Struggles: a war on self-expression

In recent weeks, I’ve received multiple tarot readings/divinations and comments in general about my need for increased self-expression. It’s not as in a “We see you’re feeling this need,” it’s as in, “You need to do this, now, for your health.”

I was on my way to a breakthrough in that department when the whole “reading journals” thing from my husband happened. I understand why he did what he did now, and I can empathize, but I can’t ignore the horrific “Oh god, I have to hide my life from him like I did my parents,” feeling it produced. There was a period where I felt physically restrained from stating my feelings and interpretations about anything around him, because when he found pieces of those expressions, he got very, very upset. Since neither one of us has skills for dealing with the irrational it produced a larger strain on our relationship than it should have.

Looking over my life and the many conflicts I’ve experienced, it seems like there’s a school of thought that allowing me self-expression is bad. While I used to toss out “maybe it’s because I’m a woman,” without seriously thinking that it was, I am starting to reconsider that statement – with a great deal more seriousness. I’m not sure why I’m feeling it more now, but I do get a distinct sense I’m encountering more misogyny in men my age, and that they do believe my having personal power and allowing myself personal expression takes power away from them. One man’s reaction to a comment about the penis being lovely but not the only player in the show  (in context of a discussion with someone else about a porn magazine directed at women) was to consciously sexually harass me – because I expressed that his masculinity was not that important to me. He wanted to shut down my self expression, because being free to express how poorly I think of concepts like masculinity and femininity rattle people like him.

I’m not emotionally driven like woman are encouraged to be. In the Greek categorization ethos, logos, pathos you get a combination of ethos (ethics) and logos (logic) from me; pathos generally shows up after something has happened that I consider completely unjust. Or, to phrase it more simply, most of my pathos only shows up when something really pisses me off. I daresay most people don’t even know when I’m happy, and when it comes to my family members, I never want them to know that I’m happy because they’ll do their damnedest to steal that happiness.

That’s not to say I’m unemotional – I get attached to people, I get wounded, my feelings get hurt and I respond the same as any homo sapien to a really good smile. But I compartmentalize a lot, and sometimes I flat out ignore my feelings because logic disagrees with them. This comes first from dealing with both mother and sister who go emotions-first into their approach to me, and only alienate me more every single time: there were so many situations where either logic or basic consideration for my feelings were not even a factor; unless they felt satisfied with my behavior and decisions, it didn’t matter if their own actions or statements were unfair or factually untrue. Neither has a life I would care to emulate, and perhaps on some level I willfully failed to develop the skills to deal with what Mike terms “the crazy.” When I end up in situations where the feelings become too powerful and they somehow manage to hog-tie that logic brain for awhile, not only do I not know what the hell to do with it, the next emotion after – shame – makes me even more afraid to self-express.

I am finding ways to work through it, to approach it, to get at those expressions and experiences. But I also need a skill set to deal with the people who stand set with the single goal of eliminating or preventing my self-expression.

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