The Outside Observer

First, a health update. Day 22 of Wellbutrin.

I think I’m starting to feel the full effects of WB. My nurse-practitioner said it’d be about 4-6 weeks.

My nail cuticles, gnawed to bloodiness a week or two ago, are half-healed. I’m having fewer urges to self-destructively groom myself, which I refer to as “hyper-grooming”, and I’m resisting them about half the time. There’s a few trouble spots, a few openly red areas, but my thumbs are no longer open wounds. I really go hard on my thumbs.

I haven’t had a binge in about a week or more. I still have some problems with cooking a few cups of rice, having one cup initially, then later on raiding the rice cooker and eating all of the rest. Last night, I bought a pint of ice cream. More than half remains, and the pint is sitting in the freezer. Not empty and in the trash. Practically a miracle.

I read an insightful article earlier today, and it has my mind humming. I grew up going to a Baptist church, this one in particular. My mother stopped going when I was around 12, a fact I can’t thank her for enough. She was a victim of fundamentalism, raised to believe that her only purpose was to marry and raise children. After my father left her, she has been adrift ever after in life, looking for someone to take care of her. A victim of a closed belief system that cannot change or introspect.

I’ve always been resistant to ideas being forced upon me. I never connected with the fundamentalist religion taught to me. I never believed that my purpose was to pump out Christian babies and serve men. I never accepted what my stepmother tried to force on me. That my purpose was be ornamental, to never leave the house without a full face of makeup and a head of perfectly coiffed hair. I have resisted the chains of femininity but the punishments for doing so have lingered with me, causing their own damage. I’m only really now, at age 31, starting to understand and work through what was done to me and how it has affected me.

I feel hopeful, even as I acknowledge that my path will always be hard. I will always be treated as lesser by others for not being feminine. And that’s not my fault, but theirs. The limitations of other people do not reflect on me, as a person. Due to my uncaring father and abusive stepmother, I have sought approval from other people in an almost desperate way. Understanding that approval will likely never come is both heart wrenching and freeing. The only person that needs to approve of me is myself, and my husband. Even if he doesn’t understand at first, I think he ultimately will approve of things that I do that make me happy.

A minimal amount of grooming; combed, clean hair and a clean body are all I want. I don’t want to be ornamental. I don’t live for the approval of the opposite sex like my stepmother. I don’t want to be a walking talking symbol of femininity, an idea in flesh and blood. If other people want to do that, great! I will face the social consequences for my choice, mostly all negative, in return I can be happy with myself for once. To stop caring and obsessing about the views of others is something my father could never do, and because he couldn’t I and my half-sister suffered for it. But it’s something I can do, because I am aware. I have learned to be an external analyst of my own thought processes, even if I am still learning how to redirect my thoughts.

I have harped, in the past, about being an outsider. Someone always looking in at the circles of people so closely knit together, someone who feels the cold. But being an outsider also means being an observer, being far away enough to see what’s actually there. It means seeing what others might not, when they’re too close to see clearly. That, in its own way, is a form of power. Instead of lamenting that I don’t belong, maybe I should cherish it.

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