something to think about

This week in Zaz’s head….

Nothing too complex, really. We continued our conversation about the goofy voices in my head at the shrink visit this week. Awareness of these thoughts in my head is not new. And as I’ve said before, I have spent years trying to counter these voices – without much success. They are way down deep in my psyche – and why is that?

I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already said. Suffice it to say, I am fairly well aware of old messages. I have learned to counter some of these old messages. It doesn’t always reflect in my behavior. I mean, I know some things aren’t true – but I still behave as though they are. And that vexes me. A lot.

The shrink describes it as brain washing – and I get that. Those ideas – both subtle and in your face – started when I was really little and I heard them all my life. So, okay, they are there – in my head – and they are hard to get rid of. That’s a given.

Which is where the thinking about part finally comes in. There were other things my parents taught me about the world. Dad was a very in-your-face type of bigot. Think Archie Bunker. Insert whatever ethnic and racial slurs you want. Throw in homophobia and even some religious hatred. Even as a young child, I was appalled by the things he said. Mom’s similar messages were more subtle and more, I guess you could say demonstrative. I can’t remember her ever saying that black people couldn’t be trusted, for example, but I can remember the way she acted around people different from us. It’s hard to describe – and kind of reminds me of my (now deceased) protective dog who wanted to be between me and things he considered dangerous. Normal mom behavior? I think so, but in combination with Dad’s overt racist messages – formed a definite bias inside me.

Fortunately, while I was getting those racist messages from my parents, I was getting some different messages from society. Not all of them that different, of course, and not all of them positive by any means. But I grew up with at least some awareness of the stupidity behind their behavior. I also grew up in a very WASP area and didn’t have a lot of exposure to people different from my family until I got out on my own. Then I had my own experiences and sort of tested those messages from my parents. I’m realistic enough to know I still have deep-down biases – automatic reactions – that could affect my behavior. But the thing is, I’m aware of those biases and don’t act on them.

How is this different from the other crap floating around in my head? The first thing that comes to mind is that the bigotry and intolerance are pointed outward. The you’re-not-good-enough is pointed inward. Also, the world has changed a lot from the mid-60s when I was growing up with these messages of intolerance, so perhaps there was an external validation when I questioned those old messages? Is that what is missing from changing my beliefs about myself?

I’ve got a handful of people who are willing to help challenge those beliefs about myself. I’ve got a big world of people who have helped challenge Dad’s bigotry and Mom’s fears. Maybe that really is the fundamental difference.

Anyway, that is what I’ve been thinking about.

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13 thoughts on “something to think about”

    1. Thank you MN. It’s given me something to think about anyway. And kind of a positive something since I have clear evidence where I have dealt with old messages and moved on from them. Now to figure out how to apply it to the others.

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  1. You are doing everything you can do to silence the negative voices; you can’t rid yourself completely of their effects on you, but you can manage them with your self-knowledge and insight.

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  2. I was thinking this morning that at least Mom and Dad’s racism was probably already an improvement over their parents – rather like Dad’s abusive behavior was an improvement over his dad’s behavior. Hopefully the next generation looks back on mine with disdain that we ever even heard such racist and homophobic nonsense.

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    1. I remember my Nana, who, in spite of her love for my Dad, wasn’t too happy when Mom and Dad decided to get married because he wasn’t Catholic.

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      1. I’m not sure if religious bigotry has improved as much as some of the others. Not, mind you, that I’m saying that racism or homophobia is gone – just much improved from say the 60s.

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  3. My grandparents were wonderful. But by golly they were bigoted. Like way beyond Archie. Everyone in the immediate family was blue-eyed. We were awash in a sea of recessive genes. I can recall my grandmother saying to me, “Brown-eyed people have more animal in them”. I was very young then, early elementary school. Of course I thought she was right, because, dammit, she was my grandmother and I thought she knew what the hell she was talking about.
    Fast forward a bit and I started noticing that for an inferior lot brown-eyed folks seemed to be thriving. A lot were definitely smarter than I was. Oh and also on the inferior list were Catholics, middle easterners etc etc.
    Well you know how God is, he has a wicked sense of humor. He planted in me a deep lust for brown-eyed men. My first college date was with a brown-eyed fellow, second generation Syrian, and for the icing, he was Catholic.
    The voices in my head, the bigoted voice and the tempered reasonable voice are still at war in my head. It’s really a pity that we can’t have a hand in choosing our parents. (And I still lust heavily over brown-eyed men. Thanks granny.)

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    1. 😀 I don’t remember any brown-eyed bigotry, but Grandma always thought Mom was not good enough for Dad because she wasn’t Swedish. That’s something we always laughed about when I was a kid – so there were some messages that countered some of the older generation’s bigotry at least. Dad always said, by the way, that he was “joking” with his racial bigotry because he knew it pissed me off.

      Interesting that you were drawn to the people your granny warned you against. 🙂 I may have done a little bit of that myself – but I never thought about it.

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    1. Thank you Scott. It’s a long road and I haven’t had any great insights into how to get rid of those beliefs. But it’s nice that there are people out there that don’t believe the things I believe about myself.

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  4. You go girl. It looks like you have all the pieces of the puzzle now all you have to do is put them in the right order. Not an easy task but a doable one. Be well Sweets!

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    1. At least it’s looking at things from a different angle. And I’d never thought about how I was able to overcome some of those “Brainwashed” messages. We’ll see if the shrink has any insights since the only real difference is that those messages are pointed outwards and I’ve always given more of a break to other people than to myself.

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