Blasts from the Past

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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Letters from the Past: “Why couldn’t I be what they want?”

This letter is the second in a series in which I create blog posts from old letters I dug out of the hallway closet.  It was also written in the months before meeting “IT” (Click hear to read more).  It provides a perspective of the unresolved issues lay within me as deep wells of pain.  I was willing to do just about anything to avoid treading those waters.

LETTER TWO: Dated 4/25/89

Hello Everybody,

I am taking so long to write this letter that I decided to sit down and get it done.  I am in a bad mood.  Two things happened to cause it.  First of all, at supper I ate at Validine with Keri and Wanda because she asked if I was going to eat and I said yes and went with them…
I don’t know Keri that well, but I sort of sensed that she didn’t want me eating with them.
The problem is that sometimes I feel like I’m imposing.  I have sort of grown apart from them all (except Wanda).  I have heard them about four times talk about how they went to a movie or something and didn’t think to invite me along and they don’t want to be impolite so they say nothing.
I have wondered if it is like this for me, because when Keri and Wanda sat on a table, I went to join them (I was last in line they got food first), I noticed as I walked down to the table and sat that Keri started to get this look on her face that said, “Oh No!” or “Oh God, go away!”  This all makes me ill at was and makes me uncomfortable and bad like I’m imposing or should go away
I want to approach this subject or ask them in some round about way if I am not wanted.  But the problem with doing that is if I  do Wanda will get a little bugged by it.  The reason is, cause they say I’m too timid and paranoid and uncomfortable and need self-confidence.  So I just end up going when Wanda asks and feeling uncomfortable cause she seems to be the only one that wants me there.  What should I do?
Another thing that bugged me is that I also have a reputation as caring too much of others feelings and worrying too much about it….They began talking about their first impression of someone in the dorm and Keri stated she thought they were “bitches”.  She dreaded living on the floor with them and spent 30 minutes talking bout it. After a while I got sick of it and must have gotten a look on my face that showed it.
Wanda then said “Well we should keep an open mind” in a matter-of-fact way.  Then Keri said in a sarcastic way some more stuff, sort of repeating how I feel about people talking this way about others.  I don’t remember what she said, but it sounded like I was being parodied and it made me feel like I was being made fun of.  It pissed me off.
Another thing is that, I have been told a lot that I don’t speak up and that I need to change. T his all has to do with everything that I’ve talked bout so far.
I want so bad to have my life in order and to have a perfect social life.  I feel as if I should act like someone else, what they want.  What happened today made me feel like I am not really worth it as a person and that makes me what I am isn’t right or good and they are.
I thought growing up that I don’t have to be like them.  I am a good person and those who are down on me are insensitive and ned to change (get a heart).  How this has me starting to think that I’m bad and they re all good.  I need to be more insensitive like them and have to talk and face in the sense that I can’t be me, because it is obvious that I can’t survive in society being me.  I hate things being like this, so I guess I’ll have to just start being fake and acting like they want.
Foregt myself and be what it is that society wants.  Let me be their puppet.
Why couldn’t I be what they want?  Why’d do I have to be like this and how come I’m not a person who doesn’t have any truly good qualities that people respect and like?
I guess this’ll be all for now, it’s 10:30 and I have class at 9:00 in the morning

Write me soon…

Bye for now

This letter was written later in this same year.  In fact, the year was coming to a close. I was very sad and distressed over the fact that my first year in college wasn’t everything I had hope.  As you can see from this post, I spent hours alone in my room ruminating and crying over this fact.  The seeds of my own twisted self-deception, planted long ago as a bullied and lonely child, were now near full bloom.   As I stated in a previous post.

 Sometimes the truth can truly hurt and facing it can appear an overwhelming and impossible task…

The hurt you hope to avoid and not experience and overwhelm your thinking, anything that remotely resembles a prior trauma is like a hotbed of potential pain.  Your mind goes into fight-or-flight mode, and seeks out evidence or indication that we’re “going there” into the trauma zone.  For me this trauma zone was the idea of being ostracized and bullied like when I was a kid.  I couldn’t see beyond the unresolved hurt that simply overwhelmed my mind, heart, and soul.  As I noted in the twisted self-deception post (see link above), the formation of bullshit thinking occurs in the following set of steps:

STEP #1 TO CREATING BULLSHIT :  We believe something blindly based on raw emotions without filtering through the evidence of experience.

In my previous post I include a letter I wrote earlier in my college year.  This letter concluded with the following statement:  “I have finally found out there IS something wrong with me and that is why I never belong.  I’m sort of like a social plague.  Why do I have to be me.  it is so hard to be a person with so many personality and character flaws that are annoying other people.”  Then in the second letter I posted above, I state the following: “Why’d do I have to be like this and how come I’m not a person who doesn’t have any truly good qualities that people respect and like?”

STEP #2 TO CREATING BULLSHIT:  We act on belief blindly in a knee-jerk reaction based on a well of hurt and trauma that our brain’s logic system is short-circuited…

  1. I couldn’t take criticism: “I know it is just constructive criticism but it hurts”.  When you read further on this post, it is clear that I am overly sensitive and take this constructive criticism as rejection…
  2. I was very insecure:  In the above letter I state the following:  “they say I’m too timid and paranoid and uncomfortable and need self-confidence.”  As a result I’m constantly misconstruing the actions and/or words of others. For example, if they don’t invite me, I feel like crap: “I feel bad because they never come to my room to visit me and the only time I do anything with them is when I ask if I can tag along.” Additionally, (as I note the above letter) when they do invite me I still feel like crap: “I went to join them (I was last in line they got food first), I noticed as I walked down to the table and sat that Keri started to get this look on her face that said, “Oh No!”
  3. I Isolate Myself & Don’t Join Their Activities Unless Invited:  For example, in the above letter I state:  “the problem is that sometimes I feel like I’m imposing” and in the previous letter I state: “they never come to my room to visit me”

STEP #3 TO CREATING BULLSHIT:  Life reflects these beliefs

I create life experiences based on unresolved bullshit.  As a result, the experiences reflect the bullshit.  For example in the above letter I state: “What happened today made me feel like I am not really worth it as a person and that makes me what I am isn’t right or good and they are.”  In reality, it was my perception of events the created the experiences, not just the experience itself.  It would be interesting if I could go back in time with my clear headed adult mind and re-experience this event.  How different would it look like. This leads me to the final step in bullshit creation:  

FINAL STEP:  We use experiences as evidences of beliefs

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Letters From My Past: “I’m sort of like a social plague. Why do I have to be me?”

I was digging in the hallway closet and ran across a couple of old letters.  They were written in the months before meeting “IT” (Click hear to read more).  As I reflect on them today, I feel it helps provide a snippet of what unresolved issues lay within me as deep wells of pain.  I was willing to do just about anything to avoid treading those waters.

LETTER ONE:  Tuesday 11/29/88.

(((I am a freshman in college & writing a letter to my 12-year-old sister. I have no friends & only her to confide in.  Despite the gap in our age, we saw eye-to-eye.  While she had many social outlets, I was ostracized.  Middle & high school were years social isolation.   My development stagnated a bit.)))

Dear Dorene,

Hello, I am in my room right now and it looks really neat, now that I have all this stuff on the walls. I just found out that my roommate is trying to get a room with Tammy Terryberry who lives in 915. I’ll be glad to see my roommate go, but I’m going to have to find a new one now.
There is something that’s been bothering me a whole lot, but I can’t tell anyone, cause I don’t think there isn’t anyone that would understand.
I have one goal that I have set for myself, and I hope that I reach it, and I have been wishing and wishing about it for as long as I can remember.  What I have always wanted was just one good friend:  Someone that is my age who makes me feel as good and as confident as I feel when I’m around all of you.  I want one really special person in my life that understands me and likes me for who I am and accepts all of it, the good and the bad.  I also want a person who would always be there fore me when I need someone.
I am having problems looking for friends, though.  I just want 1 good friend and maybe about 2-6 additional ones I can hang around with and I would be just fine and feel happy and content.
My problem is, that I feel as if all the people on my floor don’t like me as much as I like them and like each other more.  I feel bad because they never come to my room to visit me and the only time I do anything with them is when I ask if I can tag along.  They never visit me and ask me to go anywhere has as much as they ask each other.  I don’t feel like I belong.
I always thought I was a nice and likable person once I open up to people and let them see what’s inside.  But it seems now as if that’s wrong.  I used to not let the fact that I didn’t belong, (when I was in high school) bother me because I thought that they just didn’t know me and so it didn’t matter what they thought cause it wasn’t true anyway cause they never really knew me.  But I’ve discovered that I’m wrong cause I’ve let them know who I am and I still have sort of the same problem.
They don’t totally accept me because there are things about me that really bug them. I”m too inquisitive, too quiet, too weird, too shy, or unconfident, bull-headed, or this or that.
I know it is just constructive criticism but it hurts because it has gotten me to realize that when I socialize with people I have to just act, not like myself but the way they want me to, jus so they accept me.  I THINK THAT IS BULL SHIT.  I don’t want to have to act a certain way that pleases them.  I want to be me and just do what comes naturally and what suits me.
But it seems as if it isn’t just that they don’t know me and it doesn’t matter what they think or that they don’t accept me.  Because they do know me.  It hurts.
I have finally found out there IS something wrong with me and that is why I never belong.  I’m sort of like a social plague.  Why do I have to be me.  it is so hard to be a person with so many personality and character flaws that are annoying other people.

I feel like I have to change overnight and go out of my way to act like the person they say I should act like.  I am also jealous of all of them for not being me.
It’s ten minutes to 2:00.  I have class at 2:00 and have to go now, but I’ll write again soon.

Your Sister Kathleen,

P.S. Write Me Back Soon.

Wow!!! Does this letter bring me back to the “good old days”…

This letter was written just months after I left my hometown.  I was grateful to have this experience behind ad looking forward to a “new beginning”.  The problem was my high school, the classmates who loathed me, and the bullies that made my life hell.  So in keeping with my new blog goal to do less telling and more showing, how can I contrast the “clinical and academic perspective” polluted throughout this blog with a life story? My thought has been to use what I’ve written as inspiration for future posts.

Listed below are random quotes from previous posts that are useful in putting this letter into a useful perspective.

In a post titled “Twisted Self Deception” I discuss how bullshit ideas develop…

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines self-deception as: “the acquisition and maintenance of a belief (or, at least, the avowal of that belief) in the face of strong evidence to the contrary motivated by desires or emotions favoring the acquisition and retention of that belief, (Self-Deception, 2006).”  An article I on “Twisted Self-Deception defines it as “instances [in which]…people deceive themselves into believing things they do not want to be true” (Mele, 1999, p. 117)….

….When you look at it logically, why would a person lie to themselves into believing a thing they do not want to be true?

“…I have finally found out there IS something wrong with me and that is why I never belong. I’m sort of like a social plague. Why do I have to be me. it is so hard to be a person with so many personality and character flaws that are annoying other people…”

In the above letter, I somehow end up believing something I do not want to be true.  At first glance, this would make no sense.  However, I enter college with a slanted perspective based on past experience.  Why would I believe something I don’t want to be true?   I became what they thought I was and got what they believed was possible…  Here are the critical steps, in the formation of bullshit thinking…

We believe something…

We act on belief…

Life reflects these beliefs

We forget that beliefs define experiences…

We use experiences as evidences of beliefs

In a post titled “An Emotional ‘Hot Potato'” I note that we lie to ourselves to avoid things that hurt to much…

The purpose of self-deception is so we can live in our own preferred version of reality.  This version of reality supports our preferred system of beliefs.   It also edits out those things we do not wish to understand & hate to accept.  It is like an emotional “hot potato”.  We would prefer to willfully deny this fact through an array of cognitive mental gymnastics, than accept reality as it exists.

Sometimes the truth can truly hurt & facing it can appear an overwhelming & impossible task…

Finally, in a post titled “PART TWO: Understanding ‘Unseen Things'” I describe bullshit as an infectious contagion…

Bullshit is infectious & needs to be treated as a dangerous contagious….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.  What do I mean by this?  Here’s my personal theory on how we inherit the bullshit of those around us and consume it blindly….

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