Rationalising desire

Inner peace comes when all your faculties are working together for common goals.

I woke at two, feeling anger and resentment at a failure of my organism- it hardly matters what- and then had the thought,

I should work with not against myself,
Coaxing not driving.

The word “coaxing” was not right. Inciting? Incentivising? Persuading? In the morning the Quaker metaphor felt right:

seek unity.

At Queer Spirit I had said my work is self-understanding, and projected judgment onto the workshop group: silly navel-gazing, a waste of time. And the judgment was in me not them. I am so glad that I saw this immediately! I see how I project!

I phone the Samaritans for a listening ear so I can work through this. She was so much more, asking useful questions and accepting me.

I felt my judgment. This should not be a problem for me. I felt my pain at that. I bring these matters into consciousness, into slow thinking, because my unconscious fast thinking stops me from fulfilling my promise. This is difficult and tiring. My insights have an incremental strengthening effect on me. I seek to embed them in this conversation with her, and now blogging with you. That involves trusting her, and you, enough.

It involves putting my understanding into continuous prose, I hope rational, a step by step argument which makes me feel safe. I believe I understand.

This is who I am and what I do. I work on my recovery.

My responses frighten me, and I judge them. All sorts of responses to all sorts of situations, and I catastrophise: All of them! No, not all, I like some responses, but the price of not feeling consciously continually anxious- will I measure up- is feeling always disappointed.

It will be worthwhile to consider what responses I judge, and seeing them in a different way, and which I value.

What frightens you about your responses, she asks. That needs unpacking too. The response and the immediate sharp fear reaction to it, what do I fear?

She is surprised, she says. You come across as rational and measured.

That psychiatrist in June 2001. I wanted to transition, and had marshalled my rational arguments why that was right for me. He took them all away. I was left only with my feelings and desire. I have always seen that as a good experience, realising I had to accept and trust my feelings, and now I recall how painful it was. I could not see him again, and had murder fantasies about him.

I did not see that what I wanted could have value without some rational underpinning. So I did not know what I wanted.

Seeing myself as two, rational and emotional, is reductive. Perhaps better to see the two as parties, or even a Quaker position of no parties or only one, but with a range of positions, at first contradictory, which might be brought to unity.

The living response to an actual situation cannot be predicted by rational quasi-scientific means. The organism responds to the whole situation which cannot be foreseen, perhaps cannot be fully noticed consciously.

Why do you need a rationale for your desires? Is it possible, she asks.

I use the ability to rationalise as a crutch. I greatly value my ability to rationalise, and use it where it is not the best tool. It is not always possible, so it means devaluing some desires. I did not know what I wanted because I lacked the ability to accept or value it.

My mother also lacked the ability to know her desires, wanting to fit in so imagining she wanted what she imagined it was conventional to want.

I had thought of healing my relationship with my mother, and seeing Dr Dalrymple, and now see how painful these things have been. I am stil living with the consequences of my mother’s treatment of me.

Now I feel judgment, which I project onto her. “Surely at 53 I should have got beyond ‘I blame my parents’.” I think of the stories to show I have, and feel the pain of those experiences. She reassures me: she sees I am living with after-effects, though no longer blaming.

Now I see how I mock, deride and loathe my failure to have seen these things earlier. I feel shame. I feel tired. It is like Dumbledore having to drink a cavern full of potion, which poisoned him. I will work through this.

I am working through it. I am pleased with progress. I want to be more tolerant and accepting of my- again faults, imperfections, failures are words that spring to mind but the fitting word is Humanity.

I may learn to trust myself without the crutch of a rational explanation. This is me. This is what I desire, what I feel, what gives me pleasure.

Be/ Do

It’s always a bad question to ask scientists what something is. We tend not really to know what things really are but what they do, and what their effects are. I was dozing at 4am with Radio 4, and this struck me as brilliant. It is a physicist’s answer rather than a geologist’s, and a physiologist would relate form to function considering both, but in life it seems true to me. Such static phenomena as that lake, that hill- the question is what does it do to me, not the same as what it does to anyone else; and the tree, what will it be tomorrow, or in a different light? Moment to moment it makes a different impression on my senses- differences partly in it, partly in me.

That “I want to be someone else” realisation– has it changed me? This ideal, which I should be, and everyone else should be, too, falls away as illusion, leaving me seeing others and myself more clearly. Myers-Briggs: I am so completely Feeling, can anyone be Thinking at all or is it just an illusion, a post-hoc rationalisation? My attraction and aversion, Yuck and Yum, need no justification, they are quite rational enough. Here, Judging and Perceiving: I plead for Perceiving, as the only way to be, and Judge-

Especially for That. It is completely ridiculous! It can’t possibly last!

Oh, right. “She is starved of affection” I thought, and then realised it was projection; and this is too. “It can’t last!” is my own discomfort with the situation, out of my control. Though, I am quite clear: I don’t prefer sterile isolation, however certain it is.

Area Meeting on Sunday. I was sick fed up with them, and preached at them. After 45 minutes of bickering I proposed that the clerks will draft a schedule of dates and times for AM next year and one asked if it would be in time for LMs to comment. I said something like,

I will seek to serve the meeting as best I may. I will not try to control or bounce members into anything because I know you will not tolerate that. I seek to create a space where members may decide. One of the many ways I do not do this job properly is that I have not established a proper team with my assistant clerk, who has so much experience of clerking, Quakers and business. I now intend to do that.

I quoted the A&Q on Unity and said “It is possible! I have experienced it, in South Wales AM and Hardshaw East MM!”

That “bickering”. Resisting or receptive to it, seeking to Be Positive or- it is where we are. We need to get through this, we would not be here if we could be that BMW Quaker meeting, accelerating to Spirit-Led Unity in five seconds.

No discrete entities, but interactions. No objects, but processes. Not judging or perceiving, but a complex interaction of both, changing as time moves on.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses came. As usual, I told them of the immediate relationship with God and the experience of giving ministry, and offered them a copy of Advices and Queries. They didn’t take it.

Rossetti, Astarte Syriaca

Uses of friendship

File:The Gates of Paradise by William Blake -3.jpgMy beautiful, talented and vibrant friend has emailed twice, and I have not responded. When we met last month, we hugged and I was delighted to see her, as well as reserved. She said, “Call me”, and I have not.

We met two years ago at a weekly drama improvisation. After, we went to the pub, and shared stuff, and said motivational positive-thinking wisdom stuff at each other. She came to see me at my stand-up gig, and we ate afterwards. Then we did not see each other again.

So her email in October was delightful, and yet I did not respond, by email or phone, and it occurred to me that I was ashamed to. I had been talking of performing, and all this wisdom, and I am in a cul-de-sac, not having given birth to a dancing star or whatever.

One gets the impression that Robert de Saint-Loup really cares for Marcel, and Marcel does not entirely reciprocate. Sometimes Marcel uses his friendship: he wants an invitation to the house of a woman; he wants a message conveyed to Albertine after she leaves him, and he wants to micro-manage how that is done, indicating a lack of trust in the messenger. He observes Robert’s love for Rachel as a writer might.

At one point I had two friends I saw weekly, and shared deeply. I have generally had one who would hear my woes, and now I have one 396px-The_Gates_of_Paradise_by_William_Blake_-1 who chunters on boringly about her issues, so that when I talked of my father’s funeral she moved onto another subject quickly, in great detail. Don’t worry, it isn’t you. She is pleasant enough when I have nothing better to do- most of the time.

So it seemed that I had been one particular aspect of myself with the Vivacious one (who is straight, unfortunately) and I would have to ease in to being other aspects of myself.

-How are you?
-Alright. You?

and deep conversation like that.

A friend could reassure me that one particular view of myself is correct. A friend could do many things. Perhaps I should explore.

449px-William_Blake,_painter_and_poet_(page_28a)Having finally got the idea of the Mega-me, I thought I might actually do it. The brain cannot tell the difference between doing something in fantasy and doing it in actuality- our mirror neurons fire off replicating others’ feelings, and if we can create feelings of achievement we can go out and do the thing in reality. So I thought I would ask Quakers to participate in an improvised drama, and imagined friends objecting because it was silly. Useful to have someone to project on.

By horrible coincidence, two people I knew through karate have also lost a parent in the last month. They announced it on facebook. I did not want to- but did, today. I have hardly been posting there for a month. Lots of loving, warming comments from people I rarely see, Likes because I said how wonderful he had been, and I walked in the park feeling Happy, perhaps because of the mild air and beauty of the place, perhaps because of facebook.

Projecting III

P1000422A P1000421little cry. I find that makes me more present.

I am pleased with wiping the shortcuts to Solitaire on my computer. I have grown addicted, I got wired on it, and I want to stop. I had a good weekend with friends. The trouble with this Behavioural Activation is that I don’t have anything I want to activate.

-What about looking for a job?
No. I don’t actually want to. I know I have to.

I hated that last job, and the one before I hated so much I walked out with the immediate intention of taking all my sleeping pills. Oh, various things. I started in the October, and then saw that they had had targets for the September but had been too sluggish to recruit me on time; and then the Enhanced Criminal Records Check did not come through until February, so one Children’s Centre refused to work with me until then. This gets a rueful smile from her. As a front line worker I am sure she has similar experiences of Management.

I start to tell her of a particular fouled up encounter, and cry. I feel I want to express anger, but this is difficult. I must explain to her that I am still in enough control not to get violent, I must check that she is not distressed by it. Weeping is OK, I can weep about it.

I realise I am projecting. This is my own stuff around my anger, part of the problem I have with feeling it is feeling unable to express it. And then I realise that it is a genuine prediction or understanding of how other people think and will respond- just not a very accurate one. It is one I created in childhood. Why is it that I can “put away childish things” in so many aspects of life, but have retained them in this?

She thinks I would be better with counselling. I could talk about relationships.
-You talked about that lady.
Oh! I had not thought of her today at all. Hmp.

Nicola needs rid of me. I am irritated that I should just be wound up and sent off. She goes for her next client, who has been kept waiting, and I stand looking through the glass in the fire exit, at the tree, trying to calm down a bit. Then I go to Tesco.

In the afternoon, I would like to walk along the river, but it is as high as in my header photograph. It has been higher, that is river mud on the concrete by the lock. Still it flows over the bank to create a marsh, and the overflow from the lake floods down the bridleway. It is as bright and beautiful as earlier this month, not a cloud, but much colder and wading is not a good option.

Could I think differently of that last job? I did not achieve what I was paid to achieve, because it was not thought out. And all that time the possibility of thinking positively rather than negatively percolated in me, and three months after I finished I committed to being positive. I hated that job. Can I think differently of it now?

Projecting II

I did not like E at all. When I gave her healing, her feedback ws as negative as I could imagine. She felt abandoned by me. I should have touched her more. I touched her at the start and at the end, but not in between. Oh, right. I am sorry you had that experience. She went on that she sensed a lot of energy in me- pause, get my hopes up- but- the pitch of her voice goes down, frowningly- it is Nervous energy. Oops, that sounds like a bad thing. I seek out calm. I can be neurotic, and this feedback does not include anything positive at all.

I did not like her way of expressing herself, arrogant with mock-modesty and a touch of self-hatred. She dropped one name several times, which I found pathetic- I have better names to drop, but prefer not to. When she talked more than once about how she had set up a little group, it was like nails on a blackboard. I had the impression that she was prouder than she might be of that little group. And, conversely, I found in her examples of self-criticism which I thought inaccurate and a touch cruel.

E is in her mid seventies, and looks it: she seems frail and old. M, by contrast, is 82. He still goes running four times a week, about five miles, is doing another Masters degree, actively exercises his generosity, and is so impressive that I would like to have seen him at forty- enough to turn a girl heterosexual! So I was surprised to hear from him that she had told him it was time for him to accept that he should stop doing so much. I get the impression that he is firmly grasping on to his middle age, and that at 82 he could, if he ceased to be so active, begin to decline. Whereas E has declined already, and needs to accept that.

E asked the group for examples, and I had rather a good one. I was irritated that she dismissed it, showing by her words that she had not understood at all. The second time I repeated myself I- Spoke- Slowly- and- Clearly, expressing my surprise that she had not understood.

I understood more when M told me that E had whinged to him about her increasing ailments, and the fact that two husbands had abandoned her. So it was her abandonment issues in her mind, in her “feedback” to me. It is particularly galling that she feels abandoned by men and that this came up when I worked with her.

Inching forward

The coach of the UK Cycling team said,

Focus on the process and the outcomes will take care of themselves

How wonderful to have such a scientifically designed and personally tailored training programme, that all one needed to do was follow it. How wonderful to have such a calling, that that was what one Wanted, to have the single minded determination to follow it. How wonderful to have that calling recognised.

Dave asked me how the jobhunting was going, and I started to cry. I don’t know. Hormones, something. My eyes are watering, my speech quavers, daily. Dave was sympathetic, and perplexed- he is a man I would go to for practical help with a practical problem, but not the first I would choose for a shoulder to cry on. And I- I was unhappy, but also a much wider, richer brew of emotion. I was quite clear that everything is alright, I was content; and fearful of the future; and rueful about getting visibly emotional; and possibly other things too.

Not in work, and not looking for work- how do I feel about that? How do I feel about others knowing it? Ashamed; and rueful. But then, it is like being transsexual. I care what other people think, I think other people disapprove, in so far as I feel shame myself. I project it onto them. Generalise from that. I feel others will disapprove, because I am ashamed myself. And- I think Dave was perplexed, but not disapproving. “You like to have a lot to do, don’t you?” he said, and that might be projecting too.

So then, am I ashamed? Yes I am ashamed. I am ashamed of my fear and anger. I am ashamed of being unemployed, of not doing anything about that. I am ashamed of being hurt, of not sorting that out and dealing with it. I should have dealt with all of this by now! Ashamed of my illusions, and frightened that I have not found them all, for how can I survive in this world with blind spots? I will just be hurt and humiliated again. I have an idea of what health might look like, so why am I not there?

Feel the shame, and let it go. Yes, I am ashamed. I have been doing my best.

As Fritzfreud says,

Emotional problems tend to come from avoiding emotional discomfort.   So discomfort is the price of recovery.   Accepting our limitations.  Taking risks.  Becoming honest.  That sort of thing.

Gregory House said, “It’s not easy, but it is simple”. Now, I devote myself to accepting my limitations, reducing the illusions and fantasies, accepting myself as I am. So rather than “inching forward”, I am moving forward at my own pace.

I like “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay” on Single Dad Laughing.


Things ill done and done to others’ harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools’ approval stings, and honour stains.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.

Eliot’s words have echoed in me since my teens, and meant different “things” to me at different times. I want to live well and¬†to see the world and others clearly; and I have done what seemed good to me, and then I have seen it as wrong or inadequate. What may I do with my guilt and shame besides lacerating myself?

Where an incident or relationship comes to my mind, I will consider it. Why was I like that? What really happened? How else might I have been? How might I be now?

And if it is lacerating me, the moment I can hardly bear to contemplate, then it is a wound which will take more than a moment’s healing.

I have sought absolution from others, priests and therapists and others whom I have demanded take a parental role for me; and always, when I am absolved, I have absolved myself. Oh, See, see clearly! I have demanded that of myself, and I get better at it. Blind spots from my own projections, and my desire that the world be other than it is, get less.

And- the absolution is easier if I celebrate the progress I have made. Yes, I would like life to be easier, actually, and- I get better at it.


My heart is full after the Human Awareness Institute weekend, and I wish to share about it. Not about the people, apart from the fact that they are wonderful, because of confidentiality; not about the exercises, because they are entitled to their copyrights, though I can say we built trust and love and affirmation through stroking of faces and hands. I want to share part of the blessing I received.

I became aware of how, though I have discovered that being transsexual really is a blessing, I still resent it. It has been so painful and difficult. Why me? And so I have judged and condemned myself for being transsexual. I have then projected this onto other people, onto tout le monde, imagining their judgment on me for being trans. And this has prevented me seeing how they really react. Some of them, it seems, have some difficulty with my way of being, though I think very few judge me for it, and those poor souls will have enough else to think about so that they will rarely be thinking of me. I intend to be freed from this projection, and to see other people more clearly as they are rather than my imagining of them. I feel more able to love myself, accept myself, and be kind to myself.

It is tempting but untrue to say, the HAI weekend has changed my relationship with x. What it has done is show me that so much more is possible in my relationship with x, more delight and joy and love and authenticity and honesty, and so given me the possibility of changing and improving that relationship myself.