Consciousness

Lucy’s technique to be embodied is to name ones sense-impressions. I feel the velvety fabric of my sofa under my fingertips, the pressure of my weight on the chair which includes a cushion at my back and much of the weight on the back of my thighs. Dropping into presence, I am aware of my surroundings. I might take great interest in the dust seemingly suspended in mid air, as I cannot see the spider-thread holding it up.

I am a body. I can feel the movement in the soles of my feet as I walk.

Trauma can make us disembodied. An unwilling sex-worker might refuse ever to kiss: her lips and mouth are her own. The person bullied into compliance so that there is no conscious resistance or selfhood left has to suppress consciousness of embodied feeling. I am that frontal lobe, seeing the interests of the oppressor and following them. Other feelings and sensations are suppressed by the survival instinct.

Returning to the sensations of the body is liberation. I find my own desires and responses, and follow their guidance. I am there now- I can feel my wrists leaning on the lap-top as I type- but Lucy says naming that may even form new connections in the brain, connecting the sensations directly to the verbal centres. Then I can speak and explain my truth. If the concept of new dendrites is too specific yet too hypothetical, at least I know that practice improves ability.

I feel intense emotions, such as the mix of relief with the ability to admit quite how bad my pain has been, when I have had to deny the pain to survive. I thought I was a disgusting, worthless pervert. That was just normal. Now, I feel horror at the pain of it, relief at the end of it, and tiredness at struggling out of the pit of it. There is mourning and celebration, delight at seeing myself more truly, delight in my gifts and value, and pain at the imposed self-contempt: as if I was winded by being punched in the stomach years ago, yet only now can draw breath and feel the pain of the blow.

I can name and describe those intense emotions, and want to describe my current emotions, to name them, bring them to consciousness, integrate them as part of my motivation for action, and so get moving rather than merely resisting. My feelings can be short-lived, mercurial, conflicting. What now? Curiosity. Commitment to this task- what am I feeling?

A phone call. “It’s only Lucie”- sadness, pity, anger: it is clear to me that “only”, the self-deprecatingness of it, is wrong. Don’t wheedle me. She wants to bring our appointment forward, as someone has cancelled, but first she starts explaining to me why it would be good for me to see her earlier, “if you can manage it”- the heat intensifies during the day, she says. I am sad. I see that it is convenient to have an appointment then return to her office, and want to exercise my generosity. I do not need persuasion: if I felt I really couldn’t make it earlier, I would say, and could then find a way forward for both of us.

I want to be seen as this loving, creative, generous person. From perceiving and naming feelings, I can feel and name desires. There is frustration and hurt here too. I do not know how to communicate myself.

What is- that feeling. Is it determination?

And, later: “How do you feel about that?” Two things at the same time. It could be possible, it could be rewarding, it could be worthwhile; and NO NO NO I CAN’T IT WOULD BE AWFUL I CAN’T BEAR IT NOTHING GOOD COULD COME OF IT IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. Someone looking at me would see me go quiet, close my eyes and shrink a little. I want to believe the positive voice, and the other is loud.

Truth is experience

He was angry, and I sympathise. However, as he got drunker, he swore more, and though he continually apologised for doing so in front of “ladies”, our presence did not restrain him. Then he told me that he could swear in front of me, as I was “in between”. I don’t really like people joking like that, though I feel I am entitled to. Earlier, I had looked at him and said “You know what I do is catching, don’t you?” and evoked a loud HAHAHAHAHAHA from a woman there.

The music round. Which Billie Holliday song, released in 1937, is this? I guessed, based on what Billie Holliday songs I would expect people to have heard of, and the first chords confirmed it. I don’t know what happened next. Or I do, but past and present denials of it attack my confidence.

I needed to take a moment, because of the horror. At any rate, I pushed my seat back and bowed down. Black people were being murdered, and their bodies displayed to traumatise and cow other black people, and make white people complicit. So someone wrote a poem, and she turned it into a song, shoving the abomination in our faces. It is deeply moving. I am not entirely sure what happened before I pushed my seat back, it happened so quickly, but it was something like me expressing that sense of being moved and him ridiculing that. So I pushed my seat back, and bowed down, making an unequivocal signal of Being Moved. Then my inner doubts started a well-worn refrain about me making a fuss, just performing, not really feeling like that.

I did feel like that. It seems that it reassures people in some way if we feel alike. Then we know we are of the same tribe. Why else would we all attempt to control each others’ feelings so much? “Don’t cry.” Or, horror has a particular use as a feeling, perhaps, to avert us from some actual threat now and not- but then, we tell each other stories to arouse feelings in each other-

Not a word is wasted in The Good Fight. In 2/12, Diane Lockhart says that the world has gone mad, but if she can keep her own corner of it, her law firm, sane, then insanity has not won. The liberal says to the conservative ICE agent, how much federal money have you spent on one deportation? He ripostes that he is asserting the primacy of federal law over state’s rights. The world is upside down. They are fighting, they are scrapping like rats in a sack, and law is a set of rules we use to achieve our goals. Well, of course it is, but most people think it has something to do with justice, and that the purpose imagined for a particular rule by the legislator should affect how it may be used. The Good Fight would meet that idea with a hollow laugh. Then using the Trump-appointed judge’s ignorance of the law against him by naming a kind of motion he has not heard of is just another tactic. That judge is nauseating. He has babyish good looks and charm which he uses in a completely self-centred way, and is stupid. Monsters arise.

I loved that line about doing what she can, not for the whole world but just part of it, and after watching it I don’t want to go outside.

Last night, I asserted my feelings to others: when my feelings were derided I doubled down. I suppose that ideally I would not need others to affirm my feelings, but possibly it is just being human to need that. Super-human may take me some time. Or I could call it doing teenage, acting out rather than just going along with others, and Adult would be feeling authentically, seeing the others’ response, and doing what I could best do in that moment to keep my world sane.

I wish I could see my sensitivity as a strength, and perhaps it will be if I ever complete teenage. I am over fifty, but only started teenage in my thirties. Now I assert, truth is experience. I hear even the first chords of Strange Fruit. I feel the horror of displaying corpses to create racial terror. My truth is not some objective understanding of what is going on in the world but myself, my response, my perceptions and the feelings aroused in me.

Sensitive souls

He might not be good company, he warned me, as he hardly slept at all last night. His mind was racing. He had bought The Guardian, and was enraged about Carillion- the payouts to the fat cats, successful only at filling their pockets; and the fact that “George Gideon Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury” had been connected to hedge funds which had started short-selling the company before its profit warning in the Summer. Possibly George had passed on information; he has little value otherwise. He explained short-selling to me: I knew it was betting that a company’s share price would decline, but he told me that the hedge fund borrows shares for a set fee and a set period, sells them, buys them and hands them back before the end of the period, and if the share price declines it makes money.

I tell him that even asleep his company would be pleasant to me, I like him so much. I would drink my tea and play on my phone. And that his choler could hardly be more bad for his health if you added an “a” on the end. And that I go to sleep with In Our Time on the I-player, four restful voices saying interesting but not too interesting things about Xenophon, gravitational waves, or the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum.

My other way of going to sleep when awake in the night was to stop thinking of worries, and rehearse summaries of Doctor Who plots.

I feel that I am able to listen and sympathise, and possibly mock a little. He waves his hands about, and I mirror him. He asks me not to, then says “I’m stimming”. At which I apologise and stop. I wish his choler was less, though, at things he cannot affect. Choler with an “a” will come in ten years, if the Tories win the next election and Brexit happens. He is so gentle, withal. I have rarely seen him angry at another person (it was me). He was reading about Dolores O’Reordan, and it mentioned the Warrington bombing. And his photographic memory brought up the face of a boy who was killed then, and he started crying.

Are you still here? My Moral is for you: such sensitivity is a gift, though also a burden; and when two sensitive souls come together usually it is a great joy, though sometimes it is terribly painful.

Or, See me! I am like you! Please let me know, if it is you.

I don’t want to take cash out, and I notice I have not enough for a bus fare. Then I pay with my credit card, and notice after I have been overcharged by £5.70- so she repays me in cash. Pleased by this synchronicity, I walk in the supermarket, and hear Petula Clark. Forget all your worries, forget all your cares- Oh! Do not play something which will move me!

Softness

I will celebrate my softness.

I went with H to the Royal Festival Hall, where the Four Last Songs moved me to tears; and she put her arm round me, and consoled me. I went with a different H to A Quiet Passion, the film about Emily Dickinson, and again was weeping helplessly; and H held my hand, and consoled me.

I have called it “sensitivity”, and thought myself not entitled to the word. It seemed to me that “sensitivity” could mean emotional responsiveness, but needed to include sensitivity to others’ feelings, and care for them. I observed that sometimes I would be deeply insensitive and judged myself for it. You don’t always realise, immediately, and realising later may be too late. Repressing my own feelings, I took refuge in analysing. I wrote a verse of a man and three women, in the first person, and someone observed that he could not imagine that a man who would feel in that way could write such a poem.

And so it felt merely like weakness and unmanliness, likely to prevent me from doing what I had to do, merely a problem. And even now it frightens me, as I imagine toughness might look like something quite different, and is necessary to achieve useful goals, or feel less distress.

Yet that aspiration to “toughness” judges and criticises my distress, so that I resent it, fight it, strengthen it and fail to process it. Tough does not mean unfeeling, and if it does I am not tough like that. Softness is only a liability if feeling strong emotions is a bad thing.

It is still hard to find something positive to say, though. I was weeping. I can at least be neutral: there is nothing shameful in that.

I don’t feel either H thinks less of me because of it, or wants to spend less time with me for it- even if I isolate those instances of weeping instead of imagining how I appear to them overall. I like to be kind, and while this characteristic may be elevated in me, I think they have it too. Softness and kindness together produce closeness.

Weeping is not the only manifestation of softness, but at that moment, the character “Emily Dickinson” revealed her dependence on her family, her fear and isolation from the World, and her apparent inability to improve her situation. I was keenly aware of that, and while I was responding to a dramatised portrayal would resonate similarly with real people in real situations. And I did. I met with CAB clients and expressing sympathy and fellow-feeling, and thereby reducing some of their distress, and after I found ways of recovering. If, later, I needed to protect myself from clients that was not my fault.

I am loving and gentle. I am still wary of that, and my wariness makes me not appreciate my softness properly. My softness is like a cat in the darkness, pressed into a corner. I do not see her properly, and she and I do not trust each other properly. If I can pay her attention, I will find how beautiful she is, and she may let me pet her, and share our warmth.

My softness is a way of being with others and knowing them, of bonding with them and nurturing; and it may yet nurture me.

Sam Kane

Not only am I a real woman; I would go even further to say that a transgender woman has more claim to womanhood than a “biological” woman.

A transgender woman has reached womanhood by the arduous path of achievement rather than by accident of nature. Those who climb Mount Everest have a greater claim to winning that peak than someone accidentally dropped there by helicopter.

Sam Kane has been interviewed in the Daily Mail again. I wish she would stop digging. “I have had it harder than cis women have” is not a winning argument. Some cis women feel they are dropped in a jungle to fend for themselves without proper training or defensive equipment, when these trans women appear to be on safari, as a holiday.

You don’t know how hard other people have had it. Consider my friend, enraged at men pressing her for sex from the age of 13, and not feeling able to say “I just don’t fancy you” because she is socialised into being accommodating, though her evasions are taken as a personal insult. “Only ‘I have a boyfriend’ was an acceptable excuse, because then you were someone else’s property”.

“Now, I intimidate men,” she said without a smile.

Sam: I met people at transsexual clubs who kept saying how fantastic it was to be a woman and how happy they were, and I thought it would be the solution to all my problems.

We went to different clubs, obviously. I met people who said how hard it was, but with determination and a lot of work they might just manage. When I transitioned, I thought my employer would find some pretext to sack me and I went ahead anyway.

Sam Kane, who has transitioned M-F-M, with vaginoplasty, then some sort of operation to create an “approximation” of male genitalia, has now transitioned back, but does not feel she needs further surgery. Does it really matter what’s “down there?” What’s in your head, heart and soul only matters. Well, that is the fashion. We all had The Operation back then, now increasing numbers don’t. And we object to journalists prying and disclosing what is between our legs, in prurient, sly, giggly articles for Daily Mail readers to get shocked or turned on over. Their very headline says she had her male organs removed in an operation.

The fast cars, the yachts, the competition to have the prettiest or the youngest girlfriends — it was all a theatre, a charade to fit into this male club I never really wanted to join. From childhood I felt female, but I was ambitious and the two were always in conflict, so I became almost a caricature of what a “real” man is expected to be.

Mmm. The job below my ability, because just living was difficult, the isolation because I was always pretending, the shame and discomfort and not fitting in my own skin- I too feel she is on safari. No-one has it easy as trans, and it is not always easier after transition, and I really want to sympathise with her struggles, pain and difficulty- but she alienates me.

During her marriage breakdown, Sam first thought himself bisexual then started to question gender identity. Some would query late onset, and say aha, they is not true trans. Not me. For me, being trans is made so difficult by society that if you claim you are trans, you are. But this line encourages the haters, like Jenni Murray quoted here: “simply choosing to become a woman”, as if it were a whim.

This is the bit I hate her for. Like many transgender women, I tried to turn myself into an ultra-feminine, perfect woman. I was trying to live up to the feminine ideal, so I wore sexy clothes and make-up. I learned how to walk and talk a certain way. I just wanted to be accepted. Like many trans women, I schlep around in jeans much of the time, even without makeup. I express myself feminine because I am feminine. Often, I have to defend myself against the allegation that my femininity is an act. I do not express myself so feminine because I feel that is how women should be, but because I am this feminine. We all “just want to be accepted” but being publicly trans, writing a book about her struggles, may not be the best way. Some will see her as courageous, some as ridiculous. Find the people who accept you, and ignore the rest.

She detransitioned because she wanted accepted by her family, but found she was not accepted as a feminine male by clients and peers. No-one is accepted by everyone. If people can wind you up by referring derisively to your masculinity or femininity, they will. The only way to survive is not to get wound up. As Charles, he went to his son’s wedding. It was very civilised. Everyone was very welcoming and no one said anything unpleasant, but I felt like an embarrassment and it hurt.

That begins to make me sympathise again. She is so sensitive!

I want to walk barefoot on the grass in the sunshine, but there is gravel between the front door and the lawns. I walk gingerly over the gravel, and it makes me think of the Little Mermaid, whose every step on dry land was like walking on knives. Yes, it is painful- but the pain is not the only thing, there is so much beauty! Our sensitivity is a burden and a delight, we are easily hurt but easily delighted, and we can sympathise with others, entering their woes and joys. You need to learn to be sensitive to your own sensitivity. Even now, I don’t think she gets it.

She has it hard. Someone pointed to her and asked, “Is that a real woman?” The next thing I knew, a fist was flying through the air and I ended up with a broken nose. The provocation is merely existing. We all have our stories like that.

Yet she is following her own desires again: Do you think I would have gone through all this suffering and sacrifice if there wasn’t something inside so strong telling me I am woman? The whole notion that a transgender woman is not a real woman is false. We are not talking about castrated males, or gay men in drag, we are not fakes. That would not convince my friend. She would accept the conviction, but say “woman” is physical, not emotional, so Sam is not a woman. As for me, I want to be treated as a woman. I want allowances made for my inability to present male, as allowances are made for disabilities. But insisting “I am a real woman” just encourages the haters.

Many mock, and she lays herself open to that. The quotes are taken from a Daily Mail article. Don’t give them clicks, it only encourages them.

I read somewhere that she had had her fake penis removed shortly after that article was published. In August 2019, though, I notice their barrister website is referring to them as “Charles” again.

Indelicate questions

“Is that a boy?”

I have my answer to that one. “Some would say Yes, some would say No. I would say, ‘I am Clare’.” I was bothered by her father quickly dragging her away and whispering at her. I wanted to interact.

“I said there were only girls here”, he told me. He sounded irritated.
-I would not want to interfere in your bringing up your child, I called across the garden.

It’s my friend’s garden. Before today, I have met one person here, and the husband of another- the husband wasn’t here- and it is mostly friendly. The father went off for a walk just after, and when he returned the family left.

I would like greater openness. I don’t want him giving the conventional answer, I want understanding. I want the child able to ask such questions- “What happened to your arm?” “Why is your face like that?” “What’s a miscarriage?”- to hear the experiences of people rather than the standard view.

Later, when most had left and we were in front of the fire, drinking champagne, I brought up that I had grown up in Argyll. I had to explain what a septic tank is.

-Oh. Real country. What’s that like? So I told my Argyllshire tale of woe- this one. This produced an outburst of sympathy. That’s Awful! I have processed it, though. I am not upset about Inez any more, hardly about my sister.

Here is the wonder of blogging- here, I can work this out. I have processed that story. I don’t want to be dragged back to feelings of misery rejection and frustration. It just is. Perhaps, now, I could tell that story to elicit feelings in others for my own purposes, rather than to process my own. It took a long time processing.

I am inspired, though, by Maria, who has suffered a miscarriage and recounts others’ insensitivity. There are several what [not] to say posts around. The worst thing is if two people’s raw nerves are touched at the same time, like the stutterers who got into a fight because each thought the other was mimicking him. If I am tired, or feeling vulnerable, I find it harder to deal with remarks, but at any time someone might touch a sore spot. And I used to have a big red button, which people would notice, and push- “Clare, I find you profoundly masculine”- and I would collapse into a wreck. It is so liberating not to.

Some people need to deal with their own stuff, when they hear of your distress. Some want you not to be distressed, and that can be selfishness, because they find openly expressed distress embarrassing. They want to tidy it away, like Cassie’s father yesterday, which left me feeling aggrieved. Some are emotional vampires: they want you to express your distress, so they can sympathise, but if I am distressed there are times I want to process it, perhaps with help, and times I want to just get on. When I see others’ need, I offer assistance and state that I do not need to be needed: it is lovely to help, but often others want to deal with things on their own.

There are no rules with this. I don’t like what I see as the other imposing control or conventional understanding on my feelings but this may just be rationalisation- I was somehow uncomfortable in that situation.

Renoir, two girls in black

Dilemma

libraryplus ChangeI walk down the hill from the coffee shop, through the town centre, and turn right towards the supermarket. The weather has turned colder, and the rain is steady on my colourful, patterned umbrella. The red berries on the tree

fill me with amazed delight

and I feel Wonderful- almost as if “free, nothing’s troubling me”- and also perplexed, worried, frightened.

I had told Liz about my father’s parasitic infection before, and over coffee she asked me about it. I have not done anything about it, not even talked to my sister. I have not so much decided not to do anything about it, as placed it in the “too difficult” tray- think about it sometime, never. When Colin came in he kissed Liz’s cheek, and shook Terry’s hand, and- shook my hand. And I thought- is that him showing he thinks I am a man? Is it some signal I give off? Is it that I did not get up quickly enough?

People do this sort of thing non-verbally. I do too, I suppose. Then I get it wrong and it misgenders me- or possibly misgenders me, possibly in my mind, in someone else’s. Of course I am crying repeatedly writing this, but I did not say anything, then.

Later Terry got on to left-brain and right-brain sometimes having different personalities and goals, and, as we are about to go, I start on how that applies to me, get wound up, cry, They look at me, worriedly. Liz really has to rest before her voluntary work this afternoon. No-one actually says “Will she be alright?” but I indicate I will be. Liz tells me she too cries in the car.

library seatAs so often before, after crying I feel really good. And I feel- in touch with my emotions. And- Present. And- that my Sensitivity is a good and beautiful thing. As Terry said, I haven’t been crying so much over the last six months. No. Instead, I have been “playing” “solitaire”, or pawing at facebook and my stats page- anything new under Referrers or Search Engine Terms? Anything new on “Comments I’ve Made”?

I went round the supermarket, then sat in the library reading the Spectator, waiting for the bus; and I could have gone, but decided to spend another hour there, waiting for the next bus. In front of me is illustrated. It seems my choice is weeping and being labile, or shutting myself down into a robotic state with TV and the computer. In neither state am I achieving much. On facebook, I find We are each a wise guru in charge of a mental patient which I like- I still get those “What? Are other people like this too?” moments- but not so much the whole status:

There is no progress. We are never going be ‘past’ this stuff.
We are each a wise guru in charge of a mental patient.
The skill is to love the wounded freak that you’re in charge of NO MATTER WHAT
(then it MIGHT change a little)

Everything

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres_-_Roger_Freeing_Angelica_-_WGA11842.jpg

I know some people listening are thinking,File:Seurat Angelica (après Ingres).jpg “That’s a bit sad”, and- some people are thinking, “Yes. Mmmmmm….”

I heard the first bit, and thought, he is projecting. He thinks his own interest in the ZX Spectrum computer, with its 48 kilobyte memory- it could barely hold that Rich Text File I just emailed- is a “bit sad”. And then he says something positive. Is he projecting then, too?

There will be people who dismiss his interest as a foolish failure to interact with the real world, and there will be people who sympathise- all kinds of human reactions- and all these reactions are in him. Even though he is interested, he judges his interest, and finds it wanting. All those reactions are in me- so I can feel with the man who rejects, and with the man who affirms. Actually, the phrase “that’s a bit sad” was the words used by the man on the radio this morning, but I have not quite remembered the words he used after. They were affirming, but “Yes. Mmmmmm….” is my expression, I think slightly different from his- though I am not sure quite how. Like trying as an adult to make a sound in a foreign language, Japanese or German, or even a different English accent such as Scouse. Others can hear a difference I cannot.

Or it is the way I want to recall it.

In my ritual space, after hearing this, before putting on my gi, I feel playful. Yes, I could channel Qi to my chakras, but that is not the mood I am in, now. Such a wide range of human emotion and reaction in me, that I may relate to so many different humans. Yet with my own accent or idiolect; some seen and recalled, some seen at a slightly different angle. And- of that wide range which I can be in my ritual space, some I can recognise and welcome, some feels strange or frightening- conditioning, it seems.

The All is in me, or its Emanations, with a distinct Clare flavour. So beautiful, when I can bear to look at it.

Sensitivity

 Poppy field beforeI am sensitive,

and that is a gift.

It means I can see others, and resonate with them

know their feelings

understand a situation

and it means I am easily hurt.

This gift seemed not to fit my world.

It made me think wrong things.

It hurt me.

So I saw it as weakness and wrong

and I suppressed it.

But I could only suppress the gift, the seeing:

I could not suppress the being easily hurt.

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

As I learn to see and sense others

I am still easily hurt

I am still not in control

unable to see or do the Act which makes things Perfect

yet I learn to see others, and resonate with them

know their feelings

and understand a situation

In my weakness is my strength

I will know the place for the first time

I am sensitive

and that is a gift.