One guy whose ideas I’m a little into is Alfred Adler. To be totally real, I’ve taken any dude psychologist’s ideas with a grain of salt since I found out Freud was a cokehead molester-enabler. But you know, I feel like in figuring out the world, you take the mountain of trash which is The Ideas of Dudes, and you sift through a mostly gross and toxic pile for little bits of copper here or there.
Adler had a lot of ideas about feelings of inferiority. He believed one of the basic psychological challenges we face as children is that we are small and weak in a world controlled by big, strong adults. The challenge of confronting this basic inferiority doesn’t ever entirely leave us- even when we ourselves are big, strong adults we have to confront the weakness of our corporeal forms. Adler believed many different forms of neuroticism could be traced to overcompensating in the face of this inferiority.
I had a lot of feelings of inferiority and weakness this week. My period hit me hard. Not every month, but regularly, my period cramps will be disabling. I went to work on tuesday and I felt basically fine, some pressure and pain in my gut, but no big deal. Then all of a sudden, within the space of an hour, my cramps were full body flashes of pain. A pretty constant tight throbbing pain in my belly, but then these waves of radiating bright sensitivity that let me hurt everywhere. I had to sit outside the restaurant and moan to myself for awhile. Then I threw up. My bosses at this job are women (thank goddess) so they let me leave. The cramps were bad enough it felt like a real risk to drive home. It’s only a ten minute drive, but I was clutching the wheel and praying out loud the whole time. I got home, immediately ran a bath, immediately smoked weed, was just getting in and out of the bath, massaging my belly in the water, mixed with laying on the bathroom floor in child’s pose letting myself groan as loud as I needed to.
So that sucked. I know a lot of women whose periods are similarly disabling. The advice doctors have given me has been pretty much identical to the advice they’ve given me for my migraines- cycle acetaminophen and ibuprofen, get started on that before the pain starts. They’ve suggested birth control, but take that option off the table once they hear about my migraines.
Work has also been challenging in another way. We’re pretty jokey and flirty at work, which mostly is nice, mostly helps create a sense of comraderie. But there’s one guy who takes the flirty vibe way too far, and that flirtiness turned into constant staring, and coming up behind me and touching me, on my waist and back, and once he literally came up behind me to breathe on my neck. That shit really puts me on edge, and then because I was on edge I was making mistakes putting my orders in, and then he was making fun of me for being stupid. He’s just on a power trip. Other women have complained to management about him, but he’s related to his boss, and the kitchen crew is this tight crew of dudes, so he’s parked in that job. I’ve been sexually harassed before (at all but maybe 3 of the jobs I’ve had) so I know complaining really doesn’t do anything but make you look like a whiner to your boss. So at this job I asked to only work lunches, since he mostly works the dinner shift. With dudes on power trips, you just want to get the hell out of their way.
But he was working that lunch. So talk about feeling weak. When we work together now I just avoid him, breathe deep, and concentrate extra hard on getting my orders in perfectly. He still finds things to criticize me on. And he still stares. He still comes up behind me way too close. But I put on a stone face with him, act like I don’t hear him, and just wait until my shift is over.
I have a real thing about men acting like I’m stupid. When I was in 5th grade I got a scholarship to go a Computer Camp for a week, which was at a fancy boy’s school on the east side. I was the only girl at the camp. Those boys made fun of me mercilessly for being stupid, from the moment I walked in the classroom on the first day. It was extremely stressful, and from day to day I couldn’t remember anything we were learning about coding. So I looked really stupid. And they had more to make fun of me for. None of the adults around me connected the fact that I wasn’t learning anything with the fact I was being made fun of very blatantly and loudly the whole time. I only went to Computer Camp once. I got very scared of computers after that. I don’t know anything about coding these days.
Nervous and stupid and weak. Periods that knock you out of commission. Being a joke. I felt very connected this week to how I felt before transitioning, that I needed out of this role. That I couldn’t live this way- being made fun of, being scared, being nervous, appeasing and finding ways to get out of the way of these men.
I don’t have anything inspiring to say to conclude this. Men keep putting me in situations where I’m scared, and then they make me feel like I’m weak and funny for being scared. It’s been this way since childhood. I think I’m just done with the idea that being scared is anything but a rational response to how scary they act. My coworker told me that her first week at this job this same guy got drunk and kicked down the bathroom door. Is it weak or stupid to be on edge around someone like that?
More importantly, between the scared person and the scary person, which one is actually inferior?