If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.
This may not seem significant but please, for a second, I invite you to actually think about my body for a second. Figuratively speaking, I am giving you permission to look at me naked, while I explain just what the problem is with the header of this post.
I know that I have a hormone disorder…
I agree with everything you’re saying except the cissexism implicit in your language choices. You say you’re “scientifically female” which is cissexist (there is NO ‘scientific’ basis for being female that doesn’t break down to cissexism/binarism) and you compare your beard’s texture to that of “an operator of a Size Category 2 Phallus with External Attachments”. But not every person with a “phallus” can grow a beard, so this is also kinda cissexist/essentialist. Your whole point seems to be that you can’t equate genital shape or gender identity with the presence or absence of a beard, yet your language still reinforces that same binary.
In short, I agree that beards are awesome, women with them are awesome, body hair shaming has got to go, and the dwarven women’s beards in the Hobbit movie were a total cop-out—but please leave the cissexism/binarism out of the language you use to talk about this.
you dont have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life
you dont have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life
you dont have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life
but if you do feel guilty, it’s okay, that happens sometimes, it doesn’t mean youre weak, and i promise things will be all right
Dominant groups typically show the least tolerance for allowing themselves to feel guilt and shame. Privilege, after all, should exempt one from having to feel such things. This means that, sooner or later, dominant groups experience reminders of their potential for feeling guilt as an affront that infringes on their sense of entitlement to a life unplagued by concern for how their privilege affects other people. The right to deny that privilege exists is an integral part of privilege itself, so men can be quick to complain about being made to feel guilty without actually feeling guilty. I’ve met few men who seem genuinely guilt-stricken over male privilege, just as I rarely meet white people who seem guilt-stricken over racism. Such people exist, but they aren’t the ones who complain so loudly about being made to feel guilty.
Internalized capitalism [TW: capitalism, self-hatred, mentions of suicide]
Today I realized yet again just how deeply I’ve internalized capitalism.
I’m unemployed. I have been for a long time. Between occasionally-severe anxiety and anxiety-triggered migraines and PTSD and the economic depression in America and everything else, I’ve been out of paid work with the exception of a few commissions here and there. I frequently feel intense guilt and shame about this. I frequently think that I’m a waste of space, a leech, and fundamentally worthless if I don’t have consistent paid work.
This is predicated on the idea that human life, and especially my human life, is fundamentally worthless. Further, the only thing that gives human life any worth is the ability to earn money.
When I type it out like that, it sounds really bad and I’m embarrassed and I keep struggling to think that no, I just phrased it badly, it’s about productivity or somesuch bullshit like that. But that’s what the productivity=worth mindset really boils down to. Given that I grew up in a grossly capitalist society that constantly values profit over human life, it’s not hard to see where I got that idea from.
Someone asked me today where I work. I shifted around and smiled awkwardly to hide my discomfort and had to admit that I was unemployed. In self-defense I offered up the information that I ran a blog and did sex education, trying to prove that really really I DID have worth and it wasn’t like I just existed or did anything so selfish as prioritize healing and self-care! Meanwhile, this internal voice kept telling me on such a deep level that it was almost subconscious that healing and self-care and self-education aren’t worth anything.
Even when I was being paid to do work, however, I went right on hating myself—and often I hated myself EVEN MORE because then my life felt like a waste of time in which I spent much of my days doing things I hated in order to earn money. Besides, self-esteem that is dependent on monetary productivity is fragile at best.
I habitually undersell the importance of the unpaid work I do because I don’t consider it “work,” even though it requires significant amounts of energy and time. Despite the fact that I KNOW the unpaid work I do volunteering, educating, and writing have positively shaped other people’s lives, because it’s not full-time work, it’s worthless. You don’t just have to work, you have to work full time in order to be a Real Adult Productive Human Being Worth Keeping Alive.
And as for this blog; it’s easy to undervalue this. It’s tumblr, so it’s not like it’s a REAL blog. Tumblr is such a crappy platform and the site’s so unreliable and everything. And even if it were a Real Blog (TM) that would still be a waste of time. The capitalist garbage in my brain keeps trying to convince me that the silly, pleasurable stuff I post that helps me and other people feel good for a moment (kittens and fanart and whatnot) is inherently worthless because it’s just about pleasure and wonder (wow, pleasure and wonder are worthless???) and even the stuff about abuse and racism and codependency is a waste of time because it’s not making money. A high-paid corporate job is inherently worthy, even though one is often factually trafficking in human suffering, but spending time just to share pleasure and educate others and myself? Worthless.
This is a gross lie, but the truth is slippery and difficult to hold onto.
I’ve had people write to me for advice about every kind of abuse, who left abusive partners and improved deeply dissatisfying relationships because I took the time to maintain this blog and do unpaid work. I’ve had people ask how to access transition resources, find a good therapist, cope with dysphoria, and have boundaries with family members. And, biggest of all, I’ve had people write to me and tell me they didn’t commit suicide because things I wrote gave them hope. And not just one person, multiple people. There are people who aren’t dead because I took the time to write and maintain a blog! What higher payment could anyone ever receive for any effort? What could possibly be worth more than human life preserved, freed from abuse, supplied with hope and pleasure, and made more able to connect with other human beings?
According the internalized capitalism in my brain, $8 an hour is worth more than human life. Even at full-time, $8 an hour is not a living wage here. Yet somehow, being underpaid and overworked and in constant suffering would legitimize my existence. Because that’s what capitalism wants you to believe.
[TW: lookism, ableism, casual/thoughtless endorsement of eugenics]
I’m on OKCupid a lot. On that site, the match percentages are based on how you and any given person answer a whole lot of questions. And they nowadays have this cool function in which you can check someone’s public answers. I can’t tell you how many douchebags this has spared me from meeting, because there are so many people whose profiles are awesome and then you check their answers and WHOOPS, they believe in eugenics.
I wish I were exaggerating. But yesterday I had a really amazing example of this.
There’s this one question that’s something like “What would make the world a better place? Answers: If stupid people weren’t allowed to reproduce, If ugly people weren’t allowed to reproduce, Both, or This question offends me.”
This question is about eugenics. And it’s horrifying to find how many people who are theoretically good matches for me will answer “Fewer stupid people being allowed to reproduce would make the world a better place.”
So yesterday I was at my volunteer job at San Francisco Sex Information. It turns out that everyone on that shift with me has an OKCupid profile, so we start looking at each other’s profiles to pass the time because NOBODY was calling in that day and we were bored. This turns out to be A Really Really Bad Idea.
One of my coworkers is this relatively cool-seeming person who’s pro-sex-worker’s-rights and is a sex educator, so I figured (wrongly) that she would be pretty socially aware otherwise. So she’s looking at my profile and I start laughing at how horrible it is that so many of the attractive people on OKC are basically in favor of eugenics so thank heavens for public answers.
She checks my answers, and I see that SHE has answered “The world would be better if fewer stupid people were allowed to reproduce.” And below it, she’s added the little explanation “Haha I know this makes me sound like a Nazi.” Below that is a question asking “Are you offended by racist jokes?” and she’s answered “No.” She’s white.
At this point in the conversation I’m still laughing but nothing’s funny anymore and I’m not sure how to deal with how awful this is. “Why would you answer that in that way if you know it makes you sound like a Nazi?” I ask her, trying to keep the pleading from my voice and failing. She just shrugs, obviously uncomfortable as well.
"Look," I say, unable to leave this train wreck of a conversation alone, and figuring that maybe she’s just not up-to-date on her ableist language and is using ‘stupid’ to mean ‘bigoted’ or ‘shitty at parenting’ (which is also ableist, but she obviously isn’t aware of this), "If you believe stupid people shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce, then neither I nor most of my friends would exist. My parents are awful."
She didn’t really respond to this. Thankfully the end of the shift happened to be just then, so I decided I couldn’t deal with this conversation, picked up my stuff, and left.
To be honest, I agree that my parents shouldn’t have had children. They’re shitty parents and they did serious emotional damage to their children. But the solution is not to decide who gets to have kids (BECAUSE HEY EUGENICS AND TOTALITARIANISM THIS IS A BAD ROAD TO GO DOWN) but to help people heal, educate them on how to be good parents, and give them birth control.
Then I spent 20+ minutes of the train ride home feeling guilty for potentially making her feel bad for her gross ableism, racism, and the fact that she believes in eugenics.
But to hell with that. I don’t have to feel her shame for her just for pointing out how messed up that is.
;u; okay calming manatee. I’ll try. Thanks <3
I try not to tell people what to feel or not feel, because that’s not something anyone can control by being told not to do it. I would instead encourage people to allow others to help them regardless of feeling guilty or undeserving, because for many of us that’s the reality.
When dismissing a cupcake, don’t go into the “why” - Just simply say “no thank you”. Most of the time when people dismiss or refuse to indulge in sweets/fatty foods, they often tack on the “why” - “I’m on a diet” “I’m trying to be good” “I really shouldn’t” - and that is where the divide comes in. By focusing on that kind of negativity and food shaming, you make others around you feel uncomfortable or “bad” for wanting to indulge. You may or may not do this already, just wanted to be sure to mention it.
Oh god THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS.
Belly [trigger warning: internalized fatphobia and thoughts of disordered eating]
I’m starting to realize that I can tell when I’m mildly triggered by whether or not I hate my belly. I often feel otherwise fine, but I hate my belly, and I am learning that this in and of itself means I am not as fine as I feel.
Having been several years on testosterone now, I have developed the most petite of paunches. In my more reasonable moments I know that as bellies go, mine is not a defining feature, and that even if it were, my value as a human being would not be lessened and none of my partners would find me less attractive. (One person whose opinion of me I care about actually says my belly is one of her favorite features and it’s super cute) But when I start to feel sad, anxious, or angry, I HATE that little paunch and it becomes the symbol of my worthlessness as a person. No one else’s positive opinions have the slightest effect on this self-hatred.
So I try to suck it in. I try to smash it flat. I try to cover it with clothing. I wish I could starve myself till it disappeared. I fantasize about getting liposuction. I wonder if I can manage to tightlace on a daily basis. I consider going off testosterone so my fat would redistribute to my hips again instead. I start grabbing and glaring at it. I can’t stop thinking how much “better” I would look and be if it were gone.
This is even more ridiculous considering little tummies like mine are a feature I find especially attractive on people other than myself. I love the way they look and feel! I’d be super supportive of anyone else with a tummy like mine. Or much bigger than mine! I KNOW this belly-hating voice in my head is abusive and messed up and ridiculous, but that doesn’t make it go away.
When I’m low-grade triggered like this I start thinking about how my father has a belly just like mine. I start thinking about how when I was down to 98 pounds in college due to extreme prolonged stress, my father started telling me how pretty I was. I proudly remember the fact that I lose weight uncontrollably when I’m under extreme stress and feel wistful that I’m no longer under that kind of stress anymore because if I were I’d be “thin” again. I start thinking about how my mother strictly controls what she eats and makes sure never to eat very much fat or sugar or carbohydrates, including not eating “too much” vegan butter or low-sugar jam on her whole grain sprouted wheat bread, and I ought to “control my eating better.” I remember that my dad started labeling my mother “fat” when her weight (once) went over 125 pounds. I remember how my father made cruel jokes about how fat and ugly I looked as a 13-year-old in my passport photo and so “it was a good thing I transitioned”. And I think that despite the fact that I gained an inch of height and a lot of muscle mass on T, I’m still “supposed” to weigh exactly what I did before testosterone and while I was being severely abused. Which is about 20 pounds less than my current weight.
For the first time in my life, I’m seeing what my body looks like with the hormones I want to have, while I’m not being abused, and when I’m eating healthily. It’s not what I’m used to seeing. And when I’m triggered, the abusive scripts in my head keep telling me that I’m wrong and bad to look this way and that I should harm myself until I stop looking this way.
I don’t act on this. I keep eating just fine. But this happens all the time, and I’m so tired of this abusive fatphobic voice in my head. This voice is such a damn douchebag.
Anonymous asked: Are there services where I can talk to a therapist online, through a chat room? (No webcam or audio.) I have an issue that I’ve tried talking to therapists face-to-face with, and it’s just too humiliating for me.
Most therapists do not offer consultations online or over the phone, but every once a while some will offer that service. I’m afraid I’ve never heard of anyone offering therapy via chat, but possibly there is someone who does this. (Followers, do you know of any sites/organizations who do this?) I’m sorry that your feelings of shame are so intense that you feel prevented from seeking therapeutic help, as that sounds like a prime thing to work on in therapy.
My advice would be to research local therapists and leave them a phone message saying you have this problem and asking them to leave you a message with their suggestions or referrals if they have any.
If that doesn’t work, however, my only advice is to learn to tolerate the shame you feel. I know some anxiety conditions can make certain situations really intolerable, but often we can become acclimatized. It’s okay to feel scared, ashamed, or uncertain, and giving ourselves permission to feel those things (including in therapy) can help us deal with them. It may take a few appointments before you are able to talk. You may have to write notes rather than responding verbally. But it may be worth trying that, because this amount of shame sounds pretty intense to live with. Best of luck!
EDIT: I think I slightly misread your question! Someone responded to this post suggesting you find a therapist who works well with you and work on other issues to begin with, and maybe tell them you’ve had this problem with other therapists in the past and work upward toward being able to talk about it. Your therapist may also be more willing to work with you over email/chat/text if they already know you!