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I've Been Good, I Am Effective. Now I Want a Full Life

Hello Harvey,

I just led one of my Regional leaders' days and I'm feeling so proud of and in love with my people. I am especially pleased with the men's work. Or not even "men's work"-it's just that we have a few good, dear, working-class men with us now. That is due to three things I guess: me, Alan Crist leading men's work Regionally, and so many of the women leaders have taken on leading men-only classes with great joy. Today, as part of the opening circle, we all shared a time when we had acted with courage recently. Almost everyone spoke with such integrity and honesty, and showed themselves and their hardest struggles in daily life so much, that you couldn't fail to fall in love with each of them. A lot of people said that opening circle was their highlight-it sure was mine. You could sort of see people sitting there searching their minds for "when have I really reached inside for my true self, no matter what I had to contradict, and acted." Almost everyone, as they spoke, had to discharge really hard.

It's almost exactly three years since they finally succeeded in pushing me out of my equal opportunities job. My present job, while not insignificant in terms of the influence I can have, is about a thousand times easier. In my previous job, pretty much all of my attention was taken up with the challenges there. I was in a relationship when I started the job in 1985, but that sort of fizzled out after a year, and quite honestly I just didn't have any awareness of wanting or missing the intimacy. I had all sorts of exciting, stimulating friendships around joint involvement in world change, I had my two 'adopted' children in a friend's family, and I had Co-Counselling. I found out later that all sorts of people used to like me but I never even noticed-nothing could have been further from my consciousness. I used to get very lonely on weekends sometimes, when I wasn't working or leading Co-Counselling things. If there was no reason to get up or do things-like no job to be done-I pretty much couldn't move myself at all. Sometimes, when things were bad and there was extra time (like on a bank holiday weekend), I would spend maybe forty-eight hours hardly moving, not answering the phone, not having any human contact, probably just watching TV. In all those years-nine years-I never really told anyone about this, certainly not in RC. I just used to wait till the time was over and I could go back to work. (Even now, writing this, I feel ashamed.)

I guess at RC events I looked pretty good, so no one would have suspected what I now see as a sort of double life. Strange that I could function so well when there were people around and tasks to be completed and challenges to meet, and yet be virtually dysfunctional when alone at home. Most of my discharge as client in those nine years was from things that came up as a result of what I was doing at work-the latest attack or problem or success, etc. So I used to be able to work very hard as client without digging very deep, or without my counsellors having to think too much other than showing me deep love and caring, which they did. I used to rely a lot on occasional meetings with people, like you and a few others, to get an outside view and a push.

When I left that job, a number of things happened. The new job just wasn't challenging. (There have been one or two very minor attacks on me, but these have been absolute peanuts for me to deal with.) Suddenly, my actions in that arena ceased to provide me with any real contradiction (although there was lots of delight in being able to work alongside of and with good, good working people). There was just a bit of space to think and put attention on me and my needs. I started to see how very flattened my ability was to notice that I existed, and how unable I was to take initiative on my own behalf. A great fighter for others, but not for me. I was not particularly good at wanting things for myself either.

So the last three years I've been prioritising along those lines. It has been a slow, painful struggle. I decided to focus on fitness and health, especially getting regular exercise, and on having warm, close, intimate, committed relationships. And oh, God help me, it's not as though I have cracked either of those yet. But I have made progress. Significant progress. The only way I've been able to do it is just by gritting my teeth, putting everything else on hold, and saying to myself over and over again, "The priority is exercise, the priority is exercise." I've had to make myself go to events and not get caught up in devising some new strategy for change or solving some problem, but just telling myself over and over, "You're here to look around and see who you find attractive. You don't talk about work, you talk about personal things." That might sound really, really stupid and wrong, but if I didn't do that I would just get caught in world change. I suppose because I did get good at world-change work, and because there's such a shortage of people who can think boldly and well there, everyone just used to lap that up from me. Does this make sense at all?

So the point is, I have hardly written to you for the same reason that I haven't led a wide-world-change workshop for a long while. (I did lead two, and they were bloody good. I'm not sure how different they were from what you might call a "reclaiming power" workshop, but I don't suppose it matters that much. People did move and act afterwards. I did great work with black and white people on eliminating racism, which I guess is the bit of world change I've been best at.) People have asked me why I haven't led one of these workshops recently, and I've not really known until the session I just had with X-. I think I've been feeling too ashamed-you can't stand up in front of a workshop and talk about changing the world when you've only got two priorities in life: getting fit and finding someone to be close with.

X- was pushing me, saying it was important to communicate the details of my struggles and gains in these areas of my life, that that was part of wide-world change, which I can sort of see. Clearly, my personal re-emergence does matter. And very, very clearly, I just couldn't go much further out in the world operating on as little personal resource as I was. So I am quite clear that I have been doing the right things and that there is no conflict between what is good for me and good for the world.

One bit of wide-world work I did get involved in, because it was only short-term, was our general election. I worked all the hours God sends for six weeks, every evening and weekends, in a marginal seat where the candidate was a dear friend of mine. It really opened my eyes, seeing the wealth of the middle classes who we had to persuade to vote Labour if we were going to win. You wouldn't believe the places I was canvassing in! I had a great, great time because I like canvassing and talking to people in the street anyway, and I loved just being a foot soldier and doing what I was told each night and just supporting the leaders, and I loved our level of organisation as a party-I'm so proud of us. A lot of people expressed disappointment about how apparently right-wing we went in the media in the run-up, but not me. I was thinking, "For God's sake, don't upset these rich people who I've got to persuade to vote Labour if I'm going to get my friend in!" Her seat was the twenty-ninth most winnable marginal in the country, so we knew we had to win a lot more besides that to have a hope.

I'm under no illusions about how much the new government will be able to achieve. But Harvey, these are people, many of them, that I know and love and respect. Two Members of Parliament are my dear friends. All of them are in my party. I know where they are coming from and I am glad, glad, glad they are running things!

The actual general election night I was at Warrington Football Club where we had a big Labour Party do, and it was a great night. Very appropriate being in a football club-that was the atmosphere.

The next day in Liverpool everyone was out hugging strangers in the pub at lunch time. I took my mum to my friend's victory party a week later, and she won a bottle of champagne in the raffle, which seemed somehow symbolic.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00