My struggle with hating other women – and how it’s finally changed
I used to hate other women, and I’m working on it. Since I was a child, my mom’s drug dependency made me determined to remove any support system of women from my life…
Sadly, when I was a child I witnessed the lowest point in my mother’s life, and that’s putting it nicely. At 34 years of age my mother became addicted to methamphetamine. As you may have heard about drugs, when a self-abusive addiction enters your life little else stays dear to the heart. So, coinciding with her downward spiral, my mother made a slew of poor choices.
One of which was starting a relationship with her drug dealer shortly after my parents had separated – but were not divorced. This was something my brother and I could never forgive her for, especially when my dad lived less than a mile away. There was about a three month window in which my parents were battling for custody of my brother and I. During that time the court asked that we remain living with my mom while my dad moved out. However, my mother was so taken by the addiction by this point that it was all she ever thought about. She was either on drugs, going to get drugs, or would be gone for a week at a time binging.
Arguably, these were the worst three months of my life. My brother and I were entirely neglected during those months, which felt much more like years to us. All we wanted was to stay healthy and safe. We found food where we could, we took ourselves to school each day, and tried to stay out of my mother’s way. When we did have contact with her she was either in a complete state of psychosis and paranoia or a severe fit of rage, which I later learned were classic signs of meth abuse. Don’t worry, after three months of missing court dates and failing drug tests my mother lost custody of us and we went to live with my father.
Now, I tell you this because I want to come clean about the fact that I’ve hated other women for a majority of my life as a direct result of my mother’s actions. At quite a young age I developed an understanding with men and a disdain for women.
I’m guilty of throwing disgusted looks to women with low cut tops and short skirts, even though I envy being comfortable enough with my own body to dress any way that I please. I’m guilty of commenting about the amount of makeup a woman is wearing, even though I’ve been jealous of the attention she gets. I’m guilty of assuming the promiscuity of a woman based on how flirtatiously she acts around men, even though I wish I had her social skills. Never once did I think any of these thoughts about my male friends.
You know those women who say things like “I don’t hang out with many girls because they always start drama”? I have said this more times than I can count. I’ve never been able to hang onto girl friends for very long. In middle school and high school I changed friends almost every year. I met someone new, got along fine for a bit, disliked something they did and shamed them enough to leave the friendship or stopped talking to them completely.
I have judged my female friends harshly at just about every turn. I shamed my friends who had multiple sexual partners, who drank “too much” (even though I have struggled with alcohol dependency issues myself), friends who dabbled in drugs – as young adults do. It was easier for me to tell them how terrible their choices were instead of being there as a shoulder to cry on or the voice of reason. For years and years I chalked it all up to the notion that I just made friends with bad people and had terrible luck. It’s only looking back on it now that I realise I was the problem.
I had constant complaints about girl friends wanting to hang out too much or not nearly enough. They would talk too much about themselves and didn’t care enough about me. I once had a friend say “God T, there’s just no peace with you” and that one random statement has really stuck with me. I took some time to think about why I was determined to remove any support system of women from my life and it was because I was seeing every tiny fragment of my mother in them.
Selfishly, I assumed that every woman in my life would eventually show me her “true colours” and do something to hurt me or the people who I loved. That’s why I engineered impossibly strict standards for all my girl friends to adhere to. If I’m being completely honest, this is something I still struggle with today.
It wasn’t until the age of about 23 that I decided to get some emotional help. I began to see a counsellor and talk about the events of my childhood. I began to realise that I had thrown away many very special friends who were simply human and showed a moment of weakness, just like I had experienced many times myself.
Over years of deconstructing the brainwashing I put myself through I’ve slowly learned to appreciate all the women I come into contact with. I try to sincerely find at least one small positive thing about each woman that is unique to her, something real and concrete. This way, I will always recognise and remember what a beautiful individual that person is no matter the status of our friendship.
In hindsight I realise I’ve had such a skewed and strange perception of my own gender. Acting this way for so long, I put myself in a place where I really couldn’t relate to men or women. Now, I feel more in touch with my femininity than ever before. I’m proud to be a woman and I’m excited to connect with other women; women who are one with their flaws, doubts and weaknesses, but are also capable of kindness, loyalty and love.