Left-brain, right-brain

You’ve been dating for three months, and it’s fantastic, but a question gnaws at you- Are we in a relationship? You want to know where you stand. You ask her, and she leaves you, because she does not want to be pinned down.

Certain things have to remain implicit, and I have to accept that, however uncomfortable I find it. I have a model of my spiritual growth where I become my true self, living in the moment, responding to reality as it is. Rather than worrying about the future, I see something I can do in the present to make it better, and do it. Instead, I am trapped in ego, attempting to propitiate the insatiable critical parent, where facing what I have to do is too painful so I do not do it however much I worry about it.

Iain McGilchrist, in “The divided brain and the search for meaning”, explains: the right brain deals with perceiving the world as it is, and the left brain manipulates it, so divides it into discrete concepts, a map not the territory. To the left brain, a table has no meaning or existence except when I need to use it. So I use it then forget it again. To the right brain, it can be a thing of beauty and as if on an LSD trip I can be transfixed by the detail of the wood grain.

For McGilchrist, Zeno’s paradox shows how a left-brain attempt to codify the world is a delusion. The arrow must first go half the distance to the target, then half the remaining distance, and so on, so that it never reaches the target. When we observe the real world, the arrow travels as fast at the end of its flight as at the start, and hits the target rather than slowing down before getting there. The “paradox” shows that privileging logic over perception can mislead us.

The spiritual practices I spend most time with seem to encourage right-brain thinking. I sit in silence, seeking awareness in the moment of myself in my surroundings. The surroundings are kept as non-distracting and non-triggering as possible to make this easier. So there are rules- no knitting, for example, in the Quaker meeting, as it means you are not “centring down” properly. And I am now analysing with left-brain- I do this to achieve that- rather than simply sinking into that right-brain mode of being.

In reality, the left and right brain are both involved in anything I do. McGilchrist writes, “The meaning of an utterance begins in the right hemisphere, is made explicit (literally folded out, or unfolded) in the left, and then the whole utterance needs to be ‘returned’ to the right hemisphere, where it is reintegrated with all that is implicit – tone, irony, metaphor, humour, and so on, as well as a feel of the context in which the utterance is to be understood. To achieve meaning in the world requires what linguists call the business of pragmatics, which comes from the right hemisphere.”

When I cook, I chop things up and put them in a pot, manipulating, left-brain, then use judgment of smell, taste, appearance- right-brain.

On the twelve steps, I seek serenity to accept the things I can’t change, and ACA defines this as other people. In making amends I would concentrate on the things I did wrong: any wrongs by another are irrelevant. Seeing someone as a cipher without an internal reality, whom I could manipulate, sounds to me like left-brain thinking. Attempting to relate to a whole person sounds more like right-brain.

McGilchrist says that in Western culture, “the ideal, theoretical world began to triumph over that of experience”. We think in terms of manipulating the world. As tax or benefit law gets more complex, with each rule getting more defined, any exceptions precisely delineated, there is a hunger for control which collapses on collision with messy reality. Yet “the left hemisphere sees truth as internal coherence of the system, not correspondence with the reality we experience”.

If my culture emphasises left-brain manipulation, and so my spiritual practices emphasise right-brain perception, I seek taijitu balance. But Right-brain good, Left-brain bad is classic left-brain thinking. I never understand sufficiently to formulate an iron law.

Hope for the new year

I want to be safe.

Yesterday, I responded to a request for words of conciliation with anti-trans campaigners. I wrote that for reconciliation they have to accept that I exist, and my needs are real. It might seem rational to say a man cannot become a woman, but it ignores how people are. In the same way it might seem rational to say gay love is objectively disordered, sterile, based on incompatibility, but some people are gay. The anti-trans campaigners must accept my nature and my needs.

So I wrote that, in a few elegant paragraphs, taking about fifteen minutes. Then I spent ninety minutes ruminating on it, reviewing certain facts and details showing how I was right, and verbal formulations which should absolutely persuade anyone who had an open mind. This rumination got me nowhere. I learned nothing. I achieved nothing. I just got wound up and bothered.

There is the thing I can do- in this case, an email to a particular group of people, which may or may not persuade them, may or may not influence what they eventually write. Or, when Labour goes canvassing I can go with them. It has the chance of producing a good result. And there is the thing I can not do: I cannot influence Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Alister Jack or The Times in their campaign to vilify trans people. The rumination is my excited, desperate assertion that I know The Truth, and that God or society or whatever should just accept The Truth. It does not work. I am like an infant pleading with a kindergarten teacher, but there is no teacher.

I cannot make myself safer than I am. Jesus said, For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it (Mt 16:25). The words “for my sake” are an interpolation: the phrase is more satisfyingly parallel without them, and makes more sense. I lose my life: I stop attempting to create safety by impossible means, and so gain it, gain the ability to go out into the world without worrying what bad things could happen, or that there are people who are anti-trans.

I have in me a confused and hurting child, traumatised by parental rejection, which seeks safety in such old habits as rumination. It is called the “Critical parent” because when I am conscious of it, it speaks to me like an angry parent. “You can’t say that.” “How could you be so stupid?” But it is the burden of emotions I could not process as a child, so which stay with me. It is my rage and terror.

The conscious ego, which I call the adjusted child, attempts to propitiate the critical parent, but never can.

That hurting child is a burden of shame, hurt, fear and anger from my childhood and previous generations. It blinds me to the world and to myself. I will let it go. I will become one whole integrated human being, accepting myself and the world, all my feelings and needs, and the reality surrounding me, including all other people.

I associate with groups of people who, however imperfectly, know the light within them and seek to manifest it.

It is a process of cleansing long ingrained dirt, of loosening cramped, constrained muscle, of eyes adjusting to bright light, of letting go false understandings. I may never fully complete it. But oh, I begin to dance, and it is beautiful.

I am never safe from fear, anger, sadness and hurt, but now old hurts and fears control and constrain me. I will let them go. This is a process which takes time. I will process those old hurts.

Unfortunately present matters echo the past, reinforcing it. New fears may make the old fears seem more real. I hope more clearly to discern what is real, and what is merely an echo.

In this process of healing, the present may be a symbol of the past. M is a real human being, on a similar spiritual healing to me, highly attractive and gifted, and also a symbol in my head of my abandonment by my mother and desire for co-dependency. I will chew that cud until I no longer need to. I wronged the real person, and should not approach her, but the symbol will live with me until I have processed it. This is a healing. It takes time.

I will find freedom to express all the hurts and fears I have kept inside and to free myself from the shame and blame that are carryovers from the past. I will become an adult who is imprisoned no longer by childhood reactions. I will recover the true self within me, learning to accept and love myself. This is a quote.

I associate with groups of people who, however imperfectly, know the light within them and seek to manifest it: Quakers, ACA, the Lovely Gathering, others.

I will bring myself to wholeness. This is all that matters to me now. It is my struggle to pupate, to bring myself to new birth.

Increasingly, I dance.

Letting go

I could not stand up for any length of time. My back got sore. Eighteen months ago, someone noticed my posture walking, and suggested I should tighten the muscles in my lower back. I found I could do that consciously, and then I could stand for much longer. I was delighted.

In August I found I was getting stiff. I had difficulty bending, and particular difficulty sitting on the ground, which was a problem at the Festival. On Tuesday 20th, I went with a friend to the Cezanne exhibition, and complained of this. She saw it was a muscular problem: the lower back muscles are too tense and resist stretching. If I release their tension, then I can bend.

I resent that I should need to be learning this now. My autonomic nervous system should handle all this. But I am glad I learn it now rather than not knowing.

My inner critic is like that tense muscle. It supported me. It held me upright. I found I could get through to speaking from the heart, the inner child, the real self, if I went through a moment of rage or weeping. I would cry, then I would soften into vulnerability and at the same time strengthen. I am no longer divided.

The critical parent and inner child are in conflict. The critical parent is used to being in control. Its fear and anger govern me: fear of me and of the world, anger at me for not being able to be safe. The inner child is in rebellion, and is where all my motivation is: I can only do something with its assent, and it will not be forced any more.

On waking, there are things I can do to bring myself into the state of presence. I could simply acknowledge the reality of the world. If I reach for my computer, I could read the daily meditation from ACA, which I get by email, or another logion from the gospel of Thomas in William Duffy’s commentary. He says the key to understanding Thomas is not Gnosticism, but Nonduality.

Instead I check my blog stats, facebook, email, and Guardian comment upvotes. This holds me in my addictive state, chasing after dopamine hits and the shared resentments against the government. My comment which got over a thousand upvotes elegantly expressed hope we would get rid of them in 2023. I am pleased I can attract that attention. My blog post saying the GRR Bill could not be blocked got 133 views, and a law professor and trans man called it “excellent”. I am pleased. I wanted to use my skills and knowledge to reassure trans facebook, worrying about the Bill being blocked. And, I am checking the stats again.

When I am doing that, or wordle puzzles, I descend into a mental fog, and time passes. If I want to do anything more constructive- even, read or watch video- I have to emerge. But chasing dopamine is what I do when the critical parent and inner child are in a truce- neither ceding control, both doing what they can barely tolerate the other doing.

I want to get out of that state. I want to be living from the true self: undivided, it perceives, decides and acts without propitiating the terror of the critical parent. Getting into that state has involved feeling intense grief or anger. It could be the pain of the inner child which frightens the critical parent so much, or it could be the fear and hurt of the critical parent.

I find myself calling out to the critical parent.

My darling. My darling. My darling.
Relax.
Come down from that high wall.
You do not need to watch for threat
or hold to a known rigid pattern of behaviour.
It is safe.
Let us go out to play.

Like the muscle, if the critical parent, my tense, defensive stance, can relax, then I do not have to painfully force it to bend before I can live from my true self. Sometimes I may need to be wary or reserved, but not always have my tension racked up to maximum.

My darling.
Let me cuddle and massage you.
You protected me with your constant vigilance.
Now that old threat is gone.
Let me lead you
by the hand
into delight.

I learned a word: a prosimetrum is a text which is mostly prose but contains passages of verse at significant moments, to increase attention or enhance dramatic effect. It was a common form in Mediaeval Europe and Persia, which I use spontaneously.

How to get out of bed

Swearing helps you cope with pain. I swear to help me get out of bed. I wanted a better way.

I am not just uttering one imprecation, but repeated chains of them: fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk. Sometimes I sing them: bibetybobetyboo with the words buggerybuggeryfuck. These words are as worthless as Weimar marks.

I do not want to be alone with myself, because then I feel my feelings. So I do not want to go out. Lying in bed, I was scrolling facebook or reading the Guardian, where the feelings are prescribed: righteous anger against Rishi Sunak, never quite enough excitement at a friend’s photo. Prescribed feelings insulate me from my actual feelings at my situation. Think, I have to get up; go back to scrolling.

So in October I mostly gave up facebook, checking Messenger, or a Quaker group I moderate, occasionally. Then on Saturday I shared about canvassing for Labour, and was back to obsessively checking for likes. M has deleted most of her tweets so I scrolled her replies for the last two years. This only makes me feel worse.

Feel the loneliness, sadness, fear. Or, fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk while I shower, then sit around scrolling again: I spend whole days like that.

The inner critic protects me from the feelings. The adjusted child does what the inner critic demands, without need for the inner critic to become conscious. They got me through my degree, kept me working, then kept me looking for work until I could bear it no longer. So I withdrew. I stopped looking for work.

I was then in stasis. All my motivation comes from the inner child. Called worthless, suppressed, not permitted to feel by the terrified inner critic, it had no motivation any more. ACA says an angry aspect of the inner child can sabotage all the actions the inner critic or adjusted child demands (I found that here, p5). All the inner critic could do was suppress my feelings, so it did, and I scrolled facebook. All the inner child could do was resist the inner critic, so it did. And I blogged: I have created something of value here.

Or there is being in the inner child, feeling the feelings, which terrifies the inner critic. On Sunday I was in an ACA meeting sharing on needs. I was in the adjusted child, following the rules, I can be here, then when sharing I moved into the true self, feeling all my pain of loneliness sadness fear, and shared that. People did not share after that. They left, saying they needed to process.

Monday 31st in an ACA meeting I shared about how I am beautiful and I love myself. My inner critic said this was ego pretending, in order to meet the expectations of ACA groups; and it was wrong. This is my loving parent.

I love myself. I am beautiful, generous, caring. I am valuable simply for being, so free to work on what my heart wishes to do. I am creative and intelligent with a huge heart. I am determined. I am doing the work, and I am proud of that.

Later I typed that, and later still read it to K. Reading it to her was difficult. I was not still in loving parent. Even in True Self it felt too much, I was wary of saying it.

So, how to get out of bed. One way is to demand it of myself- fkg get up. Just, fkg, fkg-well get up. Fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk. Fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk. Fkfkfkfkfkfkfkfk. I am tense, defended against myself.

The second way may work better, after some practice. It is to be in my true self, facing the whole agony of existence.

Escaping the enmeshed relationship

My mother did not allow me to develop a personality independent from hers. My attitudes, opinions and desires matched hers. I rarely had any idea what I was feeling. Though we had moved several times, and local people spoke with a different accent, I spoke with hers, and still do. She died when I was 29, and years after that I decided it was time to rebel against my parents. I last voted the way they voted in 2010, though my politics had been diverging for years.

Do not resent the world.
Respect it.
Dance with it.

I still do not know who I am, but I am learning. I do not fit the mask my mother clamped on me. I am fey and feminine, and my mother brought me up to make a man of myself. The enmeshed relationship makes boundaries difficult. I was allowed no boundaries. Even now I have difficulty understanding the concept, leave alone- I understand the phrase is “creating healthy boundaries,” but have the foggiest idea what that might mean.

I have conflicting desires that I do not understand. My friend said, “It’s as if you want to merge into the background in the most eyecatching way possible”. I want to hide away, and I do. And I want to be seen: three times I spoke to hundreds of people last weekend.

The inner critic is quieter. It still says, “’enmeshed relationship’ is a diagnosis, you have no qualification to say that”. Well, I have no qualification in psychology, and I know what I experienced. It says, “Why are you still on about that? Why go round in circles?” And I reply, I still go on about that because you resist. I will stop dwelling on this when I have cleansed it, when I am merely myself. And, “I want to cultivate flowers as well as pull up weeds”.

I went to the Yearly Meeting, and looked forward to it for months, and Friends there noticed how tense I was. I played a part in our discernment, and am pleased with my ministry, recorded in The Friend. I like the idea of “Caste” rather than privilege: it is to whom you defer, and whom you expect to defer to you, unconsciously.

I stayed with Friends on Saturday night, and walking from Hammersmith tube to the bus station we passed three beggars. My friends gave them a few coins. I do not use cash any more, and gave nothing. One used a loud desperate pleading, almost a scream, which I find disturbing thinking of it days later. Returning, I looked out the window of the bus then the tube at the passing city, delighting in the rapidly changing impressions. My feelings flow better. I see them more clearly.

On Tuesday I went to the supermarket, and rather than merely put off going I felt the anxiety. Feeling it is so much better than being affected by it unconsciously. So I did what I had to do. And my inner critic says, “How trivial”. Well, I am where I am. I feel this is progress.

Someone ministered that the Way is not a straight road. Surrounded by darkness, having no idea where we are, we wait, pray, listen, and God shows the next risky footstep.

I love “Inside No. 9”, and this week’s episode is particularly good. You see the man with his ridiculous haircut and his pursed lips turned downwards, in the dark, old-fashioned house, and think, “Who is this weirdo?” At the end, he takes his first steps towards freedom, and I was moved to tears because it is a road I am walking too.

I would love it to be easy. Is it that, hiding away is my mother’s way, wanting to be seen is mine? That is an attractively simple view, and I am not sure of it yet. Even if I were wholly my own woman, there might still be paradoxes and inner conflict. The way to freedom is through accepting my own feelings, however challenging, threatening or incomprehensible I find them.

And I can. At any moment, I can step into the presence of my inner light. I do it when talking- sometimes I wear a mask, sometimes I speak from the heart. So, why do I not speak from the heart, all the time? What frightens me about it? What does- the other way of being- do for me?

My sexuality is completely different from what I was taught was right and acceptable. I want to be sexually overwhelmed, I want to be taken by a strong woman, and that was such a challenge to my fragile sense of self that I could only admit it within the last twelve years, though I had hints of it in the 1980s. So I have never really had a satisfying sexual relationship. Bound so tightly, I would have been a dreadful parent, though my true self, soft, gentle, peaceful, loving, creative, graceful, would make a wonderful parent. I feel such terrible loss, and waste of potential.

With that woman, I wanted a relationship, I wanted romantic involvement, and it appears she just wanted sex. I am complaining about “Of course I’ll still love you in the morning,” which as a cliché may be outdated. It activates so many of my insecurities. Yes. I am claiming to be a woman, with a woman’s reactions. Not all women, maybe. Not how women ought to be, necessarily. Yes I was born with testicles. And I am a woman, reacting as women so often do.

This is who I am.
I am Clare.
I am a woman.

Entering the Now

When I think about it, I enter the Now. Nonduality accesses consciousness. These words are the best approximations I can manage.

People say in this state they feel joy. It depends. If I am by the river, and lay down my useless burden of rumination, and use a mantra such as “I am here. This is. I am”, I will notice the uncountable tones and shades of green, the birds, perhaps some wild flowers, the path and the grass, and am likely to feel joy. Sometimes I feel terrible misery.

I share because it is good to have these things recognised. A man asked how I was, and I replied, “In Heaven and Hell at once”. He said, “Yes, it can be like that for people who feel deeply,” and I felt affirmed. Even if no-one responds, here, at least I am shouting into the void with the possibility that if I were wrong I would be contradicted. And putting things into words often clarifies them for me.

I am still working on negative and positive thinking. It is never good to deny uncomfortable reality in the name of positivity. And, I do not like how my life has turned out: all these difficulties while I ploughed grimly on. We all have our crosses to bear, and it is good to count our blessings. Perhaps it is as simple as that.

I have been hot from the world in Meeting with a bit of facebook nastiness winding me up, and I have felt that I am larger than this befuddlement. So I allowed it to rant as it needed, and felt that I was a calm presence holding and permitting it.

And there is the voice of my inner light speaking the truth. There I am, video-calling with my Friend. I want to say something, and cannot get it out without upset- my voice breaks near tears- then I settle into being the Light. The pitch of my voice goes up, and the inner critic is angrily denouncing me- that’s weak, put on, unreal, etc, etc- but I can say what I needed to say calmly without tears. I call this

the voice of my inner light speaking the truth.

As I grow to accept it, the misery may become less. In Pendle Hill worship I pick on this mantra/affirmation to repeat:

I am who I am.
It is as it is.
It is all right.

That self feels unbearably soft. Release the judgment, and I might release the agony. I am still exploring. Am I improving? Integrating is a better word.

Calling this a particular mental state, different from other mental states I often or habitually inhabit, has value to me. It feels different, just as practising a more erect posture feels different. I am conscious of it, as my muscles or mental pathways adjust to the unfamiliar way of being. Some time ago, it was magical and extremely rare. Now, it is more common. Speaking from it still requires a conscious adjustment, while I pass through discomfort.

I am in conscious incompetence. It behoves me to analyse, to notice, to adjust. And there is innate wisdom, so that letting go has value too. I need to value myself before I can complete this task, so I repeat,

I am a human being.
I have value.
I am a human being.
I have value.
All shall be well.
All shall be well.
All manner of thing shall be well.

---

I am a human being, or, perhaps, I am a living creature. So, whatever else I get from someone, I should oppose their cruelty to me at least as much as I would oppose their cruelty to, say, a cat.

This self feels unbearably soft, and yet, more real, more authentic, than the male mask. I suppose I am performing a teenage task: creating an adult persona for myself. I spent an hour on the phone with Jane from the Samaritans, on my various difficulties, my current rumination, and this decision, and feel affirmed.

I have presented to the world in shards of my male personality, though I know they do not fit, and often then cried and gone into the authentic self, speaking with a softer tone, telling the truth from my heart. Now I want to speak from that soft self all the time. I have heard the inner critic. I know the soft self is the real self. This may mean that I may keep some privacy: someone on Zoom admired my thick head of hair, and I surprised myself by not revealing it is a wig. Instead, I just smiled.

Sitting with the mystery

Human beings are unknowable, even to ourselves.

In Meeting, I sit with my hurt, fear and lack of control as in a twelve-step programme. Some say that being present in the Now creates a feeling of joy, and sometimes it does for me. At other times, the pain is as much as I can bear, but shutting it out I blind myself. Suddenly perceiving the depth and complexity of feeling is like a symphony with too many instruments. I might surf it, if only I resist the temptation to understand it. But understanding has been the way I have sought safety for so long.

I take refuge in writing. Almost until I would have been too late for meeting, I was playing on the Guardian comment threads. I put a brilliant argument that people with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, and the external genitalia of women, are called “women” by a social convention. There is no simple definition of “woman” that includes CAIS women but not trans women, and no moral reason to define the word that way. That comment disappeared when a comment up-thread, “Keir Starmer should dial back the woke nonsense”, was removed by a moderator. I wrote another comment and got a “Guardian Pick” which got hundreds of up-votes. I care about this stuff, so I give you the details.

Last week, I learned Richard Dawkins will be speaking at Greenbelt, and I started thinking about what I would say if I got the microphone from the floor during his session. A paragraph has repeated in my mind as I test variations. I judge myself: I should not be thinking about this so much.

Living in the present moment, or sitting in Meeting, should I not be thinking? Well, if I were jamming a twelve bar blues, I might be better to count the bars until I felt them. Thinking has its place. I do not want to shut down any part of myself.

I started this blog post a week ago, and it was all about her. We exchanged several texts a day for months and had hours of video calls, and she was going to come to my house- and then at the end of March she withdrew, and I was wondering, why? I thought she ceased contact because she had coldly and calculatingly sought to subjugate me, and when I baulked, she withdrew. So I shamed her publicly. Afterwards, I wondered if she had been scared of me. From an earlier draft:

So many people have feared violence from me. There’s the normalised phobia of “biological men”, and there have been claims I might personally be violent. I have so much anger in me, all directed inwards. I let it go, slowly. My violent acts have been self-destructive rather than aimed at others, and I have several times been the victim of violence I could not resist. That others might fear me is a threat to my safety, and it distances me from other people.

You told me of a time you might reasonably have feared that man, and you have to be cautious in your line of work. You were under great pressure at the time.

Was it because you feared that you sought to impose complete control? I must serve you, my will subsumed in yours. I was obsessed with you, thinking of you all the time. Then I said I would not do those things, and you dropped me. I did not imagine that you feared me. I thought you had consciously, calculatingly, made me obsessed with you in order to control and negate me. That seems cruel. I would rather imagine you frightened or cautious than cruel.

This omits that after she withdrew I lashed out, attempting to shame her before fifty people. I could say, well, that was exceptional. It is not who I am really. But it was who I was in the moment that matters. I cannot say “I lost control”- there was no part of me that stopped me acting, at the time. I am one human being. If “being pushed beyond endurance” is an excuse for me, it is for others too.

I thought of asking her, but it would be ridiculous. “Were you cold and calculating, or fearful, or cautious? Was there something else?” I could not answer a question like that. What narrative has she in her mind, or would she want in mine? There is a time to create a narrative, and sometimes I just have to let the mystery be.

There is something chilling about her. She is not a nice bourgeois woman who would do nothing objectionable. Neither am I. I miss the contact, but you can’t separate bits out of a human being, missing one part but not another. Each of us is one. I see her enthusiasm, energy and intelligence- these are perceptions, not narrative- and for her I may be just another sub. I thought I would rather think of her as frightened rather than cruel, but, why? I will do her the honour of believing she can be “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

The thought crosses my mind- “I love ‘The Ancestor’s Tale’.” And I am back writing. I decide to spend the last ten minutes of Meeting with  these people, here. How are they? How is the worship? In meeting, it behoves me to foster order, reverence, harmony, and Love.

I shall spend some time this month ruminating about her- her and that man, her and her subs, her and me. Eventually I will stop, though for now I remain open to contact from her, however unlikely. The narrative I need is that I sought as best I could publicly to shame her.

I write blog posts and comments, rather than the more sustained work of publishable articles or even a book. Writing is my skill, which gives me pleasure. Confusion and desperation recede from consciousness as I do what I am good at. Then I obsessively check for views and upvotes, as a substitute for human contact.

The dance and the game

As she looked at me, I felt my softness being valued. In her regard, my delicate flower stood tall. She said it was beautiful to look at me. I have to accept my sadness completely, in order to appreciate my delight. We are present to each other.

This is how I want to be, and I enjoy it, then analyse it. What am I doing, now? I take off my masks. I speak from the Real Me. Or, I show my vulnerable, feminine self. Three ways of seeing it each casting light from a different direction, each illuminating parts other images leave in shadow, none complete. The mask seems welded on, and to be seen without it is liberation, my only desire.

Burnt Norton: In the still point of the turning world, there is only the dance. There is who I am and what I do in the moment, and how I imagine it looks or want it to appear falls away. In almost all my actions there is care for appearances, more to myself than to others, and self-consciousness, and here I might flow naturally, unconstrained.

Nirvana is nonbeing. There is no I. There is only the dance. Possibly I should only do this with a lover (not with her) or possibly it could expand to all of life. This is paradise everyone old has dreamed of all their lives: the deep blue air that shows nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless, behind high windows Larkin could only look through, hoping that couple of kids were free to fly, like birds.

As a potential partner I have a great deal of beauty but fear I have little use. My earning potential is minimum wage at best. So I unfankle all the mess, the masks and pretence, the desire for appearance rather than reality, the impossible falsehoods. “I” is the whole animal process dancing with the world, changing it as I am changed, and “I” is the illusion that blocks the flow, the demands not to feel that were branded in me.

Mind-blown, I went to the Quaker group. With adolescent certainty I told them where they were going wrong. There is the dance, and then there is the game, which has rules. The business meeting is on the second Sunday of the month, and members should send agenda items to the clerk by the first Sunday so that the agenda may be circulated in good time.

But—but—

The DANCE!!!

If only I could put it into words. But those words would become dust as soon as they were spoken, not even a finger pointing at the moon. Human kind cannot bear very much reality.

If only we could trust the wisdom we know. If only we could sit in silent worship in the business meeting. You only speak once, so you gather what you must say. You seek the good of all, and not appearances. You listen to Friends, and see their unmasked beauty. It is not a committee meeting where we talk over each other.

Nirvana is possible, and ungraspable. I fall away from it into habit. The words cast light and shadows. And I dismiss the rules, for they only permit a game, which is less than the dance. But there is wisdom which might let us dance freely. And I delight in my adolescence: I have been stunted, welded in, and adolescence is growth and life.

The untamed human

Can I take down all the barriers to Love that I have erected? Can I speak and act from God in me, all the time? I believe I can.

Moving from the idea of God within as Power, to God as Grace, seemed a decisive step. So I sought a meeting with Friends to explore this: not quite a meeting for clearness, as I was not making a decision, but finding that of God- the Light, the Seed- within me.

What is within? Gabrielle Roth talked of a moment, dancing, when she is being danced- the movement comes from something spontaneous, unconscious, liberating- powerful. Anna Akhmatova wrote of “something not known to anyone at all, but wild in the breast for centuries”. Mary Oliver: “Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”. Ladinsky’s Hafiz poems have “The God who only knows four words, and keeps repeating them, saying, ‘Come dance with me’.” This is not Michelangelo’s God in a pink shirt and grey beard, reaching out in Love to us, but a liquid God, flowing and sparkling. If I observed it, I could only say where it had been, not where it is, now. If I surrender to it-

Four Friends. Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. A psychotherapist and a lawyer. Two men, two women. I wanted one of the men to be straight, and he got things that I did not fully articulate. With no false modesty, I asked for, created and received a celebration of Myself, me in my purest form.

In my reclusive life, this is what I do: I find my I Am, and- whatever else there is in me, my internal conflicts. What ought I to do? What do I want to do? The answer surprises me. I wanted to write about the EHRC and the conversion therapy consultation, and I did. It was a lot of work. And I stopped applying for jobs because, while applying was stressful, I did not sense until I was weeping and screaming how stressful it was. Something blocked my awareness. That something is the Trauma.

If I do something freely, I am motivated to do it. If I do it under constraint, I am not. You clean your teeth as a routine part of preparing for the day, or for bed. I clean my teeth to make my mouth feel good, and do it carefully, because it is important. But if I do it because that is the rule, because I am supposed to, there is no life or motivation in it. I might lie in bed all morning, listlessly thinking, I ought to clean my teeth, yet I do not move. This perplexes and distresses me, as my apparently rational being says, of course I ought to clean my teeth, and cannot understand why I don’t. And there is-

something inside so strong

that is so battered, so hurt, that all it can say is, “No”. And it will say “No” until it is heard. Then it says, “I Am”. Then for a long time I was in a stage where it was like a beaten animal, to be managed. My conscious self, apparently rational, would spend some time listening to it, humouring it, so that it would come round, and obey the rules again, so that I would be safe and rational, doing what I ought to do. But somehow it, unruly, unmanageable, saw through this stratagem.

I could not hear God within because of trauma. Imminent fear of death made me willing to do anything to survive. It is not a trauma I remember, only one I have deduced from experiences. Then its guards are active, telling me, that is ridiculous, I am not traumatised, I am pretending or acting.

They tell me no-one will believe me. That is, if I want to assert my ridiculous nothings, I will be completely alone. So all I can say is “No”. As a child, controlled by my mother, the only way I could assert control was to refuse food. So I did, and she fed me a limited diet of beefburgers or rissoles, chips and beans, which I accepted. I don’t remember the negotiation, only its result. That was what I could control, by saying No, and that was the control I was allowed.

As an adult I have found clues, and the clues convince me. They bubble up from my unconscious mind.

With Tina in Southampton, I mentioned that my mother told me I liked it when my pram was placed under a tree, so I looked up and watched the light through the leaves. And- I went back there. I was in the pram, feeling overwhelming rage and terror.

In the Hoffman process, at 6am in February I lay on the ground outside, and imagined I was in my grave. I looked up, and people walked by, looking down at me. Imprisoned lawyer Alasdair Hall said, “Well I’ve never been that low”. Then, lastly, my mother looked down and said “I never wanted you”.

In the film “Ma vie en rose”, a child decides to express as a girl. The family is driven out of their home. Her mother has a nervous breakdown. At the end, the mother accepts her daughter. Seeing that, suddenly I was on the floor, in the foetal position, weeping and wailing. H was concerned.

If I commit to a task, I commit to it completely, not acknowledging any difficulty I have with it. I do not give up until I am dangling on the end of a rope. Realising that was a profound blessing.

To speak of these experiences on Monday, and have my experience accepted, was profound for me. The guards of trauma, who deny my experience, were silenced.

Preparing for the experience over the previous week, I noticed how frightened I was. What if God acted through me, and it harmed me? The Farmington prophecy came through Licia Kuenning’s inner God, which was insane.

On the train, I made a list of what is inside me, what might be in God in me, what might be in ego. A simple taxonomy is a tempting illusion. Anxiety; denial; self-improvement; motivation; survival; pain; refusal; recordings (when I tell a story in the same words); rationality; feelings; suppression from my consciousness; inner critic; professionalism; history; trauma; love; collective unconscious; God; Ego; introjects; presence in the moment; the soft animal of my body; grace. I do not want to expunge anything, I just want it all pulling together.

In the meeting, I spoke and was heard, about my history. One did not see what I meant by rejecting power, but one did. I articulated it after: Grace is powerful, but not an ideal-masculine power. It is not subduing the world to my will, but dancing in blessing, taking what I need from abundance, acknowledging the worth of whoever or whatever I work with.

I recited my Two Souls poem, which they liked.

He leaves behind the master’s role
She welcomes him, and I am whole.

I wrote that in 2003, and it expresses my aim, now.

I had wondered if I wanted to speak from other parts of me, which I believe are not-God. I spoke of seeing other people as beautiful. One asked, are you beautiful? The voice in my head saying you can’t say that was only an echo. It had no real power. I said, Yes. I have wonderful intelligence, humour and expressiveness, and deep wells of compassion.

I said I do what I see is good to do. Then I said “I don’t get paid for it, which bothers me”. I wondered after where that came from. Is it true? Is it from God? Is it from some conventional self which wants to be earning my living? Is it from a male self which needs to surrender and be integrated? I do not know.

On Wednesday I hosted, and Jamie wrote after, “They all adore you (rightly)”.

After, I wrote,

I speak from my integrity.
I act from my integrity.
I do what I want to do.

This utter gorgeousness!
I Am- beauty, wonder, delight.

How could I trust something that could only say No-
only scream No because I could not hear it until it was screaming?
As I trust it, it says more
I let it withdraw, and it acts.
There is still “I” judging, but more and more it fades, judgment goes away.
I within, I choosing emerges.
I am here, now, real, truthful, loving, whole.

I knew what was sensible, what I ought to do,
and God said, No.
I could not do it, as God said No
and I wanted to do it,
I knew it was sensible,
I knew I ought to do it.

I commanded, and God resisted.

So I decided to humour God.
I would listen for a bit,
make God feel better,
get God on side,
then I would tell God what was sensible and God would go along with it.
But this did not work. God still said, “No”.

I despaired.

Then God said, “I Am”.

I do not know what is sensible. I do not know what I ought to do.
What I thought I ought to do is meaningless to me.
And, there is, “I Am”.
I Will Be.

There is the dance.
I only know the dance when I look back, and see what I have danced.
The dance continues.