Females

Many, many moons ago I was married to a particular man. He was a difficult guy to live with. I figured he was my cross to bear. People say all sorts of mean things about their exes but I have really tried to avoid such talk even when that effort was not reciprocated. At some point it becomes my story too and it doesn’t have anything to do with hurting him, it has to do with me.

He would look up the plot lines of my favorite movies so I would think that he liked the same movies as me. He would look up romantic things to say so that he could borrow other people’s emotions for his own particular use. I was seriously duped. Well, so were we all I think.

I really had no idea that I was a lesbian when I married him. Lesbian was a scary thing that you got called if you were different. Gay was a slur for bad people. Lesbians couldn’t go to heaven. I definitely didn’t want that. I didn’t realize that being gay had nothing to do with morality or how good a person was, it had to do with who your people are and how I related to the world.

I knew that I really had a thing for several of my best friends in middle school and high school. I knew that I never ever got asked out by anyone. I knew that ‘normal’ girl culture really didn’t work with me. I sought the fringes. I found the outdoorsy types who didn’t care if their hair was perfect. I sought the granola crunchers who shunned makeup. I sought the funny philosophers who sarcastically commented on the world. I had no idea that who I was involved yucky stuff like gayness. Romance was supposed to just happen like it did in the movies and love songs. It never did for me. I got angry with love songs and romance movies.

I thought for a long time that it had something to do with my appearance or perhaps my personality was wrong and I needed to change something about that. I felt the need to change lots of things about me to get the attention I wanted. I never really bothered to make those changes because fundamentally I liked who I was and I didn’t really want to change.

When I met my first husband I was at a family get together on Victoria Day. A warm weekend in May, we had a BBQ at my uncle’s place. We got out the croquet mallets and hot dog buns and card tables and set up outside in the sunshine. Me and my cousin sitting in the sunshine doodling on her converse shoes.

I went for a motorcycle ride with the only guy there who wasn’t related to me. We missed the fireworks show we were gone so long and I got teased mercilessly from my brothers on the ride home. Only 2 weeks later I agreed to marry the motorcyclist who drove too fast on country roads. By the end of the summer we were married.

He had serious issues with his Mom. His parents separated when he was in his teens and his Mom lived just down the street from him after that. He has a sister, who was born a couple years before the breakup, is like 15 years younger than him and doesn’t look like him, makes me wonder…

He spent a lot of time on religious and technology forums before the days of facebook. He had numerous IM personalities and handles on all the major instant messaging tools of the day. ICQ, AIM, YAHOO and MSN Messenger. He’d have philosophical debates about just about anything that you could name so he could prove he was right. In all those debates and talk he never ever referred to women as women, he always referred to them as ‘females’. There was a surprising number of females who chatted with him and filled is inbox with forum replies and friend requests. I eventually found that he was wooing these females the same way he did me. Being naive I thought nothing of these conversations. They were all just talk right?

~~~

ferengiI recently read an article in Jezebel about the problem with using the term ‘female’ to refer to women. It dehumanizes us, it is used as a code word for inferior or weak, it reduces us to just the sum of our feminine parts. It’s a perfect misogynists tool because it’s not overtly offensive and is technically correct but often is used to indicate contempt.

“Female” as a noun erases the subject—making “female” the subject of the sentence. In the most technical sense, it’s correct, but by employing this word that is usually an adjective as a noun, you’re reducing her whole personhood to the confines of that adjective. It’s calling someone “a white” instead of a white person, “a black” instead of a black person, and so on.

– Kara Brown, Jezebel

I commented on this topic and though the article has its flaws since it’s based on a buzzfed post and has no clinical or authoritative backing, the sentiment it real. I was amazed at how calloused and dismissive the men were, in the primarily male philosophy facebook group where I saw the article posted. Completely dismissing the notion that women would like a say in how we are spoken to as “politically correct bullshit”.

 

~~~

transworryThat particular man I was married to had a game. He called it male or female? He’d point at some random person on the street and ask of they were a dude or a chick. He had some serious small town indoctrination drilled into him but it was a really unkind game and to my shame I played along with it. Though often I’d get irritated and say why does it matter? It finally came out that it mattered to him because he didn’t know how to act or how to treat them if he didn’t know if they were a boy or a girl. He felt all off balance and he needed to know. That was a clue.

When I eventually came out to him he asked over and over again what went through my mind when I thought about women. He asked me to relive it again and again and wanted more to come of it. At the time I was very religious and to act on such things would mean eternal damnation. He continued to push me. That was a clue.

When my brother came over and saw how I was being treated by that particular man and urged me to leave because I was deserved better than this and I thought that I was too old and used up to find anyone else at 27. That was a clue.

When I left him it he sent me notes and letters of platitudes and empty promises that had nothing to do with what I actually wanted or what I had told him were the problems. He didn’t listen at all. That was a clue.

I continue to get nasty emails about how he resents sending ME his hard earned money. That I am taking it all for myself and that I took the kids all for myself. All his problems and financial troubles are MY fault. That was a clue.

I am still dealing with the aftermath of being married to that particular man. The ingrained misogynistic views that he directed at me. His refusal to take my opinion at face value and that I required the corroboration of a man for my points to have any value outside of housework. It had an effect on my ability to have the confidence to look for good employment, to believe myself when I tried to come out after I left him, in my jumping back in and putting another guy through the wringer for a quick marriage and divorce.

I was quite battered when I left and it took me several years to regain any semblance of myself. I don’t blame him particularly, he was trying to deal with his personal frustrations as best as he could, I was a convenient tool. But I don’t have to pay any heed to his views anymore. The guy needs help and support not my ire. I hope he finds a way to forgive his Mom and all women eventually.

Dear Young Parent: Sex Ed is not your enemy

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Not a Straight Story
1 Onyourside Ln
Beautiful On
K8E 2R3
Young Parent
1 Body Private
Ottawa On
H0H 0H0

Dear Young Parent,

It has come to my attention that you are somewhat upset by the recent talk about a new health and sexuality curriculum that is being discussed for our elementary aged children. I have a few things I’d like to say regarding your negative reaction.

Let me start by saying that I’m a parent too. I have 2 precious kids in school along with your kids. I have sacrificed a lot to have my kids and to have them in a situation that I deemed appropriate for their upbringing. I have stayed in a relationship too long with someone who really couldn’t see anything from anyone else’s point of view. I have been married twice to men in order to give my children what I though was an appropriate family to grow up to be healthy people. I was indoctrinated into this belief that I could not be with the gender I preferred and also be a good parent, but I digress, this is not what I brought you here to talk to you about. Let it be said that my kids are the motivation for a lot of the positive changes I’ve made in my life and incorrect assumptions about how to care for them best has been the motivation for some of my biggest errors of judgement. My kids are a very important and touchy subject for me. My girlfriend jokes that if anyone ever wanted to make me cry all we have to do is talk about my kids and that does it. It’s a big deal.

So, Young Impassioned Parent, I am shocked that you might want to oppose reform in our education system. I am horrified that advances in the health curriculum causes you to incite rebellion in other parents. I am grieved that children are taken out of their classes and denied information they need to make good decisions about their bodies. Continue reading “Dear Young Parent: Sex Ed is not your enemy” »

Love and Gratitude – Fear and Misery

I think that most emotions can be broken down to a mixture of love, fear, sadness and circumstance.

Anger is fear that has turned aggressive.

Hate is love that has been rejected.

Jealousy is fear of loss of love.

Adoration is love outwardly personified.

Joy is the absence of fear.

Indifference is the absence of fear and love.

Sadness is the gateway in between denying the feeling and feeling it. Sadness moves people or mummifies them. Sadness demands to be held and cocooned and nurtured. After sadness has had enough time in us we can move through it and feel grateful. Its impossible to feel grateful is you’ve never been sad. Gratitude is the rainbow at the end of the thunderstorm that says that everything is ok and the sun will come out again. lizard brain

People talk about the reptilian brain which governs all our basic functions but not our higher reasoning. The reptilian brain is 100 Million years strong and has some evolutionary reasons for being there. It causes us to regulate temperature, reproduce, digest, breathe, fight or flight response. It’s the adrenaline of the fight or flight that sits at the base of a lot of our emotions. Fear is often more powerful than the socialized emotion of love and connectedness. Finding safety and a way to calm our survivalist brain is the only way that we can connect to this newer part of our brains where love lives. When we fear we cannot love we can only control and manipulate in an effort to find safety and calm.

I think the more assured the sense of calm and safety and security the bigger the feeling of love can be. If the amigadala has been overstimulated in the past the more sensitive it is and more likely to overstimulate the adrenal system and cause the sense of fear. Adrenal triggers make it nearly impossible to process and work through old emotional baggage. A trigger can cause panic and anxiety and a racing heart rate. Now tell me about your mother….

Continue reading “Love and Gratitude – Fear and Misery” »

To what to I owe this pleasure?

I have a lot of old phrases that pop around my head. Old song lyrics that my Dad would belt out as we were leaving the house. Running gags that every family has due to being around each other so much, for so long. Little anachronistic 2 stanza poems about old holidays.mothergooseright

The twenty-fouth of May
The Queen’s Birthday

If we don’t get a holiday,
We’ll all run away,
And hide in the hay.

I suppose that these little bits a pieces of old language are somewhat comical to most people. My Lover says that I have a funny way of saying things. That my wording is interesting to listen to. It makes her laugh which then makes me happy so I guess that’s a good thing.

Oh! there’s enough blue sky to make a dutchman a pair of trousers!

~~~

I grew up with a clinically depressed Mom. There was months that she would be in bed for most of the day almost every day. I’d get myself ready for school and go and I would go upstairs to her room to get my long hair tied up for the day. She’d still be in bed and I would go out to the bus. Most days I didn’t see her except for this 60 second ritual until after school, and even then she was mostly unavailable to me busy in the kitchen or attending to other duties.

I learned to get her attention by bringing her things and helping her out. I learned to be sweet and careful with my words. I learned to watch her cues for her mood before I decided upon mine. I learned to play the fool and tell jokes to get her to crack a smile. I learned to make tasty salads to encourage her to eat well when she was feeling down about her size. I learned to not ask her for anything. I learned to be easy.old-man

One misty, moisty, morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced upon an old man
Clothed all in leather

My Dad woke up every morning for years and worked for an hour in the garden and got dressed and ran down the street to catch his bus for work. All before I was even awake. Very occasionally I would wake up early enough to have a bowl of cheerios with him before he ran off. He’d come home every day at 5:30 with rosy cheeks and a cold nose festooned with a few long nose hairs and occasionally, in the winter, an icicle. We would already be at the table and he’d sit down and gleefully praise the cook his tie splayed left and right. We’d pass all the leftovers down the table and he’d gobble them all up. After dinner he sat on the arm chair in the corner and read sci fi magazines or play arcade games on our IBM green screen machine. Every night he sang me songs and read me stories until I was about 14. We started with the pulp fiction from Schoolastic and graduated to Dickens by the end. I would have to scratch his head to keep him from falling asleep to the boring kids stories we were reading. He’d sensor the bad words like “damn” and “shut up” without missing a beat. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

I learned to listen to his frustrations at work when Mom couldn’t. I learned to run and fetch for him and make his day run smoother. I learned to be a helper when he had household repairs to do. I learned to take care of him. I learned to recognize his weariness and ask for less. I learned to be angry that he had a double load to carry. He had all the burden of earning and he also had the burden of taking care of the four of us at home whenever he was around. I don’t think he really stopped being busy like that for years. Only a few years ago has it caught up with him and he just can’t anymore. He can’t get through an afternoon visit with me and the kids without taking a nap.

Clothed all in leather,
With a cap under his chin.
With a how do you do?
And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

~~~

For years growing up I wanted my parents to separate. I wanted them to both get their fair share. I wanted Dad to get the benefit of his labor and I wanted Mom to appreciate what she had. I didn’t think that their relationship was fair. Mom got what she wanted and Dad ran in circles to give it to her. I tried to fill both their needs as much as I could so the system wouldn’t implode. I’m not sure how my brothers figured into this equation, I think they just did their own thing.

Remember!
Remember!
The Fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason,
Why gunpowder treason.
Should ever be forgot

I know now that my childhood views of relationships were very naive and that things are always more complicated than they appear to a 10 year old. I recognize the strength in my Mom and the frailty in my Dad now that I couldn’t then.

When I first got married I picked a guy that I could take care of because I identified more with the “good guy” that I perceived to be my Dad from my parents relationship. I wanted to be a rescuer and someone who takes care of everything, that was the definition of being virtuous. I wanted to give up my life so that someone else’s life would be okay. I picked him because he made me a good person and secured me a place in heaven especially because he was Mormon and because he was not a girl and because we were going to have kids and live a happy little life, even if it was going to kill me.

You see, this life didn’t matter and it mattered way too much. In Sunday school there was a diagram that would be trotted out every once in a while where the teacher would try to illustrate eternity. They would draw a line all the way across the chalkboard, then they would take their fingernail and make the tiniest little scratch. That scratch was our mortal life. Everything that we did in this life determined what would happen for eons to come. That tiny little scratch was all we had to white knuckle it through, following the rules, in order to get our eternal reward. It didn’t matter if I liked it I just had to do it, and do it right.

Happiness was not the goal. Purity and integrity and obedience was the goal. So who cares if I happen to have crushes on chicks. Who cares if I am not having a good time. Who cares if I have trouble waking up in the morning. Who cares if I don’t fit in to any of my peer groups at school. Performance was all that mattered and if I didn’t perform then I would loose that forever of happiness and bliss with my family. There is not room for mistakes that are left uncorrected. Everything I did was with the purpose of behaving well enough for God to tell me that I could be happy for the long line that was the rest of forever.

Away!
Away!
With Rum, by Gum

The Song of the
Temperance
Union.

I couldn’t help it though, I had to pursue happiness. I’m too happy a person to not be happy.

But with a forever of happiness in mind, I grit my teeth married and had my babies. My Dad intervened on several occasions when my husband would be so difficult that I was going to strangle him. He tried to fix what I had committed to so I could be happy. He would often say that my marriage to my first husband was a race to bring him up to snuff before I got fed up with him and left. My Dad valiantly tried to rescue a sinking ship but it just slowed down it’s demise and meant that I stuck around longer, delaying the inevitable.

After I left I got help for my codependency patterns of taking on too much and pleasing too much and started depending on myself. It’s been more than 6 years since I started that work and it’s still a work in progress, but I’m much better now.

I got married a second time after that to another guy I thought I could help and who I thought could help me. It worked and I came out. I regret the promise of forever I made to him because it was a promise that I couldn’t deliver on. That stuff is still too fresh for me to write about here but eventually I think it will.

There was a crooked man, who walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house

To what do I owe the pleasure of my current situation? That phrase asks why I came here and on what errand. I came here to finally matter. I came here to be important. I came here to be a pleasure.

There once was a girl named Fran,
Who had no desire for a man.
She shaved her head,
Brought a woman to bed
And had more fun than she could stand!

(Dad never bellowed that little limerick)