Protecting my femininity

“I really trust in myself and my own Blackness,” says Quinta Brunson. How liberating! Something condemned, or seen as other and inferior, feared oppressed and resisted, being Claimed. “This is who I am, and it is Good.” Beautiful. I screwed up my courage, and typed: I really trust in myself, and my own

femininity.

I have wrestled with the concept here for ten years. It feels weak, vulnerable and frightening. It seems an oppressive, Patriarchal concept: women are not always feminine, and should not be expected to be. Sometimes it appears incoherent. And I feel unworthy of it. My internalised transphobia claims I am not really feminine.

I keep coming back to the fact of my femininity. I am still resisting, but it becomes more undeniable. I fear it, and that sets up internal conflicts which paralyse me. I denounced it as weak, sick, perverted, disgusting, ridiculous and illusory. Only as I accept that I am as I am, can I become free.

I desired someone. She was dominant, and I would submit. I wanted to nurture and care for her. The term in a Domination/submission (D/s) dynamic would be “serve”, but I don’t like that word. It is not just false self-image which makes me resist: I have value and agency which the word “serve” does not properly acknowledge.

It appears that some women, like me, want to be “taken”, or “overpowered”, by a sexual partner. Not all women, of course, and sex without consent is a violation. Some would deny it, and some would whisper about it. Some would fear it. Some would see it in themselves, and take precautions: being overpowered could be damaging, unless there is love between a couple.

Most people discover sex in their teens. A lesbian blogger said she was twenty before she found her community, and sexual love. I was so damaged by my culture, society and upbringing, so bound up in the need to make a man of myself, that I could not possibly have recognised my desires then. I want to be overwhelmed, and that would have been too great a threat to my sense of self.

Others saw in me what I denied in myself. At a dance in 1994, I took Jan in a ballroom hold, and she started to lead. I got embarrassed and upset, and she said, “I thought that was what you wanted”. It was, just, not what I could admit to myself. So I was stuck in impossible internal conflicts, denial and suppression, and starved for connection.

I want to be overwhelmed, and wonder if it is pathological: if my mother made me that way. When a trait is disrespected and denied, we search for a cause. The cause is, natural human diversity.

If it is hard for women to accept that desire, how much harder for men! Even when you accept it, the danger of it, the possibility of exploitation, continues. I am not a man, I am more or less clear on that twenty years after transitioning. The desire to make a man of myself recedes, though it was so powerful in me that there are still echoes. And perhaps in others: if men have an inkling that they do not fit the gender stereotypes of Manliness, they might have powerful feelings which they need to deny and suppress out of consciousness just as I did. It would feel humiliating, where if there were Love and acceptance it could be fulfilling.

I have little experience of sex, and almost none satisfactory. Well, we did not evolve to be happy, we evolved to reproduce. Two years ago, I coined this phrase: I want to open up like a flower. I have done, once, with a big, gentle man. My only response to him was to open from a foetal position, curled up protecting my breasts, belly and genitals, to lying on my back with my legs apart. This took more than an hour. And there was no “relationship” beyond friendship. Possibly his care was large enough to fill the word “Love”. Possibly the friendship and trust I felt for him was sufficient.

A scenario: you, the sub, are bound, gagged, helpless, at the Mistress’ feet (apologies to anyone who finds this overly vanilla).

I feel the sub’s attraction. There is the sense of being helpless, overwhelmed, controlled. But the fantasy is humiliating, echoing the humiliation the sub feels at his desires. He realises this is not manly. If he maintains a manly façade elsewhere, it might make him more ashamed and less likely to form a loving sexual bond.

At best, the humiliation might break him open, so he can admit his desire and be his whole self. Or he can explore it, experiencing what it is like to be this part of himself with another human being. At worst, he has an occasional outlet, walled round with shame and denial. I had an occasional outlet in cross-dressing. I could only integrate a huge part of myself through transition, and am still working on it now.

What I can’t see, in the D/s scenario, is anything valuing the sub. I have value. I am not just a plaything. The conventional ways people are valued- family, job, status- do not apply to me. I was systematically devalued, so I devalued myself. The vulnerable sexual being, overwhelmed, needs to be valued. I love Cranmer’s words: “Love, protect and cherish”. Cherished, I might flourish. Devalued and humiliated, I hide away.

Humans respond to being valued. We bring forth our valued parts. We hide those parts that are devalued. I have this capacity for surrender, which I fear in myself, and have judged and seen as weak. I need to value it.

A sex worker can get people to pay for that humiliation. And if she enjoys it, and he asks for it, why wouldn’t she?

Possibly, it’s just me, and everyone else has come to terms with all this…

I had initially called this “Fearful femininity” in the sense of “fearful symmetry”. I am in the embrace of unyielding reality, holding me as I struggle. If I reject my femininity I cannot protect those vulnerabilities in myself. I must value and protect my femininity.

Numbing out

I am becoming aware of how much vulnerability scares me. I can’t avoid it, but I go to great lengths to avoid feeling vulnerable. My life is so quiet. Much of the time I watch television, or just go through the same websites, over and over again, in case there is anything new.

It is hard to be positive about this, and my blog started with a pledge to be positive, and an overoptimistic first sentence. So I will sing in praise of numbing out: it keeps me safe from my vulnerability, and gives me the space to explore that vulnerability as far as I can bear.

Numbing out passes the time in my days after I have done whatever I can do with them- a little housework, a blog post, some reading, and occasionally a glancing encounter with reality. It keeps me amused. Almost every day I have a time when I can share, deeply, with wise spiritual people over Zoom. I like my life. It gives me all the challenge and experience I want. Perhaps I may want more later, and perhaps not.

I think I am clearer, now. Before, I would have said I watch television, and what a waste of time that is. Now, I would say I am numbing out, and that is self-protecting. I am nurturing myself as best I can. Numbing out, though easy to deride or despise, especially for me, is good for me.

In 2012 I did a ritual, and found I was firmly in Winter. Winter is the place where it seems the world sleeps, but seeds are germinating under the soil. Soon new shoots may grow. It is a place to be, if I can have faith the seeds really are germinating.

On Saturday night (theirs) and Sunday morning (mine, 12.30am) I read three poems about Love to American Quakers, and someone wrote in the chat, “my heart has never been touched in that way. beautiful”. I have told people this. I said I was boasting, and one said, no, you are sharing your joy.

I have no idea how good those poems are, and how I read them had some part of it. And, I know I am beautiful, and worth looking after. I have not always known that.

On Monday 21st I worshipped with Pendle Hill, and had a glimpse of the depth of my anxiety, confusion and sadness. It felt like a revelation. This is as much as I can bear, and I can bear more than before. After, sharing joys and sorrows, I shared that I have a joy I cannot articulate. Later, I thought that I am growing and healing.

On Monday evening we agreed how hard it is to warm oneself with one’s own love.

My hope, now, is that it is Spring, and to symbolise that I am wearing my daffodil earrings. It may be as illusory as the idea of pupating. But I know life develops, in the tuber under the soil. I have taken one more brick from the towering edifice of my self-hatred and contempt, and carried it towards the fragile construction of my self-respect.

Wrist chakra

I have chakras on my wrists. I know they are there, because I feel them. At my most confident and energetic, I walk with my wrists turned out, feeling the energy and beauty in them. When I am feeling particularly sensitive, I sense it in my wrists.

What have others to say?

Wrist Chakra sells pendants, bracelets and ornaments to help with your spiritual growth. Wearing a Buddha bracelet brings awareness of the divine power of the Universe, it tells me, but also that there are seven chakras, all along the spine, none of them in the arms.

Searching for wrist chakra gives references to the seven, which mostly sell such jewellery. You wear crystal bracelets on your left wrist to absorb the crystal’s energy into your aura, and on your right wrist to remove negative energies or manifest positive energies in the world.

Your Body Has the Answer explains that each finger represents a different chakra of the seven. The palm is the crown chakra, and the wrist is the root chakra. YBHA teaches Kinesiology, which finds energy imbalances in the body through muscle monitoring.

Healthline, a proper scientific website about health whose articles are medically reviewed, tells me of the seven main chakras- root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown. These spinning discs of energy should stay open, and if they are blocked there will be imbalances in our lives. Fortunately there are yoga poses- some of which I could not begin to attempt- to clear such blockages.

The root chakra, which YBHA tells me is echoed by the wrist, is located in the coccyx or perineum, and means physical identity, stability and grounding. I could relate that to my Vulnerability being located in my wrists: Grounding and vulnerability are linked. The illusion of being strong and invulnerable, which took more and more work to sustain until it became impossible, required me to be unaware of my own feelings and what was really going on in my world. Grounding, being centred and aware, means being in my vulnerability.

Or, wanting to be invulnerable, fearing so much, if I am grounded in reality and in my body I will feel vulnerable.

Chakras info tells me of hand chakras, but not one in the wrist. It is mostly interested in the chakras in the palms of the hands, which energy healers may use to scan, or to transmit healing energy. “Supercharge your chakras now,” an advertisement commands us. Well and Good relates the ring finger to the root chakra, and sells rings to tap into creative energy and abundance.

The yoga center heals wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome through the heart chakra.

Healthline says some say there are 114 chakras, so that is my next search. The results tell me of the flow of energy, or prana, through the body but not of wrist chakras.

You may not have a chakra on your wrist, but the idea has meaning and value to me. I sought out paintings to illustrate this post, and it is difficult: where wrists are bare, normally the back is shown. Adelina Patti, by James Sant, shows the delicious vulnerability of the inner wrist.

Sant, James; Adelina Patti; National Portrait Gallery, London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/adelina-patti-157866

Loving my vulnerability

I loved how you used the word “observatory” as an adjective. Standard English would be “observational”, but you added root and suffix together in a way I instantly understood. I admire it like my nephew, as a toddler, using “goed” for “went”. Your command of the language is excellent, but the word you use would be called an error: I would celebrate your skill, but fear others might mock your usage. I love your drive.

He is right to say, spiritual growth should not be a great fight. We work hard at it, because we value it, but that hard work does not always produce the growth. I do not traumatise myself in the name of growth. Rather, old traumas came to me.

I sat in Meeting on Wednesday and Steve ministered on our silent waiting in Love for the word of God. But I was in the depths of my trauma, thinking of how my inner gaslighter had bullied me as worthless, except for what I could achieve, and useless, unable to match its impossible standards. Those implacable, impossible demands broke me into my current inactivity, which is the best evidence I have of my worthlessness and uselessness. Now Steve’s ministry, heard as “This is what proper Quakers should be doing” made me more miserable. It was more grist for the inner judge. It was so hard to bring the judge into consciousness: when unconscious, its judgments had seemed simply reality. So it made me suicidal.

So I spoke that I was wrestling with my trauma. After, one prayed for me, my Friend who is psychotic and my Friend who is sectioned, and I thought, I am in good company. Another admired my ability to be open and vulnerable. One reminded me of God’s love for me.

When I was in work, I was trapped by that inner judge. This was unbearable and traumatic for me. So I fled it and numb the pain, and facing the pain, admitting the pain of it, is part of my healing. My path to healing is through the old trauma, admitting how it still affects me.

Then I shared about this on Saturday. I thought of my share for an hour before. I thought I would project the judge’s judgment onto the group; and thinking this, realised they might have a multitude of reactions, but not the complete contempt of the judge. I thought of what I might say. I was heard and acknowledged: not by everyone, perhaps, but by enough.

Then in Meeting on Sunday I sat with a blissful sense of being loved and accepted- by my own inner light, and perhaps by other people too. Friends ministered their sources of joy. One read a poem about joy. Neil, of Jewish heritage, ministered on the light of the Menorah in the temple being produced by crushing olives for oil: through trauma comes light.

I see how the drive for perfection can make people achieve great things. Mine broke me because it was set too high, but I love it in others. I wanted to be perfect because I wanted to be invulnerable, but now my vulnerability, which I feel in cool chakras on my wrists, delights me. Through vulnerability I open and receive. And I can see and delight in another’s penetrating drive.

Light, Dark, Equality, Dignity

If we have a pie-in-the-sky, everything is beautiful attitude, we are going to be trapped by the darkness because we don’t see clearly enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Conversely, if we can only see the darkness and forget the more foundational Light, we will be destroyed by our own negativity and fanaticism, or we will naively think we are completely apart and above the darkness. Instead, we must wait and work with hope inside of the darkness, even our own— while never doubting the light that God always is, and that we are too.- Richard Rohr.

Wow. I have adopted Everything is Beautiful as a motto. I had to. I knew that eight years ago, because with my negative attitude I was seeing too much blackness, in myself and in the world, seeing things that might be good as bad or threatening. I had to say Everything is beautiful as an antidote to that. And I was not seeing the real threats or darkness if everything appeared dark to me.

I did not understand the well known quotes:

I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. And in that also I saw the infinite love of God;

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (comprehended it not).

I was not ready to balance light and dark. How could I see light in the darkness, as in the yin/yang symbol which I learn is called a Taijitu? Yet today this thought is strong in me: the anti-trans campaigners are foolish as well as oppressive; what they have been taught to hate is no threat, what they have been taught to demand is no benefit; and yet I love their standing on dignity. No, they will not simply accept us. They will stand up for their (imagined) interests, and for their Sisters.

I love the solidarity. I love the self-assertion, even if they are more unhinged and obsessive than anti-vaxxers.

Probably it is better not to see things as chaff, too easily. If in doubt, it’s wheat until proven otherwise. And, when proven otherwise, recognise that. Rohr says hard and fast laws are not good at distinguishing good from bad: for an example of that, take the moral rule that “homosexuality is sinful”. Possibly moral principles might. Here’s one.

Whatever gets in the way of the I-Thou encounter is Wrongful.

Things do, unfortunately. This article in the Guardian portrays Mr Corbyn’s politics as close to mine- valuing all human beings equally, including foreigners- and opposed to older voters’ transactional, us and them politics. Voters were fixated on the inevitability of scarcity, and the need to guard against naive hope. They wanted politicians loyal to them.

What gets in the way of an I-thou encounter? Fear, a sense of painful vulnerability, not dignity, a sense of one’s own worth. In the encounter there is vulnerability which has to be accepted joyously, a small price for the blessing of seeing and being seen, having a sense of all conditions of people so one can speak to all conditions.

If my dignity gets in the way of encounter I should change myself rather than shout at the world. But it is not my dignity, but unearned assertion. I want the true dignity of a human being, unique and valuable, and one of 7.8bn, not the dignity of a white, or middle class, person, from my place in a formal structure in society. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Without the formal structure there is vulnerability, but without that vulnerability there can be no encounter.

Mental Health in our Meetings

When I told a friend of that road-rage incident, she commented that I had done well to hold myself together through the Meeting for worship I went to immediately afterwards. After a strongly emotional experience, I find a measure of calm, then find the feeling welling up in me again, as with my fantasy of that man attacking me, and me thumping him. I anticipated that so was not shocked by it. The fact that he was actually unable to harm me makes me feel safe, and that feeling came to me in Meeting too. It felt like the Ministry which was for me alone. In Meeting I had sat mostly still, though not unmoving, and almost entirely quiet.

I may lose my income on Monday, and if so I am not sure what I will do. I imagined myself standing in Meeting and saying “They want to take away my fucking money. I need my fucking money.” The fantasised meeting is not the real meeting, but I wondered if that would be seen as disruptive, assuming I did not resist an impulse to share my terror. Abigail has to be managed. The meeting must not be disrupted.

I am aware that it behoves us to be silent in Meeting, and test the spirit of a prompting to speak- be accepting of other’s ministry, and questioning our own. But it seems to me that I can endanger the Meeting- I would go into my head, into that small child who knows the rules and seeks safety in obeying them, and I would merely be silent for an hour, as in a waiting room. That could enervate a Meeting. Instead, I seek to be my whole self. Rather than suppressing feeling, I seek to permit it, to allow it to flow through me. This carries the risk that it may overwhelm me. My goal is to trust it completely, so that I do not block it, because I feel the blocks cause the problems; I learn to let go of the blocks, but a block might make me- quake, is the best word I can think of for it. I would show a physical sign of the emotion within. If Friends are distracted, I may distract them further.

I don’t want the Meeting to become the Abigail Support Group, a sort of Circle of Support and more support, rather than accountability. I would be the cuckoo in the nest, diverting the energies of the Meeting from its service to God in the world. Most of the responsibility of managing my distress is my own. And I want to take the risk of being overcome, even of appearing disruptive, because otherwise I cannot take the risk of meeting God. If we need the meeting to be comfortable, then it cannot be alive.

Privilege is not an absolute. If it were, the epitome of white, male, straight cis privilege would be Donald J Trump, and he would not be the tiny, blustering man that he is without having been repeatedly traumatised. Yet it has some meaning. My friend showed courage in admitting one of his favourite psalms is 137, Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock! I love it because when I became conscious of my feelings, in my thirties, I found they were anger, frustration, resentment and fear. I have never wanted to take a baby by the ankle and smash its head open, but I am glad of that level of anger being in the Bible, because it has helped me realise I might be acceptable to God. Then again I understand that most women and the vast majority of men, like me, have fantasised about murder at some time in their lives. He and I may both like it because we are both LGBT. Not everyone understands our love for it. My lack of privilege includes an intimate acquaintance with impotent anger, and a default fear of people, even of Quakers.

I am glad that Wanstead Quakers want it to be known that our Local Meeting is a place where all are welcomed and nurtured, including people who are transgender and non-binary. It will not be true unless my high level of anger and emotional lability, arising from my trans nature and past circumstances, is welcomed. I bear most of the responsibility of looking after myself, but if I get no help from my meeting there is no point in going. Jesus take me as I am- I can come no other way. I give help, too, when I can. I dare to hope that the value of what I give exceeds that of what I take.

On the first full day of Yearly Meeting Gathering George Lakey spoke at length of his experience of the death of his son- hearing of it, travelling home, meeting family, the wake, the funeral, his feelings (though very little of his son, and only one positive fact about him). I am glad he did, as it cracked me open, but a friend commented that anywhere else there would be trigger warnings, and organised support offered “If you have been affected by the issues raised”. I blundered off, and proceeded to disrupt a discussion group by suppressed but still audible sarcastic laughter when the man leading the group shared deep, spiritual things. A woman left the group with me and spent two hours hearing my anguish.

“I am here to take,” I told her. “Sometimes I need to take.” And then when she fell on the stairs I stood and looked at her rather than going to help her up. I am not proud of this, but it is where I was at the time. I saw her later and expressed gratitude for her support and regret that I had disrupted the group. She could pass that on to the group leader, who was from her Meeting. I also feel her listening, when she held me while I plunged into my own darkness, freed to take a full, positive part in the Yearly Meeting. Many people thanked me for my ministry to the main session, which seemed to move them, from which I judge that it was worthwhile.

In fifteen years as a Quaker, I have found many shoulders offered to me to cry on, and have often taken full advantage. In a discussion group on Listening, a woman shared that sometimes she does this, and takes on pain from the other, but the other’s distress seems accentuated rather than relieved by the process. (I have also listened to others and sensed this in them, a bottomless pit of hurt which can never be dredged.) She compared such people to vampires, sucking her energy. I like to think I am not merely a vampire. Yet, from my side of the exchange, it can seem that people are very keen to provide shoulders to cry on. It makes them feel valued and valuable. It is an exchange, not a gift- we both know we will enjoy it, and sometimes we go at it for the good feeling rather than for any lasting good it will do. Don’t offer support in order to feel valued, because the outcome may make you feel insulted and wronged.

I put that too strongly when I first published this post. Being heard is unburdening for me, a huge relief. My inner critic bullies me as I unburden- I am being self-indulgent, this is not real, I should be tougher. The next day from publishing, I am not sure. Sometimes it can go wrong. I have listened, and felt I am earthing pain, like an electric charge passing through and out of me, but I have to let it go. I could do this, consciously, and move on. Once, after hearing a schizophrenic woman, the process of letting go took me two hours and involved seeking the help of a friend: that woman’s distress had evoked my own.

As this angry, labile, vulnerable, benefit-claiming, moderately depressed Quaker I want to be welcome all the time, not just when I pass as a quirky, middle-class, spiritual, highly educated and intelligent Normal-person. Please do not be self-sacrificial. Maintain your boundaries, and care for yourselves. So, tell me when you think I am pushing it, taking more support than I really need or that the meeting can offer, before Something Bad happens, and you exclude me in anger and blame me. People so often leave things unspoken, or assumed, but it might help to discuss the boundaries, to bring them into the open.

I have so much to offer you!

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.

My poor enemy

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Gerechtigkeit-1537.jpgSome blogs say homosexuality is against God’s will, and I go on them to inoculate myself. These things trigger me. I get angry, and my anger ties me up inside. I have withdrawn in fear and terror. I wish to be able to hold and accept my own anger within me. I want to be aware of where I am in the moment- how triggered, how angry, how fearful of my own fear- and hold my ground and function. I would like to do that face to face. Blogs are a practice-ground.

Paul, in his comment here, says gay people cannot have a loving relationship. It is not Love, any more than paedophilia is. Then he says Your side has won the culture war, that should make you happy. Christians are the only group in our society that it’s OK to hate. Mmm. Paranoia and self-pity.

I hear the pain and hurt in his words.

What is he defending? The right to feel disgust at another person, merely for who he is. The right to cling to disputed interpretations of the Bible, when in our lifetime Biblical arguments against the mixing of the races have finally been laid to rest: our understanding of the Bible improves, as our knowledge of God improves. The right to feel better than gay people, to despise some outsider in order to feel better about himself. A cat to kick. Mean, horrible things.

File:Lucas Cranach d.Ä. - Christus am Ölberg (Tokyo).jpgDefending- himself, or at least his self-concept. A shared understanding of the World. A community where he can feel at home, because people think and feel the same way he does. It is because they suppress their other thoughts and feelings, and it is supremely uncomfortable for those so different that they can not suppress, but it seems comfortable enough for most. Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

I can sympathise with that. I find reality, other people, my ain sel, difficult. Jesus challenges that comfort. Matthew 10: 34-39:

34 ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

‘“a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law –
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”[c]

37 ‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

A man is set against his father because the world moves on, our understanding grows and deepens, and all must separate from their parents and find their own person. This is painful and difficult for both.

If we know our separateness and difference, we can come together, worship together, work together. If we suppress it, our hands are tied behind our backs. Coming to this acceptance of the world as it is, and others as they are; shedding comfortable falsehoods, feels like losing our life- but it is for Jesus’ sake.

Support

File:Albert-von-Keller-La-Descente-aux-Enfers-1912.jpgI have a hot bra.
-The padding is too warm for anything but winter hiking!

Actually, it is unusual. I thought my padded bras would get waterlogged in washing, and go out of shape, but they usually dry quickly, keep their shape, and are comfortable, not too warm, to wear. They even manage to look almost pretty. And, I have a lace underwired creation which manages to pull me forward, display me to my best advantage, and is (apart from the well-concealed wire) pretty gossamer. I was abashed, wearing it: it is hard to accept that my breasts might look attractive.

Kaspar Juul, spin-doctor to the Statsminister in the Danish political drama Borgen, lies about his father. He pretends that he is the son of a wealthy industrialist. He ran away after his father sexually abused him, and told him not to tell his mother as she will not understand, and will be angry with him (Kaspar). His on-off girlfriend finds out about his father’s funeral, and goes. Only the two of them are there. She reaches for his hand, and holds it.

She points out http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/August_Macke_Drei_Akte.jpgthat is not the funeral of a wealthy industrialist, and he snaps that he has fantasised a wealthy father. He has seen a psychiatrist about it. She says she could love him if he told her the truth, and he cannot tell her that he was abused, cannot give the reason for his hatred, rejection and lies. Watching, I think that she would understand if he did; and he is ashamed of having been abused, ashamed of being angry, of being unable to deal with it. He so needs his pretence of not caring.

I lied again last night. I found something embarrassing, so I pretended it was other than it was- and held to my lie, though I was still embarrassed, and embarrassed more at my lie. And the lie cuts me off from sympathy, because I fear mockery. And yet I imagine I could not tell the alternative therapist’s lie, “I am fixing X by a little pressure and a little pulling” which if placebo has any meaning becomes true in the telling of it, and is a valuable part of that placebo. Part of the performance.

I imagine my lie last night was transparent, as my embarrassment would show. I do not want your sympathy, because it obliges me to you- yet I delight in giving sympathy. Two things so close, a society of equals all standing up for themselves and a society of equals, all supporting each other, and the fantasy of the first stops the second from coming to be.

And my breasts can look good, with the right support, in the right light, to the right eye.

Spiritual discipline

I get up in the morning and kneel for ten minutes in my ritual space.  I get aware of my breath, practise metta meditation, or channel Qi to my chakras. Some say ten minutes is pointlessly short, but it is what I like. Before going to bed, I have a similar ten minutes.

Except I don’t. I lie in bed until I have got to get up and no longer have time for it, and I waste time with facebook and blog comments and telly until it is too late, and I just go to bed.

I know it is good for me. I know it makes me think more clearly and creatively and perceive better, and I remember feeling better after, and I still put it off, often until I just decide not to. There is something in me which finds it uncomfortable and difficult, as well as something in me which finds it beautiful. It might be useful to have a dialogue of those two parts.

I think human beings are created Good, and Romans 7-8 is therefore a difficult passage for me. Romans 7: 15, 21-25:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do….21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

A dialogue.

Inner being: Before we start, can we think of a different name for me? Kind of judgmental, “sinful nature”, v.18, don’t you think? Paul’s word is “sarx”, “flesh”. Remember “The Word was made sarx, and dwelt amongst us”.

-mmm. I love my ritual space. Why do you not?

Sarx: “Sarx” will do me.
-It is uncomfortable. How often have we knelt there and just started crying? I hate crying. It is uncomfortable. It looks silly, and people deride and despise me for it. Feeling feelings is really painful. Suppressing them stops the pain.

Inner being: Suppressing them is really difficult. They come out in other ways, and the whole process is destructive.

Me: OK. It is beautiful and constructive and creative and healing and all of that- but it is also painful and difficult, and sometimes even the delight is too much. And sometimes, afterwards, I feel so open and vulnerable, and that is difficult, and so going out or applying for jobs or seeing people is just too much for me- though it is too much for me when I suppress, too.

So it takes discipline to go into the ritual space. I cannot just imagine ooh, it’s lovely, of course I will do it. It takes courage. I go where I have been badly hurt. It is worthwhile.