A Recovering Shlumpadinka

A male friend told me once that I looked like Joey Ramone because of my long black hair, glasses, & large nose. Our friendship began somewhat incidentally in the waiting room of a job service agency where he struck up a conversation. On his way out he asked for my number. We went on a couple of dates but it didn’t really go anywhere. He had gotten out of a bad relationship & I was trying to recover from the “it years”.

It was the mid-90’s and we were both in our 20’s: no longer kids but not quite adults.  As was the case for many of my generation, we completed our college degrees only to find ourselves no better off financially. I held a variety of secretarial positions while he worked in retail. Dead broke with no promising career options, we hung out a lot simply to curb the occasional bouts loneliness.

It’s been years since we’ve spoken.  We grew apart because in time, I started to feel like his mom. He would come over and raid my fridge and use my washing machine. Or stop by to borrow a “few bucks”.  When we would actually hang out, I would have to hear his long and often complicated dating stories. He reminded me of Jack Black in that Shallow Hal movie.

Anyway, I can still recall that moment when he made that Joey Ramone comment. He had this Cheshire grin on his face as he looked at me, proud of his joke.   My face grew cold as I turned my head away to hide the tears.  I was really a just a sad pathetic joke to him.  He didn’t give a shit about me.  Memories of “the it years”  flooded back into my mind.  The verbal abuse, treatment and put-downs from this relationship reverberated in my head…  

“You know all the guys on the floor are telling me I should dump you for the girl with the huge tits.” He informs me of this in the weeks and months after I lose my virginity to him. I am insecure and desperate for acceptance, love, and belonging. He said I was just average looking: about five, (six on a good day). He said my breasts were too small and wanted me to get implants.  I had scrawny chicken legs, an ugly nose and horrible hair. On top of that, I had no sense of style and was more ‘”inexperienced” than the other women he cheated on me with. In short, I was a pathetic charity case…

A desire to avoid re-experiencing the pain of rejection from my child was so strong while I was in this relationship. It overcame logic or sensibility.  The only thing I could see was anxiety and panic, nothing else  was able to filter inward.  I needed to avoid rejection – it was just too hard….

What’s so strange is that this man who treated me like crap and told me I was worthless, wasn’t really “all that” himself.   His hero was Andrew Dice Clay (this was the early 90’s). However he looked more like Steven Assanti, that 800 pound man on TLC.

As women, we are all made to face a world that assigns us value based on an array of random qualities which happen to define our meat suit.  As someone who falls within the “have not” category, there is still quite of unresolved bitterness I need to work through.  The above video reflects fairly accurately how I’ve adjusted to this reality.

Heather Matarazzo, who played Dawn Weiner in my favorite movie “Welcome to the Dollhouse”  describes a similar experience in her blog  “What the Fuck is Fuckable”.

“Seriously? What the fuck is fuckable?? I don’t know if I can answer that question for you, but I can share my own experience. When I was 19 or so, I was standing in a Starbucks in West Hollywood with a director, talking about the upcoming film we were about to shoot. It had been a long road, but we had finally made it. Waiting for our coffee, I could see that he seemed a bit uneasy. I asked him if everything was ok. He said yes. I didn’t believe him, so I asked him again. He looked at me and said “Heather, I’m sorry, we have to give your role to another actor. The producers don’t want you.” I didn’t understand. I had been attached to this project for two years, and now two weeks before filming, I’m being let go. I asked him why. He looked me dead in the eyes and said “They say you’re not fuckable.” Well, fuck me. Even as I write this, I can still feel the pain, shame, and humiliation that came over me in that moment. This is a part that I had been so excited to play. She was bold, witty, sarcastic, sexy, but more importantly, she had a deeper vulnerability underneath. She had layers, she was complex. (Matarazzo, 2015, February, 6).”

A second online story that resonates with my experience comes from an anonymous post on reddit by a woman who describes the typical experience of the average “less-than” girl who is occasionally reminded of her inherent meat-suit based value.

“I am an ugly woman. Objectively, I really am. Please don’t argue with me on this one, Reddit. I am not overweight, actually in better shape than most women my age, I dress well, I am great with makeup. But last weekend the world just had to remind me that despite all this, people will go out of their way to kick me….There was a photographer going around the club, taking pictures of the people there. I assume it was for some promo for their website or something. He got to our group, and literally circled us several times, taking several pics from different angles. I was kind of psyched about this, so I did my best to look like I was having a good time, made sure he could snap me at my best. But after a while I realized he wasn’t circling us to get our best angles. He was trying to get a frame without ME. If I moved closer to the center of the group, for instance, he would tilt his camera a little the other way. I couldn’t believe it until finally, he actually came up to me and asked me to get out of the shot….I felt so ugly right then. For all the effort I had put into looking and feeling good that night, it seemed like it just didn’t matter. So the night ends with me leaving the club. My friend with the bf at home who was dancing with me left with me so I wouldn’t be alone. The rest of my girl friends didn’t notice what had happened with the photographer, so when they asked me where I was going I just told them I was tired and wanted to go home. And since I wasn’t leaving alone, they let me.” throwmeaway4352 (n.d.)

My earliest awareness of my “less-than-ness” came as young child in grade school.  I was half Filipino, raised in a small town in the midwest, (clicking on this link will take you to a book written by somebody who was raised in my hometown).   The popular girls were all pretty blondes, who dressed well and had a good handle on the in’s and outs of social politics at our school.  I, on the other hand, was a quirky girl with dark features, a large nose, and no sense of style.  As I grew up, and the ostracism and bullying increased, I withdrew in my own world.  I perceived the problem as “them” they were just mean idiots in my school.  Once I move away, I thought, it will be “all better”.  Things naturally, didn’t get better as I had hoped, and I entered an “unhealthy relationship”, with an individual who was intent of “beating me into submission”.

A consistent diet of put-downs and abusive behavior is what it took for my insecurities to become certainties…

My first boyfriend was the first one to make me aware that my meat suit defined my social value in today’s world.   He told me repeatedly that I was an ugly, and therefore, a “charity case”.  This was a painful punch in the gut much as Heather Matarazzo describes.  I was forced to face then that a world existed beyond what I create inside my head that evaluated me harshly against a physical beauty standard.  It was this standard of physical beauty that assigned me a value of me based on the random factors that defined my meat suit.  As I grew to appreciate the ramifications of this my self esteem crumbled.

Within my mind, there was a slow and gradual erasure of any remaining awareness of inner beauty, until it was completely gone.

So why am I writing this post???

I want to stress here, that this post isn’t about bitterness.  I admit there has been a bit of pissing and moaning occasionally on this blog.  However, the goal of this blog post isn’t to feel sorry for myself.  If I had to summarize all my life experiences and professional education into one critical insight, it would the following:

We become what we believe we are and get what we believe is possible.

This life lesson is summarized excellently in a series of videos on youtube based on books by Shel Silverstein.  Many of life’s problems can be attributed to how we are looking at things and not what we are viewing as the cause of our issues.  Gaining clarity in life takes a lot of work.  For the majority of us, it isn’t we’re “north of 40” that we can begin to feel an appreciable sense of clarity.   It is for this reason, that I believe youth is a vastly overrated experience.

I’m sincerely grateful to have made it to be where I am, and have absolutely no desire to wind back the clock of time…..


Missing Piece or Big O???

In my experience, becoming a “big O” requires us to simply see the world as it is.  Seeing the world as it is, can be daunting for those with a history of trauma.  There are elements of our past that are too painful for” direct viewing”.   Those without a history of trauma can also have difficulty seeing the ugly side of things can.   The problem with not seeing those ugly things in life, is that they are unexamined.  When unexamined, they affect our beliefs, thoughts, feelings and perceptions, and become self-fulfilling prophecies.  

So, here is the purpose of this post: To Get Real w/ Myself.

Lesson #1:  Bullshit is Infectious.

In a previous, I discuss the concept of self-deception as the perplexing ability we have to lie to ourselves, while not noticing we do so:

Bullshit is infectious & needs to be treated as a dangerous contagion In the previous section, I provide examples of unseen aspects of social experience. When you examine these unseen things closely you find that self-deception can become shared. Others’ bullshit ideas, when unexamined, can become our bullshit ideas. Bullshit is infectious and needs to be treated as a dangerous contagion.

Lesson #2:  Life is Unfair.  Deal with it.

There is a definite social reality which exists, that no amount of intellectual gymnastics can erase entirely.  It is true that within the minds of many, this meat suit, is an indelible fact.  We are reduced to an idea which doesn’t do justice to the reality of who we are.  This “less-than-ness” is painful simply because it is a perception based on bullshit while carrying a life of its own – independent of who we are.  I need to accept that there are many people who can’t see beyond my meat suit.  However, I must also acknowledge the fact that what I focus upon emotionally expands.  For example, when I read stories such as the ones above, emotions bubble up inside.  However, while I am aware of these feelings, I do not ruminat over them endlessly.  This will decimate many of life’s possibilities and my true inner potential.

(((If you don’t understand what I’m saying, re-watch the missing piece videos))) There’s that part in the first video, where that Pacman dude sets down the pie thingie.  That action is huge.  It is an act of realizing that he’s running on a hamster wheel, perpetuating bullshit by mindlessly consuming the ideas fed to him by others.  Set the missing piece down, and walk away.  It does not hold the answers.   Like Dorothy and the Ruby Slippers, you hold the solution and just need to believe in yourself.

Lesson #3:  Understand Society’s Motives

I don’t want to get too nerd-girl-ish but system’s theory is a useful perspective with which to understand society’s motives for assigning value to women based on the meat suit.  In a recent post I state the following:

Systems Theory can be thought of as a lens through which to view the relational processes of individuals and the significant others with whom they interact in their attempts to derive meaning and construct an identity. (Curtis & McPherson, 2000, p50)…hat is first notable about systems theory is its view of individuals as a subsystem within a larger subsystem (Arthur & McMahon, 2005). If one were to provide a diagrammatic picture of this theory, they would draw a series of concentric circles. With a picture that looks much like a target, each level, can be thought of as a subsystem within a subsystem. The individual is a system that exists within microsystems such as family, peers, or work environment. These microsystems, then exist within a larger ecosystem that can be thought of as society at large. How does this relate to counseling practice? Essentially it calls for an understanding of individuals holistically, people aren’t beings unto themselves, but parts of a larger whole (Curtis & McPherson, 2000, p50)

Basically this theory notes how individual’s cannot be understood independent of the social worlds they reside within.  Individuals and societies are interdependent concepts in the sense that the whole is not equal to the sum of its parts.  When stable, a state of homeostasis exists.

The point is, society and its members work together to perpetuate a system of beliefs upon which our culture and society are built.  If you take away the belief system or question it, the entire foundation upon which society is built crumbles.  It is important to aware, the valuation processes upon which women are evaluated, are simply social constructs that tend to act as the basis of the “game of life”.  They are essential for a social homeostasis, that many defend unquestioningly.  They aren’t fact, they are simply the rules of the game.  How is it you are choosing to participate???

https://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/indias-man-problem/?_r=0

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21648715-distorted-sex-ratios-birth-generation-ago-are-changing-marriage-and-damaging-societies-asias

Lesson #4:  I’m missing the good stuff!!!

My husband complains often that our 18 years together still can’t compete with what some assholes said to me umpteen years ago.  He says he truly loves me as I am.  He sees me as beautiful and doesn’t understand why those words from so long ago can affect me so profoundly today.  As my “partner in crime” he calls me out on my bullshit.  I use my past experiences as an excuse for why I don’t work through this issue.

 I think he’s right…

Images: 1, 2, 3,

References

Curtis, D.F. & McPherson, R.H. (2000). The clinical utility of systems theory in counseling practice. Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory & Research. 28(1) 50-63.
https://heathermatarazzo.wordpress.com/ (2015, February, 6).  “What the Fuck is Unfuckable”  Retrieved from:  https://heathermatarazzo.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/what-the-fuck-is-fuckable/
Merriam Webster Dictionary, (2008, September, 5).  Shlumpadinka.  Retrieved from:  http://nws.merriam-webster.com/opendictionary/newword_display_alpha.php?letter=Sh&last=100
throwmeaway4352 (n.d.) People are just so mean to ugly women. Please be kinder, Reddit. Retrieved from: https://www.reddit.com/r/TwoXChromosomes/comments/2k3osv/people_are_just_so_mean_to_ugly_women_please_be/

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