“IF YOU’RE A MAN, AND EVERYBODY LIKES YOU AND THINKS YOU’RE WONDERFUL, THEN I WILL CHOOSE TO PASSIONATELY HATE YOU BEFORE I KNOW YOU.” My golden rule.
The therapy sessions are starting to circle around some deeper issues, that I know are there but they are going to hurt if I have to feel while I talk about them. I’ve practiced the telling a few times to explore how it will feel to discuss them, role playing if you will. Even when I’m not there, in the therapy room, on the therapy couch (not just metaphorically – he has a couch! Well a 2 seater…) I’m at home on my own and so should be able to explore all of those feelings and sob uncontrollably as I so want to do – and yet I can’t do it. It’s like giving birth to my first child all over again. Feeling complete panic, out of control, and the desire to do absolutely anything so I don’t have to feel these feelings.
I need to dissipate some of the intensity, the sadness, so that it’s not so raw in the retelling. However, by trying to structure the story in a way that is meaningful for me, and not just random thoughts or a bare narrative, I’ve discovered that I had, what was called, “My Golden Rule”. It began long ago, during high school when I realised that I wasn’t going to be one of the pretty popular girls no matter how much I wanted to be. I was an accepted member of their group, probably the leader at times, but I wasn’t one of them. I was the jester, the entertainment. I’m pretty sure I developed this identity to keep myself safe. I was very small (still am short) and by being the little funny girl, I put myself out of the running to be considered beautiful, and then no guy could tell me I wasn’t desirable because I had already established the rules of interaction. Which were as follows:
“No, I don’t think I’m beautiful, you don’t have to put me down for that, or be afraid that I might like you. It’s ok, I’m just the funny girl you can be mates with.“
This grew and developed into “The Golden Rule” – if a boy is popular and gorgeous then I need to reject him before he can reject me. And at high-school most guys who are popular and cute are actually dickheads. This worked really well up till age 18 or 19 years when I grew up and did become gorgeous (I just didn’t know it back then). Then I was considered a challenge by those rejected, that I was playing hard to get. They just couldn’t understand why I didn’t like them, when all the other girls did and they hadn’t done anything to me.
PUNCHING ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT. Sub-paragraph of My golden rule.
I also had a sub paragraph to the golden rule, “only be with boys who are grateful to be with you”. I’ve since learnt that this is called having boyfriends who were “punching above their weight” – a truly revolting expression that MUST have been coined by a man as it’s so based on looks.
It’s true at that age, we would look at the partner of a person we liked and basically evaluate whether we were better looking than them or not. It was considered fair game, if you were better looking than their partner to go for the object of your desire. Given my low self esteem there is no way I could have dealt with having a boyfriend more attractive than me, and thereby attracting lots of rivals for their affection. Much safer to have my boyfriend have to fight off the rivals, and for me to be adored!
It -of course- wasn’t that simple. I also recognised that gorgeous, popular guys were generally not going to deal with my insecurities and difficulties and had no idea what it was like to feel insecure, ugly and unloved. These were the guys who hurt my friends, who broke their hearts by cheating on them, and saw nothing wrong with going through my whole group of girlfriends, coming to the last one and then moving on to another group of girls. So I didn’t trust them, and I genuinely didn’t like some of them, and so not all of the dislike and ice maiden persona was an act to save me from their rejection.
Looking back, I can see that it’s the few times I broke the golden rule that I got hurt. And yes, in particular that one time when I got raped. Oh and joined a cult, and was publicly humiliated, and had my career almost derailed whilst being emotionally destroyed, and- etc.
So I’ve learnt it’s a good rule! Now where this problem enters my current reality, is that I’ve realised (too late) that my therapist RG is one of those guys that meet the criteria for the golden rule. Having chosen or been drawn to the areas of parenting and childbirth, he naturally would deal primarily with women. And these women, hundreds based on my research, if not a few thousand, love and adore his book/s and therefore -by corollary- love and adore him as the author. So here I am, in a position I completely abhor, that of a member of someone’s entourage of adoring devotees.
And it’s too late, I already like RG, I already care what he thinks about me, AND I’m already way, way too exposed to retract. Not always, but the regaining of “hand”, ie . the upper hand, in this interaction is becoming more difficult. I am worried that in a bid to claw back some of my vulnerability I will go too far, and really offend him and hurt his feelings (see – I told you I like him and care what he thinks!)
So as long as he can see that “the rape incident” is not what it’s all about, that heaps worse things happened to me (really!) and they are all part of a story of a funny but ugly little girl who got rejected because of how she looked and didn’t like herself very much for a very long time.