Author Archives: christinalouisedietrich

About christinalouisedietrich

Moving at the speed of creation while focusing my attention on healing from trauma, motherhood, genderqueerness, embodiment, and owning my voice.

My Very Own Misogynist

I learned how to hate women by listening to my mother hate herself. Her body. Her fat. Her hair. Her blood. Everything her body did was disgusting, wrong, an irritation, a sin. It was like she was trying to will her physical form into nonexistence by feeding it a steady diet of hate, coffee, shame, and far less food than it needed to thrive.

I learned how to hate women from The Church. Sinful, deceitful whores, subservient to man’s power. They existed only because of him. Just a rib. Formed as a second thought, an accessory. Not equal. Disgusting because of their blood. The only one revered was a virgin. Because women are only worth as much as their hymen and the children they can produce.

I learned to view women as competition. Because women don’t produce anything except children, they’re work. They have to be provided for, cared for. That means they need a man. A good man. All women need a good man. And so if you have a good man, all other women are a threat and ultimately want to steal him.

They are to be viewed with suspicion. Sneered at. Cut down. Demeaned. I learned to talk shit about what other women wear, how they walk, what they say, how they do their hair, what they bring to the potluck, and how they discipline their children. Judge them. Scorn them. Hate them.

Women and their bodies are fucking disgusting. They’re nothing but a burden for men to take care of. And fuck.

I learned this in the looks and from the words of my uncles and grandfather, from my stepfathers, from magazines and TV. I learned it from breathing my mother’s air and being born from her body.

There is nowhere on this planet where I have been spared this lesson.

The voice that lives inside me and says these things isn’t me. This voice who judges every woman I see walking around in the world. This voice who sees all things “feminine” as “less than” and “weak.”

This voice exists inside my body, inside a body that knows what it says isn’t true. A body that was powerful enough to birth a child. A body that continues to breath and succeed in this “man’s world.” And yet I still believe what it says. I still despise the things about me that are feminine. I still see a woman’s tears as a manipulation. I still don’t trust them.

Sitting with my misogynist terrifies me. This is fucking gross and scary and I can feel my guts twisting as I try to both feel it and protect myself from it. I’m angry and sad and, I don’t know, just tired I guess of hearing this voice. Tired of feeling this terror.


Thanks to Nekole Malia Shapiro for the title and edits on this post. ❤

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Without obligation and resentment, I’m nothing

The martyr persona is a well-known and reviled archetype in our modern collective consciousness. Because we live within oppressive structures that are heavily influenced by objectified, commodified, monotheistic, and male-centered religious overtones, it’s not surprising that the commonly-depicted martyr is a female-bodied person; specifically, a mother. Perpetually over burdened, constantly exhausted, demand-sensitive, short-tempered, narcissistic, and dramatic to the extreme—she can shame you into feeling bad about anything you try to do.

I was raised as and have mostly identified as a female, even as I struggled with what that meant for the more “masculine” and blended parts of me. I currently identify as androgynous; however, both main branches of my martyr persona feel “female” to me.

One of them arose in response to physical incest with my father and the societal training that followed to manifest as a sex object for male-bodied persons to project their desires upon.

The other arose in response to emotional incest with my intermittently-single mother, her leaning heavily on my executive function to support her, and the training that followed to manifest as a productive member of the capitalist machine.

Since both of these branches were oriented toward and bent in service to male-dominated structures and desires, what follows is presented in a gender binary where the martyr’s gender is female and the other’s gender is male. I *have* met male-identified martyrs, though in my experience they tend to be less common.

My mother and the women of my family all had deeply-entrenched martyr personas. I definitely have one, and I’ve spent a lot of my time in holistic peer counseling learning as much as I can about her facets. There are many, some of which I’ll discuss here.

My martyr persona manifested as a reaction to sacrifice extracted through oppression made possible by the skewed power dynamic present in my traditional, nuclear, patriarchal family.

She is my most durable and deeply-seated control pattern. She is my psyche’s attempt to claim some measure of control in situations where her No is not heard. Situations where she isn’t seen as fully human, but as an object; a means to an end. That end is the primacy of someone else’s desire or unacknowledged need for attention.

Wounded families, ravaged lives

In my case, that someone was my parents, neither one of whose wounds got the attention they needed to heal before conceiving me. At 21 and 22 years of age, they were still struggling through the morass of having been dis-empowered and unseen by their own parents. And so once they had me, they unconsciously sought ways to feel powerful: by subjugating and extracting attention from someone more vulnerable. Someone dependent on them for survival.

When children are born under duress—either as a result of rape, a sense of familial obligation, or a desire to fit in with societal norms—they cannot be seen in their complete complexity. Their needs cannot be wholly considered as valid, their pain cannot be felt as fully real, and their resistance to arbitrary demands is coded as defiance that warrants punishment.

These are the historically invisible and unacknowledged wounds of the nuclear, patriarchal family. They destroy families, and ruin opportunities for true, embodied relatedness and inter-personal intimacy.

They also need tending, as all wounds do; they are seeping pus, open and viscous. Someone is needed to tend the wounds of our entrenched familial structures. Someone needs to take responsibility for the heavy sins of rape, violence, and displaced shame. That someone is the martyr. 

The martyr is slowly ground down while bearing and being blamed for the sins of man. Adding insult to injury, she becomes complicit in the act of her personal annihilation by learning to hide her mirror. Because she does not believe in and cannot claim her power, she is forced to make the impact of men’s actions invisible. She cannot confront him because he wields more power than she does, and all the structures are on his side. The brothers have stacked their deck well.

I say No, but no one listens.
My boundaries are not worth respecting. They are “preferences,” not needs.
I am an accessory, a support system, a vessel to be filled with someone else.
I don’t have needs or desires, don’t feel pain.
Tell me what you need.

The martyr and the scapegoat

A martyr is defined as someone who is killed for their religious beliefs.

A scapegoat also has religious roots; according to Leviticus 16 of the biblical old testament, it was “a goat sent into the wilderness after the chief Jewish priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it.”

It’s interesting to me how these two concepts have seemingly become enmeshed over the centuries; how the lines between their meanings are blurred. Because the flavor of my martyr persona’s pain aligns with being scapegoated. And to my seeing, this resonates with what Jesus the Christ was, in parallel to being martyred for his rejection of the existing Jewish faith.

According to the biblical new testament teachings of my childhood, Jesus “died for our sins.” The scapegoat was driven away to the desert (killed) while carrying sins. It’s a new versus old testament battle of symbols.

Now, anyone raised in a monotheistic western church knows that women are more sinful than men. They are, in fact, defiled from the moment of their birth because (1) they bleed (and have the audacity to create life) and (2) they allied with the serpent (kundalini) aka Satan in the garden of Eden.

My body internalized the church’s teachings as “because they are wicked, filthy, and innately more sinful, women are forced to carry the burden of sin while men get to be free.” And since they’re free, they also get to dispense salvation while hoarding the weapons and holding the purse-strings.

The privilege of the male-bodied is in getting to blame the female-bodied while wearing the guise of  magnanimous generosity.

So, here’s something that rubs me raw. To my read, Jesus the Christ was totally genderqueer. They embodied most of the traits that the patriarchs disdained and judged to be “weak.” They lived with and loved whores and savages, stood up for the poor and children, rejected the trappings of power and influence.

For me, Jesus’ queerness manifested in how they represented the most powerful and feared parts of humanity: the traditionally “feminine” parts. They loved unconditionally. They accepted people for who they were right now in the moment while holding the view of their perfection. They literally put their body on the front line against entrenched power.

And they became a legend. So powerful a legend, in fact, that churchmen had to write whole books full of lies to cover up and explain away what they could never understand because they disavowed living bodies and chose to eroticize a dead one.

From the perspective of my martyr persona, she was created to be a scapegoat, but claiming the title of martyr gives her power.

Scapegoat me long enough and I will not only identify with the role, I will claim the title with pride, step into its power, turn it around, and make you pay every day for the rest of your miserable goddamn life.

The pain of resentment

The martyr is obligated to prioritize the other’s desires to the exclusion of her lived, embodied reality. In the face of other’s needs she can have no wants. She learns to pretend that her needs don’t matter. She learns to eroticize the experience of disembodiment. She swallows her disappointment, attempts to smile, and grimaces inside as she pretends the acid doesn’t burn her gut.

But there’s a price. Every facet of her psyche that gets splintered, every disowned need, every swallowed gob of bile comes back as resentment. She is fucking angry and resentful and wants SOMEONE to pay for how much she hurts.

Her pain is the most important thing in the world; its embedded in her skin, has become enmeshed with her organs and bones. As a result, she needs a high degree of control around how people interact with her pain body. Her pain must always be the most important thing in the room. Her suffering trumps everyone else’s.

I’ve learned that when I’m in my martyr persona, I don’t believe other people are real. Not real like my pain is real. And because they aren’t real, their pain isn’t real either. They’re making it up in a pathetic attempt to grab my attention, which I am so fucking loathe to give. No one else’s pain should get any attention, EVER.

And when my martyr sees a chance to get attention, she grabs it. She is a viciously desperate opportunist who can turn almost any situation around to focus on her suffering and/or what a despicable creature she is.

You want to talk about the hard day you had? (EYEROLL) Hers was worse.

You got a really bad headache? (GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK) Child’s play compared to hers.

You want some intimate sexy times? (I HATE YOUR UGLY BODY) She will break down in a deflective orgy of self loathing, sobbing, and shame.

YOU WILL NEVER WIN

Are you my mommy?

To my current understanding, my martyr persona is a byproduct of enmeshment, primarily with my mother. She represents the apex of my mother wound. I’ve felt her formative tendrils stretching back to infancy: when I was a colicky baby born to a young, anxious, lonely, first-time mother living far away from her family of origin with an abusive sociopath.

My mother had desperate, palpable needs she couldn’t claim or speak, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t be felt. That their desire for ultimate fulfillment couldn’t be inferred, alluded to, and passively-aggressively pushed into the room for someone else to pick up on.

Baby Chrissy learned that she could ease mommy’s anxiety by doing certain things, like crying less. While it certainly wasn’t a conscious decision, as I grew older I learned to ensure my mother felt cared for and loved so that I could feel safe. I prioritized her needs over mine because she had more power than me; because my survival depended on her.

She had the power to feed, clothe, shame, and nurture me (or not). I did not have equal power to her, but because she and I were enmeshed—both believing at some level we were the other—she transferred her power to me. She gave me the power to make her feel better.

But I couldn’t always, nor did I always want, to make her feel better. And over time I resented her for needing me to. I didn’t want to be her mother, I wanted HER to be the mother! So, I acted out from a place of hurt, resentment, and anger. Of course, because she’d given me the power to make her feel better, as my outbursts intensified and I got physically stronger, she ultimately became afraid of me.

Afraid of the power I had over her, which she had unconsciously given to me from the place of her own dis-empowerment. I felt obligated to take care of and “mommy” her, as the one “in power.” But she was still the adult, which meant she had the actual structural power.

This also meant the other adults in our world would side with her to oppress and take advantage of their children to get their needs met, men and women alike. Because they couldn’t see themselves as separate from their own parents; hadn’t yet done the work of individuation, and so couldn’t acknowledge how much power they forced us to bear in service to their wounds.

The power to discipline with love

Enmeshment will cause us to confuse judgment for discipline.  Nekole Malia Shapiro

When my mother didn’t do the work to individuate from her parents and claim her own power, she ended up giving it away to those around her. Some of it went to her abusive partners, and some of it went to my sister and I. I watched her model this and learned to do it, too. In my own life, whether I give someone my power or it’s forcibly taken, my survival then becomes dependent on that person and we reach a state of enmeshment.

At which point I am able to claim victim status. If you have all the power, I am a victim and without power. My martyr knows that if I’m a victim then you are the aggressor, and you’re responsible for causing my wounds, which means I can blame you.

When a parent projects their power onto their child and claims victim status, they can then justify judging and punishing that child.

A person in their embodied power (like I suspect Jesus was) knows how to discipline—how to disciple— people; how to flow in and with power. How to lead and model loving behavior by living it. A person without power is perpetually wounded and can claim power only through judgment. But judgment isn’t loving; it’s retributive and born of displaced pain.

Judgment kills. Discipline is born of love.

Through eight years of parenting, I’ve learned that I have to love myself and claim my power before I can discipline my child. If I hate myself and give my power to my son for him to manage, I’ll punish him when he fails to take care of my feelings with his actions. The martyr would have me believe he takes my power by force, that he’s willfully trying to fuck with me, and that I should punish him for being so selfish.

When I sit in a place of disowned self and power, every time I encounter my son being his whole, authentic, embodied, willful, loud-ass self, the martyr wants to lash out at and blame him for her pain.

How dare he be whole when I am so broken! How dare he scream and yell and dance and rage when I can’t feel anything!

Why does he get to have feelings?! I WANT TO HAVE FEELINGS TOO

On performing intimacy

Because I was incestuous with my father and because I was raised in a world focused on rape and conquest coupled with the wholesale denial of feminine erotic power, my martyr is also completely enmeshed with and in control of my intimate erotic body.

Intimacy is pain. Eroticism is pain. Sex is pain.

If it’s painful then there’s also an obligatory performance of enjoyment to cover up the pain and ensure the whole sorry act is over as soon as possible. A performance of appeasement tinged with exhaustion and resentment. A performance where the martyr tries to convince you she’s actually really into what’s going on. Whether it’s sucking your cock or allowing you access to her body, the martyr is performing.

In reality, she gives less than two fucks about you. But it’s important to keep up her end of the fantasy where she’s keenly interested in *LOOKING LIKE* she cares. She needs to make sure you don’t get ragey and blame her because she doesn’t seem to be enjoying your tongue acrobatics.

Keeping up the appearance of perfection is of critical importance to my martyr. So, she has scripted movements and phrases and sounds that she has learned are desirable during sex. She’s watched a lot of cishet male porn over the years, so she knows what a hot sexy woman is supposed to look and sound like. She desperately wants to appear “fuckable.”

These scripts help me cover up the fact that in human years my actual erotic body is four. Unfortunately, they also leave me feeling like a dirty liar and I’ve deeply judged anyone who couldn’t tell I was pretending to enjoy their amazing hot thrusting action oh yeah please please.

Because my martyr wasn’t allowed to nurture her own desires or passions, because she didn’t have an enlightened mentor who loved their body to show her how to honor and love her own body, she’s had to pick up (really shitty) coping mechanisms in her attempt to appear human. She’s incredibly lonely. She’s also ashamed by her lack of developed interests or hobbies, so she surfs off your interests and feigns fascination in then so you can’t see how empty she is.

Empty and alone. And crushingly sad. But she won’t tell you she’s sad. Nope. She doesn’t have feelings. Instead, she will inwardly seethe and try to get you to “figure out” what’s wrong by reading her mind because then she will know you really care. 

YOU DO CARE DON’T YOU

PLEASE?

WON’T SOMEONE CARE ABOUT ME

Disruption

You can be a “good person” and still be a white supremacist.

You can be in the process of becoming an ally to People of Color and still be a white supremacist.

You can “have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior” and still be a white supremacist.

You can have the best intentions and still be a white supremacist.

It will take our whole lives to begin unraveling white supremacy. But it won’t be finished. Not even with daily practice and sacrifice and awareness and deeds. We start the work now; we seed it, knowing we will not, can not know the flower.

I was born into the dystopia of white supremacy. I have supported and continue to support white supremacy by going to my day job and buying the things and following the rules.

I am a white supremacist and so are you, my white brethren, who were born into this nightmare called America. We cannot bypass acknowledging this reality and hope to undo it. We cannot lay it down, shirk its weight, or turn away from this responsibility.

Putting our hands to tearing down this world that lulls us to endless sleep is the most important thing we will ever do.

Leviathan

octopus 2

I dreamed of a cold, dark place. Dawn two hours away; just enough faint, blue light to make out shapes. Cold. So cold. A vast expanse of ice with tall, jagged mountains far off in the distance. This place was open and stretched  on so far that I could almost sense the earth’s curve. I was aware of the planet’s girth and weight, and her neutrality vis-a-vis me.

A reckoning was coming. A massive creature that had evolved to kill, main, poison, suffocate, and petrify humans. Leviathan. Four eyes. Eight limbs, each tipped with a new and horrifying way to die hanging from it.

I stood on a long, narrow road that went from nowhere to nowhere, surrounded by ice. Ice that used to be hard and solid, but now was spongy, destabilizing. It bobbed up and down when I tried to stand on it; black frigid water seeping up over my feet. So I stood on the road. That narrow desolate road.

And it came. As I watched now from 1000 feet up, I saw it sliding down the road. Faster and faster. Leviathan came down that road and there was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. It was coming and this was The End.

I meditated the morning after this vision and breathed way down deep into the bottom of my breath. Exhaling 10, 12, 14 seconds, letting the terrified sobs engulf me. Ugly crying. Heaving until I finally pulled in enough air to fill my lungs again. And I knew in my bones that this is the flower born of slavery’s seed.

When you stack human bodies inside a ship’s hold and chain them there for weeks on end and then sell them like cords of wood…. when you do that you plant a seed. A malevolent seed. And you may not care what fruit it grows. But someone has to harvest that fruit. That strange fruit.

And so we shall. It’s coming. Reckoning. And it is dark and cold and furious beyond imagining. Seven generations. The seeds of our undoing were sown in this land.

Genocide. Murder. Slavery. Objectification and commodification on a scale never yet seen. Capitalism is its fruit. Capitalism is born from the seeds of slavery. And we can no longer profit from it. We can no longer remain safe and comfortable.

Leviathan doesn’t care whether we see it coming. It will come nonetheless. And the flower that is born from the seeds of our way of life dying? They may be beautiful and glorious beyond current imagining. But the seed cannot know the flower.

Little Boys

How many little boys never get to snuggle on their father’s chest, or feel that closeness with another man, without being preyed upon?

How many little boys never get to cry in their father’s arms, or feel that closeness with another man, without being shamed for it?

How many little boys never get to feel vulnerable or scared in the presence of another man without being attacked for it?

How can we keep ignoring these wounds and also expect to grow as a people?

We cannot.

We are collectively dying, smothered under the weight of all that unacknowledged pain.

Look to your little boys and see where you can listen to their wounds.

It will hurt.

Don’t look away. Don’t plug your ears. Don’t harden your heart.

We ignore them at our peril.

Little Boy, Abandoned

The last few weeks, I’ve been *really* pissed off about men “holding the door” for me. Unrealistically so, it seemed, given what I know of my patterns. Something just didn’t make sense. I finally had to acknowledge I didn’t quite know what was going on, and that was okay. I would continue feeling and giving voice to this piece that felt like so much bottled rage.

From the perspective of inside my body, my rage feels like it comes from two directions: up from my genitals and down from my esophageal sphincter (where the esophagus meets the stomach, right in front of the solar plexus). The part in my stomach, I can clearly feel is a result of swallowing decades worth of rage.

Don’t talk back. Be a good girl. Smile. Don’t make a scene. Be kind. Stop throwing a fit. Forgive and forget. Tone it down. Smile. It’s not that bad. It could be so much worse. Make the best of it. You’re just crying to get attention. You’d be so much prettier if you smiled.

GULP GULP GULP

Those phrases encapsulate my experience of being born in a female body. They are the oppression and coping mechanisms I learned from my mother, grandmother, aunts, teachers, sister, and peers—all the females in my life. Horizontal violence tastes like swallowed rage, tone policing, and denial; and it feels like poisonous burning embers in my gut.

The rage coming from my genitals has been less clear, more obscure; it hides in a way I haven’t been able to put my finger on. Actually, that’s not quite it—from an embodied point of view, I’ve been able to hear my vagina and clitoris and uterus, but I haven’t been able to hear my asshole. I can hear the “female” parts of my genitals, but not the “male” one. I knew my asshole had something to do with my father wound, but the particulars have remained hidden, occluded from my newfound ability to feel into these parts.

And then, one morning while meditating, I found out why. There’s an abandoned little boy living in my asshole. A horcrux.

He’s younger than the little girl who also lives at the bottom of my psychic well. He’s also far more fragile, volatile, violent, unrestrained, and incoherently angry. He’s the one that NO ONE has ever been able to or wanted to see. Not even me. They wanted to see a girl because I had a vagina, but I’ve always struggled to “act like a girl,” to become what they projected on me. It always felt like an act. A cheap suit.

From the perspective of this new part, my father wound story is that he DID see the little boy, which is why he raped my asshole, and then left us to deal with and suffer through the consequences. After my father left, no one wanted to or had the attention to care for a rage-filled, 5-year-old boy in a girl’s body who was carrying around the seed and memory of a vicious sociopath.

So they walked away and left that little boy behind in the dark. In his stead, they welcomed the (mostly) quiet, compliant, and less volatile little girl. This little girl took his place and, along with it, inherited the heavy burden of trying to convince everyone Christina was actually a girl. Even though she knew otherwise. She knew who she stood guard over; who she protected down there in the dark.

A little boy who has forgotten what it’s like to be held in loving arms. A little boy who was good for nothing more than getting fucked and holding his daddy’s shame. A convenient little boy that an entire family could abandon without remorse because they were also wounded and hadn’t the resources betwixt them to see. A little boy whose resentment and rage and sense of betrayal has bloomed like a vengeful and terrifying mushroom. Tended, carefully, down in the dark.

The little boy who lives in my asshole.

He’s the one who doesn’t want adult men holding the door for us. He’s confused why everyone thinks he’s a girl. He’s confused as to why anyone would think he isn’t smart enough or strong enough to open a door all by himself.

He doesn’t want to smile at those men for “being polite.” He doesn’t want to allow their eyes to rove over our body, assessing, condemning, or desiring us as we walk by. He refuses to play the fucking chivalry game.

Because most important of all, he doesn’t want those men getting BEHIND us. He knows what it feels like to be preyed upon. He KNOWS what it feels like to be terrorized, for your asshole to clamp down and literally vibrate in terror. To be so terrified of the pain that you believe you’ll die. Waiting there, in the dark, for death to come.

I don’t want to be reminded of that terror when I walk through a door; even if it’s JUST THE TINIEST AMOUNT. I shouldn’t have to feel like a piece of meat when I walk through a door. I resent feeling like property to be admired or abandoned at their whim.

So, no. We don’t want you to hold the fucking door for us. Because we aren’t going to give you power over our asshole. This is OUR body and it is OUR right to claim this space.

This time, you get to walk in front of ME, motherfucker.

My Martyr

She touches nearly everything I do. She’s always been here, since the beginning. Ever present. Vigilant.

Daddy was terrified and ashamed of who he was and what he wanted to do, so he made Martyr carry a chunk of his load and blamed her for being so sexy. Like he used to be.

Mommy was terrified and ashamed of who she was and what she’d been forced to endure, so she made Martyr carry a chunk of her load and blamed her for being so precocious and huge and full of her self. Like she used to be.

The system was terrified and ashamed of what it had become by killing and raping and plundering, so it made Martyr carry a chunk of its load by pressing on her wound and leveraging her inability to say No.

Pushing me. Pushing me. Pushing pushing pushing me.

So much panic and anxiety and terror.

Martyr feels the terror that lives under all that panic. She pushes me to go faster as she tries to match Mommy’s panicked, frenetic energy. Survival energy. She was driven by it and she used it to drive me. Faster faster faster.

Martyr has made going faster and matching panic energy a virtue. When I’m fueled by panic and pushing myself, I find comfort in the belief that my suffering is noble. How virtuous I must be if I can rush to get everywhere and fulfill the needs of those waiting for me.

I’m doing such a good job. Good girl. HURRY UP FASTER

It soothes Mommy and she praises you for matching her speed, for getting it done. All you have to do is close your eyes and hold on tight. Tight tight tighter.

Run until you can feel the heaviness in your chest, the shortness of breath that signifies panic and terror and worry and anxiety. Match it. Feel it.

“Are you scared now?” asks the Martyr. Good. Thank you for feeling me.

Martyr doesn’t believe it’s ever going to be okay. She can’t relax. She can’t slow down. Her life depends on her load of inherited terror and shame reaching its destination in one piece and if she lets go…. if she drops it, it will shatter into a million pieces.

And it will All Be Her Fault.