Stupid Human Psyche

So, I had recently made the realization that everything related to searching for employment was causing me significant anxiety, MORE anxiety than getting divorced and currently being trapped living with my ex. Which made no sense. What was I afraid of? What was hanging out in my psyche that was making this so goddamn difficult?

So I wracked my brains and in response, my brain handed me files marked ‘FAMILY AND CHILDHOOD TRAUMA’ and ‘MARITAL TRAUMA’ and I was confused because how could that possibly relate to anxiety about reentering the work force? But I started flipping through and suddenly it made way too much sense. Stupid human psyche and the way it develops interconnected patterns and thought relationships that can make something seemingly unrelated present as a potential major source of trauma that must be avoided.

You see, in the belief system I was raised in, I was never valued for my gifts and talents. I knew I had a good intellect and a lot of talent but that wasn’t what was important. They were unnecessary – extraneous. The only acceptable use for them was to harness them in service to God. Whatever I did with my talents needed to somehow be tied directly to Christianity and to service to God, and I needed to be willing to set those talents aside for what was more important – being a wife and mother.

My parents obviously felt affection for me, but their focus was conformity and adhering to the moral ideals of our family’s religion. It didn’t matter that their daughters were smart and talented. We weren’t put on this earth to be smart and talented. We were put on this earth to learn how to obey our parents so that we’d learn how to obey God. We weren’t supposed to care about using our talents to pursue education and special careers. Those were earthly matters. Pursuits spurred by ego and pride.

(My mother, in fact, was resentful of the fact that her mom had a career as a teacher and artist, because she felt her mom valued her life as an artist more than her role as a mother.)

If you used your talents, it needed to be for some kind of ministry or service or something directly tied to God and Christianity, and that was while you were single (if I wanted to write fantasy, for instance, it needed to be Christian fantasy – something that would honor God and point the reader to Him).

Once you were married and had children, domestic life must be your focus, and if your talents could be used, they must be used within the context of making life better for your husband and children.

The only things that mattered were religion and the family unit and what you could contribute to that.

Later, after being married and having children, I used to resentfully ask God why He gave me a brain as good as or better than the brains of the men I knew. If God had been merciful, He would have made me too stupid to realize how terrible it felt to be wasting away in a life where I’d had to set aside my education and talents and put all my time and energy into tedious domestic chores and drudgery.

As a child I wasn’t valued for me. My unique abilities and talents didn’t matter. I wasn’t encouraged to hone or pursue them. My intellectual capacity didn’t matter. My religion and my mother did not value intellect (in a girl) or think it could contribute anything of true worth to the world.

My mom, in fact, resented my grandma for having had a career as a teacher and artist. My mom felt my grandma cared more about her art than she cared about being a mom. My mom didn’t care about her own intellect, either. I would learn as an adult that my mom had a MENSA-level IQ – something my grandma was proud of but that had obviously never mattered to my mom. My mom hated things like psychology and the medical system and science. She saw all of it as being in opposition to God, spirituality and faith.

Why would she value our intellects? Why would she value our education? Why would she value our talents? She thought the best and most godly thing in the world was for a woman to get married and have children.

My husband didn’t care about my intellect or talents, either. That’s not what he wanted from me. He wanted sex, and children, and domestic comfort as close to his idea of comfort as was possible. He didn’t want an intellectual relationship with me. He didn’t appear to value my mind any more than my religion or my family valued my mind. I felt like literally any woman could have provided my husband with what he wanted. I was just a replaceable part.

And it hurt. ALL of it hurt. Feeling like I wasn’t seen or valued. Feeling like I was unacceptable as me. Having all the things about me that made me ENJOY life being scorned. My intellect and my talents were very important to me, but they weren’t important in the context of my closest relationships. My closest relationships wanted me to do things I hated – they wanted me to be domestic and do chores and be HAPPY being domestic and doing chores.

My intellect and talents were a source of temptation. If I loved and pursued what I wanted in life, if I pursued what made me happy, it meant I was self-centered and worldly. Life isn’t about HAPPINESS (unless, of course, your happiness comes from the average domestic existence within a family unit). Life is about service and sacrifice and suffering for our own good, because it’s the only way we can stop being terrible and become good and holy people acceptable to God.

(I seriously think my mom is a kind of flagellant. Religious, emotional and physical suffering are both self-harm and fetishistic ritualism for her.)

So how does this relate to my search for employment?

I have no degree. I’ve been out of the workforce 16 years. My work experience prior to that isn’t anything special. There’s a butt-load of competition for the jobs I would actually be at least somewhat qualified for and interested in doing. What I’m most likely to get hired for are jobs where my intellect and talents don’t matter. Jobs that are basically chores and drudgery. Jobs that replicate the conditions of my childhood, my religious beliefs, my family unit and my marriage. Where I’m a replaceable cog doing a job literally anyone could do. Jobs that are tedious and bore the shit out of me and make me want to scream. Jobs that prioritize conformity and following rules and have no real room for innovation or problem solving or creativity or honing intellectual skills.

No one will see me for the individual that I am, no one will value that individuality. It will replicate the feelings that were so painful and so prevalent for so much of my life. It will just be another continuation of service and sacrifice. More of doing what I hate that makes me feel like I’m eroding. It will suck away my existence the way it felt like my marriage sucked away my existence. What’s the point of changing my circumstances if the new circumstances make me feel the same way as the old circumstances?

Pretty much as soon as I made the connection and realized what was sitting at the heart of my anxiety about employment I started having to fight back tears. I was on a walking trail, there were people around, and I didn’t want to break down in front of them. Once I was back in my car though, I started sobbing. I had the thought that perhaps I just needed to accept and grieve the reality that I’m living with so that I can move forward. Working some menial job now doesn’t mean I’ll have to work a menial job forever.

I can do this.

8 thoughts on “Stupid Human Psyche

  1. Ugh. I have so many thoughts reading this. My heart aches for you because, while I wasn’t raised in a religious household, I do have family members who were raised in households that experienced a lot of what you’ve explained here. It’s one of the struggles I have with religion. I want you to know that you can do this. That you are capable and that whatever you put your mind too is possible.

    Don’t let your circumstance, your engrained, underlying beliefs, hold you back. Degree or no degree, confidence or no confidence, you can do this and you will be successful. Please don’t let those feelings, those reminders of the past, hold you back. I believe in you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, V. ❤ I've made a practice of moving forward through tough things my whole life, I'll keep going forward this time, too. I'm just upset that in order to reach a goal I'm not even looking forward to, I have to walk through a whole bunch of painful emotions and memories from childhood on. Come on life, cut me some slack already! (I'm sure you know that feeling all too well yourself.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, I hear ya. When I moved here and when I got divorced I considered being a stripper or sex worker. Those were apparently my talents. But I like you, am smart and caring. USA jobs is a great resource for finding employment that supports the outdoors. Also, local landscapers and plant nurseries need seasonal help, where you could be outdoors. Grocery stores are mostly unionized and have great opportunity for mobility. School districts offer safe jobs for parents that share the same hours and breaks as kids but with mobility too. I hear you with the trigger. I have many. I wish you the best in your search for a new world. When I got divorced, I got laid off at the same time. I hear your struggle. I know you can find something that suits your soul. Somewhere that you are respected for all the parenting and house managing you do. There are employers that respect this and I believe you can find one. Sending love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I had it in me to be a sex worker. I’d be a dominatrix and get paid for making men wear silly outfits and clean my house. (This is a real thing and she’s my hero.)

      According to assessments (and what I personally enjoy) I should be working as a computer programmer or an accountant or a scientist. Sadly, I don’t have the education or training for any of that. I appreciate the suggestions & support though!

      Liked by 1 person

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