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.