First of all, I want to give a shout out to my beautiful strong fellow Psycholobitch. She has gone through a lot and the grace she is filled with is truly a light. She got me thinking, though, about all the ways we negate our own feelings. I do this, too…have those same conversations with the silencers and the rah-rah expressors. I knew it was coming, but still, when I am called out for the use of bitch-y words to express it takes me back to all those platitudes…that being angry is somehow “bad”, that “good women” are supposed to be nice, and that “taking the high road” means, in reality, making yourself less threatening to others by suppressing your anger.
Then the voice of wisdom cried strongly, “No. It is ok to feel.”
My training for fucktard repetition started early on, as I have pointed out. My grandfather was a pedophile. Talk about confusing messages. I was encouraged to have a relationship with him, but not sit on his lap. He disappeared for two years from the family while serving a sentence for molesting a four year old, but no one in the family talked about it. When I was thirteen, my mother told me how he had molested her her whole life and that she basically married at 18 to escape him.
I was taught that dualities, contradictions, and hypocrisy was acceptable. It was just part of the way things were. A person could be pedophile and loving Papaw at the same time. A person could be good doctor and philanderer at the same time. Deacon/enabler. Good husband/cheater. Good man/bad man. You get the picture. I believe our culture at large plays into these illusions too through its worship of image. The perfectly polished image is taken as substance, and when the image conflicts with the deeds of a person, our cognitive dissonance goes into full effect. The theory says that it is uncomfortable to hold two beliefs at once and so we adjust…basically, we choose which side of a person or ourselves we will believe or justify to make it ok.
But ignoring that there are some things that are harmful in order to justify a person’s position in a family damages one’s ability to protect one’s self. It sets you up to consistently excuse bad behavior. It gives more weight to the role “Papaw” than “pedophile”. We sweep “pedophile” under the rug. We pretend it isn’t there, for we have to forgive after all.
I wince in pain as I write this. Seeing my own mother as a little girl endure the worst abuse imaginable, then have it negated and be told in overt and covert ways, “don’t talk about this” is painful. Holding the love and even pride I had for my Papaw is painful for me in the light of what he did. Was he a good man because he played the role of Papaw? Was he a bad man because he was a pedophile? Part of me feels like it is important to decide…this training ground for choosing “Papaw” over “pedophile” has messed up my relationships. Knowing men can be excused for all the vile things they do helped me learn to feel powerless to change things over and over.
But people do this all the time. It is up to those who are healing to cut through the bullshit. There are some things in this life that are just wrong. Abusing a little girl like that is just wrong. Oppression of any kind is just wrong. My Papaw was wrong…completely wrong. He taught me nothing except that a white man can be a mooch. Most of the significant men in my life have shared that kind of abuse of image…that the bad things a man does can be hidden under his role. I’m sure this is true for women, too, for the “good mother” role holds great power and abuses can happen under that name as well.
I’m simply writing my experience. My grandfather deserves to be called a fucktard and worse. I’m angry and disgusted by him and ashamed. I carry some of these feelings towards the rich family who impoverishes me. Parts of me are ashamed I knew them. Parts of me are embarrassed for my children am ashamed of myself for being with people like that. I’m ashamed I didn’t know better or how to tell when someone is that bitter, unkind, incongruent, and oppressive. I was taught not to feel or think about it.
To that end, and to forge my commitment to being a thinking, feeling Psycholobitch, I am going to write a series exploring the issues that arise from being raised in hypocrisy and contradiction where abuse resides. I am, in typical bitch fashion, going to use all the feelings and the situations themselves to my advantage.
That is taking the high road.