Belief

TW/CN: Mentions of abuse, childhood abuse, gaslighting, rape, sexual assault

I’ve been contemplating things like why I am not working and researching and writing, even though I know I could at least research and write (the working part is often more doubtful, depending on type of job and how my body is feeling at any given time).

And, due to recent events with a now-not metamour, I’ve been thinking about belief, and why people believing me is so important.

This is different from believing in me. My partners believe in me. They believe I can do whatever I want to do, and that’s a wonderful thing.

But I specifically mean people believing me when I say things–like, “I need XYZ” or “Please give me some time” or “I am an honest and direct person.” I don’t lie. I don’t think I would make a very good liar–I would trip over myself, because I have been gaslit so often that I have difficulty believing myself. It is much easier on me if I tell things straight from the beginning. And if I get details confused, I do my best to own up to that and recognize that my fragmented brain has reflected things at weird angles.

The ex-metamour didn’t believe me–not about anything I had to say about myself over a period of almost two months. Hence, my reflecting now.

That lack of belief cut deeply–right to the quick of how I was abused as a child. My parents didn’t allow me to be a person, not a real, whole person, as a child. Everything about me was confined to narrow parameters that they made up and changed while my eyes were closed, and if I bumped into those parameters, everything went to chaos and terribleness. So it was with the ex-metamour. And the core of that? The core is lack of belief. It is very easy to unmake a person if one chooses not to believe anything said person says. That was my childhood. My parents didn’t believe I’d broken my arm; that I had mono; that I had pneumonia; that I’d torn my knee–all physical, easily proven ailments. I almost died from both the mono and the pneumonia–the former when I was in 8th grade, the latter when I was 4 years old. I have lived in the United States my entire life, and at both those points in my life–and for both the broken arm and the torn knee–I had decent health care under a not-as-bad-as-now economic system. I suffered with the torn knee for days before being seen by a doctor, all while being yelled at and told how I was making it up to ruin the family vacation; the broken arm? So many people stopped by our house that never randomly stopped by and made offers to watch other children in the house, to take me to the doctor, to drive (even though my mom could drive). Mom made me wait until after my step-dad came home, and by then, it didn’t even hurt anymore. Shock, I guess.

Anyway, the point isn’t about the injuries and etc. The point is that even with easily provable, physical ailments–and things that were pretty easy fixes under the then-existing medical and economic systems–I wasn’t believed. So anything non-physical? Anything I couldn’t ‘prove’? That definitely wouldn’t be believed. It is no wonder I didn’t ever tell anyone when I was sexually assaulted and later when I was raped.

And now, later in my life, I find myself at this place where I know I am a fantastic researcher and writer. I know I can do these things. But then, saying that–writing it–gives me anxiety. Because I feel like someone will come along to tell me I’m full of it, that I’m bragging, that I’m making it up. Impostor syndrome (not uncommon, I know). And it’s pretty easy to see where it comes from, given the lack of belief. And I also find myself not researching and writing unless I am in a setting where I am surrounded by people who believe me. I am motivated and I do well when I am in an academic setting–seminary, undergrad. And then, once I’m out, I stop. I don’t have a community of support out here, and I don’t know how to find one.

And also, it is a little terrifying. Because, sure, I could try to do it all alone, by myself, without that community of support. But I don’t know if I’m strong enough to withstand the voices in my head–the brain weasels–let alone anyone else who might be an abusive jerk. And by that, I don’t mean people who have valid criticisms of my work–that’s how academia works, by critiquing and building upon work. But people who seek to tear down? I don’t know. Without a community to tell me whether what I’m doing is valid or helpful?

Plus, without that community, what’s the point? I don’t particularly want to shout into a void.

Anyway–I think I’m supposed to be writing and researching. I think I know the things I want to research and write about, even. But I lack the funding to get into another academic setting–especially with 45 and etc taking down students–and I lack a support community, and I don’t know how to find one outside of a formal academic setting, and I don’t even know if such a thing exists.

Observation Bits

I want to write more–I always do–but pain and fatigue have kept me from doing much of anything this week, including attending a friend’s wedding. So instead, I’m posting some brief observations–things that I may at a later point delve into deeper, but for now will just comment on lightly.

It is always weird to get calls from people who call my spouse by her legal name. Then I have to think in my head, “Purposely misgender her to this person, because they possibly do not know.” Usually this is the case with doctors and the like, since we live in one of the states that doesn’t have workplace protections for transgender individuals. She’s not ‘out’ to her work yet because of this, and so we haven’t done legal name-change things yet.

One of the ways I know my spouse has a fantastic partner: if I say something on here that worries said partner, she comes to me and asks me about it. I am so incredibly grateful that we both have someone who communicates so well in our lives–that is key to successful polyamory, and is one of the markers of her beautiful personality.

Being in chronic pain/fatigue has me questioning my symptoms. I have ideas about what may be going on, that perhaps there’s something with A Name here–but I don’t know if that’s a wish to have a Named Thing so it’s easier to talk about, to tell doctors and family and friends about. On the one hand, it would suck to have a Named Thing, because no one really wants that. But on the other hand, it would really…help, if all of these things were part of a Named Thing. Ferrett Steinmetz has a fantastic essay about this.

I wish I had a better way to wrap this all up, but given that it’s a loose collection of observations, perhaps a loose wrap-up is okay. I will do better next week. Also, I am looking into moving into a domain soon, which may involve a bit of bumpiness as I transition my site–I’ll keep you all updated.