Encountering others

How could we stop depersoning each other?

-Why did you edit yourself?
-Because she wanted affirmation, and I didn’t, actually. I didn’t need anything from that conversation and I don’t think she could have given it to me.

I hate to claim wisdom. I feel if I am claiming wisdom I am missing something. Surely I could not be in such a mature place. But. With respect to the local meeting I think, well that was that. There were bits which were really wonderful. There were bits which were painful. I think it’s their loss, but I really don’t think I could convince them of that. I told people what had happened without self-justification, and that felt liberating.

Oh God it hurts, and I have to live with it. There will be other delights.

We say we want the I-thou encounter, and just like other human beings we note the class and status indicators and see people by stereotype. These are shortcuts, which get in the way of knowing. As apes, part of our initial impression is of the other’s hair, as an indicator of health.

I feel I made a step forward and as always it’s hard to know what the step forward is because in some sense I have been like this forever, and in some sense this is entirely new. I feel my undressing, my exposure of myself, has value, increasing understanding for myself and others. I have not particularly felt it has a cost, either because I don’t understand how people see me, or can’t see that it might make them see me less positively. Tout comprendre est tout pardonner.

And before I was not concerned with reality, but how I could manage its appearance to a part of me that judged me. I may be considering reality more. My aim is to respond to reality rather than manage my own fantasies about reality. I would do something to manage the fantasy rather than achieve something in the real world. But my situation is such that I don’t know what I want to achieve in the real world, or how I might go about starting.

There’s the deep hurt, fear, perplexity. I don’t think there’s a great deal of resentment, this is just where I am. I have achieved a great deal, and it may help me to earn a living in the long run.

TERFs are often people I would really like, and might relate to well, were it not for this dispute. I like them, yet I know my loyalty is to me in 2001 desperate to transition and completely terrified of it, and to people in exactly that position now.

There is one thing I could do to get more human contact and the experience of a working routine, and do something worthwhile, and I just don’t want to. I found it too unpleasant. Why did people vote for Brexit? Because it was couched emotionally rather than rationally, in terms of taking back control, not being bothered by immigrants seeing things differently and getting things we don’t get, and a cheery wave from the milkman in the morning. A simpler world, where everyone was comprehensible.

Everyone and no-one is like me. We meet wearing masks, and the masks prevent us from meeting, but shared experience may let us share real parts of ourselves. I self-disclose here, endlessly, because I want to take off my mask.

We voted for Brexit because we are thirsty, and someone showed us a mirage. Big Ben won’t bong on Friday, as there was no plan to ring it until it was too late. However Mark Francois blames the deep state, writing on his Gofundme page that it was much cheaper than £500,000 to ring it before: £14,200 on Remembrance Day.

So, Leavers get to feel a bit of resentment at being thwarted, even on their day of greatest triumph as they fondle their commemorative 50p’s and anticipate their blue passports. That bongs could have been as cheap on Brexit day had Francois and Johnson planned to bong is brushed aside.

The propaganda value of this is enormous. Leavers never get their triumph, they are always tantalised that great things are around the corner and can be gained but for the Bad People. So their anger and fear and resentment are kept stoked, for political purposes.

Speaking my mind

I was so ready for this an hour ago. I am not sure I can recapture the mood- I’ve cooled off a bit. I was high, and ready to tell you what I really think, and not care if it was not understood. I want to say I understand and you don’t and so shut up, listen, and get your head round this because it matters.

But they’re not going to listen. And my friend warned me on no account to say that. She thinks I should enjoy the loveliness and on no account say anything that will irk anyone at all. Remember, you no longer have male privilege! I would just be proving my maleness, but my femininity would mean I was ignored. I could have been a Pentecostalist minister. Hear the Word of the Lord!

I took control then, and eventually got what I wanted. I have some wonderful gifts.

I want to mess things up. And my friend wants to lance the boil, have the vileness heard so it may be answered. Then the blindness (Oh me! Oh how masculine I am being! Listen to the voice!) the blindnesses would be kicked away, and if that’s painful for someone they should deal with it. I have to deal with it.

I am exploring my own blindnesses, and speaking from different aspects of myself, for each of these is a different aspect. What’s the worst that can happen? I collapse in a puddle on the floor. Not just one bodily fluid. Or,  I will express my love and creativity and however poor the clay I have to work with I shall mould it into the best way for them to be. I shall be circumspect, recognising I no longer have male privilege, and lead people into truth.

I want the most difficult person included: both me, and the person I most disagree with. I have value no matter how many people tell me they need me to go away. I am a human being, the glory, jest, and riddle of the world. Sometimes I can speak winsomely, and persuade people. Sometimes not being rational, saying things I am not sure of because they might be true, or might provoke useful thought, can be useful. I can’t be worse hurt than I have been.

“Part of me is concerned that you will hurt yourself even more,” she said.

I don’t think so. I hope not. Mostly I get away with it- see my highwire act without a safety net. I’ve only fallen the once! Isn’t the word triggered a wonderful word? It is my hurt that is speaking and therefore I have a right to say anything I like. Isn’t being triggered the most awful thing in the world, you are completely without control and you can make a complete and utter fool of yourself.

I feel as well as the risk of making a fool of myself and making my problems worse there is the possibility of learning and growth for everyone involved, human beings coming together in love and understanding, and I will exercise my strength, of persuasion. I want to be seen in my full glory, all parts of me acting together as one. I want agreement and new understanding for everyone, or incremental movement of a few.

-What do you want for you?

I want to learn, to be challenged, to reach new insights, I want to laugh, I want to connect. The risks make it worthwhile.

The Pain-body

Eckhart Tolle makes it easy to despise him. As a woman who has never menstruated and never will, I see how those who do might resent At menstruation, many women become overwhelmed by intense negative emotion. Or women are less mind-identified than men. Or his explaining The sacred feminine. He seems a monster of ego when he writes that he healed a woman of her negative energy, then went to a restaurant by himself. A man in a wheelchair eating nearby glanced at me once briefly but intensely then started to shout about how bad the food was. Intense, violent hatred filled the room. He left, then returned and ran into a woman with his wheelchair, pinning her against the wall and bruising her. Tolle believes the negative energy in that man was the negative energy which had come out of the woman healed- like Legion’s demons going into the pigs- which he had carried to the restaurant. The manager, asked me, half joking but perhaps feeling intuitively that there was some connection, “Did you cause all this?”

Or perhaps the manager had noticed how Tolle had reacted to the angry man.

I used the term “Pain-body” recently. I feared meditation because I would feel my pain, and then I meditated and felt it, and it did not matter. The pain is suppressed below consciousness. I realised that I feared my own fear, and over the last year I worked to accept it, to fear it less, as that reduces its power and fearsomeness. Loosely, I identified the pain-body, my emotional self, even my Real self as one: the Real self bore my pain for the sake of my conscious self, and if I could feel that pain consciously I could liberate the real self from it, and be fully me, conscious, with feelings appropriate to the current situation not in thrall to the past. The task was to liberate my feeling self from its pain, by feeling it.

From my pain I turn my eye. So the solution was to face it.

Tolle thinks of a “Pain-body” entirely differently. It builds in the human being, taking in energy each time the person feels negative emotions. The ego repeats stories about those emotions, the feeling is felt again, and the pain body grows. It comes from pain felt by the parents, and by wider society. I thought, the human being is created loving and creative, and Tolle’s idea is close to Original Sin.

That healing, which produced all that negative energy, was when a woman, living with the burden of her unhappiness, became at his suggestion fully conscious of that unhappiness. And, in that moment, she ceased to identify with it.

-If you don’t mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness? he asked.
-I’m still unhappy, but now there is space around it. It seems to matter less, she replied.

And I thought, ach, I learned that ages ago, I feared my fear, and I am still not free. Though it is subtly different.

This is big for me. My emotional being is my inner light, I say: nobly it bears my pain, and when I liberate it it will guide me. I am intellectualising. I want a verbal understanding. And an emotional being, brought into consciousness and freed to feel in response to actual situations rather than old stories, might be a valuable guide.

Those seven months being intensely bullied at work ended nearly twelve years ago. Is that an old story, which only has power because a pathological tendency in me gives it power, or a scar/wound needing healed? These are pictures of a situation. In either case I have healing moments, letting go of some of the old pain, which makes healing the rest of it easier. I need to let go of all this old pain. It does me no good. It shows one aspect of the world and other people, which is not the whole truth.

Am I objecting to Tolle’s intellectual understanding, or resisting healing which, if I reached for it would fall into my hand? Am I suppressing and denying pain when I say “it was as it was. Human beings face difficult situations.” That sounds like what someone no longer bearing old resentments would say, but when I say it it sounds weary rather than joyful. I may approach acceptance, which may be a sudden shock or a gradual realisation.

My resistance to Tolle and different conceptions do not mean he does not have insight which could help my healing. I feared my fear and anger, and resisted it; now it irks me, and I resist it less…

Spiritual exercises

To love others, you must love yourself.

I have a lack of confidence, and a deep desire to heal it. I deserve more confidence than I have. Over the last month I have produced a detailed concept of part of myself I now call the Pain-bearer, that part of me that holds the feelings which are too strong for me to bear consciously, and which then stew inside me. Feelings can be fuel, the energy to deal with my problems, or a burden making those problems more intractable.

Perceiving or imagining the Pain-bearer, the ideas came from my unconscious. First I saw a part of me curled in a ball, cowering, broken, head down, hugging herself. I imagined myself sympathising, getting her to uncurl, or perhaps uniting with her. The feeling part of myself is in control. The rational part can offer suggestions but not give orders.

Later I saw her as the Pain-bearer. She is not curled up, but standing, bearing all the burden of my unacknowledged pain without being broken by it.

This morning, I cleaned my living room and especially the rug where I kneel in meditation, my Ritual space, in preparation. I was not clear what would happen, but I was clear that it was important.

Two nights ago my dear friend suggested I join a Zoom webinar spiritual exercise for the Hunters’ Moon. After a visualisation Tina H. asked us to write down the feelings we were bearing, and needed to release. We would then recite the mantra,

I see you, I hear you, I feel you, I thank you
But now it is time to let you go.

Um. I wrote down, Anger Frustration Resentment Fear Rage Terror HURT
Loss of confidence

but did not feel these were the real issue. I was just writing what I had perceived my feelings to be in the past. Even more, I felt that I could not yet let my feelings go; that I had escaped feelings by pushing them onto the Pain-bearer, so if I were to “let go” or even release feelings I would be loading her further. First, I had to integrate the Pain-bearer into myself, to be one, and then when I let feelings go they would be taken from her burden and we/I would be rid of them. I tried to explain this to Tina, but then left the webinar to avoid disrupting it for others. The moon was beautiful, in a clear sky.

This morning, I knelt. I had not thought of writing out my feelings as Tina H. suggested, but did. They came to me in the form of stories. The advice for meditation is to see your wandering thoughts as passing clouds, and let them pass rather than fixating them, but I found my thoughts relevant. They were stories from which the feeling became apparent. For example, as the pre-bought train fares are much more expensive for the next two months, because of Christmas shopping, I imagined myself working out how to come home from London on buses. This revealed confusion and feeling out of control. Some of these feelings were my mother’s too. I wrote:

Terror of not being accepted: Withdraw.
Rejected- Worthless.
Confusion- desperate scrabbling for Plans.
Sadness- now alone from own doing.

I realised that forcing pain onto the Painbearer is clinging on to it. One may bracket feelings, storing them away to be dealt with later, but I do it all the time, and never release. It makes me think of Richard Handley [the link is appalling].

I know what I must do. I wrote,

Cleanse her
Feed her
Warm her
Love her
She is Me.
I am Alive.


Possibly, later, I might consciously release, but right now I am feeling content. I spent a quiet day reading, after tidying my books to make my room look better. And- I made a pigeon!

Mindful anguish

Richard Rohr’s daily meditations suggested that entering a sense of mindfulness, or presence in the moment, produces a sense of gratitude. So I stopped reading them. Brené Brown says Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose, or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path. That seems better to me.

I will go back to Rohr, though when he attacks the attitude of Christians who want rules-based religion, a fixed set of rules and judgment, rather than openness to what is paradoxically he is reinforcing my understanding of the world and its people- rules-based religion bad, so I’m one of the good people. “We preferred a stable notion of God as an old white man, sitting on a throne”- this is a caricature. Though even under Francis rather than Maledict, I sense his fear of the institutional church and his careful argument that he is orthodox really.

I sense my avoidance as I write.

Then I searched his archives and found no recent use of the word, so perhaps I misread, but what I took from one of these meditations is that moving into a sense of mindfulness feels good, where for me it feels intense. It is a plunge into icy water. I need to go there, out of petty feelgoods like facebook likes and record page-views into reality, but I did and felt anguish.

Don’t tell us what to avoid, but what to seek. The thing to avoid will become irrelevant and uninteresting, when we see clearly what to seek. This passage from Rohr’s meditations is positive: For a nanosecond, there’s no “you” and no God. No experience and no experiencer. There’s simply a direct, undivided, sensate awareness of a single, unified field of being perceived from a far deeper place of aliveness. And what is first tasted in a nanosecond can indeed become a stable and integrated state.

I felt anguish, intensity, ice. Vulnerability, as Dr Brown says.

I am still avoiding: I read in the Guardian of a man who cured his depression by cycling, or something- when cycling he is simply aware. And I used that article to judge myself, for judging myself when cycling. For I am not immediately responding to a situation or simply enjoying the World Perceived, but judging- I should be able to go up this hill in a higher gear. No, listen to your thighs. (Yes, I judge myself for judging).

Mindfulness is easier outside than inside, with nature and all strangeness rather than the familiar regular objects. I could really look at that sandal, and see its detail, but it is not the same as a living thing in the wind. I would like delight, gratitude, wonder, from mindfulness, they make it a state to seek out. I am writing! Analysing mindfulness! It is what I do. Not merely avoiding…

I felt anguish. I connected to my feelings and felt anguish, and I wanted it to stop. Far better to stick with ego reassuring itself that rationality and analysis gives it control. I feel anguish because I am denying and avoiding (judge me bad) or because I have suffered (judge me victim). I am in a particular situation I do not like, having to find a source of income and not liking the available options. Cycling, there is exhileration cycling very slightly downhill with the wind behind me- that road, there- and other sensations. Always there is the analysing mind, which makes progress as well as ruminating. Feelgoods, ways of avoiding with a brief dopamine hit, well, people do that.

Mindfulness is. It is everything. It is worthwhile. It is difficult and challenging. It is-

I sat in Meeting, wrestling, anguished, confused.

I love my pain

I love my pain. My pain is good.

There are two aspects to pain: the physical sensation, and the emotional response. We are frightened of it, for it warns of harm. It is possible to switch off the response: I learned to relax during electrolysis or dental treatment. I pacify the suffering animal, whispering to myself,

it is alright. It will soon be over. It is OK.

James Bond being tortured by whipping says, “I’ve got a little itch…down there…would you mind? No! No! No! No…to the right, to the right, to the right!” Do not be broken by that emotional response!

And I can do this too far. Telling H of my pain I start to cry, because I judge it, and project onto her my judgment that my pain is weak, and disproportionate, and I should not be feeling it. My desperation for the pain to be less increases it.

In meditation, if an itch seeks my attention, I should pay it attention. Then it will lessen. If I try to ignore it, it increases, to get my attention. Like a child, or an animal, or just about anything living, if they don’t feel heard they shout louder.

And there are moments when it is better not to show it.

I will be gentle with myself. Beating myself up- stop it! shut up! You’re being ridiculous!- paralyses me. Gentle acceptance might help me recover. Gentle coaxing might let me show my pain less: it will be alright; not here; take a moment; it was the right decision…

I think of something else, then the pain catches me, making me gasp.

The only way to escape it is to permit it, to stop wishing it to end, to live it; then the process works, the person moves on. We are constantly in a state of becoming.

Regret, too. Bargaining, if only’s, wish-fulfilment fantasy rather than reality- better met with hearing, persuasion, only the gentlest chiding.

“It is always like this! It will always be like this!”- my unconscious has so many ways of telling me, how bad the pain is. Hush, child. I love you.

Bouguereau, chanson de printemps