How Christianity Damaged my Sexuality, Part 1: Sexual Assault

This post is further to a post from a while back about a dream about church. I’d had some songs by Delirious? rattling round my brain for weeks so I decided to listen to the tracks again and see what that did for me. It had the anticipated effect of removing those songs from my brain but it had some un-anticipated effects as well. This is a personal post about how Christianity fucked up my sexuality and is part one of two.

It describes various sexual assults and victim blaming thoughts. Content Note for everything after the cut. Please take care of yourself.

In listening to those songs and recalling how I felt when I listened to them as teen, and in paying actual attention to the lyrics, subtext and implications, feelings were aroused. Anger mainly. Fury and Rage. Pain and Regret. And finally, Heartbreak. Sorrow for my teenage self and disgust for the adults who had care of said teenager. Continue reading

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Perfectionism as a Bully

I’ve been thinking about the comment I left on Olivia’s blog ‘We Got So Far To Go’, aboout “realistic expectations” and how mine are but a shadow of their former selves. Realistic expectations for me as an undergrad included me pulling 8 hrs of revision a day for 5-6 days a week during the exam period, which usually lasted about a month, and submitting every bit of coursework on time. I’m currently not really capable of that. I used to be able to write a 2000 word essay in two or three days, some of that time including all the necessary reading, but not any more.

Thus, when I worked out my plan for getting my Intro written in time for my deadline in January, it entailed me writing 500 words a day, 5 days a week for 4-5 weeks. It seemed so sensible but in the first week of that plan I wrote… no words. None. I couldn’t face sitting down to write.

The massive irony being I can churn out a 1000+ word essay on my blog in the space of an hour. Continue reading

He Touched Me

Content Note: sexual assault

I haven’t forgotten the thing I wasn’t able to talk about here for weeks. It’s been on my mind, and closer to the surface than usual.

Today is the start of talking about it.

The writing here is what arose from a text-based Twine game, Player2, by  Lydia Neon. It deals with interpersonal conflict and doesn’t have to be for the big stuff, but it can be if you want it.

CONTENT WARNING for sexual asault here on out. Continue reading

Reblog: Kids these days get too much praise: Praise, validation, and encouragement

Validate literally means “to make true”. It comes from a word meaning “lawful” and “strong”, and more generally, “supported by facts and authority.” Validating someone means listening to their truth and letting them know that you hear it. It answers our deep desire to be recognized and reflected back, and it lets us know that we have the power to tell our own stories. We become makers of meaning, instead of passive objects made by someone else.

Validating someone means recognizing that a person’s own perceptions are worth listening to. …

Most of what was cast in the 80s and 90s as failure to praise children was actually failure to validate them. When a child comes to an adult, dripping with defeat, and says, “I failed,” praise is, “No you didn’t! You did really well!” and validation is, “You’re really disappointed with how you did, hunh? That sucks.” And over time, if adults do nothing but praise, what children hear is: Your self-doubt and weaknesses are not wanted here. Failure is not acceptable, not even thinkable. I cannot accept you unless you do well.

 

Things I wish my PhD supervisors would do. Saying “you’ll be fine; of course you can do it” does not cut the mustard.

Praise, Validation and Encouragement

For part of my graduate training at therapist school, I did a counselling internship in a university student resource centre. It’s an interesting experience to fall back on, especially when people start ragging on millennials for being lazy and self-satisfied. The students that I saw were overwhelmingly workaholics who felt pressured to sacrifice everything at the altar of academic success—and they were resistant to being told that completely forgoing sleep, a social life, leisure time, and adequate nutrition actually made them less likely to succeed. I came away thinking that there is a deep sickness in the root of my generation’s soul, and this is what it looks like: To be imperfect is to be inadequate. If you are not an extraordinary success, you are an utter failure.

And overwhelmingly, the students I saw—bright, accomplished, high-achieving people—were obsessed with the thought that they were lazy, stupid, and untalented. Impostor syndrome ran rampant, as student after student agonized over the ethics of letting people believe they were good people or even adequate human beings, when their private truth about their selves was far harsher. View Original

Did I mention how thesis writing is really tedious?

Status update: see above.

duckling on lawn next to pink flower

Baby duckling!

Also my partner has moved house to a city five hours away by train to start a new job. This is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Exciting because it is a big step up for him, nerve-wracking for me because five hours is a long way away. It’s a temporary situation in that once I finish my PhD I can move down south to be nearer but when I say temporary it is going to be at least three months, which is quite a while especially when you consider the potential stress writing my Thesis may cause. So yes, happy for him, nervous for me.

All things considered though I am actually doing very well at the moment. Lab work is so nearly done, I can taste the freedom. I have significantly revised, restructured and added to my first Results Chapter and likewise with my Methods Chapter. The story is clear in my head, and hopefully now on paper too. The arguments flow and the step-by-step logic behind my decisions aobut the early phase of the work make sense. That is progress, and is something that four months ago I couldn’t even envisage. Continue reading

“Let It Go” – Frozen

I finally got around to watching Frozen and yep, I think it’s as good as everyone said! “Let It Go” moved me to tears. There’s so much in the lyrics that resonate with me and ugh, all the feelings.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.

I’ve spent all my years feeling this. Inside, I feel like a mess but the external façade has always been of the perfect good girl. My terror is that the mask will slip and those ever-present them will see.

Can’t hold it back any more.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on…

And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me.
I’m free!

But this? This freedom from fear and shame? Is where I want to be.

The shadow weight I carry whispers “you’re not good enough“. Without ever specifying what “good enough” even is. Except that it’s never how I am right now. There’s always more I could be, more I should be doing.

Elsa sings “I don’t care what they’re going to say”. If only it were true. I do care, so very much. I fear judgement and rejection and although no-one has ever said anything as harsh to me as the things I say to myself, they might and then what would I do?

Where do I want to be?

In a place where I am enough. Where I am okay, just as I am. Where, fundamentally, who I am inside is all right, is aceptable.

I want to be able to sing this love song to myself and to believe it.

 

Where even the darkest parts of me hold no shame for me any more so that I can rise, courageous, like the break of dawn and say:

That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand, in the light of day.

To-Do Lists, Deadlines and Aggravating Supervisors

As I say in the audio below, I haven’t posted about the PhD in a while. That’s because, until this week, it was going really quite well. I’ve been getting things done and have actually started writing and putting figure together. You have NO IDEA how much of a step forward that is for me.

I have lots of these in my notebook. Bribing your inner primary school teacher's pet FTW.

I have lots of these in my notebook. Bribing your inner primary school teacher’s pet FTW.

In the audio I talk about the things I’ve been doing that have been helping, but it soon gets on to the things I am struggling with at the moment. That mainly boils down my supervisor being an arrogant twatface, made worse by the fact that he thinks he’s helping by (finally!) taking an interest. I mean, that’s a little unfair and some of what I said was a little harsh and slightly exaggerated. But then again, some of it isn’t. I am angry about the way a lot of things have happened in my PhD, and in those of my friends. And yet here I am trying to back-pedal and excuse his behaviour, because I’m sure he meant well and didn’t mean to be an inconsiderate, thoughtless, unobservant, rude and inept manager. Ugh.

The other thing is that I am not highly unlikely to meet my deadline of Friday 7th for handing a draft of my first results chapter*. The mere thought of which makes me feel useless and despondent. This deadline was supposed to give me something to aim for and to keep me motivated, not something to beat myself over the head with. Yet my brain weasels are using it that way regardless. The thought that I might not make the deadline is kicking my perfectionist habit into overdrive, and is making me try to forget all the things I have achieved this month.

It ignores the fact that I have 18 days worth of gold stars in my notebook for stuff I have done. Stuff that was hard, Continue reading