Today’s emotion of the day is oppression.
Nothing specifically happened. It’s just that I’m starting to notice some things. I’m pondering my sense of self and my personal boundaries. I’m questioning labels and ideas of identity and who decided that certain “truths” about me are not open for discussion.
Who has permission to define me? Maybe I’m really the only one that can.
There are a few labels that are glued to me. Woman, mother, bipolar. I can accept these labels if I can define what they mean. And I don’t want to have to be ashamed of my labels. If I’m going to wear them, I want to wear them with pride. (Why not?)
Why do I feel a little bit like I have to apologize for being a woman? Why do I feel embarrassed of my vagina? Why am I supposed to be ashamed of my period? It’s a sign of physical health. Something that’s pretty miraculous if you ask me.
Why did my friend practically whisper to me “I guess I’m a feminist.“?
Here is an accomplished and respected professional woman who still feels somewhat ashamed to identify with the ‘f’ word. She’s not alone.
I think that I would no sooner stand up in a boardroom at work and say “I’m a feminist” as I would say “I’m bipolar”. But, one is an illness that, truly, could/does impact my ability to do my job. The other is saying that I will not allow myself to be oppressed (subtly or openly).
Shame. I keep coming back to shame. What a powerful emotion/tool/weapon. I spent my childhood being shamed by my mother. I grew to accept that it was okay for people to make me feel ashamed of my very presence. I’m honestly not sure to what extent other people who had healthy mothers feel this way.
Last week, my brother sent me an email subtly shaming me for:
- not welcoming my father’s too little, too late, effort to connect. And,
- for wanting to find out more about my late grandmother’s mental illness (and suicide).
I didn’t even realize that he was shaming me. I just realized that I felt embarrassed for having thought that it was okay to want these things. Even now that I understand, I can’t help doubting myself about these decisions.
I’m sick of being sorry for being me. I’m sick of looking for an annotated handbook telling me who I am.
I am who I feel. I change from one moment to the next. I am inconsistent. I am impulsive. I know exactly what I want. I have no idea what I want. I am decisive. I can’t decide which foot to step with first. As soon as I let myself be defined, I accept that I should not change. Just because I don’t fit perfectly into a predictable personality type, doesn’t mean I don’t really exist.
My self worth has to come from inside. It can’t be crowd-sourced.