Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I guess it’s time to write about my mother, since we are coming up on the one year anniversary of her death. For a long time, I didn’t know what to write, how to express such a jumble of emotions. I loved her. I spent years hating her and longing for her love at the same time. I pitied her. I resented her for not being the person I wanted her to be. I held her accountable for human failings. As much pain as she caused me, I am certain I caused her a significant amount in return. I was angry because I wanted June Cleaver for a mother and I got mommy dearest. At the end of the day, I just wanted a mother I could confide in, a mother I could rely on, a mother who could guide me through the complexities of life. The greatest part of my disappointment was in not having what I wanted. My mother was not capable of those things. It’s like asking me to be an engineer when math bores the snot out of me. I just can’t do it. My mother could not be the person I wanted her to be.
When I heard the news of her death, I was numb. My mother threatened me with her demise since I was sixteen, so though I understand mortality well, I didn’t really expect it. I was stunned. When I made the announcement on Facebook, I got the expected expressions of condolences, but I felt odd accepting them given the way I felt about my mother. Her death was hard, but not in the typical “I’ve lost something sort of way.” It was hard because so much of my life was focused on how to deal with her, how to have a relationship of some type with her and now it was over. Even now, I don’t miss her. After reality set in, the tears came and I didn’t even know why I was crying. I shed exactly one tear for my father. I didn’t understand why I was crying over the loss of my mother. Over the days, the grief got worse. I sobbed until I was exhausted. I was so confused. I couldn’t be grieving the loss over something I never had. It wasn’t as if I had any hope I would ever have a relationship with my mother, either. The loss of my mother left me feeling like a fifty year old orphan and that was something I didn’t expect. All of a sudden, I had no parents. I felt like a balloon that was no longer tethered.
The depth of my grief tore at my soul and it seemed without basis. Then, I finally understood what was happening. I have always been somewhat of a spiritual conduit. I absorb the emotions swirling around me and it took me a long time to understand the chaos it caused inside of me. I had to learn to release the emotions that invaded my soul so it didn’t create such chaos. Those emotions weren’t mine; they belonged to the people surrounding me. Some people are extraordinarily sensitive to emotional energy and it affects them deeply. I am one of those people. When my mother died, she released all the pain in her life and I received it. I wasn’t grieving for the loss of my mother, I was experiencing her pain. It was overwhelming. The depth of it penetrated me in ways I was unprepared for. Once I understood the pain I was feeling wasn’t mine to bear, I could release it. I let it go; something my mother was never able to do in life. In her death, she gave me her pain and I accepted it. I’m glad she did. I’m glad she was able to go to her next spiritual level without the life she lived here burdening her spirit. Once I understood this, I no longer grieved and I never shed another tear. My mother is finally free of the prison she created for herself here.
I wanted to write a moving tribute to her, something that would bring value to the life she lived but there isn’t one to write. My mother helped to create the adult that emerged from childhood, but I made the adult I am now and it took stripping away almost everything I learned in childhood. It took accepting the way I grew up was not normal, healthy or successful. It took accepting my parents failed in the most important task they were to be given. It took reinventing the person I was in order to be a person I could be happy with. I can’t write a tribute to my mother because it would not be honest. I can’t write a tribute to a mother I didn’t have. Still, my mother was not without merit. I believe my mother tried the best she knew how to be a good person, if not a good mother. I got an email from one of her coworkers shortly after she died. It was very nice; telling me how much my mother would be missed. She made them laugh, she was kind and they looked forward to seeing her. In her apartment complex, she would often cook dinner for others. I got my love of Christmas from my mother. She would decorate the house with all kinds of colorful decorations and Christmas was always special. It was the only time of the year I think my mother was happy.
When my parents were married, she tried to be a good mother, or at the very least do what was expected of her. The house was always clean, the meals were always prepared and on the table at expected time and she even was the leader of a Girl Scout Troop for a while. She attended the PTA meetings and our clothes were always clean. We had what we needed. After they divorced, it seemed like she didn’t care anymore. The house wasn’t cleaned, there weren’t any meals and all she seemed to do was sleep but to be fair she did work midnights at a factory. She became very physically abusive to me, something that I expected from my father, not her. One afternoon she was particularly brutal to me and I walked out of the house, never to return. I was scared to death, it was the ultimate act of defiance for me, and the ultimate rejection of my mother at the same time. I walked out of that house, I didn’t run. I walked with my head held high, terrified she was following me, terrified I was to feel a blow to the back of my head and yet I refused to turn around to look. I refused to look back as she screamed at me from the porch. I was so entrenched in fear I cannot remember what she screamed at me but it was a moment of vivid victory with every step. That moment was a defining moment in my life in more ways than I could have imagined. I had no active memory of the sexual abuse my father imposed upon me, none at all. My mother, however was well aware of it. To my mother, I was rejecting her in favor of a man who was sexually assaulting me. That was an insult I don’t believe she ever forgave me for.
One happy memory of my childhood was going to estate auctions with my mother. We would be given a small sum to make bids on anything we wanted and I almost always came home with a great treasure. My find generally included books, but sometimes I ended up with a box of various items. We ran around the auction and played with other children. At some point, we would beg mom, grandma or Aunt Eileen for some money to buy cookies, soda, hot dogs or chips that were always on sale at a little stand. Sometimes my mom would take just me and leave my brothers back at the farm with my dad. Those were the trips I felt special.
While staying at the farm, my mother would sleep in the same room with us kids. It was a huge bedroom and it had three beds in it with a wood burning furnace. I had a bed, my brother Kevin or Richard would sleep in the twin bed beside me and my mother would sleep in a double bed with Charlie and either Richard or Kevin. My dad slept in a bedroom by himself upstairs. I have no idea why this was. I’m sure there would be a number of Freudian interpretations, but I have none to offer. After my brothers went to sleep, my mother would talk to me deep into the night, confiding in me things a child should probably not be privy to. Of course, all I knew was that this was the one time I felt close to my mother. This was something special she didn’t share with my brothers, only with me. I would listen intently, nod like I knew exactly what she was talking about and fall asleep to the gentle painful whispers of my mother’s voice. Maybe that’s one of many reasons I have such difficulty sleeping at night to this day, I am subconsciously afraid I will miss something important if I fall asleep.
I love to sing. I sing all the time, every chance I get. This is something else I got from my mother. She sang quite a bit, to the sounds of Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, The Four Tops, Loretta Lynn, Gene Pitney, and so many other greats of that era. I loved it when my mother sang because it seemed like all was right with the world. My mother was happy, and that meant everyone was happy. I grew up watching “All My Children,” “One Life to Live,” “General Hospital” and “Dark Shadows” and I watched them well into my adulthood. I sat with my mom in those afternoons as we followed the lives of Erica Kane during her first pregnancy and controversial abortion on a daytime TV, I followed the storyline of the mental illness and subsequent suppressed memory of sexual abuse by her father of the noble and great Victoria Lord, and I watched as Leslie & Rick Weber was immersed with a love triangle with Monica Quartermaine and we wondered who was the real father of AJ Quartermaine. I followed the story of Barnabus Collins at the end of the day, all the while sharing a moment in time with my mother. Later, the only place I could spend time with my mother was The Eagles in downtown Barberton. You had to be buzzed in because it was a member’s only club/bar but in those days, 15 year old children at a bar with their parents was quite acceptable. It was at this bar I would meet my first husband, a 21 year old bass player in a really terrible band. I became their lead singer and everyone lied about my age.
From there on, my mother became less of an important part of my life. When I became pregnant with my first child, my mother made it very clear she was not to be called to babysit. As she put it “I’ve raised my children, I don’t want to raise yours.” For the next few decades, I struggled to make her a part of my life. It was a struggle I was to lose, but I never stopped trying to come to some kind of a peaceful resolution with her. I was to learn more about myself in the process than I could ever have dreamed.
I reconnected with her that last year of her life because Spirit placed in my soul a sense of urgency. Spirit is nothing if not wise, for it allowed me an ending to my struggle. It allowed me to have a sense of having made every possible effort, though I am not sure even now the ultimate success or failure of that effort. It is difficult to place that type of a label on it. After my mother’s last call, we never spoke again. Just a few months after that call, she would die quietly and without ceremony in her sleep. I was never to know my mother on any level that really mattered. I would never know her hopes, her dreams, I would never know what events made her into the woman she was. What I do know is that my mother had a childhood from hell, being raised with an alcoholic and profoundly abusive father. I know he would come into the bedroom she shared with her brothers and he would take her in the middle of the night. I know her Uncle Harry was a pedophile who bragged about “having” all his girls. I know nothing of her mother except that she died when my mother was just entering puberty and my mother hated her new step-mother that followed. I don’t know what kind of relationship she had with her mother, but if her relationship with me was any indication, it wasn’t very nurturing. I know my mother married a man who was in the military and while he was stationed overseas, she had an affair with the man who I was to know as my father. I know my father was mentally, verbally and emotionally abusive to her. She spiraled into a haze of alcoholism after they divorced and met a man named Jim who seemed very kind but I don’t know what kind of relationship they actually had. My mother never spoke of her struggles to anyone. I have spoken with her brother Danny and he didn’t know her very well either. She confided in no one and had no one she could call a close friend. My mother had walls built around her so high, so thick and so impenetrable, no one would ever scratch the solid exterior. She became a soldier so efficient that no one would be able to get close to her heart, not even her children. It is how she survived.
My mother died as she lived, without ceremony and alone. She died on a day when she was expected to be at work, and her coworkers alerted the landlord when she did not show up for her shift. Had it been during the weekday, it might have been days before someone found her body. When my brother called me, he had also taken her cat home with him. He asked me if I knew the name of her cat. I did not. My mother’s memorial service was attended by two people, my brother Charlie and my brother Richard. I had just started a new job and could not afford the flight back to Ohio to attend. She was interned quite by accident next to my father, a man she hated until the day she died. He returned those feelings. Somehow, it seems a fitting ending to this story, that the two people who created and destroyed the lives of four innocent children should be bound for eternity next to one another and yet I do not believe their souls are entwined. I believe my mother is finally free. I believe her pain has finally lifted and I am grateful.
There is no loving tribute, no moving memorial to write. There is only the end, and thanks to the sense of urgency Spirit instilled in me to make contact with her, I have an end to write.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Twilight washed from daylight, wrapping into darkness
Numbing the mind and heart, eluding sleep which awaits
Dreams unformed free to roam in thought, no boundaries
Floating free, mind body and soul
Darkness awaits, greeting and beckoning
Twilight dares not to enter
Daylight slipping fast, sinking into an abyss
Sadness rips happiness, sinking deep into depression
Numbing the mind and the heart, eluding the joy which awaits
Pain unformed, free to roam the soul, no boundaries
Floating free, mind, body and soul
Darkness awaits, greeting and beckoning
Happiness dares not to form
Awareness fading fast, slipping into an abyss
Colors expand, traveling through your mind
Images slide show through your dreams
Vignettes out of context, confused meanings portrayed
Floating free, mind body and soul
Light in the distance behind closed eyes
Groggy and fatigued awareness dawns upon thoughts
Not enough sleep but arousal to life
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Everything, living or dead has its time. That is how this earthly plane works. In our youth, we are oblivious of it, all things live forever, and everything that is always will be. As we age, we experience loss. Some losses are easier than others are, like when a favorite toys breaks and cannot be replaced. That memory fades quickly as we find a new favorite toy. The memory of the old waits inside the boxes we place in our heart, only needing the right key to open it for a few brief moments. We smile as the box is gently opened, rushing back the memory for a few glorious seconds. Warmth rushes over our skin, in that single moment our heart is light, and there is a tiny breeze of happiness. Then the lid of the box slowly closes as the memory fades back into the box and placed yet again on the shelves of our heart, waiting for another day, another key, another lost feeling to reopen it to us. Other losses are harder, like when our best playmate moves away. We don’t understand yet what moving away means, like we don’t understand dying, but we know what was will not ever be again. When we go outside to play, they will not be there, only the remnants of our memory, remnants of our time with them. Like the toy, that memory is placed in a box in our heart, awaiting the key, the time the place to reawaken our heart to it. Then there is death, the worst loss of all but this story is not about death. It is about a Ho Ho.
This week, it was announced that the company who manufactures Ho Hos will be closing their business. They made Wonder Bread and Twinkies as well, but for me it was all about the Ho Hos. These are the memories that will be placed in a box in my heart, and likely, there will be boxes for my children as well. It all started when I met Tiffany at The Battered Women’s Shelter. I've always liked Ho Hos, but for us it would become our comfort food in times of trouble. It was a bad time for us both. Money was hard to come by and pleasures were few. We drew happiness from each other, drew upon each other’s strengths, and made each other’s weakness into strengths. She was my Yin and I was her Yang. We were opposites in so many ways but we brought out the best in each other. We got each other through the worst times in our lives. In this, there were Ho Hos.
I’ve lost count of the number of Ho Hos we ate, but tragedy went something like this. Whenever one of us was broken, who ever had enough food stamps at the time came over with six things and it always started with Ho Hos. It was rare we shared those with the children, though they did beg. There was one child who was successful in getting the precious Ho Hos. That was my daughter Christina. Neither Tiff nor I could resist her but we had to sneak it to her. This ritual was between Tiff and I, it was our time to regain balance in our lives, time to curse the fates and time to plan how we were going to get out of this mess. We had a way to eat them, too. The pain we felt was too great for milk, so we would eat them with Coca Cola while the frozen pizza awaited its time in the oven. We began by peeling off the candy chocolate coating from the cake. We tried very hard not to disturb it, because as the Ho Ho unfolded, so did our pain. We peeled away the chocolate as tears fell from our eyes. Sometimes it would take a very long while because we had to catch our breath in between the sobs. Somewhere between the sobs, there was always a joke that would allow us to continue eating our Ho Ho. When the Ho Ho no longer had its coating, we unrolled the cake. That was tricky because the idea was not to break the Ho Ho. Anyone who has ever tried to unroll one knows how difficult that is to achieve. Of course, we ate the broken Ho Ho anyway, we had more. We repeated this with the Ho Hos until there weren’t any more tears to cry. There would be more tears, but not now. About this time, the pizza was ready and it was time to feed the children. While we released our pain, they got a pizza picnic in the living room if we were talking in the kitchen, or they would eat in the kitchen if we were talking in the bedroom. If we were in our bedroom, the conversation was indeed grave and we were the ones having a picnic. We let the children gorge on pizza, soda, and cartoons while we healed our wounded heart.
After we ate the pizza, we would take a break while we continued to talk. The pizza was the anger of the situation that brought us heartache. Soon it would be time for Lawson’s Chip dip and chips. That was the acceptance part of the healing. From there, it would be the butter pecan ice cream, which represented the planning part of the healing. This was where we dug ourselves out. By this time, we were often exhausted and we settled in for a sleep over. The crisis that had brought us together now had a plan for resolution and it was time to go back being mothers again.
So this announcement marks another passing, another something who’s time has come. It is likely another company will buy the brand and continue to make Ho Hos, but it will not be the same. Tiffany and I have grown apart and are no longer friends, our children have grown, and though they shared endless hours of play and sleepovers, they never talk to one another either. That is how life goes. People come into your life with a purpose and leave for a reason. I haven’t eaten Ho Hos in many years, even in times of trouble because without Tiffany it just isn’t the same. Today that box in my heart opened and out flooded the memories. I can’t recount the heartaches that brought us together specifically, but I remember the love of two very good friends eating Ho Hos, peeling the chocolate and unrolling the cakes. I remember laughing through the sobs and I remember playing with my children instead of crawling into bed to hide from the world. Tiffany made me a better person, a stronger person. Ho Hos made it a memory I will always treasure.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Silently the soldier has lain dormant, waiting without a sound for the time of transition. His captain has fought bravely, following orders, calling to duty but patience has triumphed over strength. It always shall. Lying in wait takes no skill, just patience. Fighting requires great expenditures of energy and faith, which are finite. The captain cedes this is the manifest of destiny.
The captain has deluded himself that he is greater than he was. Recognizing his own weakness is a revelation of despair. Years have passed in this manner, believing his greatest strength lie in all that is greater than he is, yet assured he was strong enough for the task. Futility sweeps the soul. All he believed, all he knew is false, like the prophets fronting ancient religion. Nothing is real, but it is as it always has been. This is what is known. The soldier, dormant for so long has awakened to the unwitting call of the captain.
Quelling through the heart, the soldier rises. The captain knows he is not alone. Powerless as he is washed in fatigue, acceptance argues with reason. The captain is so very tired. The season of rest is nearing. Those who would condemn the captain have not fought themselves; they do not understand the battle. They do not know the soldier lurks. They cannot see that which has remained hidden and quiet. Fear engulfs every turn, inflicting a vast emptiness crowding out the light of the soul. It is exhausting to bring light into the darkness day after day, year after year, season after season. Winter is fast approaching. The soldier is armed.
The past has been spoken in ancient spirit and precedes the future. What has been spoken cannot be changed by the will of the captain, though his life has been spent trying. This is the despair swirling chaos deep inside his mind. The captain understands now, as he has always known that his own life has held little meaning apart from his unit. Acts of courage and bravery have resulted in the name of his men he could not have achieved in isolation, away from his men. This is what destiny means, and his destiny has risen. The soldier looms with his weapon, releasing the safety.
The captain has achieved in love what should not have been. Humbly, the captain acknowledges it was not the glory of his deeds which called the prophecy, but the purity of his love for his men. He once thought his bravery was great, but now understands his love was and is what is great. When the soldier fires his shot, it is love, which will remain. The future belongs to the men he created in the heat of battle. Their bravery will meet the future, a new destiny to unfold. The soldier aims, the captain sighs. The shot rings true and greets its mark without fail.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Some things never change, even when you dared to think they might. The mother I have known all my life made her appearance.
A few months ago, my daughter started her journey with Cervical Cancer. After two surgeries, we are waiting to see what happens, but this story is not about her as it were. When I told my mother that her granddaughter was facing cancer, and we did not really know anything other than that at the time, her response was “Well, I guess you have two of us to worry about now.” I just said “Yeah” and completed the call. What else was there to say? I understand she is facing her own health issues, but after two weeks of crying every day after hearing the news, I just did not have the energy to deal with my mother. That conversation took place in June and I haven’t spoken to her since. She called once about a week after that and left a voice mail message, she wanted some old life insurance policy my father had for me. She wanted to cash it in. I didn’t return the call, she didn’t ask in the voice mail how either me or her granddaughter were doing. The entire message was about her.
After I hung up the phone, I laughed. That was my mother, all right. Most people, upon hearing the news might offer emotional support, might ask how you are coping with everything, but my mother does none of those things. Even so, I accepted this is my mother. Her capacity to relate to others is very limited. As I functioned in my life, my daughter’s future was always on my mind. I went to work, did all the things I knew I should do, but my heart was heavy as we did the next thing the doctor advised. Days went by without me thinking much about my mother at all. I had a great deal on my mind as it was. One day, I realized I had not heard from my mother for weeks. A month had passed without a single phone call. Then another month passed. We are now at the third month without a single word.
My daughter is fine for the moment, but she could not know that. I have no explanation at this point, no frame of reference I could offer as to why my mother could respond with this degree of selfishness. I must admit I am disappointed. My mother lacks basic feeling toward another human being. It is not that I expected her to be able to offer much in the way of support during this time, but I did expect her to respond with some level of depth. People who barely knew me would ask how things were going now and then. My mother can only see life as it relates to her. What can you do with someone that profoundly damaged? There is too much going on in my life now to be able to process this. That is how the days slipped into weeks slipped into months without contact with her. I have come full circle with her, again.
As in the past, when my life has been fraught with well, life, I focus on the immediate problem and let everything else slide by the wayside. My friends and family keep in touch, I return the calls that I can and life goes on. My mother is not capable of maintaining a relationship that does not revolve around her. I should know this by now, I could certainly attest to it. While I am dealing with my daughter facing a life threatening illness, work, my own relationship and building anxiety, my mother is nowhere to be found and I don’t have the energy to track her down. By the time I settle down at night and think about it, it is too late to call. And this may well be where the story of my mother and I end. I would have to say it is rather anticlimactic.
No amount of understanding my mother changes how I feel, no amount of desire to have a relationship with her changes who she is. No amount of patience can heal the damage she has suffered, or rescue a soul so lifeless. For that, I will have to trust that Spirit can disrupt the cycle of evil for my mother. I was not up to the task. I ended the perversion for my daughters and for myself. I cannot go back in time to relieve my mother’s pain. I don’t regret initiating a call with her almost a year ago, but it didn’t seem to accomplish anything. I am in the exact same spot as I was a year ago, for all I know my mother died and that’s why she never called again. If I were to call her only to discover she is just fine I wouldn’t begin to know what to say to her. One thing I can say about this experience, I am very grateful I did not end up like my mother. I wish her peace, and freedom from the chains that have shackled her life.
Pedophiles don’t just kill the soul of the child, they kill the adult that child might have become. They kill the parent they might have been and the partner they should have been. They don’t just kill that child, they kill the souls for generations of children. I am astounded at the significance that one act of perversion proliferates. I don’t know what a pedophile thinks to justify sex with a child. To me, there is no justification and when the damage is accounted for, and in accounting that damage, there is no justice either. You can’t give back a childhood, you can’t give back what a mother should have been or the father he could have been. So many people cry for the death penalty for pedophile, in recognition of the massive harm they elicit, but there’s no justice in the pedophile’s death, either. When it comes to sexual crimes against children, there simply is no justice.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
I’ve always dated younger men, though the two men I fell in love with years ago were both older than I was by seven years. My first husband was also older. In my thirties, dating younger men was something of a joke among my friends; we called them my “babies.” They were toys to me, nothing more. I was busy raising my daughters and they really had no place in my life except for fun. And they were quite a bit of fun at that. It wasn’t an ego boost for me, since I have then and still do consider myself to be attractive. I have the attitude that men should want to be with me, so having them around was something of a novelty. Women weren’t really into dating younger men yet, this was twenty years ago. I always was ahead of the trends, and I still am.
After my second marriage ended, I wasn’t interested in dating at any level. I had to work on me. I had brought another abusive man into my life when I thought I was making a good choice in a husband. That gave me pause. He was a different type of an abuser than my first husband, one I did not recognize and by the time I did, I was in too deep. I didn’t know how to extract myself without damaging my children further. He was so sneaky in his abuse; I didn’t realize how he was tearing me down until long after we were married. By then, I had built a life with him for my children. I stayed with him, thinking I could weather his emotional, psychological and eventually sexual abuse because I am a strong woman. I thought I could bear it without it affecting who I was. I was very wrong. It took me a long time to heal from that and even longer to feel comfortable with the thought of dating again. When I did, the only form of “dating” I could tolerate was one night stands. It was my preference; it was what I could accept in my life. I couldn’t allow anyone to get too close to me for fear of losing myself again. Having a regular companion in my life wasn’t worth it.
Now here I am in my late forties. I am in my very late forties at that. I am still dating younger men, and while I have gotten older they have not. I sort of made a rule not to date anyone under the age of thirty anymore, since my oldest daughter is that age, so when I became friends with a twenty-five year old man I never considered anything more with him. We were just friends; we shared quite a bit in common. I had fun with him. He was older than his years in wisdom, an “old soul” my grandmother would have said. He was more than that; we knew each other in a previous life. He was one of my soul mates. I recognized who he was right away, but refused to believe we would have anything more than a friendship between us. After all, the age difference was great. As the friendship grew, it became clear there was more between us than just friendship. One night, we sat in my living room on the floor, across from one another and talked about it. That was strange all by itself, but we both wanted clarity on what was really happening with us. He initially thought I was about ten years younger than I am. A fifteen year difference didn’t seem so bad, but it was a little off-putting to have a twenty-four year span. So we took it slow and kept it quiet.
I didn’t tell anyone when we first started dating because I knew this relationship was time limited. We were right for each other for right now, but he had his whole life ahead of him and I had already lived a good part of mine. Besides, I didn’t want the drama my relationship with him was going to create. I knew there would be criticism, I had no idea how strong some of it would be, nor would I expect it from the people it came from. For the first few months, it was blissful and I was happy. There were rumors at work, almost from the start. I denied them and so did he. Since we worked together, we made sure not to take our breaks together, nor did we socialize much at all during working hours. Still, it seemed that people persisted in talking. There wasn’t anything we could do about it, except to ignore them.
Within days of the rumors starting, I began to get a couple of disturbing phone calls. They came up with his number on the caller ID, so I thought nothing of answering the phone at 2am. They were awful, and I was scared. I talked to him about them & we soon figured out it was another girl at work who had made it very clear she wanted to date him. There is a phone application that “spoofs” numbers so someone can call someone else without their number showing on the caller ID. She had my phone number because I gave it to her thinking we were friends. He became upset with her when she wouldn’t stop making overt advances on him and he unfriended her from his Facebook page. She retaliated by making obscene and threatening calls to me and using another man to do her dirty work. She was fired for other reasons not long after that and it stopped, but I chalked it up to a random event.
Shortly before I was to take my vacation home, I did change my relationship status on Facebook from single to “in a relationship.” Immediately people wanted to know the details. Instead of knowing what kind of person he is, the only detail that seemed to capture anyone’s attention was his age. Though his age was not an ego boost for me, it seemed to be another notch on my belt to others. Some of my friends thought he was another one of my toys and they seemed puzzled when I told them I actually cared for him. Others were concerned for me, knowing as I did that the relationship was going to end and since I did love him, I was going to be hurt. There were a few people who immediately and unceremoniously unfriended me, I guess I assaulted their sense of morality. Most of my friends supported me in my relationship with him and were happy I had found someone who brought out the best in me. Then there were my children, who were absolutely cruel to me, something I never expected from them.
My youngest refused to let me talk to her about him at all, deeming the subject “gross.” I wasn’t talking about my sexual relationship! I wanted to share with her the normal things anyone would want to talk about, what he was like, the things he did for me, how he made me laugh. When I was on the phone with him, she sighed heavily. The middle daughter seemed to be interested, but she wouldn’t voice her disapproval directly to me. Instead, she went to my eldest daughter who became the spokesperson for my daughters. I could understand them not being comfortable with me dating someone younger than two of the three girls, but they went farther than that. My eldest went so far to say that it was “morally wrong” for me to date someone that young. I live across the country, it wasn’t even as if they had to be exposed to the man I was dating. As she couldn’t convince me to immediately break up with him on moral grounds, her “logic” became more hurtful. There had to be something mentally wrong with him to want to be with me, she said. As if being with her mother meant he had to have a mental or emotional illness! Then there had to be something wrong with me, surely I was depressed. As evidence she used examples of activities I no longer participate in to indicate said depression. I wasn’t depressed, for the first time in a long time I was living and not just existing. I didn’t have the time and energy to do all the things I used to do and with asthma significantly impacting the quality of my life I had better things to do with the time I did have. She went on in this vein for about an hour, hoping I would agree to break up with him. Finally I asked “He makes me happy, I am happy when I am with him, doesn’t that matter to you? Doesn’t it matter to you that I am happy?” She replied “no, it did not.” My happiness was not as important to them as their comfort level.
Coming home from vacation was initially a relief as I felt like I was truly coming home. As we discussed what my children had said, and the feedback from others we were getting, his youth began to surface. He took what my children said to heart. He is, after all, very young and cares very much what others think of him. He is a people pleaser and wants others to like him. It was the beginning of the end for us as he simply quit calling, quit coming over, quit spending any time with me. Though I understood what had happened, it saddened me greatly that my children’s intolerance affected my relationship and I decided then and there I would not discuss any relationships any further with them, nor would I discuss how people in my life viewed the person I was dating. It was a mistake to think I could be honest in all areas of my life. People don’t want honesty; they want the illusion of you they create in their mind. I thought I had raised my children better than that, I have always shown them who I was but in their infinite wisdom of young adulthood they have chosen illusion over reality. They don’t like the reality of who their mother is; they want a more traditional version. Traditional is something I have never been.
He and I remained friends, he didn’t do anything that would have interfered in that, but I missed him. I was sad for a while. I have been dating, but it wasn’t the same. I let him in to a place no one had been in over ten years. He got to know me. I missed his companionship, I missed being free to be me with him. When you are dating someone you are getting to know, there is a significant element of illusion that goes along with it. I don’t like that. I would much rather start off with honesty than illusion but that’s not the way dating works. Since he and I began as friends, there was never any illusion. He saw me more without any make-up on than he ever did with it. I think I appreciated that about our relationship more than anything else. I missed him lying in bed beside me, his arms wrapped around me. I felt safe there. I missed watching movies with him while sitting on the floor with a pizza picnic. I missed walking the dog with him and talking about Spirit. He understood what I was talking about because he felt the same way. I missed meditating with him and sharing the things that mattered most to both of us. The frivolity of dating does nothing to begin to fill the void. Most of all, I miss laughing with him. We found humor in the most unusual things, and we got each other’s sense of humor. Life went on.
It seemed he missed being with me too because we got back together. It didn’t last long. The rumors had persisted at work and yet another young, delusional girl was falling all over herself to be with him. She was also his Facebook friend and made it clear she wanted to date him. She even had others come up to him to tell him as much and in front of me, no less. He told them and her repeatedly that he wasn’t interested but she wouldn’t give up. She cleaned his desk on his days off, she bought him sodas and other little things she knew he liked and it was really annoying. As he always does, he continued to be nice to her, but his patience was waning. Meanwhile, I was becoming sick with the asthma again but without a clear reason as to why.
She liked spraying things like hairspray, air freshener and perfume. It is common knowledge I am a severe asthmatic, but she was not on our work team when the first attack happened. When she sprayed a large amount of cheap perfume in my vicinity, we chalked it up to thoughtlessness. It caused a major attack which required me going back on prednisone to get under some semblance of control, yet I still couldn’t seem to catch my breath. After the first attack, my boss made it clear to everyone not to spray aerosols in the air. She had a different agenda, though. With me out of the way she thought she would have a chance with him. She kept spraying things, but not enough to set off an attack, just to make me sick. It wasn’t happening fast enough for her, though and the second time she sprayed a strong air freshener and set off another attack about a week later. I had to miss work after that one. A few days later, she did it again. The next day I went to my boss to ask what could be done and he said I didn’t have to worry about her anymore. I asked if he knew why she would keep spraying chemicals in the air she knew would make me sick and quite possibly send me to the hospital, my even tempered patient boss said “Because she is a mean ass bitch.”
As the events unfolded, it became clear she intended to cause me severe distress at the very least, telling other coworkers that it was her intent to kill me. They didn’t believe her, they thought she was kidding. She was not. She didn’t think she could get fired because she never laid a hand on me. The day after she was fired, a computer generated noted appeared on my door with a single word on it “bitch.” She knew where I lived. It was time to take a more defensive approach. I broke up with him this time, there had to be a reason why not one but two mentally unbalanced women were coming after me. He may not have been doing anything intentional, but he was drawing them into my life. I taped a note of my own on my door, stating the apartment and carport was now under internet video surveillance and all visitors were being photographed. I also talked at work about some strange events that were happening at my apartment and how cheap it was to install wireless cameras that fed images to my computer 24/7. I knew some of my coworkers were still in contact with her and sure enough one of them sent a text message to her almost before I could finish the sentence. It has been quiet here ever since.
There are a lot of men I won’t date because of the drama they bring with them. I won’t date a married man for this reason, nor will I date a man who is in a committed relationship with someone else. I won’t date someone who is less than two years divorced or widowed, and I won’t date anyone with children who are underage. I won’t date anyone close to my age who hasn’t stepped into the fires of marriage and divorce and I won’t date anyone who is an addict. I am thinking that men in their twenties have more drama associated with them than I care to deal with as well. At least this time when it ended, I wasn’t left yearning for what I thought we had. It ended in a way that left me free to know it wasn’t going to work regardless of his age. He was interacting with them in a way that led them to believe either I was a threat to them or that they had a claim to him in some way, whether it was real or not. I don’t know if he was leading them on or if he was really cheating on me with them and it doesn’t matter. Men of all ages like to play this game when their ego is being stroked.
If I have learned anything from this it would be that honesty is what people say they want; it’s what they say they prize but it is not what they really want. My children don’t want the mother I am, they want the mother they want me to be. For years I played the role of what a mother should be because that is what they needed to be successful adults. I left many parts of me on hold while I nurtured the children I had. That is what adults do. I put the needs of the children above any needs or desires I might have had. My honesty with my boyfriend caused the first break with him. I should not have told him why I was crying almost every day I was visiting my children. Their opinion of him wasn’t any of his business and it didn’t matter what their opinion was, it didn’t change how I felt about him. Honesty was not the best policy here, either. As far as my friends go, honesty seems to be fine with them. The friends who have remained are worth keeping and are worth being honest with. They have proven they can accept me exactly the way I am, and support me in whatever my heart leads me to. If it is with a twenty something man they know will break my heart, they will be there when I am happy cheering me on. When he does break my heart, they will be there with vodka in hand, telling me what a worthless piece of shit he is and telling me I deserved better anyway. That’s what friends are for.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
I know my fiction fans are a bit upset with me right now, though I am sure they understand for those of them who know what is going on in my personal life. Besides a very close loved one recently being diagnosed with cancer, I recently broke up with a boyfriend I actually loved. I will write about that soon, but I have to write what I feel. I guess I am a slave to my desires in that regard. Part of being true to me is not always delivering what my readers may want. The people pleasing part of me wants to apologize. The rest of me just can’t bring myself to do it.
I am so disappointed right now. So much evil has been proliferated because the masses remained silent, but it is not the masses with whom my disappointment lies. I have struggled my entire life to shed the shackles of my subjugation to men. I have battled demons with my sexuality to garner some frame of reference for my self-esteem. I know I am not alone in this, I have heard from so many of you who have fought this battle, who still fight this battle. While I am glad my story touches the lives of so many, I have failed in the most prolific manner. My daughters are apathetic to the plight of women. How can this be? I am their mother! I don’t know how this could have happened, unless it is because I often sacrificed my future, my happiness for theirs. Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do for their children? I chose to bring them into this world; I chose to be responsible for their lives, their happiness. Wasn’t it my duty to throw myself on the pyres of hell to ensure their future? And I did, especially with my second husband. In order to ensure they had (what I tried to create for them) the illusion of a “good” man, a “decent” father, so they had a “positive” male role model in their lives, I sacrificed everything that I was in order to keep the marriage intact. I almost lost who I was, I nearly did not survive. I emerged from the remnants of that marriage a shadow of who I was and it took years to regain the woman I am. I hid from my children the emotional, sexual and mental abuse I endured so that they could have a “traditional” family. I recognize how important the strength of a father is to a young girl, so I sacrificed myself in order that they should have it.
It worked, I guess. For the most part, they have chosen well in their choices of mates. My middle daughter did enter into an abusive marriage, but that is complex with other factors. She has left him now. Time will tell if the men they have chosen will live up to my expectations of them, but I have no areas of concern with those men. I do, however, worry about my daughters. They are independent women, as far as I can tell. More will be revealed as the relationships with their boyfriends unfold. My eldest has graduated as a doctor. Will she keep the family name I worked hard to subscribe to us? Or will she bow to the “traditional” format and take his? She has already told me she will be converting to Catholicism and raising my grandchildren as Catholic because that is the religion of his family. I don’t honestly know if that is what her core beliefs are or if she is succumbing to a pattern of behavior. As much as I despise the Catholic dogma, if that is her core belief I support her in it. She has to be free and comfortable in who she is and what she believes. That is more important to me than her living my “truth.” I want my children to be secure in their spirituality, even if it is misplaced in religious dogma. I understand that religious dogma preys on the innocence of youth; I know it did for me as well. Part of my spiritual journey traveled through religious dogma. I can’t expect their youthful journey to be any more advanced when I was learning about unconditional love and Spirit myself. They have not had the opportunity I have had in meeting with Spirit. Few actually have. It is inconceivable the expansive nature of the love of Spirit. I am constantly in awe of it myself.
My youngest daughter is so independent in her relationship with her boyfriend, I fear she is sacrificing what is hers to own in the relationship with extreme independence. That would be my fault. Have I modeled she is not deserving of what is hers to demand? I don’t know. Sometimes I feel as if I am independent to my own detriment. I have not had men in my life who have proven I can rely on them. I know there are men like that out there, I have friends who adore their husbands, but it has not been something I have been exposed to. I wonder if I cut off my nose to spite my face. I know at the end of the day I can count on myself to pull me out of any messes, I have not been able to say the same of any man in my life. No man has been by my side through the trials I have faced. I have faced them with strength, determination and on my own two feet. It has made me who I am today and I cannot say I am unhappy with myself. I know I can face anything thrown my way and rise to smell the roses in amidst the shit. My shackles have made me acutely aware of the shackles we face as women and I tirelessly advocate for fairness and equality for our gender. It is a frustrating battle most of the time as many women do not understand they are cuffed. My daughters are among those and this is where I have failed. I have always fought in the face of injustice for our gender, and I cannot understand how they have taken this for granted.
A short recap of my struggle is in order. I was born and raised in a small, blue collar redneck town during the 1970’s. Though some of my classmates did aspire to greater aspirations, my choices were nonexistent. I was raised to be barefoot, pregnant and subservient to men. My only value was in service to men and my family. I accepted this truth because I knew no other. I have friends who found “good” men and they have remained in service to their family. I do not denigrate or disrespect these friends for this; I see it as a great calling to devote oneself to the betterment of the next generation. To do this successfully, however, requires the participation of a man who is equally as dedicated. It requires an understanding that this is absolutely a joint effort, that neither partner is greater than the other. It is a commitment by both parties to focus on their family and to strengthen the bonds of the family they create. I see this as noble and vital. The reality is fraught with the shredding of our society, however. We do not all have the same opportunities to choose this life, nor are we all afforded decent men to do it with. The greatest shame of our society is that we do not demand more from the men in it. We make it easy for them to dispose of their children, to dispose of their commitments to family. Men are crucial to the family unit in so many ways, yet we allow them to disband it as if men themselves are worthless. Now that’s irony. While women are regarded in society as worthless, we allow men to exist as worthless.
I could have seen myself as a housewife, as the matriarch of my family and I could have seen myself happy in this role. I would have dedicated myself toward ensuring the future of my family, and toward creating the family I have always desired. I would have of course, remained a writer, this is a passion I cannot deny, and I would always have strived to learn as much as I could about myself and the world around me. I would have remained a dedicated servant toward making this world a better place. I would have done this while fiercely developing the family I never had. I guess you could say I would have relished my traditional role while redefining it at the same time. However I would have modeled this traditional role, I guarantee it would have been groundbreaking. I never would have sacrificed who I am in order to achieve this.
That is not how my life was meant to play out. I married what I knew, an abusive pedophile. At age 25, I would leave the only life I ever knew, I would be shunned by the only family I ever knew, and would enter the battered women’s shelter with a six year old and two year old in tow. I had never been without the protection and security of a man, going from the beatings of my father to the beatings of my husband. I had never acknowledged myself as independent; I could not view myself outside the reference of a man. Yet, somehow I knew my daughters deserved more than what my life had been. Though I was terrified, I made a life for us without a man. I made that life for many years before my second husband came along. I knew at a very deep level what pain my father had caused in my soul. I recognized how pivotal the love of a father is to the development of a young girl. I recognized how pivotal the strength and security of a family was. In other words, I knew what I had never had was important for my children and I strived to ensure they would not have my life. I knew what love was. I had been loved and I had loved in return. The problem was, both times we were in different places in our lives. The men I loved were not meant to be a part of the life I wanted for my precious girls. The man who would become my second husband was not met with love; he was met with a desire to provide what I thought he could offer to my girls. I’m sure at one time he loved me to the extent he was able. But to be fair, though I did not begin a relationship with him out of love, I did grow to love him while he pretended to be a good, solid, loving family man. I loved the image, not the man.
We entered into a family life with mutual goals, and we each thought it would be enough. We had a myriad of exceptional and devastating circumstance which challenged our life, and that likely led to our demise. The man I thought he was, he was not. I cannot speak to what he thought I might have been, but clearly I did not meet those ideals. Despite how it ended, I am not sure it wasn’t worth it. For many, many years, my children received what I never did, a family. For many years, they had what they believed to be a decent, loving father. Yes, it ended in the worst possible way for us all, but we could not have predicted that. In the interim, my daughters got what they needed. Yes, I was almost destroyed in the process, but I was not. I built myself back up. Would I do it again, knowing the results in advance? I don’t know, the ending was profoundly painful for me and my girls. What I do know, is my youngest has said that for the greatest part of her childhood, she was happy. What I do know, is for a great many years, I had a functional family with his extended family. What I do know is that I miss my father-in-law and mother-law when we used to be a family. Given our political and religious differences, I don’t know my father-in-law reads this blog, but if he does, he will know he had a profound impact on my life and I miss him dearly. He is not his son; he is a better man than his son could ever dream of being. I hold him in the highest regard.
Emerging from that marriage I was shattered. I didn’t know if I could rebuild a life, but with the help of so many people who loved and believed in me, I did. I was a housewife with no immediate marketable skills, but I regained my career and provided a life for the last child I had remaining, my youngest. I lost everything, the marital home, my dignity and custody of her, yet I managed to rebuild all of it. I lost custody of her while when I was homeless, I regained custody of her to provide a very nice home for her. For six very tiring years I commuted an hour or two every day to my job so she could remain in the town she grew up in, the town where she had friends and a social support network. She had friends and loved ones here, I could not rip her away from it so my life would be easier. I suppose you could name a plethora of reason why I didn’t date during this time, and they would all be valid, but the overriding theme was that I was simply too tired. My daughter needed to know my full attention and commitment was in her best interests, even though she was going through the separation phase of our relationship. She needed to know that everything I did, I did with her first, though she will never admit to it. She told me once I sacrificed nothing for her. She couldn’t see that working 60-70 hours a week in a job 1-2 hours away (depending on site) was more sacrifice than she could imagine. I was so very tired. I never regretted a moment of lost rest.
This is what I have done, the example I have provided for my girls. Of course, that’s the outline. I have shown them what a strong female role model can accomplish in the face of insurmountable odds. They do not understand how much of myself I have sacrificed on their behalf, it is not their debt to pay, it was done in my purity of the love I have for them. It is what I owed to them for bringing them into this human life from the spiritual life. Yes, they chose me, but they could not have predicted the choices I would make with my life, or the lack of choices I would have. All they knew was that I was a good possibility to provide for them the growth they would need in this lifetime. That is why I am so disappointed in them. They don’t read this; they are too wrapped up in their own life. Even if they did, my stance would not change. I’m not sure theirs would, either. I raised them with permission to disagree with me as long as they could support their arguments. They think their arguments are supported in fact, I know I did at their age. I accept this. Maturity comes with experience they have not had the opportunity to have.
They view me as radical, as a political feminist with irrational views. They don’t understand the fight I vehemently defend on their behalf because they have not had to endure the subjugation and humiliation I have endured simply because of my gender. They take for granted access to birth control. My eldest daughter told me once that if she became pregnant, she would have an abortion. Though I will defend a woman’s right to choose until my dying breath, it is not the desirable outcome. I’ve said it before, aborting a child is the act of a desperate woman who knows full well what the sanctity of life means. The lack of choices I had drove me to aborting my baby. Had my life been different, this child would have been born. Had my daughter become pregnant, she would have had an array of choices I did not have. She would have had both the support of me and the father’s mother on her side. She would have had the ability to raise this child, though it might have delayed her career path. I had no one. I don’t know what her choices would have been at the end of the day. She can’t even know, but I know she would have had supports available to her I did not. It would have colored her decision. I can’t help but wonder now that she is converting to Catholicism if she still feels the same way. She takes for granted that she had access to birth control. I don’t understand how she can convert to a religious dogma that would keep her shackled in the underpinnings of male domination. I don’t understand how she can espouse a culture in which women are regarded in well, so little regard. Catholicism is grounded in male domination. It cannot survive without it. It is also the direct cause of more human suffering throughout history than I can bear if I choose to give it thought. It is as if she is regressing in all I have fought to instill in her.
When she was around the ages of 8-10, she attended Girl Scout Camp. She has suffered throughout most of her life with severe ear aches and anyone who has had them knows what kind of hellish, unrelenting pain that is. No one wants to see someone they love suffer, especially a child. While at camp, one hit her. She asked the camp counselor at night if she could go see the camp nurse, because she was in unbearable pain. The teenage counselor denied her request. My daughter suffered with it the entire night. She called me the next day to tell me how mean the counselor was. She was in tears from the pain which had grown worse over time. True to my form, I yelled at my daughter for being the agent in her own suffering. I told my daughter that I would have her back in any rule she needed to break in order to get her needs met, but she had better be certain she was right. I told her that if she was in that kind of pain, she needed to disobey the counselor and march herself off to the nurse. I would fight any consequences she might incur. Though I ran to her defense (while yelling at the camp director for the lack of training the counselors had) I got her treatment in the nearest emergency room. I created a monster that day. Not a monster who was wrong, but a monster none the less. My daughter beat the shit out of a jock who grabbed her ass and I fought the principal of her high school because the jock would not face consequences but he wanted to suspend my daughter for fighting. Sexual assault of my daughter was permitted if the jock was the star of the football team. She could hear me ripping the principal a new one on the other side of the building. It was a story of my legend. In college, she broke the nose of another student who touched her sexually as well. Fortunately for her, I was President of the Honor Society at the college and knew the Dean. The male student was suspended after I made a few not so veiled threats to the Dean, including an article in the local newspaper about how the community college permitted the overt and permissive sexual assault of the female students, without recourse for defense. My daughter suffered no adverse consequences for defending her right not to be sexually assaulted on campus, despite breaking the nose of the male student. I fear my daughter has forgotten the monster she became in order to conform to the societal norms she has adopted as values. She used to fight for what is right, now she unfriends her mother on Facebook because of her political views. She has unfriended her mother who fought for her right not to be an object of sexual gratification. She says I am an embarrassment which would impair her career, impacting it negatively. This is what I am supposed to understand. This is why I am so disappointed in her, not because she unfriended me, but because she has conformed to her own subjugation.
My youngest daughter is a less reliable read per say, she has not had to fight the same fight as her older sister. By the time she came around, her mother was already legend. No one wanted to go up against me where my daughters were concerned. There was no battle too large for me to fight for them. I was a warrior defending my girls against the shackles of a male dominated culture. My daughters would have choices; they would not be an unwilling victim in how life presented itself to them. It has always seemed as if I was dealing with the circumstances of my life instead of directing the course. I wanted my girls to be masters of their own destiny. They don’t remember what it was like for birth control to be illegal to obtain without their husband’s permission. They don’t remember what it was like to be raped by your husband as you are seeking a divorce and when you present your complaint of rape to the prosecutor be told that you signed a legally binding contract for sexual consent when you married, no rape had occurred. It sure felt like rape. When I screamed in silence, it felt like rape. When I cried in the shower, trying to wash the filth from my body, it sure felt like rape. When I was too ashamed to look at my body in the mirror, it sure felt like rape. When the thought of having sex with a man turned my stomach, it sure felt like rape, but no rape had occurred. They know nothing of what I have struggled with, nor of what women before me have fought for them to have the minimal rights they do. They are comfortable in their nest. I am the radical feminist with political views too strong for them.
They don’t understand they remain a prisoner in their own subjugation because the fight has not adversely affected them. The problem is, it should not need to be brought home on a personal level for them not to see that inequality between the sexes in inherently and profoundly reprehensible on all levels. They seem to be happy in their illusion, it is not their problem. The war on women is some ideological manifestation of politics which does not affect them in the here and now. They take for granted what has been gained cannot be lost. That is my disappointment, that they are not outraged at the assault on women from all GOP religious fronts. Viagra is not a medically lifesaving medication but it is covered at full cost while we struggle to pay for birth control. A married woman should not be in the position to decide whether to buy shoes for her child or this month’s birth control pill pack. We are still at a grave disadvantage when denying our husbands the “right” to sexual contact. He doesn’t care that his child needs shoes, he only cares that his needs are serviced and if they are not he will find the next willing woman to spread her legs for him. Birth control is not his problem because we as a society have deemed him at less value than that of a woman. A woman is in the majority when caring for her children, abandoning her child is rare. Most men abandon their children without so much as a backwards glance. Men need to be held at a higher accountability for procreation if we are ever to make progress toward “traditional” family values. It takes a village to raise a child, but a father goes a very long way. We need to stop discounting his influence, and we need to stop giving him a free pass when procreating. It takes more than child support to raise a child. It takes a man.
I have not even broached the inequality at a single woman’s sexual expression, I could write a book on female inequality. I am disappointed in my daughters for their overwhelming lack of interest. They remain silent while relegating me to the nut house. It concerns me; I didn’t set that example for them. They live their life in isolation; the societal issues are no reflection to them. They are not alone; I see apathy everywhere I look. My only comfort is that I will be in the grips of Alzheimer’s when these issues begin to hit home for them as they make serious decisions about their lives and their futures. Maybe none of this will ever hit them. Wouldn’t that be nice for them? They can sit in judgment of the women whose lives are affected by these draconian laws, and be superior in the decisions they made. They can forget the life their mother struggled against, and the battles she fought on their behalf so they can judge other women less worthy and perpetuate the subjugation of yet another generation. They can sit alone in their sorrow as their daughters are subjugated and oppressed by the laws they sat silenced to pass. They can cry silently as their daughters are under the patriarchal rule of the church. My daughters know the difference and they don’t care. This is a battle their crazy, political mother fights, and they want no part of it. I can’t wait until life teaches them differently, or they watch in horror as they are helpless to rescue their daughters. Alas, I won’t’ be here to see it, not will I be here to fight for my granddaughters.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
I am concerned about this whole Chik-Fil-A thing, but the actual reason may surprise you. Don’t get me wrong, I thinks it’s noble of Boston and Chicago have voiced opposition about allowing the business to set up shop there, but voicing opposition and blocking it are two different things and I have concerns. I understand they are speaking for the people on this issue, but in this case, I think the people are adequately armed with their wallets to speak on their own behalf. The cities mentioned do not have to give the company the same enhancing tax breaks they might offer a more progressive company, but I find it disconcerting they are blocking expansion into their cities. Where were their concerns when pornography set up shop? When a porn store opened up in my little city of Alliance, OH right next to a popular grocery store, I was livid. It’s one thing to open up a porn store in an area where families and children do not need to frequent, but next to Aldi’s? I hated it but the city council said they were not breaking any laws so they had a right to open a business where they pleased. There was strong opposition by the people and for a long time people parked in the Aldi’s parking lot and took pictures of the cars and license plates of the patrons. It didn’t help anything; the store was in business when I left, though I don’t know how. I never saw more than a couple of cars there and they never appeared all that busy.
As much as I despise how that man is using the profits from his business, the fact is, they are his profits to use as he sees fit. That is how freedom works. Freedom does not always agree with my personal opinion, but I support freedom for the sake of freedom even when I don’t agree with how someone chooses to use it. My power lies in how I choose to spend the money I earn, and if I know a business is as blatantly stupid as to openly promote a clear violation of the rights of another, I can choose not to patronize it. It makes me wonder, though. How are the dollars I spend at other businesses being used? The difference lies in that they don’t advertise which politicians they are buying, nor do they publicize which causes they choose to back. What I don’t know I can’t choose to withhold my money from. I’m sure there are other companies whose business practices would cause me great moral and ethical outrage if I knew, but the fact is, I don’t know. My suspicion is I would actually be hard pressed to find a company I could agree with on all fronts.
I hate Wal-Mart. I really do, but it doesn’t keep me from shopping there when I need to. I can’t reconcile how they blackmail their suppliers, they utilize sweat shops and take zero social responsibility for how their goods are made, they force their own employees to work at a wage which cannot provide a sustainable existence, they do not provide all their employees’ affordable healthcare benefits and this costs all of us in the long run. If their employees have to access the social entitlement systems to receive health care, food stamps, rent and utility subsidies, we all pay indirectly. Wal-Mart is notorious for discriminating against promoting women, another issue dear to my heart. The bottom line is I have a tough time getting by and I need to save where I can, so I look the other way and ignore my social conscious. Wal-Mart and Chik-Fil-A are apples and oranges, I get that. I cannot live without many of the items Wal-Mart carries at a substantially lower price than other stores. I can live without ever eating another chicken sandwich again. I wouldn’t turn down a peach shake if someone happened to force one on me, though.
Most companies are not socially responsible because it is the right thing to do. They are socially conscious because it is a great marketing strategy. I’m not blind to this. Even companies with good reputations do not provide affordable health care and cheat their responsibilities to their employees in every legal way they can. If a company is not legally mandated to secure pensions, provide affordable health care, ensure their employees receive fair and sustainable compensation, they won’t do it. Profits above people, that’s the world we live in. I simply can’t boycott every company I find issue with. I would soon starve to death, and I wouldn’t have anything in my house to make my life easier. Every company has in the past or will in the future support legislation I find disagreeable. When I am aware of how they channel their profits, I can make a decision as to whether I can continue to support their efforts. Most of the time, I haven’t a clue because they are savvy enough not to make it public. Chik-Fil-A made it public.
It was a stupid move, in my opinion. He overestimated the right wing Christian support of his stance. He overestimated how his franchise owners would feel and he severely damaged his company reputation. Though I am not a Christian, I admired his policy to close on Sundays as a matter of respect. He believed no commerce should occur on Sunday and he was willing to sacrifice those profits to uphold those beliefs. By being closed on Sunday, he was not espousing any hatred toward anyone, but simply and humbly stating his adherence to his beliefs. I can’t imagine anyone who would hold him in disregard for this. In publically proclaiming his opposition to marriage equality, I could have disagreed with his opinion and argued my point against it, given the chance. If it had remained in opinion only, I would have continued to patronize his restaurants, even if I suspected that privately he was funneling money into opposition against marriage equality. By blatantly and overtly expressing a position of hatred toward an entire population, by promoting discrimination and subjugation of an entire sector of our culture, I cannot in good conscious continue to patronize his restaurants with my disposable income. I choose my wars and I choose the weapons I use to fight them with.
There are many ways our public servants can represent us, but this is not one of them. This is our fight, not theirs. This man was stupid, but he did nothing wrong, nothing illegal in choosing where to disperse his profits. It was his right to do with them as he pleased. Our public officials need to fight for us in areas where we cannot individually effect change or to have the power to make a difference, to have our voices heard. That’s where we need them, not here. If Chik-Fil-A wants to build their business in Chicago, Boston, or anywhere else, I say let them. Don’t give them tax breaks to promote their religious agenda. Let the people use what power they have to make their voices heard, on their terms. Let the people decide for themselves how they are going to spend their disposable income. We are smart enough to do that much. We are the people. We may not have much power in this day and age, but we have that much. Let our politicians focus on bigger issues.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I rode in on your dreams
My desires become your nightmares
You cannot free yourself from me unless you cease dreaming
Sleep is your prison
I am the gatekeeper, riding in on your dreams
Colors are bright here
Vivid and true
I whisper your fantasies
I compose your songs
Music in your ears, my symphony
You cannot free yourself of me, unless you cease to hear the chords
Silence is not your friend
I am music, the violin strokes the prison bars
Sounds are loud here
Vivid and true
The piano caresses your soul
I write your story
My inspiration is your future, my path your destiny
You cannot free yourself from me unless you cease to understand
Books encircle your mind
I am infinity, you are my center
Words are empowering here
Vivid and true
They provoke your mind
I am your voice
Your speech is my drug and I tell your story
You cannot free yourself from me unless you become mute
Your voice is your song
I am the songstress, the world my stage
Your song is my biography
Vivid and true
The music universal
I rode in on your nightmares
I am the keeper of death and I hold your spirit
You cannot free yourself from me unless you live for eternity
Your horror is my sustenance
I thrive on your fear, it is my heartbeat
Blood is flowing here
Vivid and true
The result is madness
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I would like to write something meaningful about Father’s Day, but I can’t. Although I have had positive examples in my life of good men, they were not my father so I have no point of reference. What I can do is to write about how important the role of a father is. I can do that because to this day I feel a sense of loss that I never had the kind of father I deserved and what deficits that left me when I entered into adulthood. My father, to all outward appearances, was a good father. He provided for his family, he disciplined his children, and he lived up to the basic expectations of what a father should be. I feel I’ve outlined his abuse in past entries, so I won’t repeat that here, instead focusing on what I needed that was not provided.
The biggest things I needed as a child was love and acceptance, things I never did receive from him. My father was a flawed and damaged man on so many levels, I’m not sure where his hatred of women began but I received the full force of his animosity. You could justify some of his attitude toward women on the time frame in which he lived; women as a whole in society were not placed with any value beyond their service to family. Unfortunately, my father’s disdain for women went far beyond societal norms. I understood this at even the most basic levels at a very young age. Women had no value. It was so bad, I tried to make myself into a boy so that I would be loved and have a sense of self-worth. I wasn’t confused about my sexuality or gender; I simply wanted to be worth something.
My nickname was “Charlie.” I was a tomboy, I loved to climb trees and when I played, I played hard. I was precocious and curious. When a boy kicked me I kicked him back. I guess that’s why my girls think I am feisty. My best friend as a child remembers me this way, “You didn’t take any crap from anyone. You were very patient, you never were the aggressor but if someone pushed you, you pushed back. You always knew you would lose in a fight but it didn’t matter. You fought anyway. I admired the spirit you had.” I had an exaggerated sense of justice, so I readily identified when something was not fair or right. I was able to see this from such a young age so when I saw how women were treated in my family, I knew the only thing to do was to be a boy. I had no idea it wasn’t going to be that simple.
I must have been around six or seven years old when I actively tried to become a boy. It was summer and I was in shorts. I was sitting in the living room, and I pulled the leg opening of the shorts to one side. I knew I was missing something that made you a boy. I thought if I pulled on the labia long enough, it would make a penis. So I was sitting there pulling on my labia when my mother walked in. You can surely guess what she thought I was doing! I wasn’t having any fun; I was trying to be a boy. I received a hostile glare, a lecture and I figured out pretty quickly pulling on my labia was not going to make me a boy but it would get me into some hot water if I was caught doing it. I thought if I had a penis, people would love me. If I only had a penis, I would be accepted. After all, my brothers were in a place of reverence within the family hierarchy. The only difference I could tell between us was they had a penis and I did not. Nearly the entire relationship I had with my father would consist of my fruitless attempts to gain his love and acceptance as a female. I lost this endeavor up until the day I decided I didn’t need it to be a complete human being.
Not having the love and acceptance from my father manifested into a constant struggle to gain it from the men in my life. If didn’t matter who the man was, I wanted acceptance from any man. As I grew into adulthood, I came to equate sex with love and acceptance. I came to equate sex as power because I could use it to gain love and acceptance. The more men desired me, the more I felt accepted. The problem with this was the ability to get a man to desire you, to have sex with you is not empowering. It is debasing. I didn’t understand why I felt so used and dirty after I got what I thought I wanted. It took a long time to understand that many men will take sex any time it is offered, and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like. Men who treat women with this type of usury are not the kind of men who will treat a woman the way I longed for. I set myself up in a cycle to be minimized. It was a vicious cycle as I used my sexuality to gain the attention, acceptance, and what I thought was love from a man and it resulted in a type of a high. I was desirable! I was beautiful, and men clamored to be with me. It was a rush to see how many men I could elicit attention from. I also equated sex with commitment, so when I slept with a man I wanted it to be forever. Imagine my confusion when I found out it wasn’t. Thus, the debasement when my expectations did not meet reality. I went from a high to a low when the phone didn’t ring the next day.
I repeated this over and over with numerous men and I was always and predictably disappointed time and time again. It fed into depression and anxiety as I wondered why I was never good enough. I had no sense of myself as a woman, no self-esteem or self-worth at all. Because I was not loved and accepted by my own father, my only sense of self-worth was mirrored in the men I attracted. It was not a pretty picture. For many years, I blamed the men I brought into my life. There had to be something wrong with them if they did not see the incredible woman I was, and what I had to offer them. The problem was; I thought I had something to offer. I didn’t. How could I offer them anything of myself when I didn’t have myself? The glass wasn’t even half full, it was bone dry. Of course, I had a clue I wasn’t there, but I didn’t know how little I valued myself. Worse, I could not figure out how I kept attracting these men into my life. I took no responsibility for my own role in all this because I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do. My father taught me my only value was in what I could provide for a man. I was their doormat to use at their discretion. My feelings were irrelevant. I played my role as a doormat to a standing ovation.
Through all of this I remained spirited. This was in distinct contrast to what men thought a doormat should act like, so when men saw I would fight back, they ran. When they saw I would demand they treat me with more respect (though I had none for myself) they saw this as a threat to their ability to control me. It took a long time for me to understand why I drove men away as fast as I attracted them. My spirit wasn’t something I was willing to compromise on, at least not for very long. I’ve always known I was a lot to handle; a real man doesn’t need to handle me. A real man just needs to love me, but I thought if I was patient enough, I would find a man who would be able to “handle” me. I never found that man. I had to find myself before I could find a man who would simply love me. A man who loves me has no desire to “handle” me and I found that when someone loves you, acceptance comes with love. They are not two separate ideations. I waited almost my whole life to grow into the woman I needed to be in order to attract the love I deserve. I have to tell you, it was worth the wait.
Daughters marry men based on the man their father’s model for them. This is how vital it is to be a good father. That is how vital it is to have a father in the life of a child, children become what they know. A daughter will marry the kind of man her father was, for good or bad because that is what she sees a man is. A son will model his behavior off of the example set by his father because that is what he knows a man to be. Single moms do an phenomenal job of raising children, and they serve many roles, but they cannot model a father. That is not to say children from single mothers grow up with severe dysfunctions. Many grow up modeling the type of person their mother was, what type of human being she was and they embody the value characteristics she displayed. That is the mark of an amazing woman when she can instill core values into a child without the influence of a male role model. But to say a father is not a significant part in the life and development of a child encourages and emphasizes the ability of men to abandon their family. Fathers are every bit as vital to the ideal development of a child as is the mother. I think we as a society need to expect more from the men in it. There are some wonderful and impressive men who have set the standards of behavior as a father very high. We should expect every man to reach that standard instead of excusing them as they pursue other interests after procreation is completed.
My father did not abandon his family, but he did something just as hurtful. He didn’t show me the love and acceptance I needed in order to make a good choice in the man I would allow into my life to love me. Not knowing how to attract love, I used the only tool I had at my disposal, my sexuality. Yearning for the love of a man contributed to a cycle of debasement I perpetuated. I can’t blame the men for taking what I so freely offered, I didn’t tell them the terms of the deal. I lived what I was taught and I had to learn through the pain of repeated rejection this was not the way I wanted to live. I am an awesome woman with a great deal to offer a partner. I have always known that. I had to discover who I was in order to know what I had to offer, and what I expected in return for the gift I am. Love is not about being able to handle me. Love is not about what I can do for another person. Love is absolutely not about sex. Love is not how much attention one person can give me, nor is about another person validating who I am. Love is about seeing the person I am and accepting me exactly at face value, flaws, imperfections and all the glorious things that comprise the person I have become. That is something my father never taught me.