things which set off my jumpy, hair-trigger shame reaction. This could prevent a developed sense of guilt. At times, I felt guilty for things I could not control, such as the tribunals I lost, though not all were winnable or deserving. At others, I could excuse myself, I did the best I could. It seems to me these thoughts did not accurately reflect reality, were not a rational response to external factors but an emotional whirlwind.

I try absolutely as hard as I can. All the time.

English bitch Olivia says, You’re frightened that you’ll have [bariatric surgery] and your life won’t change. It’ll stay as it’s always been because this really is who you are. Or words to that effect. I love that character, and hope she will have some character development, not just be the English Villain. She says and does some brilliant things and, because she is English, the outsider, I have just looked up in Wikipedia that she only appears once again. UK broadcast is about three months behind.

This is the usual digression.

Here’s Ten Metre Tower, in which people climb up a tower to look down on a swimming pool, and decide whether to jump. I have done this. There was a crowd up there, and eventually I jumped, not being able to climb down. Watch them. More than one walks to the edge, then walks back, and fear of falling wars in them with fear of climbing down. As they turn away from the edge, fear of the course chosen grows and fear of the course rejected recedes, so several pace back and forth. I remember the exhilaration as I decided to climb up, then apprehension at the top. I am glad I jumped.

I am a human being. I do my best, and make mistakes occasionally. That experience of pacing back and forth between the edge and the stairs down from the tower is a common one, and I have been climbing down. Do I want to jump? (Metaphorically, I mean, I have never been up such a tower again.) Today it was around going cycling, which would be effort but get me out in the sunshine. I took my bike outside and found the chain badly needed cleaning and lubricating after a lot of riding on wet road. So I cleaned and oiled it, and did a bit of housework.

I have been climbing back down the tower stairs. Or not climbing the tower in the first place. It is where I am, I am unsure how to move on from here, and I will not feel guilt about getting here. I know I do my best. I feel guilt and shame would merely enervate me not spur me on, but climbing down means I climb down more easily. Aspiration or hope would be good.

And it is my judgment, not that of others. I know me better than they do.

That group judge me, and I wondered, if I went to the other group how will I feel about them knowing about the first group’s judgment? Am I ashamed of having this happen to me?


Desire and action

Why does anyone do anything? They think it will advance their goals. It relieves an immediate discomfort- I feel a headache, so take a painkiller. I believe it will relieve discomfort in the future- in case I get other headaches, I buy painkillers. Or, they think it will give them pleasure. Positive feelings arise from experience, all slightly different- satisfaction, contentment, happiness, excitement.

Often, a person’s problems seem too great for them. This may be because they do not trust or know themselves sufficiently, and have too great fear of things which might not happen. So they seek an escape. A video game takes you into the now, in a way which is the Opposite of meditation: walled off from the world, concentrating on something brightly coloured in constant motion but unreal, with an endless stream of false feelings of achievement. I became addicted to Tetris, and weaned myself, then became addicted to Candy Crush, clockwatching until I could get more “lives” without paying for them. I don’t go near the things. I do like a glass of wine, though, and hang around my blog stats more than just to see what is being read.

Some level of escape is OK, some gets in the way of actually facing problems. In a vicious spiral, problems appear greater so you spend less time facing them. It is not always clear where the boundaries lie.

We are taught what will advance goals. I associate taking a pill with relief of an ache because someone told me it would work, I tried it, it worked. I clean my teeth because I learn to associate discomfort with not doing so, relief from discomfort with doing so.

It can be worth effort and concentration in pursuit of pleasure. Listening to Bach partitas at first I was bored and perplexed. I just wanted them to end. Now I find them beautiful. I have had epiphanies with art works, suddenly seeing them in a new way, appreciating after a long time looking, even years of familiarity.

I have false beliefs in what I might enjoy. This is what we as a family do for pleasure. So I go along with it. Later I still do it, expecting enjoyment where there is none. Seeing the false beliefs, seeing how empty some of my actions are, I lose trust in what I have learned and seek to learn what actually motivates me. I thought when starting my first job after University, I cannot endure this job. I must enjoy it. Yet I found myself enduring, then not enduring it.

Black and white thinking gets in my way. Cycling is effort with moments of delight. I want to notice and savour each delight without denying the effort. In work there was tedium and triumph: the achievement needs to motivate me, so I must see and prize it all, to its full value. Overwhelmed by everything, yet wanting more so much- acceptance of what is is the thing. Seeing what is possible. An endless puzzle, never worked out, the intolerable wrestle with words and meanings…

I lose motivation. I could do that if I wanted. I just don’t want to at the moment, I think- then tell myself that as fear and disbelief grow. And, I grow to like and value myself. I am worth looking after.


Feeling good

It was definitely my right of way on the roundabout. That car should have given way to me. It was approaching quickly, but it would slow down- however perhaps the driver did not see me at first, and I looked to my left seeing it bearing down on me. Had he not slowed down, he might have clipped my back wheel- as it was I escaped unscathed. I considered sharing my feelings with the pedestrian just beyond the roundabout- relief, anger, fear, bewilderment- but he did not look the empathetic type, so I did not.

Then I got home, glistening all over with sweat in the heat, and felt Wonderful. It could have been the weather, exercise, narrow escape from injury or anticipating lunch with Liz.

I have been feeling down. It could be the bitterness and falsehood of the Referendum campaign- neither leave nor remain feel like powerful choices. I was thinking of my job interview on Thursday:

-Do you want the job?
-No, you B*****ds, f*** you, give it to someone else, see if I care

-caring too much-

when I switched on my phone, and picked up the voicemail message from yesterday. The interview panel wanted to know where I was. I had checked how to get to Birmingham this morning, looked at Helen’s email to find where it was. I looked at the email again: it clearly says the interview is Tuesday (yesterday) not Thursday. I don’t know how I made that mistake. I feel utterly miserable. I am in a dreadful situation and cannot trust myself with the simplest thing to improve it. I cried.

I call the Samaritans. “I wanted someone to talk to.” “We’re not a chat-line,” Eve said. And I feel anger and resentment and I say something sarky,

and amazingly I feel energised, really good. Wow. What is that? Anger at you energises me- “Correlation is not causation, as they say”. I don’t know that it is that which causes it-

She would not say that. She has not heard it before. Well, some say post hoc ergo propter hoc. It should really be post hoc non ergo propter hoc.

What is causing this buzzing on the landline? To me it sounds loud, she hardly hears it. The landline has been buzzing for weeks. It could be the adsl filter, I unplug the modem-

and the buzzing continues. And I feel dreadful again. I cannot even deal with this!

The heart of my depression is lack of motivation. I cannot improve my situation: anything I attempt I will just do badly and fail. Not judging myself so harshly might do some good; so might behavioural activation. I have cleaned off some of the ingrained grime from my bathroom floor, which I have not properly cleaned for years. And I scrub at the wee black spots on the linoleum, and think, It is an improvement. Value all the improvement. It does not need to be perfect. And I do a bit, then stop, then go back to it. I have swept the hallway too.

And now I have phoned BT about the landline. There is a fault on the line, and they will deal with it. How last century, to have a BT landline! Well, I find it useful, for some things-

Signac, 1890

Starting again

If I do stuff and nothing happens, what’s the point? I got this wonderfully elegant admission of failure and argument for despair on Kiwifarms, where they laugh at people. Well, indeed. I mess around on my blog, and watch recorded TV. I only don’t fit the “living in my parents’ basement” part of the cliché because my parents are dead, and I am a bit old.

That last job. We thought we would open our doors and people would come rushing in, because they always had: in Oldham I used to arrive at 9am in January in the rain and find people queuing outside for the doors opening at 9.30, in the hopes of not being turned away. We simplified the service we gave drastically to cope with the demand. Yet almost no-one wanted my particular service, and I would sit idle, writing my diary or reading TVTropes on the internet. I did try some marketing and building relationships with potential referral agencies, but to little effect. With a string of failures over six years, I despaired and gave up, and am still given up.

No, I don’t want to apply for that job in Edinburgh. I don’t want to move to where they have not had a Summer and people are in their winter clothes (Frances reports) to take responsibility again. Even though I can see it is a good choice from limited options. I don’t want to go where my family are where I might try to re-establish contact, or might not.

I don’t practise the piano because of the amount of work necessary, and even when I did mistakes crept in. Aged 23 I could play Rhapsody in Blue from memory, and now I make mistakes with Ludovico Einaudi. Well, I have the time to practise, and I don’t.

Dunno. That meeting was good. I don’t quite get the man, whose reserve might be even greater because of my way of letting it all hang out, but at least we are working together.

I cycled thirty miles on Tuesday, in three hours. It is a beautiful circular ride, on country roads mostly with very little traffic, and rolling rather than hilly, though some of the inclines are a bit tough for me. It is the furthest I have cycled this century, in a day. I maintain fitness and increase my ability to get about.

I notice small, incremental achievements caused by my action. I am completely lacking in confidence: my first question is always “How am I wrong, here?” which when in balance may make me usefully flexible and now puts me in a funk.  Notice all the achievements. Notice all the positives.

Monet, En Norvégienne. La barque à Giverny

Desire, action, achievement

I discover what I want, when I observe what I do. That is, the desires I actually act upon are opaque to me until I look back and see what I have done, where I have gone.

For example, either two and a half years ago I went from almost complete inadequacy, applying for a few jobs, doing voluntary work badly, to utter complete inadequacy, moping round the house all the time; or, alternatively, I withdrew from the World in order to have time and space for my psycho-spiritual healing. I would rather believe the latter, and it makes some sort of sense. I have healed, having greater acceptance and less pain.

There was certainly no conscious intention behind it. It felt like a failure, being unable to go on any more. Yet I could say that my whole organism, unconscious as well as conscious, has benefited, and perhaps moved towards what she knew would benefit her. On one view, I have Failed, on the other I have Acted, for my own good. Which would you rather believe?

I would rather believe the truth: but belief in failure makes me despair; and belief in my action is at least arguable.

I shared on facebook the mystic cryptic phrase I learn what I want when I see what I do and Lena misinterpreted it, thinking I wrote about what I chose to learn, rather than learning as a matter of observing what was in front of me. Derek got it: his Psychosexual Somatics Therapy course was very much about shadow motivations.

I used to think that I thought things through, made a rational decision, then carried it out. However what I did for that rational decision often had no real motivation behind it, and I did not follow through. Rather, I achieve worthwhile goals; but I start pursuing them before I realise, consciously, what the goal is. This thought comes from Serra considering a particular incident. I wanted that, but did not consciously understand it immediately.

It was a shadow desire, to heal, not one I could consciously admit. Consciously, I imagined I needed to get a job, and could do it. I want to allow my desires to be conscious, like my emotions become. It is hard for me to kick against the goads, hard for me to have conscious and unconscious at war, mutually despising.

It is strange, taking pride in what shamed me so deeply: the old pain of that shame washes over me, and as I delight in the pride, joy weeps.

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes II

Stating the Problem

Frederic Leighton The Countess BrownlowI am not at rock bottom. It seems to me that my life could be worse. My dissatisfaction is not yet greater than my non-specific anxiety. What holds me back? I want to state the problem so I might have some idea how to change.

I am a victim. It is not (all) my fault that I am here. And, it is for me to deal with the situation now. I think I am just about over I must be bad, because I am like this. The self-acceptance seems to be working.

Motivation and emotional lability seem to be problems.

In Doctor Who (The Bells of St John) the chief human slave could call up her fellow slaves on her tablet, and adjust their qualities- intelligence, empathy, whatever- with a slider. Hormones don’t seem to work that way: Dr Lorimer suggested testosterone for motivation, adjusting oestrogen for lability, but I don’t think it is that simple, though I remain open to suggestions from the endocrinologist. Cognitive behavioural solutions seem more likely. Initially, I put my increase in lability down to being taken off oestrogen, but actually I was pretty labile before then. The main issue with my emotional reactions seems to be that I fear them. I anticipate getting angry and frightened, which I anticipate will make me react impulsively, show my feelings, and look foolish. Or I feel that my anger and fear will be so unpleasant at the time and in retrospect that I need to avoid them. I want to control my feelings rather than external events.

It seems that fearing the feeling makes it far worse. If I could accept the feeling, it would be less painful. I felt intensely angry with my printer and the various websites when I could not print off a useful score for All Things Bright and Beautiful on Friday. In the end, I photocopied a book, which was not the solution I had wanted, though it was adequate. Accepting the adequate could be useful. Situations where I feel clearly, such as meditation, might be worth practising. Situations where I feel fear and do it anyway would be great if they come off: I need help deciding what such situations might be good for practising this.

I have written over a thousand posts here. My living room is untidy, and I am not looking for work. Mostly, I can go out to get food, or to London for particular purposes, so I am motivated for some actions which I think I will enjoy or will improve my situation, not for others, which I feel will not. It might be worthwhile thinking through what could be good to try, and what stops me.

I feel this analysis, trying to put it into words for you, is useful even if no-one reads to the end (please Like or comment if you do). I will now discuss it with my counsellor, and see what good that does.

John Anster Fitzgerald, the artist's dream

A prayer have no motivation. Today, I shall play on the blog a bit, read a bit, watch telly. I have hardly touched the piano for months. When it is sunny I go for a walk. There are Quaker meetings, and I have to get food in now and then. There is a world outside, and I am dissatisfied, but find no link between my possible actions and getting anything I might want. I might take a photograph of those swallows. In this mood, I consider a prayer.

Dearest Pink, Ark, Violet and Clare:

This is my prayer for each of you. I pray that you “come to Jesus.” I pray that where you have needs, God would meet them. When you hunger, you would be filled. When you are lonely, that you would find sweet friendship. When you stumble, that someone strong would be there to pick you up. When you are hurt, you would be healed. I wish you well. All of you.

The Pink Agendist already has these things, apart from the Jesus bit. I have not, but my initial reaction was anger: I am Christian. Then I thought, I want to communicate with Katy, whose prayer it is. I imagine her secure in her family and church community, secure in her understanding of God- that she opposes equal marriage so stridently because of Christian tradition and the usual interpretation of those Biblical verses, means I can categorise her as that type of Christian. She may be concerned at the state of the world, or reassured that God is working his purpose out.

I want to communicate, and imagine myself completely incapable of getting through to her. There she is,

quiet in conscience
calm in her right
confident her ways are best

I want to quote the call of Isaiah:

Make the mind of this people dull,
    and stop their ears,
    and shut their eyes,
so that they may not look with their eyes,
    and listen with their ears,
and comprehend with their minds,
    and turn and be healed.’

That’s you, that is, I would tell her. Would that shock her into seeing the world as I do, or would she quote it back at me?

I am not sure, and so I want everyone to see the world as I do, that I might be reassured. The mind imposes this framework which it calls ‘reality’. That arbitrary framework has a tendency to be quite independent of what your senses report. Perhaps knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty, and realising one does not know is the way to greater knowledge and all that, and I am pretty sure adopting Katy’s view of truth would be a step backwards.

Hm. No motivation, and something I passionately want, with no chance of getting it and no value in getting it if I did.