Like a lot of mothers and daughters, my mom and I spend time together shopping, among other things. I’m not too thrilled that some of our “family time” essentially built around consumerism, but since I tend to see her just before the holidays and other gift-giving occasions it’s somewhat unavoidable. It’s more about visiting–especially in air-conditioned comfort–than about buying anything, anyway, but I did get a nice pair of grey trousers, so yay.
Anyway, as we were looking at things, occasionally trying them on, I heard my mom describe herself repeatedly as “a fat old lady,” “an ole woman,” “too fat for [some kind of fashion or activity]”, etc. First, I said stuff like “don’t be silly,” then “mom, stop saying that,” then I lapsed into cranky silence.
You’ve probably heard that things that bother us most in other people are the things we dislike the most in ourselves? As I thought “CHEEZITS CHRIST SHUT UP WITH THE SHIT TALK, MOM,” I realized what my face must look like, and how it probably looked like the Dude’s face when he has gone through the various stages of rebuttal and reprimand, and is sick to death with me shit-talking myself.
Which I do.
Which is really stupid. We’ve discussed before how women aren’t supposed to take pride and pleasure in their accomplishments; we’ve noted that we are supposed to “be modest” when complimented, and we’ve admitted to apologizing all the time, just in case we did anything that might have been possibly upsetting. And recently, I talked about the nagging, underminery voice in your head. But I don’t know if we’ve covered shit-talk, meaning any and all those half-jokes-half-fears we say, out loud, in the presence of others:
God, I lost my cell phone! I’m so stupid!
That’s me, Cap’n Clumsythumbs…
I look SO. FAT. today.
It’s done! It sucks, but it’s done.
[add your own]
I know where it comes from. It’s a defense mechanism. You mock yourself before someone else can, because you don’t really mean it the way another would.
Except that you really kinda do. You fear that you are indeed a big stupid clumsy fat Suck-o-tron 6000, and you superstitiously invoke that idea in order to ward it off. That’s some Evil-Eye shit right there.
Of course it’s possible that you’re just fishing for compliments: “You’re not fat!” “Nooooo, you’re great at __!” If so, please know: that shit gets old. The Dude thinks this is my mom’s motive, and has been known to roll his eyes after the eleventieth comment. Can’t say’s I blame him.
Regardless of why we do it, let’s cut it out, shall we? It’s a hard habit to change, because it’s probably a pretty deeply held fear/belief. But maybe start by noticing how often you do it. My mom is off the charts with it, for sure. Me? I”m not proud to admit it, but I probably shit-talk myself at least once a day about something or other. It might be more funny than serious (and truly, sometimes you have to laugh at yourself), but it’s far too frequent, regardless.
So join me, won’t you? If you need any inspiration, I suggest you look here.