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.