I finally figured out just what the hell it was about something my (ex) therapist told me that made it hit me so wrong.
He used to tell me that I had what he called “smart person syndrome.”
I went to a little rift in the space-time continuum in Scandia called the Church of Christ for 14 years. Little wooden church on the hill with a non bullshit West Texas preacher and a field full of wildflowers out back. That field is the first place I think I ever got pinned to the ground and groped against my will, actually. Happened a bunch of times, while the other kids watched. The same kid used to lay on the floor and wait for me to walk over him so he could look up my dress.
His father once grabbed me by the scruff of the collar and pulled me right up to his face while he threatened me in front of the entire congregation after I goosed him in the pot luck line. I cried alone in that field out back until it was time to go. I didn’t eat that night, I just cried.
I was probably eight or nine.
So I may have a biased memory of the place.
But hey, it was one of the more relaxed churches of Christ. We couldn’t play music in the sanctuary, or own tapes of hymns sung to music, so all of the songs sounded like requiems and dirges, but we were allowed to have a kitchen in the basement so we could have pot luck on Wednesdays after service.
That’s a pretty relaxed attitude in CoC land, I tell you what.
I do not remember a time when I didn’t go there as a child. Two Sunday services and one mid-week service on Wednesday nights. Three services a week.
This is a really fundamentalist “non-denominational Christian” organization that’s basically a religious arm of the conservative right.
Just to give one example: if my husband is a pedophile and I divorce him, I am no longer morally free to remarry because I am a divorced woman. If he asks forgiveness, though, he can continue to worship alongside them, and he can remarry, because I initiated divorce.
Women are disposable, helpless, and voiceless. Men are the ultimate authority both in the church and in the family.
And another fun little nugget: knowledge, and the pursuit of knowledge? In and of itself sinful.
I mean, it’s a place where you heard from day one that you are born a living, breathing sin, so. This is not surprising. This demonizing of knowledge. But. Sick, nonetheless.
Adam was cast out of Eden because of the weak-willed Eve’s (a) utterly gullible idiocy and (b) wicked manipulation. She made him eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. And she ruined the whole world.
If you have a vajimjam, and you need to know something, the clear message was that god (I deliberately decline to capitalize that word for the direct purpose of disrespecting the “entity”/fairy tale villain it represents) will tell someone with a penis, who will decide whether or not you have the cognitive capacity, or even the need at all, to know it yourself. Probably, you don’t. Because vaginas make the people who have them emotional, stupid, and evil.
The first time I tried to kill myself, right before I started not going to that church, or any church, unless I was hauled there kicking and screaming, I went to the preacher on a rainy night openly weeping and begging for direction, a reason not to catch the bus.
He told me he didn’t have any reasons to give me. No insight. No direction. He seemed pissed, too. I’d woken his family up and it was after ten p.m.
The next day, I ate two boxes of Benadryl and two boxes of Coricidin Cough and Cold. I was too stupid to know anything about researching reliability. I thought the strength of intent was enough. My stepmom found me because I timed it wrong. I thought I’d be dead and they’d be halfway to Virginia, where they’d planned to visit for the weekend.
But hey, preach. Great message.
Wonder why my daughters aren’t allowed to go there anymore. Hmm…
No doubt, that place has as much to do with my current neuroses as my track record of attachment and relational failure do.
I couldn’t figure out at the time why it irked me so badly when my therapist, then, told me that being a smart person was a “syndrome.” All of a sudden, tonight, it hit me.
I had to fight tooth and nail for the right to be educated. To educate myself. To pursue knowledge.
Only about fifteen people still go to that church. The ones who have kids homeschool using “science” books that fail to teach actual science. These are people who will viciously fight with you over their belief that dinosaurs and men coexisted because anything else threatens the shaky metaphysical notions of the entire belief system.
Cherry picking is an Olympic sport for these people.
Education was never explicitly kept from me, and hail Satan that I was sent to public school, where I was socially spitroasted on a daily basis but at least I had access to legitimate information. But gains in intelligence and fancy book-learnin’ were regarded by the only people with whom I had regular relationships of any depth as a child, with suspicion and scorn. The smarter you got the more dangerous you became. Because with logic and reason come questioning, and questioning, logic, and reason are not things against which that belief system is designed to stand up.
It’s all about fear-based control by a select few. When someone starts to question the legitimacy of the beliefs, and the men who oversee them, well the only way to nip it in the bud is through shame, gaslighting, circular reasoning, and if it comes down to it, a good old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch shunnin’.
Which is crazy-making for a smart woman in the works.
So anytime I’m told that my intelligence is a weakness, or anytime I feel that it’s being judged negatively, I go into hyper-defense mode and shut right the hell down.
They can’t shame you if you refuse to hear them.
Another example of old defenses that were once, but no longer are, adaptive. Man. I think, in retrospect, the therapeutic alliance died that very moment. I tried really hard after that to trust him and I just couldn’t. The walls go up so fast and so hard and so insidiously. It’s ridiculous. I’ve been wondering whether it’s because he was a he, and a lot of my more classic traumas have been enacted by men, but that just never made sense to me. It’s not the physical traumas that haunt me the worst. It’s the quiet, interpersonal, betrayal-based traumas that have weakened me. That have caused the worst damage to my sense of intrinsic value.
And 99 percent of those have been directly dealt by women. They say that women are natural nurturers but I have to tell you, I find women terrifying.
If animals are easier to predict than people, then men are easier to predict than women. Men tend to hurt people directly. They prefer to strike at the body. Women have a really accurate ability to wound the nin-physical heart. Especially of other women. And that always, always hurts ten times more.
God, if I’m a failure at therapy with a man then there’s no hope of me getting anywhere at therapy with a woman.
Ugh. Sometimes I think I’ll never work through the vipers nest of shit in my brain. It’s so tiring. And trying to relate to other people is so difficult. I can’t get all this to come out of my mouth. And I don’t have the energy to try and develop another therapeutic relationship.
And I can’t afford to pay fifty bucks a week (billed monthly) to do it online.