Project 2011

This is the sort of tone I am used to taking as “realistic” – or “normal” or “factual” – but it is abusive, and I am still learning that.

In 2011 I am learning to identify certain falsehoods I was taught. I will unlearn them, but first I must identify them, and recognize them as they come up. I will list them here as I think of them.

The tone of this post is: sad. There is of course a grain of truth in all of these fallacies but that is beside the point.

1. Any (not extra, but any) time put into teaching is time wasted as it will not count at best, and will be counted against you at worst.
1a. If you did a good or even just a responsible job teaching, you put too much time into it.
2. It is shameful to make money, to have an interest in doing so, and to spend it.
3. Only if one is as poor as possible – while maintaining an “intellectual” (genteel) image, of course – can one avoid accusations of extreme culpability.
3a. Everything you consume contributes directly to the starvation of your poor, ill mother.
4. You are vicious. We spend our time hoping to weather the next vicious attack from you.
5. You accepted money we felt entitled to and went to college on it.
6. Going to college was too much responsibility for you. In four years you graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from a really demanding school. A person like you has no right to do such things.
7. You cannot publish if you try to use your actual research findings. Instead, you must rephrase traditional views and publish those. If not, you will be out on the street.
8. This is amazing! You know some things and are thoughtful, and you express yourself quite well! Congratulations!

This entry was posted in Feminism, Subject Theory, What Is A Scholar?, Working. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Project 2011

  1. Z says:

    And so now I am extirpating my first education, as I did Reeducation on my other blog. That extirpation took almost five years and I hope this doesn’t take as long.

    I notice that when Reeducation disapproved of my doing research, I defended it in the catastrophic terms my father did to my mother and to others who also disapproved of it. “If I don’t do this, we will all starve,” “It is required,” and so on. At that point I started having a hard time with research; I think I joined the crowd of torturers at that point and this is part of the problem.

  2. Z says:

    The current therapist suggests I consider EMDR:

    I think I need a more precise diagnosis, and I think I need to learn more about what complex PTSD symptoms are and what abuse is.

  3. Z says:

    The main thing to do, as was pointed out this break, is to dump the idea that I disappointed the family by doing the PhD and by doing it in this field … and that it is my fault my aunt paid for me to go to college … and that it was my responsibility to be capable of the major they wanted me to do (music) and my duty to choose a college (small) they would be happy with … or if not, to guess a major that would satisfy them. No: it was my right, and my choices, and I didn’t do badly, and I’d have done better to listen to them less, not more. I have to start really believing this.

  4. Z says:

    Also important is to jettison the feeling that I am in this job as penance and punishment for what I did. This is really strong and it is detrimental. I have to look at every positive comment I have, and give myself credit for surviving what really was an unreal level of abuse and decimation.

  5. Hattie says:

    Were you a precocious child? Were you forced to learn and perform at an early age? Was it important for you to make your parents look good?

  6. Z says:

    Yes but: all of this was supposed to contribute to an advantageous marriage, not to a career.

  7. Hattie says:

    That, of course, was the norm in my generation, but I’m surprised that it was a consideration in a woman of your age.

  8. Z says:

    I’m 54 now, so I am closer to your age than it may seem! Many of my college friends had careers, and I discarded the idea of marriage at some point in elementary school, when I found out it was optional. But all my high school friends became housewives despite going to college and having jobs for a while. Those whose marriages ended, became teachers.

    I am not sure what my father had in mind for me as he never said anything except that I shouldn’t work in academia, government, or industry. My mother wanted marriage, music, travel and pleasure for me. He wasn’t against the idea of making money but my mother seemed to be; what she opposed, really, was the sterile pursuit of money.

    I also don’t think she conceives of not depending on another person financially. Not having money would be a way to heighten femininity and thus marketability, and therefore ultimately, to increase financial security, or so I believe the thinking went.


    What a much younger friend and and I have in common, she said today: having been constantly pushed off our paths by abusive / disruptive / dismissive families. She also said I *do* have an abusive environment, not just in the more problematic of my departments (the one with that manipulative and condescending chair) but also in Louisiana culture generally. So, it isn’t just the self-abusive attitude(s) I learned from my parents on their bad days that I must combat: it is also the current, concrete situation (and not just my perception or experience of it).


    There were all these strong messages today about going to law school / moving more toward business and social science and also not STRUGGLING any more, as per what was said in Peru a couple of years ago. Rising in level. Raising expectations. Increasing self respect and enhancing one’s idea of what one already deserves.

  9. Z says:

    Also: the reason I don’t like to talk to professors from elsewhere is shame at how we are treated in my main subunit. I am tempted to say, “I am sorry I cannot participate in this conversation, I have problems I am ashamed of and with which I do not wish to burden you, but of which I would have to speak, were I to speak informally about work.”

    My friend says it is the attacks on integrity that are the most debilitating, and that these are one of the most fundamental hallmarks of abuse. That is worth remembering.

  10. Z says:

    Re the integrity. I remember being a new professor and discovering this problem — you seemed to have to prove you weren’t lying, and cajole. Another new professor said, but don’t you enjoy manipulating these guys into doing what you want? And I said, well no … the point isn’t what I want, usually, and if it is, I’d rather be able to just ask. I’m sticking by this attitude.

  11. Z says:

    There is also “Safe Trauma Recovery” and the writings of Babette Rothschild. Apparently flashbacks and disassociation are symptoms of memories not remembered (or something along those lines).

  12. Z says:

    ***Attacks on integrity as main hallmark of abuse AND as the most debilitating.***
    ***The idea of getting to a place where I don’t have to struggle so much, and so much against that.***

    I am supposed to make a list of things from very early on.

    1. The idea that we were sick. We were all sick in our family, and different from other families. (I really resented the definition of us as sick.)
    2. The idea that our family was both infinitely better than and also infinitely inferior to others.
    3. The insistence that we kids were incompetent.
    4. All the sacasm, sneering, belittling.
    5. Parents throwing tantrums to be cute/feminine, and pontificating/condescending.
    6. The idea that we were not only incompetent, but also selfish and arrogant.
    7. The idea that we were conniving.
    8. The idea that everyone could see how incompetent we were, only we couldn’t.

  13. Z says:

    And on my academic dread: see that Historiann thread. Virtually everything that has happened to me is gender harassment, and if I don’t see it as such then I’m disempowered and want to run because I can’t figure out what else to do (it’s designed that way you know, designed to hound you out, and will if you consider it natural or neutral or your fault). This is what robbed me of vitality during that period, and “agency” or whatever, and so on. It’s really freeing to see that my fear of teaching, dread of research, etc., etc., are based in these experience of this hall of gender mirrors … it was that which turned this work into drudgery, in large part.

  14. Z says:

    Where to start, actually, is the rock-bottom self esteem I got from my mother. That’s the key … also note, her idea that we were there to take her money, expressed from before kindergarten, on…

  15. Z says:

    The other thing, from very early on and very important, is the huge responsibility of dealing with her sickness and being responsible for its flareups. The idea that we might have caused it was a part of the problem, but the truly major issue was that we had to handle it, and that all flareups, all poor behavior on her part, was due to a grave management error on ours. (This is also the role my father puts himself in, I see.)

    It was a lot like this:

  16. Z says:

    And they were classically abusive:

    And I have classic abuse victim characteristics, as we saw a few weeks ago on another site.

  17. Z says:

    (Side note: why abusers abuse – because they feel empowered then. OK.)

  18. Z says:

    And the program for now would be, how to end forms of abusing self — how to even recognize them in the first place. HMMMMMMM my first big one is sleep and it started as a rebellion thing, it started with wanting to live (the way that book I read part of said anorexia was actually about having appetites for life). But anyway, now I do sleep deprivation TO TRY TO WEAKEN SELF to the right gender role. And a lot follows from this as well as from saying “sensible” things to self which are actually unkind. (OK, we know this but have to activate the knowledge, use it more.)

    Back to the list:
    – feeling of responsibility for someone’s sickness
    – incredible lack of self esteem learned from them — zero confidence, zero

    – gender

    – days when I am free of all this, are the days when I have so much free time: huge amounts of time go to dealing with results of emotional self abuse, recovering from it.

  19. Z says:

    So: my mother has every characteristic listed here of BPD except #10

    And all my issues are child abuse victim issues / other abuse victim issues … so these are the things wrong with me.

    I need to get myself the materials to rise above. In periods of my life when I had these materials, I improved a lot. In other periods, like now, I’ve been in a situation where I didn’t have materials and was having to take care of people in worse shape.

    The terrible responsibility I have always felt, being responsible for my mother’s illness (according to my father) and having to take care of her, and so on.

  20. Z says:

    What she has always wanted, my mother —

    + An audience for her early memories / certain stories of them
    + People she can abuse / manipulate
    + To stay in bed and be served

    — and she has been this way always, since before I was born, and it is as though everything were some sort of stage set or game, no interior although much sentimentality / melodrama —

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