That Voice In My Head is Sexist

Earlier this year, E observed that when I listen to what Doubt tells me, that I made up my “memories” of having been abused, I feel depressed. I tend to hate myself. On the other hand, when I reject Doubt and say, “even though my memories don’t feel like regular memories, I will accept them and believe that little girl,” I feel better.

So in the course of this past week’s therapy, I chose (and I did choose) to focus on things that [may have] happened when I was under 10 years old. And sure enough, it took less than 24 hours for Doubt to show up.

E and I, in anticipation of her arrival, had made rules for her ahead of time. One of those was that she didn’t get to bring Self-Loathing with her. But she ignored that rule. Maybe she and SL are conjoined twins or something. I don’t know why I can’t separate them.

After all, would it be so terrible to say I was wrong and made up the abuse story? It’s not as though I used it to confront anyone or take someone to court. No one has been hurt by the story. (No one but me, at least.) So why does doubting my story mean I need to detest myself?

But it does mean that. And if I step back and just observe the way this process works, I can see how bizarre it is. It’s not even that I think, “Oh, I’ve made up a bad story about my father, which makes me an ungrateful daughter with a perverse, dirty mind.” I used to think that way, I’ll admit. But now I skip that intermediate step and just go straight to much simpler messages, like “disgusting!” or “stupid!” or “fat!”

“Fat” is especially weird. Because yes, I have gained weight over the past couple of years especially, and I’m not happy about that, but how is “fat” a critique of a woman who doubts her abuse story? And what about the fact that I felt the same way about myself 20 years ago, when I was noticeably slimmer?

I have just realized how terribly sexist SL’s comments are. She calls me other names, too, like “bitch” or “slut.” I would never call other women these words; I reject those terms. “Slut,” for example–why is there such a disparaging term for a woman with multiple sexual partners, but when we talk about men, there is no equivalent term? It’s ridiculous. But apparently SL has absorbed all the sexist thinking in our culture and spits it back at me with venom.

“Stupid bitch yourself,” I say to SL. “Bad enough that you keep coming around. But I’m not listening anymore to this garbage. You’ll have to come up with something better before I buy into your story of self-loathing.”

My little act of rebellion for the day.

 

9 thoughts on “That Voice In My Head is Sexist

  1. Q: Could it be shame?? I have trouble seeing it in myself but know that I have tons of it. Shaming a sweet little baby girl gives some people (e.g., my mother and her lovers) even more pleasure than just touching her.
    This stuff is really hard. You are a sweet baby girl, Q. TS.

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  2. Interesting thought from TS – maybe shame is behind SL? We just learned in DBT that for some people, the instinct of shame is to retreat, but for others, it’s to lash out. Just a thought.
    Has SL served a purpose for you in the past (for example, distancing you from events to keeps you safe, as ineffective as that is?) Not something you have to answer on here, just maybe to think about. If she has, then maybe it might help to say, “Thanks for your help with _____, and now kindly fuck off, thanks.” Maybe acknowledging that will help her tone it down a bit?
    Maybe that’s totally off the mark. I have no idea; if so, don’t pay any attention to me! In any case, I’m glad you’re standing up for yourself. SL is a bully. You’re (along with E of course!) protecting the girl from that horrible bully. That’s amazing. Look at you go, Q! ❤

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  3. In my understanding shame and self-loathing is conjoined. We’ve internalised cultural censure to the extend it overrules our sense of (good) self. Every time, 99% of the time, when I bring up the topic of child sexual abuse people run – as far and as fast as they can. One is even criticised for bringing it into the open. We have to work doubly hard – the alienation or isolation from mainstream culture makes the continual self-affirmation in spite of external pressure so much more difficult.

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  4. I’ve been thinking about this the whole day. And I wonder if this comment shouldn’t go with a trigger warning. The self-loathing: that part of us that’s cross for not standing up for ourselves, standing by the conviction. A further thought: one which I’ve been acknowledging the pain of: once one ‘believes the girl’ – the implications are enormous – need I go on?

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  5. I don’t think it is unusual to deny to yourself what happened to you. It is a survival mechanism. If you “face” the truth, then you have to face the pain. There are many ways we barter with life to have such horrific things not be true. We convince ourselves, often unconsciously, that denial keeps us safe. But this is not true. In many ways it just prolongs and extends the suffering. Shame is often pierced into our souls. It is not easy to shake for many reasons. I don’t think it is something we can just talk ourselves out of. Time, lots of time is what I have heard that it takes. So this should give us hope. But it doesn’t help much in the present. Lots of hugs!

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