“I can’t be shaken anymore, by anyone. I’ve got to that point in my life that if you’re not a good person, and you can’t make me feel good with love and life, then fuck off, basically.”
So two females felt free to verbally abuse me about their perceptions and beliefs about my body and my bicycling. Apparently, and I have read about this on other blogs, some people feel free to verbally abuse others when they are in public doing physical activities, if they are perceived in a negative way, by abusers.
Now I’ve been a bike rider most of my life, and my physical size in no way has ever hindered me physically or psychologically from biking. I refuse to let someone else hinder me! I love bike riding. I’ve written about it often on this blog. It brings me independence and a sense of freedom.
I don’t normally get that kind of stuff from women, usually I just get the silent treatment, the judgmental looks, the shunning, something that my mother and sister started and that continues, at times, to this day.
It seems bizarre to me that at a time in my life where I really and truly have internalized a deep love of myself, an accurate valuation of myself, and a deep love and respect for my beautiful body that two females would choose that time to verbally abuse me on the basis of something as bizarre and inappropriate as their beliefs and personal opinions of my body size.
I love myself and their lives will have no effect whatsoever on my life, except to give me something to write about and more of a personal interest in being an advocate for equal rights. I have decided from now on to think of myself and to describe myself as an advocate.
This is the exactly the kind of incident that I start thinking about writing about almost immediately after they happen. Being a writer means life is fodder and that is about all they deserve to be, fodder: food for livestock, only this is food for writing. As human beings they are found lacking, but as writing material they are just adequate. What I do with the incident rises it up to the level of worthy of being written about and read. Every little incident can be turned into a space for healing. I hope that really really bothers them. That instead of their intended wounding of my spirit, my self-esteem, my body image, I used them back to turn their interactions with me into statements of the equal rights of all and equal treatment.
We each deserve societal acceptance; no matter what our stories are, what our life histories are, who we are, how we look, our mental health levels, our race, our religion, our affiliations and non-affiliations, etc etc etc. None of us deserve to be mistreated, bullied and abused over trivial matters, and being perceived as different is a trivial matter.
We all deserve better. No life is not fair, yes abusers and bullies are in the world, looking for kicks and victims. But I won’t be one of theirs. I can speak up for myself and even if they don’t respond, I spoke up in some way; through my words, my intentions, my beliefs, my thoughts, my compassion for myself and others, my resistance to the dominant oppressive paradigm. I have been a quiet advocate for a long long time, but things have changed a lot in the last couple of years. I have truly found my voice and nothing will ever be the same.
Will these incidents stop these two from verbally abusing someone else? Probably not. Maybe not. Will my advocacy for myself and others stop others from being abusive? Will people stop judging, being hateful, and showing a vast array of prejuidices against people who do not conform to their standards of size and beauty and other hateful speech and actions against others? Again those are probably not going to get better for some time.
I care about me. I care about us. I love other people more than I love anything else on this lovely earth, this wonderful universe. Here’s the thing, no one, no abuser, can take that away from me, will ever be able to take that away from me. In that way I win every time, every incident, every day, every week, every month, every year. I love, I care, and there is nothing they can ever do to change me, to make me hard, to make me uncaring, to make me spiteful, vengeful, or jealous.
I believe with all my heart, we will make this world a better place for all who get perceived as being different and therefore targets of abuse by those looking to feel better about their own lives and selves by mistreating others.
That’s not why I engage in advocacy for myself. I refused to be silent; looks can speak loudly, hand gestures speak loudly, shunning and ignoring them speaks loudly, my voice in relating these incidents speak loudly, my words on my blog speak loudly.
It took the suffragettes fifty years to get the right to vote. It took India decades of protest of many kinds in order to get independence for their country. It took years and years of activism and advocacy for the end of slavery in the USA and then again years of the same before the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson. It took many years for gay couples to have the right to marry. There is no national laws guaranteeing those who are gay from firing, discrimination, and persecution in many venues of life, and no legal right to marriage. It took years to get the legal right for gay couples to marry in specific states. The tide turns, usually only after many people, those being discriminated against and their allies, use their voices, their words, their actions, their advocacy for positive social change.
One thing I know for sure, my soul, my mind, my body will never be occupied by the enemy, ever again.
A few days ago I had an incident by the downtown library. I was on my bike, but stopped at a red light. Two females were on the sidewalk, after coming out of the library, walking towards me. One of them was yelling about me, an insulting comment. I didn’t want them to come near me so I looked back at them to let them know I heard them and didn’t like the way they were acting and that I didn’t want them coming nearer to me. I will point out that they could have gone in any other direction, but chose to wait more than twenty feet away from the curb for the light to change and for me to bike away. I think I communicated what I wanted in that one look.
One stopped and grabbed the other female and said don’t go any further. And then she repeated her insult to me, blankety blank biker. The blankety blank was a slur about a body part, apparently they both thought they had a right to judge and insult and bully me. They believed that someone has to be tiny in order to be a bicycle rider! What incredible misogynists and body haters they were.
I love biking and I love the freedom and independence that it provides. Nothing else matters when it comes to biking but my own inclination and joy. I won’t be doing less biking because of any haters, I love my body, no one else gets to tell me what to do and how to think, act, and feel, and how much to love my body. Like what they think, believe, and say has any effect on me, how I live my life, my self-esteem, my self love, and my body love. It doesn’t. At this point in my life I can confidently say, it won’t ever.
As a consequence of their behavior and beliefs they mean nothing to me. They will never mean anything to me. I will never love them. I will never be their friends. Their losses. They might not ever know how big a loss it is to lose me, but I know. I am wonderful. I am a great person. I have tons of great qualities and I love people and care about them. But I will never care about them. They will never have me in their lives.
As the saying goes haters gotta hate. And squeaky wheels gotta squeak. That doesn’t mean I am going to listen to haters spewing hate at me or squeaky wheels squeaking at me. Those two hate-filled haters sure were entertaining themselves and they sure were toxic.
The light changed to green and I biked away. I didn’t give them any words and I was proud of that. But as I biked away I gave them the middle finger and I know they saw it and knew it was meant for them by the hooting and yelling they did right after they saw it. They appeared shocked and amazed that someone would not stand there, be silent and endure their abuse.
I biked down the road and then decided to take myself out to supper, because I love me and because I deserve it. I had a great time and had a great meal.
In reflecting on this incident I have to say I wished that I had not engaged with them, by looks or in any way. But I was not going to bike blocks out of my way, I told myself, and they can stay away from me. I think my look gave them that message loud and clear. And I think that I intimidated them and that is why they continued being loud, even though they knew that they should respect my space and not come near me. Like how dare I not care about them, their opinions, or how they were acting. And I don’t.
I would have preferred to not give others a hard stare or not to lose my temper and give the finger to someone. I don’t like behaving badly, even in minor ways. I like being good and kind all the time, even though I know that I can’t always be good and kind when interacting with others. When being yelled at and bullied, and called names I can make the best choice for myself, while trying to behave as good as possible. Having good boundaries sometimes precludes having a tender heart, being good and kind to all others. Practicing good boundaries is a good thing.
I would have preferred to ignore them and ignore what they were saying and to ignore their existences. It’s a bizarre thing but I was thinking how I would like to have another incident in order to do it right the second time. Let this be a cautionary tale to all of you, be careful what you wish for. Here is the bizarrest thing! I saw the same two awful young females a few days after the first incident! I am not kidding, the same two!
I was on a bus going down the same street, right by the library. They must have got on the bus at the library stop and sat down, but I wasn’t paying attention. 🙂 Freaking hilarious. When all of a sudden I hear, very softly, the same voice saying, I can’t believe it, it’s the same blankety blank biker. It was said in a way that sounded like she couldn’t believe that they hadn’t driven me off the streets, hiding in my apartment, ashamed of myself, my body, and in fear of being abused in the future. Didn’t happen. Not going to happen.
This is the bizarrest thing, I don’t normally have other women saying hateful things to me, when I am on the bus, in the library or stores, on my bike, walking into a building. I am flabbergasted, mostly because I am at a place in my life where the opinions and words of others that are hateful don’t mean one single thing to me. I have a good self esteem and I accept and love my body. I’ve done a lot of good and hard work on healing and they don’t even register a tiny blip on any of these areas in my life. They are pathetic and cruel.
My resolution had been to give nothing back to someone who bullied and verbally abused me. Cesare Millan, The Dog Whisperer, who I love so so much, teaches something fabulous, that I love very much, and had been trying to do myself for several years before learning about his technique; when around people who’s energy is hyper, mean, inappropriate, scary, etc, is to step outside of their energy field, physically and metaphysically, and not interact with them, to resolve not to take part in their energy.
So I gave them nothing. I didn’t look at them, I didn’t give them any hand signals, I didn’t acknowledge their existence. Neither of them said anything else about me.
I stayed on the bus and a few stops later, where I wanted to go, I got off the bus. I got off the bus and I went to Target and had a good time shopping, bought something extra special just for me, and then went home.
Survivor Resource Pages (Forty pages of resources, non-profit organizations, articles, and healing support for survivors of child sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and dealing with the aftermath of child sexual abuse.)
My mind keeps coming back recently to a few incidents that really shaped my body shame as a child. I know that I already had so much shame from the abuses I went through and being sexually abused by my own mother, a person of my own gender.
The first incident was when I was about eight or nine. I can’t remember exactly how old I was. I had a few brothers that were around my age group. I hung out with them a lot and for a large portion of my young childhood they were my only playmates.
During the summer our father often took us to the local swimming area, an area on a river where the water level was quite low. During the summer I often wore only a pair of shorts when swimming. My chest was as flat as my brothers. It seemed foolish to wear more clothes in the water.
One summer afternoon we were on our way from the car to the river. I had remained in the car to take off my top, so I was late getting out of the car. My father was ahead of me. My brothers were running ahead of me.
As I traversed the hot sand to the beach area two boys saw me and started making fun of me. They made comments about my bare chest, my bare flat chest. I was so humiliated. I told them that I could do whatever I wanted. But I went back to the car to get my top. I never swam like before. It took away some of the fun.
It made me feel disgusting and it made me feel as though my body had to be hidden away. I still don’t understand what is inherently in need of hiding about nipples. Boys and men never hide them. I was only a little girl. Why did I have to hide mine?
A few years later when I was starting a new school, in fifth grade, someone else pointed out my body in a shaming way. I was getting my winter clothes off at the lockers in the hallway. I started walking quickly to get to class. Someone came up behind me and called me wiggles. They were making fun of the way my hips moved. Apparently I wiggled. I didn’t think so. I was still a little kid really. I don’t remember ever moving my body in a way to get boys’ or men’s attention, not once in my life.
I told the kid that I was a girl and girls walk the way they walk, it has nothing to do with wiggling. From then on I tried to keep my hips rigid when I walked so no one else would make fun of me like that. This kid continued to call me that over time.
I guess that it was a kind of bullying. I never thought of it like that before. It made me feel so unsafe, so attacked, to be made fun of for being female and having a female body. I felt so ashamed having to live in a female body where anyone, even a stupid boy, felt entitled to make comments about me and my body.
I still hate being stared at while I am walking, I always have since that day in fifth grade. My health issues dictate how I walk much more than anything else.
Now I am trying to find my own way of walking, one that comes naturally, one that is a part of me, and if I wiggle, it is quite by accident, but so be it.
9. Need to be invisible, perfect, or perfectly bad.
When I was very little and older siblings and father were away it was always a good idea to be invisible. I was not very effective at that, but I learned.
At home with her while I was a pre-schooler was the most dangerous, the most abusive time of my life. To be seen by her meant something horrid, something painful, something abusive would happen. I was always trying to not be seen by her.
If I was playing and I was happy, laughing, or smiling it was like a magnet to her. She would rush at me, grab me up, take me out of the living room, and sexually abuse me.
I learned how to wear a mask. I learned how to look serene, to avoid her notice. I learned how to protect myself from her.
I still have trouble showing happiness on my face. When I am really happy and I am with someone else I have to say out loud I’m really happy right now, because I know that no one can tell from looking at me.
I learned how to become the wall in the living room. I don’t mean how to dissociate into the wall or how to float up to the ceiling. I mean to become the wall, to step into the wall. To not breathe at all. To not think at all. To not do anything or be anything. At times she would walk right by me, standing up against the wall, while she was hunting and preying for me. And I was invisible. And I was safe.
I didn’t just need to be invisible. At times I thought that I was. After being bullied in sixth grade in a small town I didn’t think students remembered my name, knew me, or knew I existed.
When I moved away at age sixteen and came back to the area the next summer, I believed that no one would know me. Almost daily I would bike to the river for a swim by myself. There would often be other kids there. I remember being shocked when one of the kids insisted it was me, called out my name, and got me to acknowledge him. I swam alone and thought of myself as being alone those afternoons, but I was seen, I was remembered, and it did not make me feel good.
I like being invisible. I hate it when a man decides to stare at me and think about sex. It makes me feel so violated. I know that look. I’ve known that look since I was little. I’ve seen that look on my mother’s face so many times. It is stomach churning. I hate that look. I hate when men do it to me. It is not a compliment. It is disgusting. I wish I was invisible to men like that.
Perfect… I always wished that I could do that. But it was not achievable for me. Not based on the load I was under as a child. Not then, not now, not ever.
I read once that a procrastinator is only just a failed perfectionist who has given up. Yeah, I can relate.
Now I try for being the best I can be, as a human being, as a woman, as a person, as me. Working on that and not feeling like a failure anymore.
I don’t think that I ever wanted to be perfectly bad. I was just too much of a little girl who wanted to be loved, in my heart, to be anything bad or to embrace that.
I had a few siblings who flirted with the disaster of embracing their perfectly bad selves. It did not go well for them. Their black sheep status was not something that I ever understood. I know that they did not choose their status, it was the product of living in a dysfunctional family system. But I could not understand embracing it either.
As a teenager I had often been accused by family members of purposely looking for negative attention. I guess that was about the time that this idea entered our society. My family used it to justify their mistreatments and verbal abuses of me instead of trying to see how much they were wounding me. At any family gathering being invisible would have been preferred by me over their abusive attentions. I never wanted it, I never tried to get it, and their accusations left them comfortable to do what they wanted to do, to wound me further.
When I was a teenager my father used to accuse me of purposely trying to be bad. It hurt me so much. When we would be disagreeing he would accuse me of being awake in bed thinking of ways to hurt and upset him. He wounded my sick and sad heart so very much.
He would make me feel ugly and miserable and unloved with his words, bereft, and then had the audacity to accuse me of doing what he was, purposely and with forethought wounding him with words. Yes being invisible… it would have been lovely.
5. Wearing a lot of clothing, even in summer; baggy clothes; failure to remove clothing even when appropriate to do so (while swimming, bathing, sleeping); extreme requirement for privacy when using bathroom.
Yes, but I didn’t really get to wear baggy clothes until I was an adult. Before that my clothes were mostly monitored and approved by my mother and sister. Once on my own I started gravitating to baggy and oversize clothes because they made me feel less watched and more safe. Especially if I was going to be in an environment where there were guys and they might be watching me.
I think that part of the reason I did this was the sexual abuse. The other part was the consequences of sexual abuse; I hated my body, thought I was ugly and fat and did not want to be seen or watched.
I really think that I had body dysmorphic disorder until about ten years ago. It affected me a great deal. I think that it was caused by my mother’s abuses of me. I would look in the mirror and see all kinds of ugliness and evil.
It impacted how much I thought of myself. It made me painfully shy and reserved. It stopped me from being involed socially. I couldn’t partipicate in school sports because being watched in the school’s short shorts while being athletic was too repugnant to me. Now I know that it was not seeing the truth. I tried to cover that all up with clothes, lots and lots of clothes.
I couldn’t cover up my face especially, and that was the source of the worst of my self-hatred. I still struggle with this, but it has gotten better.
Privacy in the bathroom is something that I didn’t have much as a child. My family seemed to enjoy shaming one another constantly about bodily functions. Due to my particular abuses, I found it that much worse to deal with.
When I was a teenager I was finally able to insist that when I was in the shower no one could come into the room. My family were invasive in the extreme. It took a long time to get this enforced. There was a lock on the door, but I was constantly coerced into not locking it. Finally I did. I had a right to my privacy. One thing that I have no desire to ever be involved in is another person who thinks that pee breaks should be shared.