Women hate me
I have had trouble with people ever since I was a kid. I came from a working class home with the alcoholic father and irritable mother and all that. I tell you this so you know that I have never had a reliable source of affection.
My Mom tells me that as a baby, I always cried when among strangers and when she picked me up from the daycare center I would be crying hysterically. She has also told me that my older sister (who was 4 when I was born) received childhood counseling for a bad case of sibling envy. I don't think the counseling helped because she has been intensely competitive and pretty hateful for as long as I can remember.
I grew up really shy and introverted but I was an exceptionally smart and very pretty kid. They ran tests on me all through school and I kept coming out with a "genius" level IQ. Not that I ever did anything with it because I was very dreamy and after age 13, constantly depressed and angry. Well, when I was around 17-18, starting to show all kinds of creative gifts and becoming very attractive, I started noticing that I was getting attitude, like my older sister has given me, from all the friends I had (all girls). There was a lot of competitiveness, jealousy, mind games, denials etc., most of it very hurtful, from every friend I tried to make. This is how I abandoned most friendships and why I have the same problems today.
I recently started going to a female therapist. When I told her about this recurring pattern in my relationships with people, mostly women, she said something like "If what you are saying is true, everyone's out to get you and everyone is jealous of you." Also, "what's so different about you - there are lots of intellectuals around." I sort of weakly said that it varied from person to person but the damage was done - I felt shamed, like she was saying "You are paranoid, don't think you're all that".
Here's the deal - I don't know how to look her in the eye and tell her that what she said was not kosher, though I am FURIOUS at her. Yeah, I could just stop going, but what do I do with my rage? Also I'm afraid that if I tell her she'll get all sarcastic (like my older sister) and say "Oh so now you think I'm jealous of you too" and shame me even further.
The deal is, I know women tend to be insecure because this world gives them little power and they tend to be incredibly cruel to each other, and it occurs to me that perhaps therapists are not beyond this dynamic. I feel very afraid when I make people insecure because of how cruel they get. I haven't even used my gifts because of my fear that someone will hate me to death for it. I am especially hurt to know that I can't talk about this issue with a therapist without her getting pulled into the game as well. What do I do? I need help with this problem!
Both your intelligence and your long-term distress come through very strongly in your request for help. You feel alone, abandoned by the world, and feeling constantly rejected, through no fault of your own. It's not fair. You have said nothing about men in your message, but given that you are attractive, they probably show little interest in your intellect and personality. But what hurts is the reactions of other women.
Unlike the female therapist you've mentioned, I do believe that your assessment is accurate. I am quite sure you are right: women and girls tend to react to you in a rejecting, envious way.
The first question is: why? But a more important question is: what to do about it?
I can't answer the first one, not without getting to know you a lot better. We would need several exchanges for that, and in fact email is a great medium for exploring such issues. But I do have a suggestion you could try out. If it works, great. If not, you know one possible reason for your troubles is not true, and that in itself can be a liberation.
What I am about to write is not meant to cast blame on anyone. Not on your parents, your sister, your friends, and certainly not on you. Blame is one of the most counter-productive emotions anyone can feel. It adds nothing good, and is a sort of a poison. Perhaps part of the load you have been carrying for years is that you may be blaming your sister and parents for your troubles. They may well be responsible, in a certain way, but this does not make them evil, and if you could now punish them, the problem would not go away. If you could accept them, the way they are, warts and all, and then move forward with your life, you would find yourself shedding a great load.
Now for the possible reason. Human relationships are circles, not arrows. Think about this: "Every fight starts with me hitting back." Here are a couple of examples of how this works:
- I used to know a young man who was always the target of aggression. He and I spent a day together, and I found myself making cutting comments to him, and very definitely wanted to punch him on the nose. This is VERY uncharacteristic of me. His way of holding his body, his facial expressions, tones of voice, choice of words, actions "pulled" aggression from any male he was with (women loved him, to their later woe).
- I also have a delightful friend, a lady in her 40s. Everybody, male or female, wants to protect her. She seems to be a little, fluffy, helpless thing. She isn't. She is highly intelligent, an extremely good organizer, talented in many fields, and made of steel inside the little-girl covering. But she speaks with a little-girl voice, and her face looks a little bit like she was lost (even when she is delivering an ultimatum or coordinating 20 people with perfect efficiency), and her movements are sort of fluttery, and well, people want to do things for her. She "pulls" mothering. Would you believe, she is the youngest of a big family?
- A current client of mine has never had a girlfriend, and he is 35. He is desperately shy, and an admirable fellow who would make a perfect husband if only a woman would see him as he really is. He earns good money and is a creative person with many interesting experiences. But what they see is the message he gives with his face, body, voice, choice of words: "I am worthless, no good, stupid and awkward. I am boring and incompetent." He "pulls" rejection. Like you, he comes from a family beset with alcoholism, and was mostly ignored as a child.
So, my theory is, that your facial expressions, body language, tones of voice, choice of words and actions "pull" dislike and envy from other women. As a rejected and disliked little girl, you formed a habit of belief, something like, "You envy me? I'll prove I'm better than you, then you'll have something to envy!" You may have survived your difficult childhood by a fierce determination to show your sister that you were better than her, and this could now be an automatic, un-noticed reaction you have to other women.
The first stage of testing is observation. Spend 3 or 4 weeks, studying women whom you may not like, and certainly don't want to turn into, but who have this characteristic: OTHER WOMEN LIKE THEM. Study vocal characteristics of speech, facial expressions, how they hold their body, choice of words, preferred distance from the person they are speaking to, stuff like that.
Then, secretly practice to act like them, using a mirror and a tape recorder. This really is acting. Remember, you are not trying to change your nature, but are learning an act in order to do an experiment, one that could improve your life a great deal.
When you feel ready, find a setting where nobody knows you, and have conversations with women. Note how they react to you when you are putting on your act. Do the same in other settings, acting in a way that is "natural" to you, and note the difference. Remember, "natural" is not "right", just habitual.
If there is a difference in their reactions, you know the reason for your lifetime of rejection and envy.
Now, all of this would be MUCH easier if you had a helper. I suggest you find a psychologist nearby who does "Behavioral" or "Cognitive-Behavioral" therapy, and show them this message from me. Unfortunately, this work must be face-to-face, I couldn't help you via email.
It's a pity you didn't list your email address, I like to send my responses directly to the person posting the request, as well as to QueenDom. If you do come back and read my answer, please email me.
This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com