2010/10/04

The Good Girl Guilt - The Journey to Self Acceptance (Part 1)

True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guilt is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is.
(R.D.Laing)

Growing up in South Africa during the seventies, eighties, and part of the nineties, conjures images of rigidity and rules, supported by political and religious dogma. I was brought up in a strict, Afrikaans speaking, conservative household. Attending church every Sunday was compulsory, and questioning any statements made during sermons, definitely not allowed.

Between the government and church, decisions were made on your behalf, whether it was about whom you could marry, where you were allowed live, what you could watch or listen to, what level  your education would be, what language you received your education in, what shops, hotels, trains, busses, beaches you were allowed to use. There was no choice given either when claiming your son for two years, to defend the borders against the imminent threat of the invading Communists.

Clear expectations were set out within the Afrikaner culture about what the perfect woman should be like. During my high school years, in a very small town, so conservative that it could actually be regarded as leaning towards the extreme right, it was not unusual to hear boys stating that a woman's place is in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. A further unwritten rule that was to be obeyed at all times; anything or anyone that came across as strange, or not understood, was to be regarded as falling outside acceptable Christian principles, and therefore should be either  ignored or destroyed.

And then there was me. Somehow born with a huge dollop of defiance within my inner core, asking what I now realize, relatively uncomfortable questions to answer. Especially coming from one as stubborn as what I can be, with the ability to recognize evasive answers from a very young age. And obviously, the easiest way to deal with me is not to deal with me.

I was the outcast from a very young age, marked as the rebel during my teenage years, and unpatriotic during my twenties and thirties. I can clearly remember my mother once asking me in absolute desperation at about the age of fifteen, after I had my history teacher in an absolute rage, for refusing to participate in the compulsory two hour military drills (for readiness against the imminent threat of invading Communists) every Friday; " We have not brought you up this way, why are you acting like this??"

However, as much as what I rebelled against principles sometimes so absurd, I still became a product of my environment. Guilt was a weapon very effectively used, from within the house, the schools, the church and the reigning political party. The "Good girl versus Bad Girl" guilt trip was firmly implanted within me. "Good girls do not question authority, Good girls do not back-chat their teachers, Good girls do not tell boys to go and play with themselves, Good girls love their country...."

And all through this, I carried my secret, alone. And believing that Good girls do not have sexual reactions based on thoughts of being spanked, with a bottom bared, humiliated and controlled, I became convinced that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. I could not escape the thoughts, and as I became older, and the sexual reactions became more prominent, so did the conviction that I had serious mental problems.

I felt so alone, so afraid and so isolated.....

4 comments:

joey said...

very interesting a glimes in to another world i like what it sayes

Fausto Carino said...

Wait a minute... you were just getting going and then suddenly you stop! Finish what you started! (Perhaps I ought to add "young lady" for good measure ;)

Raven Red said...

Joey,
Thanks for the comments, and yes, it was a different and very strange world for me at that age.

Raven Red said...

Fausto

No need for the Young Lady yet, it is part 1, part 2 shortly to follow...promise..

:)
Raven

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