Thursday, October 25, 2012

chaperones and resiliency

This morning I read another article by Rebecca Watson. She is active in the atheist/skeptic community and the guys are trying hard to run her out of town on a rail because she is talking about sexual harassment. Let me contain my shock.

She is really defensive about it being her community too. That is a hubris I lack. I don't have a community. I'm aware that if I go out into any community alone I am fairly likely to have someone say something impolite at best. At worst guys rape me. This is my real life experience. I was telling Noah the other night that one of the things that is hardest for me about our marriage is he doesn't have any interest in going places with me. Either I go alone or I don't go. I don't want to be raped any more. So I don't go.

I feel angry and betrayed by all of the cultures that tell me the way to be safe is to have a chaperone. Only girls who matter have chaperones. You only have people to protect you when your pussy is special. Mine isn't. I am the one who is supposed to accept that bad shit so it doesn't happen to nice girls. That is why whores like me exist.

I don't go out a lot. I hide a lot. I go to a lot of therapy and have people bring up this word "resiliency" a lot. re·sil·ience
[ri-zil-yuhns, -zil-ee-uhns] Show IPA
the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy. 

So, what is my original shape? I think it is more that I don't have an original shape I am trying to get back to. I adapt freely to wherever I find myself. I do not return to normal. I just act like the new normal is all I have ever had.

I hear: "We don't really understand resilience but it is clear that it is necessary for recovery from trauma. It is clear you have it in spades." Usually said with eyes wide. How can someone survive what I have survived? You put your head down and keep walking.

I get the impression I am unusually willing to accept fault for the things that happen in my life. I can fairly clearly see how and where people react to me differently than they react to other people. People are influenced by my presence in the room--often in ways that seem to be negative.

I have one F on my transcript for my entire life. It was graduate school. A professor was so unpleasant to me that I withdrew from the class and let it turn into an F rather than deal with her. She is infamous in the department for being a problem. Other students in the class took me aside and gave me pep talks about how I should let her obvious hate bring me down--she's not the best judge of character in the world. It was really funny seeing the other students react to her picking me as the person to pick on. I got a lot of advice on how to be quieter and avoid her attention so she would stop being so mean. I'd rather have a fucking F.

I was thinking about parenting and teaching this morning. I was a really good teacher. My kids worked themselves like dogs for me. They came in voluntarily on the weekend when I gave them an upper division college level assignment. We had to use multiple classrooms to seat everyone who came in for extra help. Their test scores all went up. I had an unusually low absence rate. I had the problem kids who hardly ever go to school. They would come to my period and no other.

When a "problem kid" started acting out I would semi-make a scene in class kicking them out. I was very clear that my "authority" must be respected. Once we got outside I would sit next to them and only barely look at them. Then I would start fishing. "You aren't freaking out because of what that idiot said to you. I know you better than that. What is happening? Why are you upset?"

I carry with me the belief that I am not very important and my behavior has a fairly limited effect on the world. People are not upset because of me. They are upset because the things I say make them think of things. They are upset by what is in their head--not me.

I called the parents of gang-bangers into class and gave reports about how awesome their kids were. My students tried. One time I gave a test and the highest grade was a C-. I stood in front of every period and cried. I apologized for wasting their time. I apologized for being such a bad teacher that I failed to usefully present the information. I explained what I had done and why. I explained various ways we could try to represent the material and I asked them to vote on approach. Everyone passed the next test--and it wasn't because it was easy.

I think I write that I stay home because I am afraid of being raped because that is the part that I can really understand. No duh. I don't go to dance events because I can't deal with how inconsequential I am. That makes me sound like a whiny baby. It's hard for everyone to be new. No one gives much respect to people they don't know and I've worked hard at making sure not many people know me.

I have spent my life as a girl and then as a woman. Outside of sexual attractiveness it has been made quite clear to me that my duties are to be: pleasant, charming, gracious, and complimentary towards men. If you don't play this game then men don't have time to talk to you. Or dance with you. They snub you openly. I used to get around this because some of the horniest men like feisty women. If I am not looking for sex I find that I don't get a lot of tolerance. My brand of being annoying isn't worth putting up with if I'm not going to put out.

The last time I went to a dance event alone it was awful. (When I went with DSH and blacksheep it was wonderful.) I love to dance. I love the feeling of ballroom dancing. It makes me giddy and happy in a way that few activities can. But it's partner dancing. When I go and ask men to dance they pull back just a hair, I see the corner of their lip pull up in a sneer, then they tell me no. Then I see them proposition a younger and prettier woman. I do dance with women, but I'm not a good lead. I don't have enough experience. I try but it's obvious that the experience lacks the crucial elements that makes dance fun.

Noah hates to dance. Years ago he dated this woman. She brought him to dance events and told him that people would be thrilled to have him there and they would welcome him. She uhhh was lying through her teeth (with the best of intentions) and he had a much less warm experience. Instead he found out that he was a bad lead and not that good looking so women spurned him.

I've been noticing a lot lately that Noah and I are both funny looking in very complimentary ways. We are similarly awkward. I suspect that is why we make one another feel good. I'm really glad he likes looking at me. I like looking at him. Soon we have to decide if we are going to doom our kids to being funny looking like us or if we are going to cough up for orthodontics. I feel fairly angry by the current meme that you can't be attractive if you have less than perfect teeth. I have funny looking teeth. If you don't like them, fine. I won't fucking smile at you.

Lately I spend a lot of time feeling like I am drifting with the days. I haven't had a car in a week. That changes our life. I actually like it--I feel less harried. We should be picking it up this afternoon. Weeee.

I want to feel like we get to have a break from the cramming-for-a-test phase of our life. We need to settle in and relax. What does that mean? How is that sustainable? I don't know. But I need to expect less of myself for a while. I'm very good at being more and more and more productive. But I cry a lot.

What does resiliency mean? It means that no matter how hard someone hits me or how brutally someone rapes me or if someone up and moves me hundreds of miles away where I don't know anyone I insure that I can return to being calm if needed. I am careful about what things actually need to be in my day and which things can go. I refuse to be a "modern woman" and use makeup and style my hair. It's a waste of time and it depends on time and equipment I don't always want to carry around. Just no. I don't care that other people do. But having that kind of affect requires time and energy and money. I don't have any to spare on such activities. Not to mention that I cry every fucking day. Hell no I'm not wearing eye make up. Are you insane?

Resiliency means that I know what is important to me and I know that most of the time other people don't share my priorities. I can't let that matter. I have to be functional. I have to be able to deal with food for myself and other people. I can do x number of things in a day. Doing my hair rarely makes the list. Hell I rarely shower. No I don't brush my teeth three times a day and floss twice a day. I am too busy devoting cycles of my brain to not becoming hysterical in public.

I get the impression that I think about my face about as much and as often as a highly-functioning person on the ASD. I'm aware that if my face looks hostile I will have problems. I have worked very hard on having a calm, neutral facial expression that isn't intimidating. It's easier for me than for guys. I have more problem with not being intimidating enough when I want to be.

The first supervisor I had as a student teacher was a wonderful old Sicilian guy. He was a bit taller than me and about two hundred pounds heavier than me. (I'm not skinny and never have been.) He told me that I would have problems with discipline because I was such a tiny little thing. I never had discipline problems. I am quite effective at becoming a force of nature when I want to. The problem is limiting that energy. Limiting that hostility and anger is a constant effort. At any moment of the day you could say one or two sentences to me that will cause me to want to jump up and start punching holes in the wall. I am always on the verge of rage.

Resiliency is being able to mask what I am feeling so well that people don't have any idea who I am or what I am like. When they find out they recoil. A lot of the point of going out in public with a chaperone is so that you always have someone to moderate for you. Someone who kind of keeps an ear out for how you are talking and how you are being talked to--someone who wants to keep you safe. I do it for my kids. No one has ever done this for me.

I have always been dropped into new social groups where I am unknown and I have to carefully suss out who is ok with talking to me. I'm not good at the generic social warm up. It is both why I am attracted to facial piercings and why I don't have any. They would advertise for me in ways that would make it easier to find tribe and harder to pass when I am feeling unsafe.

I have resiliency because I always know that I will find a quiet dark room to hide in. I will always manage to find somewhere to hide and lick my wounds. I'm competent at that. I will always find a way to have a space that is mine and I will defend it with vigor. I will limit who is invited to come over. I'm quite fussy about people in my space.

As more and more years go by I know enough people that I could probably find de facto wingmen for events. It's not the same. I don't have a bestie. I don't have someone who knows me intensely well and kind of runs interference. I hear that is "unhealthy" yet when I look around it is an awful lot of how people adapt the world to them. They carry a reality distortion field around with them because they travel in groups and therefore wherever they are there is a substantial representation of their world view. Near as I can tell no one shares my world view. I am always the dissenting opinion.

I'd rather stay home than not speak. I'm not always up for being shouted down. Gosh my house is nice.

I am apparently feeling shy about pictures of my house. I can't seem to bring myself to take them. My house is pretty shabby and I don't feel open to criticism. I choose to do silly things rather than standard things. I am ok with lots of big chips in my paint because the kids draw on the walls anyway so I'm not going to try and fix anything right now. My baseboards are coming off the wall. All of the screens were ripped off by lovely destructive daughter. I could go on and on. I see all the "wrong".

But I really like the lights. And I like the things I paint. I like looking at them. I feel happy when I do so. I like my yard more by the year. I'm kind of glad I don't have more land to work. God that sounds like work. I think I would be a lot more angry about Noah's complete lack of interest in helping if I had more land. This is the right amount for me to work alone. I'm trying to figure out how I am going to put in a hundred (or two hundred) strawberry plants this spring. A friend is looking for people to go in on an order. I may not buy a massage package from her husband for a while in order to fund this. But we go through strawberries like nobodies business. I'm thinking about it. I want to decide by tomorrow.

I have been feeling very whiny about the winter this year. I haven't turned the heaters on yet. I'm trying to be stubborn and get to November. I think I am really trying to be stubborn because I want to see Shanna wear some of the damn clothes I buy her. She runs very warm. I am wearing knee socks and a long sleeved shirt under my footed fleece jammies. She has on a light sundress. I'm not sure I have the fortitude to out wait her. Goodness knows our heating bill could use it. We'll see.

I should go start breakfast. Noah went in early so we can pick up the car this afternoon.

I feel like I can only describe this by saying that I feel like I am trudging uphill through a molasses swamp. With every few steps a new load drops on my head from a new tree. I don't want to get up. I want to sit here on the floor and cry. I'm not going to. I'm going to work on that half smile. I will sigh deeply. I will stand up. I will go in the kitchen. Shanna asked for pancakes. We'll see.

1 comment:

  1. My paleo pancake recipe:

    1 thawed frozen banana
    4 eggs
    1 tbs coconut flour
    1/8 tsp baking powder

    Mix thoroughly, much moreso than with wheat. Let the batter rest 5 minutes or more to let the coconut flour hydrate. Cook in a very buttery pan over medium heat (these cook slower than wheat.) Makes 2 big pancakes.