Therapy

Of course, the more you fix, the deeper the next round of things to work on. Having sorted out my primary familial relationships, I’m now looking at my relationship to myself and my relationship with the world. This includes gender stuff, since a big part of both those relationships is gender. Gender is a big part of how we view ourselves and a big part of how we interact with the outside world. It informs everything from tone of voice and speech patterns to clothing and body language. It’s very complex. It’s a social construct, yes, but since I still live in the society that shaped it, it affects me. A lot.

My shiny new therapist and I are meeting every week now, which should be helpful. She was raised as a girl, so she groks what that’s like in a way my previous therapist (raised as a boy and pretty unaware of gender theory) really did not. So this is good.

But good grief it’s scary.

I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to work on this crap, too — I’m very good at wiggling my way out of working on stuff I’m scared of.

I’ve worked on a lot of these things before, too, which feels kind of strange. Like I’m walking down a spiral staircase inside a tower, and the pillars holding the staircase up are different things to work on. Each time I go around, I go to a deeper level, but I also circle past the same pillars. Having made it past a pillar in a previous level doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily be easy to make it past the same pillar on the next floor down.

One step at a time, though. I have to remember it’s not a race. Plus, everything in the staircase is me, really, so that’s a bit comforting.

I’ve come this far. I bet I can make it at least a but further.

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Intersectionality

“Intersectionality” is a term you’ll hear a lot in progressive circles — it refers to the way that various privilege/oppression spectrums (spectra?) intersect with each other. Like, a straight black male has male privilege and straight privilege, but lacks white privilege. That’s intersectionality.

I feel like I have a certain amount of body-issue intersectionality going on:

Item: having a female body feels weird and kind of wrong to me sometimes.

Item: having a fat body feels weird and kind of wrong to me sometimes.

Item: having a fat and female body feels weird and kind of wrong pretty much all the time.

Now, both of these items are affected by the culture I live in — both fatness and femaleness are deprecated in American culture (I live on the West coast of the US). I’ve been into Fat Acceptance for a couple years now, and into Feminisim for even longer, but there are many, many years of negative messages to combat.

Plus, being fat emphasizes my female-ness. It makes my already-bit breasts even bigger, makes my already-wide hips even wider (but not my waist, or at least not by as much, so I wind up with an even more hourglassy figure than I did already, which is even more female).

When I hit puberty and kind of freaked out that I was gaining weight, it eventually struck me that it wasn’t so much that I was gaining weight as I was filling out — and that I had, on some level, sort of assumed I’d fill out in a male way (broader shoulders, getting tall, etc), not a female one.

I spent a few years being really thin due to some health issues and that felt weird too — I still had some pudge on my hips, belly, thighs, and in my breasts (never dropped below a C cup, even when you could see my ribs), still looked very female.

So maybe it’s just having a body at all that feels weird? I wonder sometimes if that’s the issue. I spend a lot of time in my head due to the fact that I spend a lot of time on the computer and have had chronic health issues of one sort or another for most of my life (skin allergies, chronic pain, joint problems, you name it). Being in my head is less unpleasant than being fully in my body — not just because of my health but because of my gender and fatness.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As I’m writing, I keep thinking of other issues that intersect here, creating a weird sort of spiderweb of unpleasantness and self-loathing. Argh!

I guess what I’m trying to say with this entry is, this shit is hard and complicated to tease apart. I want to come into a good relationship with my body, even the mediocre one I had a couple years ago would be a huge improvement on today. Having a shitty relationship with my body has ripple effects that show up in both obvious and surprising places.

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