Blind spots

Why would I not know who I was, what I felt or what I wanted? Because it was too threatening to know.

In my thirties I decided I needed to rebel against my parents, and started teenage. It is a stage of development people have to go through. I wanted to know who I was, and realised that there were blind spots, where I could not see myself properly. One problem with a blind spot is that you don’t know it’s there: you imagine you have a complete picture. I cared. Truth was important to me. I needed to know myself, because otherwise I was at war with myself.

You act according to your own character whether you understand it or not. I had been reading Carl Rogers, so knew of the organismic self and the self-concept: who you really are, and who you imagine you are. The imaginary self was who I thought I ought to be, quite different from the real self. I wrote,

It hurt so much and it’s stopped.
Who I am is who I ought to be.
I can be me. I can be free.

I was not there yet, but I was no longer so invested in the imaginary self, the self-concept. I knew it was untrue, and I wanted to unearth the real me. I worked out the lies I told myself, and the first was I lie to myself because I want to see myself as a good person. That might help me see behind the lie. But I carried on lying to myself, because I did not realise I was doing it.

I lie to myself because I am afraid. I fear my own anger and fear, so suppress them until they will be suppressed no more.

I lie to myself because I make no sense, and want to believe that I do.

I know what I want when I see what I do: this is “Shadow motivation”. The shadow, the part of yourself which is not wicked or bad but which you cannot admit to yourself and see as a monster, works to achieve its unconscious desires.

I have to talk about truth, for around six minutes. This is an attempt to work out what I might say.

Honest I do

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

I have such anger and contempt for myself! And it gets in the way, feeding on itself, blocking my actions then raging at my inaction. Where do I go from here, how can I pull myself up from this? How have I got here? I should not be like this!

Acceptance might be good.

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

Or, could I turn the anger outward? Step 9 of the twelve steps is, Made direct amends to [all people we had harmed] wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Could I turn that around, and confront people who had harmed me? I thought on a blog post open letter- Dear Z[—] G[—]…

Would that help acceptance?

Emma quoted Randy Newman’s song. I had not heard it before:

things don’t always, things don’t always go the way we plan
But there’s one thing, one thing we all have in common
And it’s something everyone can understand
All over the world sing along

I just want you to hurt like I do
I just want you to hurt like I do
I just want you to hurt like I do
Honest I do, honest I do, honest I do

I think of Numbers 14:18, God in his gaslighting, controlling bastard mood: The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. That’s what he thinks is longsuffering mercy? The standard apologetics is, this is descriptive not prescriptive, how the world works not what God chooses. Ha!

Or, it encompasses the confusion of the world by ascribing to God contradictory inexplicable actions- “forgiving iniquity” and “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children”. Not the same people, obviously. The good end happily, the bad unhappily, only reliably in fiction.

Miles Davis said, If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.

My immediate response to the song was, Yuck. I commented, I am not the most effectual person in the world, but I know I want people not to hurt. I am very badly hurt, and I want people to feel better, to feel valued, to feel worthwhile. It feels as if the sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the tenth generation, and I am expiating them. Yes some do, want revenge on the world, and some of us know that would only make things worse, for ourselves as well as everyone else. Emma says, These words he wants us to sing along would never pass my mouth. Yet his point is that we (not all, so not everybody, but most) do this damage to others as it was done to us, and we do it unthinkingly and “honestly” — without reflection and with plenty of “reasons” justifying such behavior. And if we were to put words to those motives, they would indeed sound like this song.

What if? There was that passive-aggressive act which I remain proud of, and there may be others which my need to see myself as a good person stops me seeing clearly. I might still deserve my own love if I were really flawed and human rather than Good. I am still trying to see behind my blind spots. I deny bits of myself because I cannot face them. We are all too complex and strange for anyone to understand.

Or, I am projecting: I want you to suffer, I think, and that is what I want for myself, I want to acknowledge and feel my own suffering…

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


In the moment

File:Fuseli - Macbeth and the Witches.jpgAs we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

More improvisation games.

Now we pass the energy to each other, across the circle, carrying something. It may be heavy, or wriggly and difficult to hold, or tiny and precious, and It changes for each person. Each mime is a new creative act. Planning ahead, it would be a small furry thing to cuddle, pet and stroke, but when Dick goo-goos at a small fluffy being, caressing it, and passes it to me, I must do something more. I gently put it down on the floor, and blow on it, and mime that it is growing, then I lead it over to someone else to pass it on.

At the start of the day- we sit in a circle, light a candle, and close our eyes, and Claire speaks to us hypnotically. Saturday, I am with it immediately, I feel present and relaxed. Sunday, I am distracted, ruminating, and still not clear what the difference is. That mime feels good. It feels right, and it popped into consciousness seeming full-formed- but I am not sure what else could happen. It seems my conscious mind could only censor it, but possibly the edit/censor process is unconscious too. It only becomes problematic and uncomfortable when the inspiration and the censorship war, with no clear winner.

dsc05130-2And sometimes it feels right with other people, sometimes it does not. Three of us improvise a short scene: one massages my shoulders, the other comes in, there is a veiled confrontation and she starts massaging my shoulders. Of course I enjoyed that. It was lovely. It communicated to the audience, but I think it luck rather than some mystic Inspiration; and inspiration strikes where with practice we learn what works.

Much of our work is on Macbeth. First we think ourselves into these characters: Macbeth, Malcolm, Duncan, Lady Macbeth, Macduff. Then we improvise scenes with them.

File:Macbeth consulting the Vision of the Armed Head.jpgSomeone objected that these are dark, violent characters, but for me my fear of my shadow is the problem: embodying “bad” characters is the way to relax that fear. I have the capacity to act well, and I can relax those inhibitions created in childhood, that there are Bad responses which must not be allowed. As an adult I can create better responses to my reactions than to suppress them. To release the suppression, I have a safe, playful space to be Bad.

We play the scenes. As many of us as wish can play one character: at one point we have three Lady Macbeths surrounding Macbeth and goading him. About half of us play witches: Children and adults can play witches at Hallowe’en, there are places to “let your hair down” and play with darker impulses, other than here.

I also played Macbeth murdering the King. After, I had a toy witch’s broom, and I paced the floor to one side while Macduff and Malcolm plotted against me elsewhere. I shook the broom to symbolise my increasing stress and desperation, until it fell to pieces scattering bristles over the floor. A beautiful symbol I could not have planned. After this, being “killed” by the rebels was a relief.


File:Tisch.pngThroughout my shouting in anger and weeping, I have been in a playful mood, never wholly overwhelmed, and I am in it now- along with the frustration, and the fear, and the perplexity. Waiting at the surgery for Yvonne the counsellor, I sit in a plastic chair beside a table. Accidentally I tap it, and notice how amazingly resonant it is! It could almost be used as a drum. That delighted me.

I felt in our third of six sessions that I merely stated the problem, rather than did anything to sort it. I went in wanting to discuss relationships at work, and Resilience- “Failure is not falling over, it is failing to get up again”, I quote, bitterly. What did you get from the last session? I am immediately angry and weepy, and find it hard to get the words out. I say a bit on that, then “I have two topics of conversation which might pass the time for an hour” and she picks me up on it- we are not here to pass time. And I am irked that she picks me up on the words I use: of course we are here to work. But it was when she said “It’s clear that you’re…” that I exploded. No, I am not. (Can’t remember what it was now.) So refreshing and wonderful, actually to shout at someone! Periodic Table Armtuk3.svg

Am I upset about all this Old Stuff, and can I simply work through that old feeling and be free? Actually, it seems to me that I am upset about how things are now, which is subtly different, linked to that long chain of happening, but not the same as saying that was awful and I am still upset about it. I do not know what I want, because I cannot imagine ever achieving anything I wanted. Or, I want not to feel uncomfortable emotions, and that is my overriding aim at all times.

I tap her superficially similar low round table. Not remotely resonant. Disappointing.

How am I with other people? Well, I am terrified of their reaction, so I must be perfect at all times so that it will be alright. Hypervigilant- though this does not stop me knowing the Right Way to proceed, so that if a manager tells me what to do which is not the right way, I will ignore her. Well, it wasn’t. I was Right. And yet- in this moment with her, I am watching her, and any reaction is not because she is tired, bored or distracted: it really is all about me.

File:Table mountain.jpg from that I was simply restating the problem. She observes that I am hard on myself, needing to be Perfect (though Perfect according to my own Rules which have no relation whatsoever to reality or my interests) and I talk of not knowing what my feelings were, or not doing Toddlerhood properly, never mind teenage, or Graeme McGrath stating that psychotherapy would merely threaten my defences without provoking useful change.

A table that can be used as a Drum! Plato’s theory of Forms will need completely rewritten!

It is wonderful to shout at you, you get paid to take it! No, she says, only if she feels I am “making progress”. Just a little too far over the boundary, then. Leaving, I suggest to her next client we could just go for a coffee, and bypass Yvonne. We grin.


Kneeling in the ritual space, in the dark. I am not entirely sure the timer is working. I could just kneel here, or get up and put the light on- I stayed, and the timer did actually bleep. I could take control, or let it happen.

Morning kata. My mind is wandering: I think of something which made me angry. Merely a distraction, something to be held down in order to concentrate on the kata, or- something to energise it, and give it focus. Anger channelled into intention. Something to add to the mix.

Try it. Yes, it adds. Two ways, which could be so close or so far apart- it seems as if-

either I intend the strike, with anger in my intent, which lessens it

or I let the strike happen, and my anger sharpens it.

Though, of course, it is I who perceives, my perception, not necessarily the best way of judging. Again I notice that the feeling announces itself by calling to consciousness a past situation which has made me angry.

Kneeling in the ritual space, and I have the sense of being and loving and perceiving all of me. Not just the acceptable bits and not just abandoned baby Clare in pain.

Another way of looking at it. I am an idiot, grasping the wrong end of the stick, understanding too late if ever at all, endlessly just not getting it. For a social animal I am peculiarly unsociable, finding fitting in, sticking out or attempting to hide in the background equally impossible. I am a weird, pervert deviant: wanting ones gonads removed is clearly disordered, the product of replacing reality with a sick fantasy. I am all that which I ought not to be, and not what I ought. And yet- I survive. I am still here.

Dive in. It is Shadow because I cannot accept it. And yet it is Me, and it is Human, and therefore it is Not Wrong.

Spiritual moments

Two moments this morning. Oh, the sweet clarity when I know the human body in front of me is my enemy, and I must incapacitate it: one body, mind and purpose. And- seeing the faun in the woods.

In the dojo, we are working on kicks. We repeat series of ten mawashigeri, taking turns to kick the pad, all full focus. I need to relax into presence to keep this up. So I do. Then side kick. In kumite, the kick has to be above the belt, but in self-defence that is harder to manage and vulnerable to the foot being grabbed- so we practise the kick to ankle level, which would break the foot. When Andy stands in front of me, suddenly this becomes real for me, and I kick that spot. A possibly incorrect translation of Seiunchin is “storm within the calm”- I love that. The calm of Presence and the storm of the attack.

I am groping towards it, and I would love to understand- this presence, or unity of purpose, or clarity of mind, which sees the task in hand and carries it out, whether the task is a physical confrontation or cleaning the house. In an interaction with another human being, what has this to do with the unconscious ways we establish our pecking order, or build relationships? In what sense is it something in me, and in what sense something in us? But, more than understanding it, I would like to do it. So, in my morning kata, sometimes I just fall prey to my tail-chasing thoughts, and sometimes I perform the kata; but it feels quite different, facing another person. It seems possible to me that I was enabled to reach that state through Andy’s generosity. The control we impose, to prevent hospitalising each other in kumite, comes after this and not before.

The other moment was kneeling in my ritual space, before class. I have been channelling Qi to my chakras again, it feels good so I do it, and this morning I felt not in the right place to do that. OK. Be where I am, in the moment, in the ritual.

I went back to the two ways of being, centre of the universe and worthless and the way between, I am a human being. Now, I am in my shadow self, which I have learned is unlovable. It is as if my Qi ritual is for the lovable bits, as if this part is unworthy. Therefore, this part is what I must love especially. A friend compared me to a deer poking my nose out of the woods, daring someone to come and play with me- possibly Paul felt the same, 1 Cor 12:22-23- those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.

I felt so vulnerable, coming out of my ritual space before I ritually put on my gi for class. That ritual may also affect my spiritual state.

Is it funny?

I was waiting for my girlfriend to come round.
I had hit her really hard.

This was told at an Edinburgh Festival comedy event, and there was a debate on Woman’s Hour (yes, it really is called that, it has been going since the forties) about whether it was funny or not. Jokes about hitting women are not funny. And- it works as a joke: set up an expectation, subvert it. Ideally subvert it on the last word, which is not done here, but I did not “get it” until after the end, so it works.

On stage, one may be in character. What clown tells it? The stressed, anxious clown, life is always too much for him? I would introduce another voice in the middle of my act if I said such things- Geoff, the psychopath. Thick man, violent, monstrous even. End his part with, “Geoff, the men in the white coats are coming. Run!” And- the clown is part of me. What else might Geoff say? Geoff is not for the stage. Right now, he is in a dungeon with thick iron bars. The only light is a candle, far in the corner of the outer room, where the guards can go.


I decided to try centering prayer. The word I chose was “self”. I mean, “Organismic self”, the whole being, my own link to the Unconscious, all my responses and instincts. My theistic/spiritual  and atheist/materialist sides agree that the way to the highest self is through the unconscious- and I am not sure I can claim that Christ or God is linked through any part of me.

Half an hour is a long time, but I have the time, and it is better spent that way than at Solitaire- three hundred “games” now, and counting. And- there is no good or bad, no success or failure in sensations of frustration or “deep peace and calm”- there is just Doing it. The mind wanders. Bring it back, with the Word.

Valerie Brown quotes Basil Pennington: when we become aware of our thoughts, if we continue to dwell on them, we leave our prayer and become involved again in the tensions. But if at the moment of awareness, we simply, gently return to our prayer word, the thought or image with its attendant tension will be released and flow out of our lives… we very truly die to our superficial selves, in order to enter into our Christ-being in the depths. We “die” to all our thoughts and imaginings, no matter how beautiful or useful they may seem. We leave them all behind, for we want immediate contact with God Himself, and not some thought, magic, or vision of Him- only the faith experience of Himself.

So I do it, and at the end pray-

 Lord God, or Christ, or whatever is

down there

let me be my whole self

Perhaps “Christ” is a better word, a possible word. The leap of faith is to say that what is “down there” is Good, that there is no line which is the border between me and Christ.

And the wandering mind can be a healing thing: I Reikied myself, and found I was thinking about all sorts of things which have made me cry, and not crying. There may be no “good” state in a practice, but there can be a healing state. And I do not do this to do it, but because it might make me feel better or function better.


My understanding of the Id comes not from Freud, Freudians or even Freud-popularisers, but from Forbidden Planet.

The Id-monster contains all the Bad emotions boiling away, held down by the Ego, the conscious being, and the Superego, or parent-figure. Or, the man is the Ego, the angel on one shoulder the Superego, the demon on the other the Id. I culled this quote from Freud’s New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis from Wikipedia:

It is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of the Dreamwork and of the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of that is of a negative character and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations…. It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle.

Against that was Carl Rogers’ image of the potato, in a cellar, putting out a shoot towards the tiny, spiderwebbed window- trying to be the best potato it could be.

It makes no sense that we should have an Id, roiling away, needing held down, though Freud was a scientist by intention, he did not merely make up his observations. It makes a sort of sense in a created world with Original Sin inherited from our First Father, but not in a world where we evolved. And- that is what it feels like, sometimes, an Id, a monster, an enemy.

Unless the suppression makes the id into a monster, where unsuppressed it would serve our needs. So where would the Suppression, the real monster, come from? The conditional love, the negative love, the tyranny of the Normal which makes us need to pretend to be other than we are- so that we can live together without killing each other, so that we can work together obeying orders. So that my father could obey orders, and fly over Germany as the rear gunner of a Lancaster, in order to bomb it.

And now our myths free us from the suppression. Max goes where the wild things are, and becomes their King.


There is a part of the self which is natural, spontaneous and free-flowing. She may be suppressed under a conventional conformity. When so suppressed, she appears evil, because she chafes against the conformity, and resists it, which the ego finds frightening. The ego has adopted conventionality under great pressure, and sees no other way. When she can be freed, the spontaneous self is powerful and beautiful, because she is loving and creative.