Other people III

The argument that it is likely we are in a computer simulation is that they would be so useful. There is one real existence, and perhaps billions of life forms creating simulations to test how things would work out in particular situations. Our chance of being in reality is slim. We might be in a simulation, in a simulation, like the central Matryoshka doll.

How can I emerge into reality? asked H determinedly, delighting me. But the simulation might be better: imagine if the Big Crunch will be in less than a thousand years, bringing all to an end, but in our simulation time goes more quickly and this universe has billions of years to go. Our simulation feels real: why should living a life or affecting others’ lives be more meaningful, outside it?

Maybe it’s just that I forgot my pill last night and took it this morning, but feelings are heightened today. I wanted to go into the garden and read, but instead am arrested by the beauty of the leaves on that tree. I am in Presence, which I decided was not a “spiritual state”– but it is, you know. It is not Enlightenment, but it is Heavenly. I find the garden-bird, and the squirrel, entrancing. As I left the Meeting house, a woman arrived on an electric scooter. “Oh, hello” I said as I walked out. Now the scooter turns, and she scoots away. Someone chases after her: “Do you want me to open [the other door with the ramp]?” she asks. No, apparently. “But I would like to talk to you!” I feel a pang. Did I insult her by not attending to her need to enter by a ramp? How horrible that would be! Even though I am a visitor and did not consider I might be needed to let her in, I feel worried remorse.

Then I notice a plastic toy on the bench, a brightly-coloured rotor on a launcher with a spring. There is a loop to go round a tiny wrist. I try it. I try it again. It is delightful!

In the meeting I am in delight looking at the other people here. I love them for what I know of them, and their complexities and wonders I do not know. And I am abashed at how I do not know them. One ministers on “Post-truth”. I minister:

I was glad when they said unto me, let us go unto the house of the Lord. There is a streak of reckless generosity in our religion, heedless of the future or common sense: when the woman poured perfume on Jesus, someone said “it could have been sold, and the money given to the poor”. In the gospel those words are placed in the mouth of Judas, because he wanted to steal it. I am delighted being with these people, and Mr Trump tells people what they want to hear, reassuring them they are good, and the Outsiders are bad.

Another ministers all truth is provisional- scientific theories are the best explanation.

Over lunch, I want to show off the issue of Quaker Voices, with the photograph I took on its cover. I want to show off, and be petted, rather than to see others and know them better. And I showed it to Peter, then forgot that he wanted to show me how well he could park, such a small distance from the barrier! Oh well. It is how I am.

In Area Meeting, the Men’s Refuge comes up. The need for a Women’s refuge is far greater, she says. I wonder how we might make this not a zero sum game, men v women, two sides in the Meeting. The voices here are for a Men’s refuge. We will proceed with it. What if there is no call for a men’s refuge, and it falls through? Will those who have given money be happy to have a house for some undefined charitable purpose, and do they want a voice in deciding that purpose? If residents can claim housing benefit or Universal Credit, or if they can’t, do we want an income from Women’s Aid managing it? So much unresolved- yet we will go ahead with it.

This friendship delights me. After, in the sunshine, we hug; before, she touched my bare arm, making me shiver.

Being controlled

As we wander through the town centre to the café-pub, she notices a bright-yellow, “Spring-like” coat in a charity-shop window. She says it would look good on me. I go to investigate, and take it from the window display, undoing all its buttons, unwrapping the very long belt. A worker dashes over and pulls the mannequin from the display, then feels the need to explain and apologise- “We’re not allowed to have them in the window without something on them”. I apologise in turn- I am sorry for dismantling the display. “I like it, but it is up to you,” she says. Are the arms a little short- I was descended from gorillas- maybe a little, she thinks. She will not exert herself to persuade me at all.

I buy the coat, and wear it to the pub. I enjoy lunch with her, then cycle home, still wearing the coat.

I am not certain she would think of this, but I analyse obsessively, and decided- she told me what to wear, and I wore it. She took control, and I assented. I really really like that. I could give pathological explanations. My mother was extremely controlling, and it is because of that. I am not behaving like a fully mature adult. I don’t know if any cis woman would feel this way about a man.

I really really like that. And it is shaming, humiliating, NOT HOW A MAN SHOULD BE!!!! RIDICULOUS DISGUSTING SHAMEFUL VILE

The inner critic does not like it. I have such strong internal barriers against this, it is more an internal policeman, with a taser to paralyse me if I stray from the Right Path. It comes from my controlling mother and soft father, who were terrified of anyone finding out.

I called the Samaritans. “I want to talk about sex”, I said. “This is not the phone line for that,” she said, and rang off. With the second, I was more circumspect. I do not want to perv on her, but to sort out my feelings. I have been frightened of my feelings and suppressed them, and want to accept them and feel them fully, for then I feel I pass through them. I need her presence as I do this. Shame, humiliation, resentment, complex unnamed feelings well up within me and I can bear them if I sit in silence, eyes closed, and allow their conflagration, their cacophony. Then such regret!

I told her of leaving the office to kill myself. It was the only thing I could do. I could not bear it, and had to get out immediately without thought for the consequences. The internal policeman does not accept such an excuse, for any human being with the slightest resource or resilience would have had no problem at all. I feel the pain of being in that situation, and then the pain at lost opportunities from never being able to accept that pain, so wanting to hide away, and wonder if some sort of forward movement is possible.

My lunch companion is a friend, not a potential partner. However, after years of trying to make a man of myself and so being unable to let a potential partner in, and loathing my attempts at sex because I did what I thought I should do rather than what I might like, these experiences might help me seek out something which could satisfy me at last. An oddity- as I spoke to the Samaritan woman I was using my female voice. Often, I speak below the break, but not then.

-What will you do next? she asks.

I will watch Call the Midwife on tv. Apart from one token character the men are all stupid, sometimes bumblingly well-intentioned but usually selfish, even violent. And the women take control and sort things out. Just my sort of programme!

berthe-morisot-in-the-dining-room

Truth and narrative

“True story” is an oxymoron.

I phoned the Tax Credits helpline for advisers, and got nowhere. “You’re being very condensating,” said the man I was referred to, and after half an hour my brain was so cabbaged that I knew he meant something else, but did not know the word for it. Thank you, you don’t need to say it now, I worked it out for myself later.

In the nineties I knew a man, still the most boring man I have ever met. I can’t remember his name, but it ended in an í sound, a contemptuous diminutive, Nicky or Ricky or Donny or something- anyway, he got very drunk on whisky, and ever thereafter could not drink it. He found a sip nauseating. Dismissively contemptuous, Neil said he probably had had no head for it anyway, he got drunk on a couple of glasses.

I associated those stories. “Condensating” was the moment I got nowhere with the benefits authorities, that I could not take any more. I cannot bear it. I could not bear another such conversation, it nauseates me.

Another myth. Margaret saw me as Clare for the first time, and said, “It’s as if you are acting when you’re Stephen, just you when you’re Clare”. Aha, I am a woman really, I am right to transition. The story becomes my conclusive evidence that I am right, the judgment of another person which I cling to, and take out for reassurance from time to time. It is my self-image: I know who I am, and “you’re just you when you’re Clare” is part of it.

Then about a year ago, I took off my wig and put on my cycle helmet, appearing androgynous, but continued talking, and H said “You have this lovely male energy”. Her beliefs, her politics, or her individual judgment of me need have no bearing on me, but have had. I could if I wanted call that comment on Wednesday 2 March 2016 the decisive moment

where my lies came apart
where my truth was undermined

Several times I have picked on particular dates where all changed, changed utterly for me. H has changed my view of the world. I am not sure if I have ever been entirely sure that I am a woman- I joked “I don’t know, and neither does my psychiatrist”, and said “I’m both and neither and in between”. Her word “lovely” just makes the blade sharper.

Either it is liberating- yes, I am a man, I need no longer assert a falsehood that I am a woman- or terrifying and destructuring, and I try to piece together the shards of my framework, world map, understanding which lets me navigate the world. “I am a man, but transition was the best I could do,” I say. “Bad things happen to good people.”

Or I create a new narrative. “I am a trans woman”. I have the right to be this way.

Brexit and Trump, and possibly this year Fillon and AfD, change my comforting narrative, one which is probably yours too. It is a debased Whig version of history: just as the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 was a decisive moment of progress, which changed the way of doing politics in England from battles to individual murders, a clear improvement, so Obergefell v Hodges was a step into the light, which could not be reversed. A Tory version of history, that there are random events with no broader significance, is reasserted, so that Trump’s Muslim ban is not a pathetic attempt by the failing forces of reaction, but a random event of quite as much significance as Obergefell.

We need to change our stories. Since 2016, our stories have not been the Truth, but a comforting lie to help us get through the day without collapsing on the floor, screaming. The words “male energy” are a stake through their heart, as is the Muslim ban. “Do your duty, Republicans,” says the New York Times. “Prosecute him!” Trump meanwhile promises a new Muslim ban which will be less vulnerable to judicial scrutiny.

I have been reading of stories. Here’s Rachel Cusk in the NYT:

In psychoanalysis, events are reconstructed in the knowledge of their outcome: The therapeutic properties of narrative lie in its capacity to ascribe meaning to sufferings that at the time seemed to have no purpose. The liberal elite are in shock; they fall upon the notion of the victors’ regret as a palliative for their mental distress, but because the referendum result is irreversible, this narrative must adopt the form of tragedy.

And, writing of her mother

She didn’t care what she said, or rather, she exacted from words the licentious pleasures of misuse; in so doing, she took my weapon and broke it before my eyes. She made fun of me for the words I used, and I couldn’t respond by threatening her with death. I couldn’t say “I could kill you” because it wasn’t true, and in language I had staked everything on telling the truth. I have had that experience debating Creationists: I try to persuade, using truth, they simply assert their Beliefs. “It cannot be so, because of Genesis.” It was bad enough debating a blogger on the other side of the world- how much more terrifying, to face your own mother’s assertions?

Thus saith the LORD.

There is no answer to that. Tim built an impenetrable wall of language to shield him from- the truth? Or just, my understanding of the World? The defeated liberal is abashed, so less confidently assertive.

Anna Blundy, in a completely different essay- a short column not a hefty work like Rachel Cusk’s- also addressed making sense of truth with words. Language distances us from our real thoughts and feelings in an almost defensive way (the fact that it makes us feel better to have named something, perhaps is even indicative of that)… we’re trying to repackage something into a digestible form that will make the symptom of the sufferer more bearable.

Surely it is better to face the unvarnished truth? This essay says that news broadcasts and advertising alike end up telling stories… the mastery of danger, the satisfaction of desires and the ultimate restoration of morality. But here, an effort is made to lead people to believe that the story accurately depicts people and events. As a result, all end up profoundly falsifying what they portray, once again mixing faithful and manipulated images, and fact and fiction in seamless ways so that it can be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. The attack is mitigated by the fact that the essay itself has a similarly comforting structure, where the restoration of morality is us all becoming more sceptical about the media.

It is not at all reassuring to say that I can’t bear another phone conversation with the benefits authorities. I could say, well I had hundreds before, many of them successful, or simply that I should eschew predictions of the future, which may just be paranoia, and concentrate on the actual task. I know what the task involves. Fear of what bad things will happen and how I will respond when I fail just get in the way.

This is my two thousandth post, on a blog about me, truth, trans, the world, and everything that interests me. I do it to be read, and achieve less of that than I would like. Joanna wrote a short post recommending one of mine, and I am grateful for the recommendation, because my post got more than three times the views from it, than 75% of my posts get from all sources. This is my least worthwhile goal, to see that I have had more views. Writing of Donald Trump stretches my writing, but gets fewer views, as most of my readers come from a Trans site, so I restrict my choice of subjects to get more views. Posting daily gets more views. I get a tiny dopamine hit when I see my page-view numbers have increased- nearly 198,000 views in five and a half years.

I might be better to write longer essays. I could develop an ability to analyse an idea in greater depth. This is not that: I have quoted undigested screeds from three essays and some of my own thoughts on truth, rather than explained the essays, created a satisfying narrative argument in my own words, and polished it. Writing around 500 words a day is good practice, but I want to edit and structure something more satisfying than these short pieces. I have published just one 2000 word article. I love Rachel Cusk’s essay- how I would love to write something like that!

I blog to tease out my understanding, as well. It is psychoanalysis for me, repackaging reality into that digestible form. So I have written how transition or surgery was the best thing I could have done, and the worst, in separate pieces, and wonder how to unite them.

St Clare

Acceptance LIX

I have the stubbornness to bash my head against the things I can’t change, the lassitude to tolerate the things I possibly could, and the idiocy not to see the difference.

I am pleased with that line. I said it in sardonic bitterness, but then thought, that’s close to what the twelve-steppers pray for. I even have the wisdom to tell the difference, just not as quickly as I might like.

I am sad. I am hurting. And this fills me with fear, in case I do something embarrassing because of it, like burst into tears, or behave like creepy stalker guy, which would be unbearable; contempt, because I should have recovered by now; and anger with myself for feeling this way, preventing me from useful action. I had two hours with the Samaritans bloke, which has enabled me to articulate that, and also to feel the depths of my sadness. I had a good cry. I would have denied it because the feeling was too unbearable, but no longer do that.

I showed courage. I went somewhere, facing my distress, fearing that I would do something embarrassing. I am rewarded: I see that I did not. Perhaps I could trust myself more. Perhaps I could trust others, not to hurt me, not to want to hurt me. Of course just because my suspicion is greater than it need be does not mean it is never appropriate; but too much self-protection just restricts me, as I protect myself by withdrawing, and that is tedious, dull and uncreative.

He did his thing. No, I am not suicidal. I don’t want to discuss options or goals. Society gives us so many conventional ways of having fun or advancing to useful goals, and sometimes we might even fool ourselves we are enjoying ourselves or being fulfilled; but I am utterly sick of that. I have these intense emotions which I find nearly unbearable- the sadness as well as the fear and anger; and I want to come to accept them. I am in a sulk, I have been for years, and growing acceptance and trust might make me more effectual, and happy; but even if it doesn’t, acceptance is what I am working on now.

What will you do now? he asked. I will cook. I have bacon, egg, spaghetti, onion, and will do a Carbonara. Then I will blog about this: two thousand people a month visit my blog. That at least is a useful question. And the session has been useful, it has moved me from overwhelm towards equanimity. I have these overwhelm moments; acceptance is a tool I can develop to make them less paralysing. My sadness is about much of my life, and one situation; symbols and reality, many things which do not really contradict each other, and all are important. It is about not accepting reality, even while acceptance is the way through it.

Some of the equanimity is about words: I move from AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH to “I feel sad”. The sadness wells up craving conscious attention, and naming it makes it bearable; and acknowledging it with him as my witness helps me accept it. And, I said that about lassitude and stubbornness through tears- I keep minimising my feelings.

 ♥♥♥

In other news: I cycled to K– meeting this morning. The clear blue sky, with a kite, flocks of birds, trees changing colour, open fields and majestic wind-turbines, it was all too beautiful not to. We are amazed at the horror of Trump’s election. I said I must take pleasure in the beauty- people here are beautiful- and in what I can do; that was my exercise in meeting. H wants collective action- but she was with the Women’s Equality Party yesterday, and that must be enough for the moment. We will not have a mass movement in an “if there is hope, it lies in the Proles” kind of way; exhilarating certainty that you are part of a great people, all working together for Right, is only for the Dark side- “Build that Wall!”

Yesterday was my last AM as clerk. We disagreed, and we took the time to express the disagreement, and consider all sides; and we found a minute we could unite behind. It is beautiful. We do this without a leader to defer to. It is work. It is worthwhile.  Then we watched the one-woman show about the life of Ada Salter, working in Bermondsey between 1909 and 1921 with young women who were rag pickers or collectors of dog mess for leather tanning. She emphasised the horror- sheets from death beds, bandages from wounds, all kinds of human excretion and infection, and possibly broken glass inmixed, painstakingly collected for a few coppers from the paper factory. Yet that was hopeful, too: people do what people must.

What I want VI

What counts as winning an employment tribunal? A lawyer who charged claimants directly might say, a decision that there was an unfair dismissal was a win. However, that can be made without compensation: the dismissal is technically unfair if certain procedures are not carried out, but the tribunal may award no damages if it considers the claimant would have been dismissed if there had been fair procedures. I would say you do not “win” unless your winnings cover your legal costs, and a reasonable amount for your time effort and stress in pursuing the claim. Claiming is effort, and if you don’t get money for that effort it is wasted. A decision that you were unfairly dismissed shows potential employers that you are a trouble-maker.

So there.

This has been running in my mind for a week. I could not persuade a particular claimant that their employment tribunal is ill-advised, and why would I want to? Because I would be doing her a good turn, perhaps. Caring for her. I won’t even tell her the argument, even though it is so clever and so clear. And yet, I think of it.

What do I want? I want to acclimatise myself to the slowly cooling weather so that I can spend less on heating but not be too uncomfortable. I want to scroll through facebook and check my blog stats. I want to watch television. What about a job? No. Really, really, No.

Whitman, for example, was the prophet of diversity. The point is not for all of us to approximate a single model or a fixed pattern of living. Instead, “the supreme goal of democracy is to promote the uniqueness of every individual” — for each person to be vibrantly distinct.

Democracy isn’t a political or legal bargain. It’s enchanted like romantic love, but on a larger scale. Each democratic citizen receives the love of her fellows as a gift to which the only appropriate response is gratitude and love in return. How might I find that vibrant distinctiveness in me? What I want, perhaps. I was groping for this quote- where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet– and my google attempt was where the worlds need and your heart’s deep hunger meet. Mmm. Gladness.

One thing that pleases me is to do something I consider generous or altruistic, and I like that characteristic in myself. It seems good for social bonding, and an appropriate characteristic in a social species. Then I read somewhere that it might arise from abuse- the beaten-down child tries to make the abuser happy, because that might make her safe for a moment. OMG!! My winsome characteristic just became a symptom?

Does that make it less winsome?

I sit here thinking, “What I want” does not seem to get me going, how can I coax myself into something better? Could I persuade myself to try small goals, to build belief in self-efficacy? Richard says that revulsion prompts him to tweet, blog, or sign and share petitions- that internet activism which anyone may dabble in- and a large proportion of people will vote for one Presidential candidate because they hate the other. That does not work for me. My basin is dirty. Yuck, I think, and turn away. Belief that it could be clean might attract me. Or, Reality. You have to get this clean- or this vagina dilated- and it takes as long as it takes as often as it takes. Get it clean or don’t, but don’t tell it that a particular amount of effort ought to be enough. “Sense of entitlement”.

Stop thinking, and do. Someone said law graduates with ordinary degrees were better, they got on with a task while the Honours grads sat and thought about it. Stop analysing in words and do what you want. Words might not get me from Who’ll be my role model? to angels in the architecture.

Work through the anger and grief and thereby come to Acceptance?

A stranger comes to the Quaker meeting and behaves suspiciously. You need not sit so close when there are so many empty seats- is he coming on to the older women, with that huge charm? Could he be preparing for a con? So we take reasonable precautions, recognising the possibility that he is bona fide and hoping precautions will not blind us to that, thinking it through. Sitting so close.

I hope that my slow thinking might make my fast thinking more useful.

 ♥♥♥

There’s so much that I love here. “Your deep gladness” even if I thought it your heart’s hunger; the idea of distinct individual vibrancy growing and maturing in love; finding fulfilment through desire. I went looking for a George Orwell quote, my idea of it too vague for Google to find it. Something about the vast majority of people finding scraping a living all they could manage in life so that they wanted no more. I found this by Jack London:

The great mass of the working people was separated from the land. The old system of labor was broken down. The working people were driven from their villages and herded into factory towns. The mothers and children were put to work at the new machines.

Looking for it I found two other Orwell quotes:

If you live for others, you must live for others, and not as a roundabout way of getting an advantage for yourself.

And there is another feeling that is a great consolation in poverty. I believe everyone who has been hard up has experienced it. It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs–and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.

Ann said my thinking and analysis get in the way. Just be. Are you a visual person? No. Not at all. I am a verbal person. Thinking and analysis is what I do.

Anne suggested I had “grown up” more than she, which surprised me- what she identified was not wanting things. Something like ambition ends, and there is acceptance. Finding “what I want” might be a good aim, but not a panacea. I want a panacea, I want it to be easy, I want to understand, I want to be comfortable and not feel unpleasant emotions, I want conflicting things, I am here, now.

perceptive-introvert

You are a perceptive introvert. You are a very thoughtful, reasonable, reliable and quiet person. You seek balance in life and you are very content being alone. You love reading books, learning new things, challenge yourself and have a good one-on-one conversation with an inspiring and knowledgeable person. People around you love your wise aura and enjoy seeking advice from you!

Beta male II

I wish I hadn’t had the operation. Or hadn’t had to. Or something.

There. I first said that to another person yesterday, and she said, “I know”. Then she said, “You know I know, don’t you”. Yeah, s’pose- yet that is such a huge thing it is hard to admit it to yourself.

An androphile trans woman told a man who should have kept it confidential, “I’m a gay man trapped in a woman’s body”. She could have lived male, had she learned to accept it. He did shoot his mouth off far too much, that counsellor, but in my case he could be justified, be warning me.

“If I could not have orgasms,” a friend said, quietly, “I would miss them”. Well, I can have orgasms. I retain my prostate gland- I was told that was to prevent incontinence, but it also promotes arousal- and can ejaculate. It does not happen often, though it varies in other trans women, I understand.

You know, I still feel less than other people? They are more vital, spontaneous, vibrant, attractive than I am. I feel guilt, shame, envy, resentment, longing. Transition has freed me to be me, more than before, and it never feels enough. Those other people may also not be happy or sorted, and I am frustrated because being happy and sorted seems possible yet always just out of reach. I don’t care if everyone feels the same way, I still resent it.

Before the op, I said to a friend, “Women get a great deal of pleasure out of penises”. “Yes,” she said, “but I would not want one of my own”. Another friend said to me, before I went full time, “It is as if you are acting when you are Stephen, you are just you when you are Clare”. I treasure that comment like a spark in the darkness, one bit of affirmation when I cannot affirm myself. A not-ill-disposed man said to me that my emails on an email list were like “cries for help”- which I am still making here, perhaps. That haunts me too.

I am a soft male. I tried to make a hard man of myself. It may be like that man H and I saw in the pub, alone with his drink, skinny and tattooed, trying to appear hard, to me just looking threatening because he could do something weird at any moment, clearly not tough. “I wanted to give him a hug,” she said after. I lied to myself because I wanted to see myself as a good man, and my idea of a good man was completely other from how I was; so possibly my softness was visible to everyone except me.

-I’m quite resilient, I told Moira, my first girlfriend.
-Actually I think you are very easily hurt, she said.

My softness is beautiful and valuable, utterly natural and normal in a man- towards the end of the distribution curve, perhaps, but Good; and I thought it was weak, sick, perverted, disgusting, ridiculous and illusory. It is OK to be me, this soft, and I wish I could have realised that.

More on this tomorrow. Writing this has exhausted me.

William Blake, Fleeing from the wrath of God

Advances

He came in from the rain. He stood before me, and his hand appeared a few inches from my face. “Kiss the rain,” he said. I stared at the hand until it disappeared.

This seems like a feminine way of dealing with it. I do not make a fuss, but I do not respond, and the man gives up. And-

I have been completely ashamed of myself. I sent a text, making an unwanted advance. I have also cursed my own judgment- for it seemed like a good idea at the time, and yet in hindsight I see that I should have known her better, that it took no account of her feelings or her likely response. I thought not being drunk was a sufficient defence against idiocy:

Most people get drunk
before texting like this- but
I wanted to word it well

Not being drunk
did not stop it being ill-advised.
I saw that, after

I do not know what I expected.
I hardly know what I wanted.
We do these things

In flailing desperation.
You would not even let me down gently.

Indeed she would not. Letting me down gently, not making a fuss, is the feminine response, but she has had her consciousness raised. All I considered was my own desires.

She warned me. I texted again; but then thought, Can I get anything out of this? I might have gone on if I thought she would be “feminine” and let me down gently. No chance of that so I backed off. And, after, I have been kicking myself. Why the fk did I do that? I cannot trust my judgment or my responses. I have been completely miserable with it.

And I feel completely alone and unloveable. I see no possible improvement in my situation. I have to deal with that feeling myself. After backing off, I have gone back to thinking obsessively of her, and have to deal with that too- it will go away in time.

A woman posted on fb about being followed home by a younger man. She crossed the road to check she was not imagining it, and he crossed following her. When he caught her up she screamed until he went away. My action was different in degree and not in kind. Do you harass women? Perhaps you do not realise it? I love about this sketch that, though he does silly things and is covered in sick, the man sees himself as reasonable:

Poppy

poppies 2

I commune with the poppies. Like them, I have this long, ungainly, spiky stalk, and the beautiful petals. The whole shakes in the breeze, and the petals fold and twist, yet do not tear- it is not as fragile as it looks. I can learn from them; I can take their nature into myself, that beauty, that yielding strength.

In meeting I speak. The Spirit speaks through us. Each of us, ministering, gives of ourselves, like light through stained glass, a myriad of beautiful colours. I want to hear you. J, visiting, speaks of singing hymns in a rarely used country church. They sang, and suddenly there was a violent hail-storm, its noise drowning them out; and then the sun shone.

Over coffee I talked to J of the radical feminist at YM, objecting to me in women’s loos. I see her point. “You think like a woman,” J said. This was the part-absolution I needed, to begin to absolve myself.

 ♥♥♥

I find myself thinking of her, and get enraged with myself. The most distant connection brings her to mind- there is a lot of cello music at the Proms this year. I must recover from this!

OK- it keeps coming to my conscious mind, so I will let my conscious mind think of it. What is the situation now? How has it been? Who is she, really? What is possible? What is or has been good?

So much of my habitual way is resistance. My No is strong. My slow thinking, working things out, overcoming those habits, has a lot of work to do; yet acceptance is just so much nicer!

poppies in MH bookplate

All’s fair

I hurt. The New York Times recommends Tylenol, which a quick Google tells me I would call Paracetamol. I have hesitated to call my hurt Love, as my reaction appears ridiculous to me, self-destructive, chemical, against reality and my rational mind. Neurons in my anterior cingulate cortex and insula start firing, the NYT informs me. Like Melissa Hill, I hate how much it hurts.

Yet I will call it Love, for I am beautiful and worthy of Love. And my reaction has been a reasonable one. My love has never been requited but always encouraged just enough to keep me simmering. Like that kiss: never a kiss on the lips, hugs allowed but not kissing, then we hugged just before I left and you kissed me on my bare skin, above the low neckline. Or that email, or that one- I would not suggest you did not mean the word “bravery”, nor that it meant love rather than friendship, but I printed it out and read it again and again.

I do not give up easily. At times there felt such a spark. We fit: without language for it, you like men like me. I like women like you. You have such wonderful charisma that I have definitely gained from your company.

Do I resent that encouragement? Yes. People push boundaries- you most of all, your freedom is delicious. If a woman is beautiful, vital and charismatic, men may resent her power. I must own my feelings, and not blame you for them, or imagine that they impose some obligation on you; and that kiss kept me coming back longer than was good for me. I call it encouragement. I knew I was getting little from this, and still I kept coming back: we agreed to meet, and I obsessed about it for a week until the time arranged. And eventually the pain got too much for me, and I gave up. It is a process rather than a decision.

I would not want you to be other than you are- you are very beautiful, and I am glad of the opportunity to have got to know you.

I beat myself up. I should have seen. I should have protected myself. My reactions are ridiculous. Or I could treasure little hints in order to blame and resent you- “You held my hand! How did you think that would make me feel?” Anger inwards or outwards is pointless: it was as it was.

I have said, I do not want to see you in this way. I am on tenterhooks: will you respond? But I will take paracetamol, and recover.

Titian, Nymph and Shepherd

New York Times on falling in love and breaking up.

Two together

Consider the body language. They are close, but not touching. One has her right elbow on the back of the couch, pointing towards the other, her hand supporting her head. Her left leg is crossed over her right knee, the foot extending forward. Her body is an arc. At the centre of the arc sits the other, sitting forward on the couch, ankles crossed demurely and pulled back on the floor beneath her, hands folded in her lap. Enveloped- symbolically, at least, though she is taller and heavier. Quite sexy, actually.

Nothing makes sense. You can rationalise, of course. I had a pointless debate this morning about “assisted dying”- the new neutral/in favour word for euthanasia. Having been suicidal, I will cling to life until I can no longer keep conscious, no longer draw a breath. I know this. S counters with a man with kidney cancer metastasised into the bones, in agony, in a hospice. He is given a particular arranged time with all his faculties to express love and say goodbye, and then he is given enough analgesic to take his pain away, even though it nearly sedates him. He is “out of it” until he “passes away”. Thank God I don’t have to choose for real, for a friend, or for the Law of the Land. You are allowed to think people should have the choice to die! The Oregon rules sound rational and compassionate. Please let me remain revolted.

Transition certainly does not make sense. You can make the case about brain differences or “woman trapped in a man’s body”- or against about autogynephilia being perverted- and for anyone for whom “I wanted to so I did” or “It’s disgusting and they shouldn’t” is not enough, there is reams of rationalisation, arguments from the authority of thousands of trans women’s responses and peer-reviewed journal papers, but no argument will change any mind affected with desire or revulsion. Thank God most people don’t care much, and “they seem harmless enough” is good enough for them. “She wanted this, so why not?” “Takes all sorts to make a world.” I cared- so- Much! How can anyone not? Yet they don’t.

Being attracted to people who are controlling and manipulative, I can hardly complain when someone is controlling and manipulative. Given that nothing that I want makes sense, why should this? If someone plays my heart-strings, and makes me feel soft, I enjoy and resent it, for Love has almost always been a source of shame and misery for me. Stop thinking! Stop knowing there is nothing promised, and just enjoy the moment, that word, the single “x” in that text. I was a lawyer for a time. It is a game, or a battle- judges might need to consider justice, representatives can’t (except as a rationalisation for fighting harder) and if having a lawyer means the opposition caves in, knowing winning a case is more hassle than giving in to you, Hooray!

Let it happen
Just enjoy it

If only I could!

Gerda Wegener Les Delassements d'Eros